Infertility, Loss and Gratitude

The world of infertility is a lonely place. There are few words to describe it, few ways to memorialize or mourn the pain felt every single month. In this barren land of infertility, even loss seems better than the lack. For most of our journey, there was only a lack. No loss, only absence. No death, only non-existence. We endured years of this, years with a barren womb and empty arms.  We peered out our window at a world of fertility and life, so close and yet so separate from the room in which we sat.

It took 6.5 years to see a second line on a pregnancy test. I imagined that this moment would be filled with joy, but instead it was filled with shock. I used to chide myself for hoping, for thinking things could be any different than they always were. But it wasn’t until I got that positive test that I realized how little hope I had. Yes, the scraps of hope were there. But not enough to be able to look at a positive test and believe what I saw. Despite the money spent getting to that place, it still did not feel real or possible.

The positive test opened the doors to a a new world. A world of joy, but also a world of fear. We knew that there was a 1 in 3 chance we could lose this baby, and we knew that our luck isn’t great when it comes to these things. And I don’t believe in guarantees in this life, even when we pray in faith. Anyone who takes a good look at the state of this world knows that life just doesn’t work like that.

Our greatest fears did indeed materialize, and  we lost not one, but two babies. One barely got a start, and the other fought with every bit of might she had, defying all the odds during her short, sweet life.

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We love these babies, and we mourn their loss. They were a miracle, conceived during a month when we did not have much chance of conceiving (our IUI was cancelled in December, which means we somehow made these babies the old-fashioned way), and the pregnancy test came just days before our scheduled consultation with the doctor to discuss IVF. We were near the end of our rope, and then we got the news that kept us hanging on.

In many ways, a miscarriage after infertility is more difficult than it would be for those with “normal” fertility. These were not babies we tried a few months to conceive. We had spent years praying them into existence, and their loss is that much harder to accept. Surely after all this waiting, at least one of the babies should have made it. But neither of them did, and that pain cuts deep. 

But as much as it is more difficult, it is also easier. I am strong after all these years of pain, and I am not shocked by the bad things that happen. When we saw a lifeless baby on the ultrasound screen, I knew how to react. I knew immediately where to go to find the strength I needed. I knew there is comfort for every kind of pain, and I knew how to reach for it during dark moments. Infertility prepared me to deal with this loss.

It hurts, and we are grieving. And yet, as I wrote before, lament opens the door to gratitude. Recognizing the very broken pieces make me even more aware of those which are redeemed. And so in the midst of this immense loss, I am grateful. Here are a few of the things I’m most grateful for these days:

    • My husband. Infertility is rough on a marriage. It has been rough on ours. And yet, the past few weeks with my husband have been some of the most beautiful weeks we have ever had. We have cried together, but we have also laughed together. We have mourned and prayed and loved and snuggled. And on Friday evening, when I took the drug to induce the miscarriage and spent the subsequent hours in pain beyond anything I’d experienced before, he stepped up and cared for me during every second of it. The puke, the blood, the passing out on the kitchen floor–he was there and somehow found a way to make it better. He brings me so much joy 
    • We got pregnant. I still can’t believe the second line on the pregnancy test. We have now figured out a way to get pregnant (we learned last month that progesterone supplements are a key factor), and this knowledge takes a weight off of my shoulders, a weight I have been bearing for six years. I am no longer afraid of never getting pregnant. There are simply no words to express how freeing this knowledge is to me. 
    • Comfort. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Mt. 5:4).  I do not believe things like fertility and health and prosperity are guaranteed, but I do believe that comfort is. And the thing about sitting in grief like ours is that there is an abundance of comfort, unlike anything experienced on a normal or good day. It’s the blessing in the midst of the pain, and it is a beautiful thing. Jesus feels very close to me these days.

So, this is where we are. We have lost much, but we are drenched with comfort and peace. And we are thankful for all of you, those who have mourned with us and supported us through this very difficult time. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you. 

Comments

  1. Melissa says

    I dont know you, but its amazing you are so willing to talk of the pain. Infertility is something I am struggling with for years, I cany imagine loss. I will be praying for you, hopefully your journey results in an amazing baby.

  2. says

    Hi, Rebecca. I found you on Glennon’s site. I think it’s amazing that you have written about your experience with infertility and losing a baby. My husband and I lost a baby girl a couple of years ago. It was one of the hardest deaths I’ve ever had to endure. But I have learned, too, that Jesus is close to the broken-hearted, and in our loss, we can know a love so deep and wide and full it’s hard to comprehend.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to share two links with you, in hopes that they will bring comfort and hope and remind you that you are not alone.
    http://racheltoalson.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/when-life-throws-you-a-curve-ball/
    http://racheltoalson.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/when-youve-hoped-and-prayed-and-youre-still-childless/

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