June 4th

I've seen a few stories in the last year of couples who share a picture of an ultrasound or their little infant surrounded by the bottles, syringes and medicines that got them through IVF to their bundle of joy, and feel so much love and excitement for them. In fact, I loved that idea so much I decided then that I wanted to show my journey in a similar way someday.

Back in September last year our second IVF cycle was a success. We were relieved, yet hesitant to be excited because it seemed surreal. We were happy and so thankful this was the answer to prayers we had been waiting for and working toward. We began planning. I added pregnancy apps and read about all the developmental milestones the tiny one was reaching. We knew the gender from Day 1 through genetic testing, we had weekly ultrasounds starting at 4 weeks, and our sweet baby was due on June 4th. We finally had an end date to our infertility journey, and I couldn't wait to share our success with everyone who had sent their thoughts and prayers our way over the years.

Then everything came crashing down. On October 31st, at 9 weeks, the baby no longer had a heartbeat. In one day we were thrown from our biggest dream coming true to what seemed worse than square one. I took this picture soon after as a means of closure for myself. It's the picture I had hoped to share a couple weeks later with happy news, but instead it's the last picture we'll ever have of our tiny babe, with a visual reminder of our sacrifices and the love we've always had for that little soul.

We lost our baby suddenly with no sign, no explanation, no warning. And it was the worst experience of my life. It led me to the pit of loneliness and despair that takes some serious work to escape. All I was left with were the empty bottles, syringes, boxes, receipts, payments, and bruises. So I held on to those, at least as many of them as I could. Here are the supplies from two of our three IVF cycles. This is not even all of it, but it's what I could keep.

Now I sit here past the 39 week mark, and June 4th is approaching...still with a flat tummy and an empty womb. I have not been able to throw any of this stuff away for months because it has meant too much...until TODAY. It's the only physical evidence I have of all I've been through to become a mom, but today I let it go. After I took a few pictures I threw it away, and I'm excited that I did! But it has been the most difficult journey of my life to get to this point, and my journey to healing isn't over.

The things I've been through seem surreal and just too much to handle sometimes. It feels like I'm all alone in this and no one has felt the level of despair that I've felt. But what I want to make sure is loud and clear is this--MY SITUATION HAPPENS OFTEN. As much as I absolutely love and find hope in success stories, THIS is the story many people have to go through first. The disappointment, heartache, emptiness, failure, loss that is both Infertility and Miscarriage.

I want people to know that this happens. Miscarriage can happen to anyone, and it does happen to so many people. It can throw a wrench into the lives of those who were not even planning to get pregnant all the way to those who wanted that baby more than life itself. Not only do natural pregnancies have risks and unexpected problems, but IVF statistics also show that it's less than 50% likely for a given cycle to lead to a live birth. But NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THAT. I get why. People want and need hope. Success rates and success stories give people hope, including myself!  But so very often (especially when the subject is pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, still birth, infant loss, etc.) we ignore the real possibility of negative results at the expense of everyone who experiences those terrible results. Tell me how this makes sense...infertility and miscarriage are still taboo subjects and aren't discussed with appropriate expectations, so MILLIONS of people end up feeling alone and abnormal when they experience some form of infertility or loss. It's a travesty, and I don't want to go along with it anymore. I refuse to facilitate the idea that everyone gets pregnant right when they want and that pregnancy and birth are simple processes that only go wrong for people who need to learn life lessons that they can't learn any other way (sorry...mixture of common misconception and conjecture there).

I was silent for several years, for many reasons. I completely understand why those who go through these struggles don't often talk about it. It's a devastating set of situations, incredibly personal, with feelings attached that are so tender. I know those feelings too well.

To those of you who have a similar story, I am so sorry. I am so so sorry this is something you carry, and I love you for the sacrifices you make that no one sees, the parent you are to the children no one acknowledges, and the tears you shed that no one knows about. You are not alone.

To those who have other trials and not this one--whether you know it or not, miscarriage and infertility are part of the lives of many people around you. Please don't think that it's a rare problem. Please don't assume that pregnancy happens on the first try, or the second. Please continue to be tender to those whose lives are not quite the way you think they should be, who are on a different timeline than you expect for them. I hope we are able to help you through your struggles as well.

And to those who are on their third month of negative pregnancy tests--you are not abnormal, you are not behind, you can keep trying and know that you are in great company. Keep your head up! For now, we just press on.


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