Coping With Loss

Life After Pregnancy Loss: Emily

Emily was one of the first to share her story on The Understanding Heart (and one of 3 Emily’s! Haha, we love you all). Her original story was written a year ago, right around Hazel’s first birthday. The following is her perspective of life after pregnancy loss.


Life after loss feels like a revolving door that you’re not allowed to exit. It’s been two years since I dumped my beer down the drain after taking a pregnancy test on a whim. I couldn’t believe that there were two lines there. I held the secret in two days until my husband returned from his hunting trip because I wanted him to know in person. Only weeks later to have the elated feeling crumble into a thousand pieces. 

I used to get angry when people would tell me after losing Hazel that it wouldn’t always hurt this bad. How could I ever get over or feel better about losing a child. I’ve had to endure close friends, siblings, cousins experience pregnancy and birth all while in this inbetween. I say endure because it’s hard- some days forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other. It’s even harder to allow yourself the ability to be happy for them AND sad that it’s not you. I struggled with that a lot. It’s a hard fact to talk about but needs to be talked about more. How someone’s happy news literally brings me to my knees with tears flowing like a river. Why can’t that be me? Why do they get to bring their baby home? Why does it have to be so hard? Why do I have to hear my son’s pleas for a real baby? Explaining to an almost four year old why his sister is in heaven and not here is a very difficult thing. It makes my heart break into a million pieces. I wish it was simpler and I wish it was fair. Nothing about losing a child is either of those things.

In the almost two years since my loss I feel like I’ve been through a battle. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I wish at this point my story had a happy next chapter, but we don’t. Sometimes pregnancy loss leads to an even longer road. In August 2021, a uterine ultrasound to get a baseline picture turned into a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE)- tests, lots of headaches with insurance, and a surgery to remove a uterine septum. I was happy they found something that could have been the cause to my miscarriage. Surely removing it and healing would help me get pregnant again. 

Once we hit the 12 months of trying to get pregnant, I had to make the phone call back to the RE office for next steps. After more tests for both myself and my husband we were diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility. That diagnosis really stung. It felt like my body failed me again. I felt broken and still do. 

We are in the throes of infertility treatments. My mind automatically goes to the what ifs. What if it doesn’t work? What are the next steps? Can I do more? Besides the physical, emotional toll, the financial toll is another issue. Nothing is covered by insurance- because apparently having a family isn’t something that we should be paying for, right? The number of phone calls I have made to the insurance company is far too great to count. This adds to the stress and trauma of this all. 

For the last two years I’ve felt like my body hasn’t been “mine”. Whether it was to house Hazel, deal with postpartum, hormones to regulate my cycle before and after surgery, hormones to induce a period after my 55 day cycle, more medications to induce follicle growth for intrauterine insemination, and hCg trigger shots. For someone with a fear of needles I am pretty darn proud of myself that I can give myself shots! 

I have many questions that come with no answers. How did the pregnancy that was so easy to come by be the one that didn’t make it? These things I will never understand. I lay my head down each day grateful for my (almost) four year old son that feels more like a miracle with every passing day. I hope for the day when I get to the other side of this storm and no matter the outcome I hope it brings me peace. Until then, I’ll keep looking for signs from Hazel to let me know she’s watching over us.


Beth’s Story

A year ago yesterday, I saw a heartbeat. Two days later it stopped. We went through our third loss in less than a year. 

   This time the midwife and doctor decided there is nothing we can do, just go to a fertility clinic. Of course, I felt horrible, like there was something wrong with me. That I was doing something wrong. Still to this day, I have those moments where I think that. I see someone smoking while pregnant and am like, “I never did that, why couldn’t I have had a healthy birth?” I try not to let those thoughts take over, because it causes envy, jealousy, anger and bitterness. I am so very thankful for all the babies born and so very glad there are women that don’t go through what I did. I will continue to give my negative thoughts to God, I refuse to let them take over.

    We didn’t feel that a fertility clinic was the answer. God sent us to a new doctor. He read my chart and said he wanted to run some more tests. 17 vials of blood later, he said my eggs were healthy, I was healthy and he doesn’t see a reason for me to go to a clinic. He said we will try something new when I get pregnant again. Before I left the office he said “I will be praying for you.”  I knew then that God sent me there.

   Here we are, a year later, and we have not had another pregnancy. Every month I have hope that it will happen.  I do get discouraged when it doesn’t, however, I know God has perfect timing. I struggle with many emotions daily. With the support of my husband, parents, other family and friends I continue to have hope and cling to God’s promise.

  We have found strength and encouragement from our church family. Not a week goes by without someone praying over us or someone says they are praying for us. So every week, I am in tears. Not always because of grief, but because of the love and encouragement. Just a couple weeks ago, I held a 2 month old premie and it brought joy to my heart.  Being around babies and pregnant women is not always easy. God has sent us this family at the right time and we know our own family will grow at the right time as well.

  I don’t share this to get sympathy, I share this to show God’s love through our struggles. I am growing everyday as I go through these emotions. I continually give my thoughts and hopes to God. I’ve seen many stories where couples have broken up, where they can’t get out of depression,  because they can’t get past the grief and hurt. I understand because without God, I would be right there. I don’t have the strength, but God does. God’s love and grace is so strong, just relying on Him makes moving forward so much easier.

  God is always there through the storms and the calm days as well. Let Him help you move forward. We are one day closer to our breakthrough, one day closer to God’s promise!


Emily S’s Story


May 2nd, 2022. 

I should be having my baby today, but six months ago I went through the most physically and emotionally painful experience of my life. I woke up excited for my second ultrasound and my blood work that would tell us the sex of our baby. It was like any other Thursday: I got us ready and took my son Alex to school. I went for a 3 mile walk/run, and then to Valley Thrift because I still needed some props for my Beauty & the Beast table. It wasn’t until I went to the bathroom at Alex’s school that I saw I had spotted. The five minutes between that realization and picking him up lasted an hour in my mind; the two hours until my ultrasound felt like an eternity. I willed my baby to be okay. But when I had my ultrasound, my worst fears were confirmed: my baby, who I had seen dancing on the screen and whose heart I heard beating strongly inside of my body just two weeks before, no longer had a heartbeat.

 I felt like my body had betrayed me and I had failed. I was in shock during the hour after finding out, waiting to talk to the doctor, etc. How could this have happened when I had such a great pregnancy with Alex? How could this have happened when being a mom is who I am? I had to call Adam with the worst news I’ve ever had to share with him, and then pick up Alex from my parents’ house because life continues. That night I went to bed knowing the baby who was once thriving inside of me was now lifeless, and with what was the beginning of labor pains, and the most physical of emotional pain I have felt.  Six months later, my body still aches every time I think about it, like a muscle memory I never wished to attain. The gravity of carrying both life and death inside of you is not something you’ll ever forget. 

I couldn’t be scheduled for my D&E until Saturday, so on Friday I went to get my pre-surgery Covid test and shopped for paint for my castle project, then I went to Bill’s to get donut holes for Alex to have Saturday morning at my mom and dad’s while I had my procedure. I also did two loads of laundry at home.

Even while having an active miscarriage, I wanted to make sure my family was taken care of.

 As the day went on, I started to have a lot of pain, and it was throbbing in my back and hips and shooting down my thighs—it felt like contractions, and it wasn’t until later I found out an active miscarriage is basically labor. Why didn’t they tell me how this would feel?? Everyone who says a miscarriage is like a heavy period? False. It started to feel worse after my errands, but by night the pain was so excruciating I couldn’t stand up straight when I walked or even sit up straight. It was an incredibly long day. 

I had to be at the hospital by 7am on Saturday, so we needed to drop Alex at my parents’ house even earlier. He was soo excited to be out driving when it was still dark out—there were Halloween lights and decorations that we had never seen before during the day, so he was thrilled about that. He still talks about how fun it was to get up early and drive in the dark during Halloween time; even though it stings when I remember why we were driving so early, the fact that he holds it as a special memory makes me happy. 

At the hospital, I had to go to the Labor and Delivery unit; I was checked in and taken into what would be my prep and recovery room for the morning…which happened to be the same recovery room we were in when I had my c-section to deliver Alex. The same room in which I met and held my firstborn, was the same room in which I had to say goodbye to my second. I held it together until we walked down the hallway past the newborn portraits—a special form of torture for any woman who will never get to see the face of the baby she is there to have taken from her body. 

The procedure went smoothly, and when I awoke from anesthesia my body felt so much better physically; I was too far along to have my miscarriage at home, but I can’t imagine enduring that pain for any longer than forty hours anyway. I was given paperwork with a certificate of death and a list of groups I could contact for grief support. Our baby’s remains would be buried at Calvary Cemetery. 

I was 11 weeks along, and we hadn’t had the chance to tell many people yet, even though I was confident everything would go just as smoothly as when I was pregnant with Alex. It’s problematic when we feel discouraged from sharing news of pregnancy until after the first trimester.

From the moment I saw my positive pregnancy test, I was carrying our child. I talked to my baby every day, encouraging its tiny soul to flourish inside of me. I pictured our life as a family of four before we had even conceived, so when I heard my baby’s heart beating for the first time and saw my baby moving, I had no reason not to plan—not to hope. 

We still hadn’t told many people yet because we wanted to tell Alex first, and were just about to announce our great news when it all came crashing down. So when I had my miscarriage, since I had only told a handful of people, the story I was now sharing put my loss at the forefront, instead of celebrating the life I was lucky enough to create and carry in the first place. It became a very confusing process for me to navigate. 

Those who did know will ask how I’m doing—but how do you tell someone that you don’t know that you’ll never be okay again and that your whole entire heart has shattered into a thousand pieces and no matter how hard you work to put it back together, there’s always going to be entire shards that are missing now. Forever. How do you put that kind of hurt on another person’s heart? I just felt so responsible for protecting everyone else from my suffering, but in doing so I cheated myself out of my own grief. 

The holidays were hard—I felt stupid for ordering my skeleton maternity shirt for our Halloween pregnancy announcement. I tried to stay joyful for Alex, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly bitter at Christmas time when I should have been halfway through my pregnancy and wearing funny Christmas maternity shirts and thinking about how we’d have a seven month old addition to our celebration the next year, and what a fantastic brother Alex was going to be. Even though he hadn’t known I was pregnant, he talked about having a sibling all of the time, and what a good helper he would be to me. It broke my heart that I couldn’t give that to him. 

Today, I should be feeling all of the emotions I felt the day I went to the hospital to be induced for Alex: excitement and fear…so much fear…but also so much calm and readiness. I was so lucky to be having my baby. My body was aching and ready, and my mind overcame every doubt because I knew in my heart I would be able to nurture him and give him the best parts of myself. As soon as I found out I was pregnant this time, I think my attachment was immediately so much stronger because I knew how amazing the outcome would be. I already made a really awesome human, how lucky was I to get to do it again? Unfortunately, Noah’s story had a different outcome, and though he’ll never join us on earth, it comforts me to know I will hug him one day in Heaven. 

I never thought I would so heavily mourn the loss of someone I never really met. I just didn’t know. It happens to sooo many women, but I’ve only known a few women who lost their babies, and their pregnancies were so much further along than mine; they all had to delivery their stillborn babies, while I got to sleep through my procedure. I didn’t think I had any right to compare my grief when I had a first trimester loss. But grief counseling has helped me acknowledge my loss as real, and my feelings as valid. My experience and Noah’s existence, however brief, matter. 

My greatest source of support has been my friend Jenn, who lives states away, but has checked on my constantly since the day I reached out to her. She has always been so eloquent and forthcoming about losing her babies Hope and Anakin, and she was one of the first people I knew I could trust with my complete disclosure and heavy heart over the past six months. She’s also the reason I’m finally sharing my story because if I can make just one woman feel less alone, it’s so important I do. It’s just taken time to get to the point where I feel ready.

 Even though I only got to carry my baby for two and a half months, I still experienced five months of post partum symptoms, which was another thing I had no idea to expect. But it makes sense: my body was pregnant and grew a placenta and produced an extreme amount of hormones in that two months, so I still had to have that adjustment period. I just didn’t know it would be as long as my full term pregnancy. Human biology is miraculous, but so so weird.

During the past six months, we’ve learned that for a variety of reasons, we won’t be having another child. But I feel so incredibly lucky to have Alex: my perfect and wonderful soul, and some days I still don’t believe I was so blessed to get to be his mom. That is a privilege not lost on me. But I can’t deny the fact that I am still processing so much, and grieving the life I always envisioned us to have. I know nothing in this world is certain, (and that lesson has hit us more than ever lately) but I do know that I will do my absolute best to make sure Alex knows every day how loved he is, and that he has the most fulfilling life possible. He is everything to me, and I’ll never let him not feel that. 

Today, I’ll work as much as I can and I’ll have ice cream for dinner and I’ll love who I hold dear, and every day I’ll continue to hold Noah’s memory in my heart. Forever. 


Katie’s Story

It all started on June 30, 2021 when I took a pregnancy test to learn I was pregnant. I still have the cutest video of me showing my husband the pregnancy test while he was holding our son (2 years old at the time) on the couch and smiling when he realized we were going to add our third child to the mix. My son smiled too…it was all so sweet. My husband and I were both so excited and honestly I didn’t realize how badly I wanted another baby until I was sitting there processing it all. This would be our third child and would complete our family.

My sister had also told me she was pregnant a couple weeks before, our babies were going to be 5 weeks apart! Again, another sweet video of me announcing to her that our children were going to be best friends via newborn onesies. Another video I cannot bring myself to delete and that I will probably never share.

I told all of my sisters and my mother, but kept it at that because I wanted to see the heartbeat at my first ultrasound. For me, having already experienced a pregnancy loss with my first pregnancy, seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound helps ease that first trimester anxiety nearly every mother has probably felt.

I went in for my 8-week ultrasound on July 29, 2021. (8 weeks and 3 days to be exact as I knew the date we conceived). I was by myself as my husband had to work and I was fairly confident that we were ok. When I say that, I mean I had all the pregnancy symptoms (tender breasts, gagging when brushing my teeth, hell! my stomach had even grown) and I had not had any bleeding to indicate otherwise. The tech started on my belly with the ultrasound and had the screen out for me to see. Going through two pregnancies already, I knew what to look for but wasn’t seeing it. After a while the ultrasound tech said that we would have to go vaginally to get a better look because I wasn’t as far along. She asked me to confirm the start of my last period date and started the ultrasound again, this time without showing me the screen. That should have been my first clue.

Katie P.

She kept a good face on and after a while she said she needed to go get a physician to speak with me. I looked at her and asked what was going on and she said “there is no baby.” She said there is a gestational sac but it appears to be empty. I sent a text to my husband and I texted my sister, who had sent me well wishes before the appointment. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. Not in a million years did I think this would ever happen to me again.

The OB on shift at the time came in and told me that I was most likely miscarrying because the shape of my uterus looked to be shrinking. What she didn’t see in the ultrasound or what didn’t draw her attention were the grape like cysts. I cried and asked some questions which she answered and she gave me a hug which was comforting…I love hugs. Before I left they drew blood to check my hCG levels, they scheduled me for an appointment with my regular OB and told me to get another blood draw the day before that appointment. Then they sent me on my way.

I made it out of the waiting room and to the comfort of my car before I just completely lost it and sobbed. On my drive home I called my pregnant sister and sobbed some more. When I got home, my husband called after seeing my texts and said he was on his way home from work so I wouldn’t have to be home alone. It was a long, long, dreadful day. Many of the same emotions as my first loss. I had immediate thoughts of “what did I do wrong?” “Why me?” “This isn’t fair.” You name it, I thought of it that day.

August 1st – Ultrasound Results:
Uterus: Irregular shaped gestational sac with no yolk sac or fetal pole visualized. Heterogeneous tissue noted surrounding the gestational sac.

I got my blood drawn as instructed by the OB. On July 29th, my HCG levels were at 90,051. On August 3rd, the levels came back at 155,076. I thought, “huh? How can it be rising? With my last loss it went down…maybe, just maybe the OB, the ultrasound tech, and the ultrasound results are just wrong. Maybe the baby isn’t as far along as we thought?” For some reason I actually had hope going into my next appointment that maybe the baby was still there…

On August 4th, I saw my regular doctor and she took one look at my ultrasound and combined that with the rising hCG levels and said “this looks like a molar pregnancy.” She ordered another ultrasound and once she saw those images she confirmed that yes, it was in fact a molar pregnancy and ordered a D&C to have it surgically removed the following day. The small hope I had of there being a baby was crushed and now I had to start digesting this diagnosis.

Most of you I’m sure have never heard of the term “Molar Pregnancy” and I’m sure you want to know what that is. This is how I understand it: so, there are 2 types of molar pregnancy. One is a partial molar where two sperm fertilizes one egg 69 chromosomes total; 23 chromosomes from the egg and 46 from the sperm. A baby can form in a partial molar, but will not be viable. The other is a complete molar pregnancy where an empty egg with no maternal chromosomes is fertilized by one or two sperm. Meaning 23-46 chromosomes, but all from the sperm, no genetic material from the mother. No baby forms. In a normal/non-molar pregnancy you get 23 chromosomes from the egg and 23 chromosomes from the sperm. So a tumor formed in my uterus instead of the placenta and it became a mass of fluid-filled sacs/cysts. This was the knowledge I had going in to get the surgery to remove the molar pregnancy.

August 5th was D&C day to remove the molar pregnancy. Before I went into surgery, we had my OB explain what we should expect and what would come of this, etc. She said that once we get everything out they would send it to pathology to discover whether it was a partial or complete molar. She said we would hope for a partial molar. She explained that if it’s a partial molar we will monitor your hCG levels until they go to 0 and when the levels return to 0, we would be able to try again for another baby. She said if it’s a complete molar that again they would monitor my hCG levels until they return to 0, but that I would have to be placed on the birth control pill to ensure that I do not become pregnant for up to a year to ensure that my levels never rise. In both partial and complete molar pregnancies, hCG levels are monitored weekly to make sure the levels are going down. If the hCG levels ever plateau or rise then that means the tumor is growing back and I would have to undergo chemotherapy to remove tumor cells and reduce the chance of it spreading to my lungs. My OB assured me that this becoming cancer is super rare and only happens to 15-20% of women. But my first thought was, “yea it’s rare, but so are molar pregnancies and here I am.”

I am another statistic. I am 1 in 1,000 women in the US. I just wanted a baby to complete our family and I ended up with a tumor…and now there is talk about possible cancer? This is so unfair.

As I laid there waiting to be put under for my D & C, I was looking up at the operating room lights and couldn’t believe that this was the second time in a year that I was looking up at those lights (August 2nd 2020 was my appendectomy. My daughter was only 11 days old). For some reason, I find those lights terrifying, even though both my surgeries are very routine and less invasive, it’s still terrifying to be put under anesthesia hoping nothing goes wrong and you wake up! My OB held my hand as I was being put under and that helped a lot. My OB was very happy with the surgery, there was minimal blood, they removed it all and we would meet in 2 weeks to discuss the pathology results and move forward with a plan.

The pathology results from my surgically removed molar pregnancy indicated that I had a complete molar pregnancy, meaning back on birth control and not allowed to become pregnant. That was another hard pill to swallow. I want to have my baby on my own timeline and my own terms, I don’t want it to be dictated by doctors. Also, a complete molar pregnancy means a baby never formed. Was I even allowed to grieve if there was no baby at all? I remember getting this news as I was getting ready for work and I just sat there crying on our couch. After I allowed myself that cry, I got the kids ready and off I went to drop them off at the sitter and go to work. I could have taken time off, but work was a distraction. 

I was placed on birth control to ensure I would not fall pregnant and I had to go in every single week to get blood drawn to check my hCG levels. It took 7 weeks for my levels to get down to 0. Then I had to get monthly blood draws for 6 months. As long as the hCG levels did not rise, we would be cleared to get off birth control and try again. This molar pregnancy was extremely hard on me. I was emotionally devastated to learn that I had lost the pregnancy, then I felt isolated from the rarity of my diagnosis, and then there was a chance I may need chemotherapy! It’s an incredible amount of emotions I was forced to bear. On top of all that, I wasn’t able to try again right away, I had to be monitored weekly and then monthly which made it impossible to move forward with my grief. Every blood draw was a constant reminder of my loss. 

I was lucky enough that my hCG levels never rose and I was cleared by my OB to get off birth control in March of 2022. My first cycle in April, we fell pregnant, but it sadly ended in a chemical pregnancy. We are still trying and are hopeful for a double rainbow baby. 


Reese’s Story


In March of this year, we finally received the gift we have been waiting on so long. Positive pregnancy tests! I cannot begin to tell you the immense joy emanating from simply seeing two lines on the pregnancy test. For the last few years, I was riddled with anxiety and sadness from just getting negative results, but now it was finally happening. 

We first saw our baby “Feijãozinho” in our 7 week scan on the 29th of March. A wee little baby. A tiny blip in my tummy. Our reality was unfolding beautifully and our love grew more and more for this wonderous miracle. We had another scan in our 8th week and we heard Feijãozinho’s heart beating for the first time. I have heard heart beats constantly in my nursing career but trust me when I say that it was the most beautiful heart rhythm I have ever heard: strong and promising. My husband woke me up in the mornings by nuzzling my stomach, I fell asleep to him talking to Feijãozinho. We started planning for the future that had been our heart’s desire for the longest time: a future where I am Mamãe, João is Papai, and we have our baby Feijãozinho. Our weekends were filled with going to baby fairs, going to maternity shops and choosing car seats and buggies. Every waking moment revolved around our child. Our love, hopes and dreams have all been placed in a baby-shaped basket.

We went around in a baby haze, continuing our daily routines but very mindful of the precious cargo we were carrying. I received my first appointment at the Coombe for May 6th. I left work on May 5th wishing my colleagues a lovely weekend and telling them excitedly we’re seeing the baby the next day for our 12 week scan.

We had no clue as to how our reality would change the day after. The morning of the scan, I was sending my friends and family photos of my baby bump. I went in the Coombe, got through my booking appointment, had my bloods taken, then rang my husband to meet me in the Maternity scanning department. I remember feeling irate as all the ladies who arrived after me got called in first. It might have been the Universe’s way to try to spare us from the pain a few minutes longer.

We went in and did our routine checks. The sonographer located the baby but fell into a deep silence. After a few seconds, she ran the color flow.

It was after that she said the words which broke my husband and I: “I am sorry but your baby has no heartbeat..”

I had to wait a week to get another scan done and I am not going to lie, there was this little voice of hope in the back of my mind wishing for a different outcome. Doctor Alex and rANP Sinead unfortunately confirmed what we already knew. I was then faced with a decision whether to wait for my body to expel the fetus naturally, take medication that will induce labor, or go for surgery. I went for the latter.

Today marks the day that our angel baby was physically separated from my body. There is a feeling of finality around the whole experience and a lingering wistfulness around the loss but my heart remains hopeful. Before I went into the hospital, I whispered to our angel baby to look after me. Feijãozinho sent nurse Joanne in St Gerard’s Ward, nurse Rita and Kuya Alfred who held my hand in the OR until I went under. I woke up to my kind and empathetic nurse, Patience, in the recovery room. Feijãozinho pulled through and looked after his Mãe and I know our baby will always be with us and that he’s being minded by his Lolo Ato & great grandma Mayet.

I look at my husband and who has been rock through this whole ordeal who never fails to give me as much affection as I want with a smile on his face. I know that my broken heart mirrors his but he has bravely put his own needs over mine and has been looking after me like a trooper. I couldn’t have picked better husband and my love grows for him deeper from all the challenges we have been through.

Our baby has gone to heaven now but we will forever be his parents. We cannot wait for the day that we get to meet again, but until that happens, we pray for the strength to carry us through every day while hoping and praying for a healthy Earth-side baby.

This is our story that I am sharing to the world as no parents should suffer the loss of their child in silence. I am 1 in 4 & I am 1 in 8.

Coping With Loss

Trying to Conceive: A Holiday Survival Guide

You’re sitting at your family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Your red sweater covers your flat belly as you sip on a festive cocktail. Your nieces and nephews run past in their little tights and dress pants, laughing and fighting over one of their newest toys. You smile at their joy.

Enter your nosy aunt.

“So when are you going to have one of those? You’re not getting any younger, you know!”

Your stomach drops.

It’s inevitable. It’s well-meaning. But it hurts nonetheless.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that you would love for your red sweater to be sporting a baby bump, but you took a test this morning and it was negative. Again.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that even though cocktails and the holidays go together like…well…cocktails and the holidays, you would give anything for the cocktail to be a ginger ale to pair with morning sickness.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that you smiled at your nieces and nephews because you can’t wait for your own baby to join the cousin crew and share the holidays with them.

The holiday season brings so much to those trying to conceive (TTC)*. When you’re waiting for a baby, your feelings may not match the “joy” the commercials, TV specials and light displays are trying to promote.

And that’s okay.

How to survive the holidays when you’re TTC:

When people ask when you’re having a baby/having more kids:

  • if you’re feeling honest: “we’re actually trying and could use your support. Here’s how you can help…”
  • if you want to give minimal information: “great question! We’ll have to see. This is hard for me to talk about and I’m not sure I feel comfortable sharing more at this time. I’ll let you know if/when I do.”
  • if you’re feeling sassy and never want them to ask again: “thanks for asking, Karen. I just took a negative test this morning and this will make the 5th one I’ve taken so who the f*%& knows!”
    NOTE: this one isn’t recommended, but will definitely add some dramatic flair to your yuletide evening.

When you’re exhausted from the parties, gift-buying, gift-wrapping, social interactions, school parties for living children and you somehow still need to find time to do the whole “trying to conceive” part:

  • talk to your partner: set boundaries for yourself if you feel it’s all too much.
  • share the load: give your partner a list of holiday chores to take on so that you have more time to focus on your time together. Maybe he is in charge of gifts for his family or maybe he preps the Christmas cookie dough this year. Being specific can go a long way.
  • go on a date: “what?! Who has time for dates, lady?! You literally just listed everything going on and then some!”
    Right. Sounds like you deserve a date more than anyone, no?
    Drive around with hot chocolate and look at lights. Get the good movie theater popcorn and watch a movie. Go out to dinner if possible. Hold hands. Whatever! Scheduling time together and prioritizing time together makes it easier to think about baby dancing together.
  • take this month off: let me explain.
    If it makes you more anxious to temporarily take time off of TTC or treatments, don’t do it. Doing what makes you feel the most comfortable is what will work best for you, your relationship and your family, period.
    This is simply for anyone who hasn’t been told that it’s okay to take a break if it’s too much:
    It’s okay to take a break if it’s too much!

When you thought you’d be pregnant by now:

I know. It hurts.

For some reason, Christmas and the holidays carry so much. Nostalgia, hope, and as I grow older, even prior to my miscarriage, I noticed another guest that showed up:


The holidays of your childhood get further and further away every year. People come and go and traditions change. This is heartbreaking and difficult and can show up in many different ways. Maybe you’re grieving the family dynamic you wish you had or the fact that you have to go to four Christmases because of step-families. Maybe the holidays haven’t felt the same since your grandmother got sick a few years ago, or maybe it hasn’t felt the same since you were 12.

Whatever it may be, grief already has a seat at Christmas dinner. However, you control how much or how little they get to speak up.

If you are sad because all you want is a baby for Christmas, that’s okay.

If you are hopeful because a new year is starting and it’s a clean slate, that’s okay.

If you are mourning the fact that you thought this would be “your year” for a baby, that’s okay.

Acknowledge all your feelings and hold space for them.

Make a plan to step out if something triggers you. Tell your partner in advance that you might need to take 5 minutes on the porch to breathe or skip the work party all-together.

Then, picture that bump in your red sweater, the ginger ale in hand or the sight of your little baby chasing after their cousins in years to come. And remind yourself that you are already a fantastic parent, even if you are still “in waiting.”

You can also picture yourself telling your nosy aunt to take a hike, if that makes you feel better.

May the holidays land gently for you as you wait for that “big, fat positive” under the tree.

*While TTC itself isn’t necessarily directly affiliated with pregnancy loss, I like to keep in mind the grief and waiting associated with TTC and infertility treatments. I will be sharing another post soon on navigating the holidays after loss.