Told by: Michelle
When my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby, we had no idea what we were in for. Having been diagnosed with PCOS after a long period of illness, we understood we would need reproductive assistance, and after over 3 years of treatments including Metformin, 6 rounds of Clomid and 6 IUIs, with no success, we were left with IVF as our next step. Unfortunately my body screwed up again and after my egg collection I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit with Ovarian Hyperstimulation, causing my kidneys to fail, my lung to collapse and my organs to begin to shut down. Thankfully, I survived (barely) and at least my trauma was not in vain as we now had embryos to transfer. On the fourth embryo transfer one of my babies decided to stick around, and Emily was born in June 2010, the absolute light of my life. A year later I felt an overwhelming need to have another baby, and to our delight I became pregnant from the first transfer! My progesterone was low, but with some extra meds we waited anxiously for that first ultrasound and the sweet thumping of our baby’s heartbeat. But as I lay on the table, staring expectantly at the screen, I realized it wasn’t there. And in case that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, we saw that both transferred embryos had stuck. Twins. Whom we would never meet. 3 days later I woke in the middle of the night and knew it was happening, and I saw my babies for the first and last time at 4:38am, January 16 2012, at 8 weeks gestation. I will never forget what they looked like, and I am so glad I got to see them. The last traces of them were removed via a D&C 2 weeks later. Even though the D&C felt surprisingly more significant than I had expected, given the babies were already gone, I could already feel my standard defence of detachment, well-learned during my struggle with infertility, creeping back over me, and I welcomed it. It’s IVF armour. You need it to get through the heartache, or at least I do; though I do feel guilty for shutting down my mourning so quickly, as if I am disrespecting my babies by doing so. It’s quite confusing, really, I feel a lot of feelings that contradict other feelings. My gut reaction has been to jump straight back into a new IVF stimulation cycle. Not to replace my lost babies, who will never be forgotten, but for me, it’s helping me to move on. I don’t know how others deal with an IVF miscarriage. I have a picture of one of my babies as a 5 day old embryo, still on my fridge, and it’s bittersweet. Now, alongside the handwritten transfer date on the photo there is also another date, I don’t know what to call it, I guess it’s a death date, or an end date? Years of fertility treatment teaches you not to let yourself get excited until you see that ultrasound, hear that heartbeat, feel that baby move, but I broke my own rule, and I hoped. We IVFers find out we are pregnant so early, it gives us more time to develop an attachment, and let down our guard, and convince ourselves it’s going to work out just fine, the hard part (getting the embryo to stick) is over. I’m not saying a loss necessarily hits us harder than others, but in a way I think maybe some of us feel like we have more to lose. We are already fighting the odds as to whether or not we will ever have children, and with all the treatments, ultrasounds, monitoring etc; fertility treatment is so consuming and intense I can’t help but think it must make a difference when grieving a loss. There are no guidelines to tell us how this is supposed to go, but that also means there aren’t any rules, and I believe the healthiest way to deal with losing a pregnancy is to grieve however you want. I know I will have another baby, however long it takes. I also know that the next pregnancy is likely going to be extra stressful and will probably bring up a lot of feelings from this loss that I suspect I haven’t dealt with yet. The 2 precious, much loved and so wanted babies I have lost will forever be a part of my family, and in my heart. Having another baby will not replace them, it will honour them.