It’s been a while since I’ve thought about it, until a friend told me she was pregnant. While I’m happy for her, I had a small pang of, ‘I Wish…’. We have two healthy and happy girls so I’m not complaining, it was just a hard road to get to this point.
My first miscarriage came with my first pregnancy and was such a shock at 12 weeks, but bun had stopped growing at 7 weeks. I was 33, fit, healthy and had no idea it wouldn’t work. I remember the moment they told me, I remember waiting until my husband had finished something big at work before I told him. The friend that raced over to be with me, the loss and grief that took me by surprise in its intensity and duration.
The platitudes that killed me – especially ‘you shouldn’t have told anyone that you were pregnant’, like if I’d kept it to myself I’d still be pregnant, or at least I could keep the shame to myself. There’s a range that people used – ‘It’s better to lose it now and not later,’ ‘If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be,’ and ‘You wouldn’t want a child with a disability would you?’
All anyone needed to say is, ‘I’m sorry.’
We didn’t fall pregnant naturally for over a year and we went to IVF. They did tests and nothing seemed wrong. Unexplained infertility. We waited. We tried. Eventually we bought a dog. Then we went back to IVF and started a cycle. Rooms and rooms filled with women waiting to be tested, scanned and alike, made me feel at least I wasn’t alone. We were lucky. 5 embryos and the fresh transfer took and is our daughter Isabella. It was 3 years since that first pregnancy loss.
With 5 embryos you think you’ll never have problems, but we did. 3 more miscarriages at 7, 8 and 6 weeks, often finding out by myself as my husband travels for work. Having Isabella asking for a sibling was like a knife in my heart.
We decided to change tack and try genetic testing after another round of IVF. I just couldn’t take the pain of the rollercoaster again. I needed a break so we did all the preparation work and then took a month off the whole thing. We ate, we drank, we braced ourselves for the road ahead. Then as they say, it happened. We fell pregnant naturally for the second and last time at 38. It was our second daughter Alexis. After her horrid pregnancy and speedy birth I was still keen on another child, but we have never fallen pregnant again and with my advancing age, IVF would be a lot of work for possibly no outcome.
I tried our last embryo but it didn’t survive the thawing. My husband was devastated. I thought I’d had to convince him a bit for the third, but it showed just how much he wanted it too. They are often forgotten, our partners. Like they are simply bystanders. It’s as agonising for them as it is for us. It’s our babies that we’ve lost, not just mine. We made them together, we lost them together.
What strikes me most about it now as our girls are 5 and 8 is how much we would have loved more, but I’m eternally grateful for what we have. People still ask why I don’t have another one. Like I can just go and get one off the shelf at Woollies. I’m always truthful and say, it took a lot to get both of the girls and we’re so grateful for both of them, and while we would have liked more we’ve decided to enjoy what we’ve got and not focus on what we don’t have.