By: Erin Epstein
This is for all of the women who have experienced Infertility & Loss
Ironically, as I began to edit this piece, a People magazine article popped up on my screen. So and so “pregnant after miscarriage” and I thought to myself, “How fitting!” for what I was about to write. I am happy for so and so, truly, I am. Yet, I know the harsh reality that not everyone is blessed with a rainbow. Each individual story, and journey, is different. Some people, like myself, are blessed with their rainbow baby, for only a moment in time. Some must wait years and years for a rainbow. For others, the rainbow does not come in the way that they had hoped or planned for.
Infertility and loss.
Two things I never imagined having to experience. Two things that no one ever wants to have to understand.
When you lose a child after undergoing infertility treatment, it feels like grief stacked right on top of grief. You are not only mourning the loss of your children, but simultaneously looking back on the entire experience of what it took to bring your children into the world. You wonder what went wrong. You are constantly mourning your journey and the place where it led you; the place that you least expected.
You took all of the medications.
You went through will all of the procedures.
You injected yourself with hormones more times than anyone should have to count.
You took all of the vitamins the specialists recommended.
You grieved every negative pregnancy test.
You endured it all in the hopes of welcoming your miracle.
Then, your miracle(s) came and went. Much faster than all of the time it took to bring them into this world. I know this pain.
I have learned that not all stories get a happy ending. Not every person, or couple, goes home with a healthy baby. Not every story ends in pregnancy. Not everyone is able to add a first, second or third child to their family. Some families have angels instead of living children. For every happy story, there is another family that is still waiting, hoping and praying.
PRAYING for their miracle or their rainbow. For some like myself, waiting for their rainbow after their rainbow.
We often hear things like “you’re young you can try again”, “it was an early loss, it wasn’t really a baby”, “it wasn’t meant to be”, “you can adopt”, “it will happen when you least expect it”.
Can you imagine losing a child after years of trying to conceive, and this is what you hear?
Can you imagine rounds and rounds of treatment, then another person saying, “It will happen if you don’t try so hard”? All you can think to yourself is, "If only it were that easy. If only you knew the pain I’ve carried"!
I cannot speak on behalf of the entire Infertility & Loss community. I can only explain my own yearning to conceive a healthy baby and carry him or her to term. Just like so many other women who are struggling, I wanted the chance to feel my baby grow inside of my womb. What I did not anticipate was losing a child halfway through my pregnancy or carrying another child, my Son’s twin sister, who I would also lose. I did not imagine being in a place where I would feel as though my body had failed me once again.
First, my body was unable to create life without support. Next, my body was unable to sustain the life it had created. There are no terms of endearment that can take the pain away from a woman who tried so hard to become a Mother & then lose the lives she had desperately sacrificed and yearned for.
Going through infertility treatment is a different kind of loss and a different kind of grief. It is the loss and grief over the hopes and dreams you had for creating your family. It is the grief of your body not responding in the way you were taught your whole life, that it was supposed to.
I became an angel Mother and found myself right back at square one. My reality is that I will never "miraculously conceive on my own" and it isn’t ever going to happen for me “when I least expect it”. I have two diagnose-able infertility conditions that would impact my ability to achieve pregnancy without assistance, despite whatever partner I had. I have NO IDEA when my rainbow baby (after the rainbow) will arrive because infertility treatment comes with no promises.
I have experienced the sheer and utter JOY of FINALLY getting that positive after all of the negatives. I have given birth to two beautiful, beautiful babies who are now angels.
Yet, my happy ending is still nowhere in sight.
Society, too often, fails to recognize the struggle and the journey of Infertility & Loss. Two things, that when combined, come with a whole new layer of grief and heartache. My journey continues, as do the journeys of many, many others.
I want anyone who has also experienced infertility & loss to know that I SEE you and I hold your heart in mine as we embark on another chapter of our journeys.
May we be recognized on our journeys to Motherhood and for the precious lives that made us Mothers.
Dedicated to my miracle, infertility angel babies, Dylan Charles and Madelyn Joy.
If you or someone you know is going through or considering infertility treatment and is in need of support, please reach out to me at ErinREpstein@gmail.com to be connected with a local infertility support group.