Updated: Oct 26, 2021
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, so it may seem odd to start my discussion with in-vitro-fertilization (IVF). However, if you’ve been through IVF, you understand that the two topics often collide - as they have in our story.
After Noelle died, I immediately knew that I wanted to be pregnant again despite the heartache I felt. My husband, Alex, was wondering z more practical. He knew we needed to wait for the autopsy results before starting to try and conceive again. It wasn’t until four months after Noelle died that we had an answer as to why she had hydrops. Noelle’s condition was genetic and had a 25% chance of reoccurring in future pregnancies if we conceived naturally.
So began our journey with IVF.
Going through it was not an easy decision, but I knew our hearts couldn’t handle burying another child and I would not give up hope for a family here on earth. Despite the pain and grief I still felt, those powerful reasons made me emotionally prepared to proceed with IVF.
Prior to transferring the embryos, we would have them first tested for the genetic condition present in Noelle. Because of this extra step, the wait was long. After suffering infant loss, every single minute felt like an eternity. It all felt out of our control. It all was so unknown… so lonely.
It took almost four months from the time we started the IVF process until we finally transferred an embryo. In hindsight, I am aware that many people wait longer, but I just felt a dagger in the heart with each wait. Wait for autopsy results. Wait for our genetic marker to be ready, wait for embryos to be tested, wait for your pregnancy test result…. Wait to hold your baby.
Fifteen months after Noelle had left us, we welcomed her rainbow sister, Lillian. She was worth the wait.
Our decision to go through with IVF gave us a new perspective on pregnancy and on loss. IVF is placing your hope in someone and something else - trusting your doctor while adjusting your view of “what’s supposed to be” or how you originally pictured building a family. Maybe you never experienced a physical loss before getting to IVF. More than likely, you tried and tried and got negative after negative pregnancy test. Your hopes and dreams have to adjust. Financially, emotionally and physically. you need to prepare for a journey that you never anticipated.
I am forever grateful we could afford to take this path - but that doesn’t mean it was easy. We went through IVF so that we could lessen our chance of loss and yet we still experienced two more. Yes, it was different than Noelle but each loss changed us… each loss we grieved. And IVF proved to be an additional hurdle.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect path. There is no path where pain is impossible. All we can do is make the best decision we can at the time we are faced with it and keep going. I don’t regret anything. I have my rainbows and I’ve gained perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Everyone deserves a chance at a family here on earth. IVF doesn’t guarantee that, as I’ve learned, but for us, it gave us hope, and hope is everything.
This month, I wanted to share this piece of our journey. IVF was never a thought in my mind, but it was the best decision we could make for our family. Now, Noelle has two more siblings in Heaven and two (soon to be three) siblings here on earth.
We will make her proud. I will strive to be a voice for IVF parents and loss parents. We are all holding on to hope… we all deserve to hope. And to those feeling hopeless, I wish for you to find peace. I recognize the road to parenthood is a dead end for many and for that I am truly sorry. But the desire to be a parent, I believe, comes from a very selfless place. Take that energy and let it build you up. Know you are not alone and never let your light fade.
This October, we remember babies born sleeping, babies born but never taken home, babies brought home but gone too soon, the positive test with no heartbeat, the heartbeat that stopped before anyone else knew it was beating, the baby that was perfect but not in the right spot…all the negative tests, all the waiting, all the hopes and dreams that never were.