Like many women, I never imagined I would struggle to start my family on my own timeline. I always dreamed of having three kids, spaced two to three years apart in age. When my husband and I started trying to conceive, I assumed I would be pregnant a few months later. Why wouldn’t I be? I was a healthy 26 year old.
A year later, I sat crying in the doctor’s office as I found out that I have PCOS, a condition that impacts one in 10 women of childbearing age. I learned that the infertility I was experiencing was due to my body’s high level of androgen hormones. The next few months were a blur of ultrasounds, bloodwork, and hormones as I began treatment to conceive a child. After seven months of treatment I was crying again, but this time with happy tears at the two pink lines that appeared on my pregnancy test.
That feeling of elation continued for the next 12 weeks. We had three ultrasounds in that time and got to see our baby boy grow. I am an avid knitter and made a pair of tiny knit shoes for our little boy. I couldn’t wait to meet him and put those socks on his tiny toes.
When I went into the doctor’s office for my 12-week ultrasound, I heard the words no expecting mother ever wants to hear: “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
It’s hard to remember much of what happened over the next few days. I was scheduled for a D&C, a surgical procedure to remove the fetus since I was already at the end of my first trimester. I am fortunate to have quality health insurance, but many women in my position do not. A D&C procedure can cost thousands of dollars. The last thing any mother should have to worry about as she says goodbye to her child is whether the anesthesiologist performing her miscarriage procedure is in-network with her insurance.
I was woefully unprepared for what to expect following my miscarriage. In sex education at school, I was taught how to get pregnant, but never about what would happen if I couldn’t get pregnant or if the pregnancy went wrong. My doctor gave me my first glimpse at what to expect physically: bleeding, cramping, and a few weeks before my hormone levels would return to normal.
But even my doctor didn’t prepare me for the emotional toll the miscarriage would have on both me and my husband. After the initial shock wore off, we both sought counseling services to begin to piece our lives back together. We are still healing, and the road ahead of us is a long one. I have packed away the knit shoes and baby onesies for now in the hopes that someday in the future, we will get to see our child wearing them. My husband called to mind the famous short story by Ernest Hemmingway as we tearfully packed away our baby items:
“For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.“
Infertility can happen to anyone, even otherwise healthy young people. #WeCanAll advocate for better infertility education, health coverage, and mental health resources to support people as they build their families.
Jordan C., MD
These personal stories have been vetted by RESOLVE to ensure that specific products or service providers are not mentioned. RESOLVE does not edit any details provided by the author in regards to their personal choices or belief.