When Infertility And Miscarriage Hurt The Child Left Behind
I’ll never forget the look on her face when we told her the news. So innocent. So excited.
She was finally going to be a big sister.
Before I found out I was pregnant, we had passed the five-year mark of trying to grow our family, and I was desperate to leave the world of fertility treatments and tracking cycles behind me forever. I was done. PCOS won. I was finally healing from year after year of disappointment. I was at peace and had accepted that we would just be a family of three. I was always hopeful… but not too hopeful.
When I got pregnant, it had been more than a year since my last round of fertility treatment. To conceive naturally—without so many appointments, without expensive medication—was such a foreign concept to me.
But then it happened.
After five years of waiting, hoping, and giving up trying, we were pregnant. Naturally. My husband and I were thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell our daughter the good news. She had prayed for a sibling since she was two years old. This was as much a gift for her as it was for us. We bought her a “Big Sister” card to tell her the good news and recorded her reaction to send to family and close friends.
I remember thinking, “Surely if it took this long to conceive, I’m safe. Surely I’ll get to take this baby home. But if not, every baby deserves to be celebrated.”
Deep down, I knew: there is no such thing as surely.
As much as I’ll never forget the look on my daughter’s face when we shared the joyful news of that pregnancy, I’ll equally never forget the tears she cried when we sat her on the couch and told her that her sibling was no more… that the heart had stopped beating, and that we would no longer have a due date to countdown… that even though we had seen a heartbeat on our first two ultrasounds, it eventually slowed down and stopped by the third and fourth ones.
Explaining pregnancy loss to a seven-year-old was by far the most difficult and painful moment of my entire life. It’s been seven months since that dreadful moment on the couch, six months since the miscarriage completed, and the wound is still very raw for all three of us. As my daughter approaches her eighth birthday, she recognizes more and more that she is an only child, and that her dream of a sibling is fading into an improbability.
After experiencing infertility and miscarriage, it’s common for women to be triggered emotionally by various baby-related things, from pregnancy posts on Facebook, to the baby aisle at Target. But no one prepares you for the triggers that hurt the children left behind. I’ve dried countless tears that are not my own as my daughter pours her aching heart out to me over our loss and the pain of waiting.
As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, we’re learning how to navigate through the fact that a family member is missing from our home. And as we anxiously anticipate the arrival of the first week of March, all I can do is hope that it doesn’t come like a boulder crushing our souls.
Photo by: Samantha C. Photography