Stories of long and emotional fertility journeys followed by the birth of a gorgeous, healthy and beautiful baby are wonderful, and inspirational, and can offer a real sense of hope and light when you are feeling at your lowest
However, for us at IVF babble it is equally important to listen to the stories that didn’t have the fairy tale ending. The brave, defiant and incredibly strong men and women who tragically didn’t get their beautiful baby also have their stories to tell and we always listen. We would like to tell you about Monica.
For Monica, there’s one photo that elicits two intense emotions
Pictured with her husband at a conference, it shows them beaming, and triggers both “immense joy and unbelievable loss”.
It was two months after the couple discovered Monica was pregnant, and the couple had had been “laughing and conspiring” about how to keep the pregnancy a secret at the conference.
Working in women’s health, Monica knew all too well the pain and reality of pregnancy loss, and together they’d decided not to tell anyone until they’d got through the first trimester
Whilst preparing for the conference, Monica was in a dilemma. “I had bought a new dress for the speaker dinner (the one in the picture) and we laughed at the waste of money as I probably wasn’t going to fit into it by then. How was I going to explain why I wasn’t drinking without revealing that I was pregnant to a roomful of woman’s health specialists who can sniff out a pregnant woman a mile away?”
But sadly, Monica was able to wear the dress, and drink wine, because she lost the pregnancy
Monica says, “On the day that I found out, I watched as my OB/GYN’s expression changed from happy curiosity to confusion and then despair as he futilely searched for the baby’s heartbeat at the ultrasound appointment that I had (idiotically) scheduled on my birthday.
I almost felt worse for him than I felt for myself, when he had to tell me that the baby had stopped growing, the pregnancy was essentially lost”
She was then given options, and chose to have a D & C. Monica worked at a fertility clinic and her manager had a holiday booked, so she needed to help provide cover – performing ultrasounds on pregnant women. For most of us, this would cause an unbelievable amount of pain and upset.
Monica, with the help of close friends and her husband, made it through that week, providing clinical services to women who needed her. She says the evenings were incredibly tough after being so fully functional during the day.
In her role educating nurses Monica teaches nurses what not to say when someone experiences a loss. But when it came to her own grief, with “no time or space to grieve” Monica felt stuck
All her understanding of grief handling “unravelled by the physical and emotional pain that a pregnancy loss can generate”.
Wanting to be brave, but really understanding what that meant in her own situation, Monica remembered something she’d read. “Being emotionally brave isn’t a gift or inherited trait, it’s something that you work towards in small increments. It’s forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing brave little things on a regular basis until the pit in your stomach lessons or subsides, until your breathing is less shallow or your throat less tight.”
During the months that followed, the tough times came unannounced, with an unkind word Monica would herself say, or when she was struggling to get out of bed, even on a bright Spring morning
But as time passed, Monica was able to find a small piece of gratefulness and a true understanding of grief through the feelings of loss and inadequacy. She realised that no matter how strong her feelings, they couldn’t hurt her. “Emotions are simply energy that is flowing through your body at that moment, and they can either pass through or get stuck. How long they take to pass and their level of intensity can differ, but I knew I had to allow them because I didn’t want to be stuck.”
Monica ponders why our world defines bravery as being stoic with grief, or that crying when we feel sad is defined as a bad thing
“You can’t escape or postpone pain, it will find its way out, so better to let yourself feel what you are feeling in that moment and many moments to come.”
She warns that suppressing our emotions is harmful and believes that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is the real bravery. As a caregiver, it’s important that she learned to ask for help and support.
Monica, we cherish you as a friend and we’re honoured to help you tell your story of your journey towards vulnerability and coping with pregnancy loss.
If you are struggling with the weight of grief, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can connect you with one of our experts
Sending everyone so much love and support x