Does it have a beginning..?

My name is Rene, I am writing this as I go through my third baby loss. Initially I wanted to dedicate this space to talk about infertility and the struggles my partner and I have been through to get to this point. But the pain of this last miscarriage has led me to want to talk about what it has meant for me to have lost three babies and also what it has meant to take years to conceive only to lose again.

I could not tell you which one is worse whether it is infertility or miscarriage, but I can tell you that both of them hurt like hell. A hurt that is often not well understood by people, friends, family or society. However, I have received help from all of them. I also have attempted to find some comfort in reading other people’s stories of grief, loss and infertility and the more I read, the more I realise how everyone is unique, how you can’t compare and how there is no place for judgement in this suffering. There is only a place for understanding, caring, and listening.

I understood that the fear of sharing my story was just there because of preconceptions that I had in my mind before all of this happened to me. I didn’t know that when you grieve you can become angry, jealous or numb all at the same time. I didn’t know there was a sense of guilt and I didn’t know that accepting my emotions could help me cope with my pain. I write this in the hope that when you read it, you will feel that you also want to share your story and help raise awareness of these two unspoken facets of life: infertility and pregnancy loss.

I first became aware that infertility existed through Bible stories that my father used to read to us. I remember my young brain thinking, “For no reason at all, Sarah, Raquel and Hannah couldn’t have children but later on they eventually did, and they all were very special.” Then later, I remember asking about infertility at home but it being brushed off quickly. I felt that I had to think that these people simply didn’t want any children. But I knew something wasn’t right and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t until I read Yerma by F. G. Lorca that I understood more of the nature of infertility; it felt raw, dehumanising and completely maddening. I could feel Yerma’s despair and her tenderness and womanhood deeply inside me. (If you don’t feel you can handle a tragedy, don’t read it, but it is a wonderful play). I remember thinking at that time, “For sure this is not going to happen to me”.

2011 is when I first started thinking about having a baby with my then husband. Looking back I feel I was very naïve and unprepared to face my inability to conceive. I thought that for sure you always find out if something is wrong and then, when you do, you can fix it. HA! After a year I thought I couldn’t deal with more two week waits. I also thought I was too young and that the issue will fix itself. I have compassion for my 2011 self for not putting me through fertility testing and IVF back then. But I also think she is a b***h because she just put her head in the sand.

In 2017 I became pregnant by accident for the first time, after separating from my husband a year earlier, without trying, without two week waits. I felt angry at the universe for making it look so easy and for not being on my side years earlier. However, I embraced motherhood and I felt very special to hold a life inside me for about a week, as I miscarried the following week at about 7 weeks. Words can’t describe what I felt at that point, it was a howling moment. To this day I will never forget the cries that another mum was uttering just outside the EPU where I had also just lost my baby. I understood her and I understood I wanted to do the same. I remember smashing a glass on the floor to see if that could help relieve the pain. It didn’t and then I had to sweep it…

But not all was anger and despair, I discovered another side of the story that I didn’t know before. There was love, lots and lots and lots of love, for a tiny tiny baby that for many people is just cells. I discovered I was a mother and that no one can ever take that away from me. It was precious. I named my baby Raquel after the Bible character who couldn’t have children but eventually had two sons.

In 2018 I met the love of my life. I knew incredibly early on that I wanted to have children with this man. Everything felt right, like it was meant to be. We always say that we are two mental peas in a pod and that’s exactly what we are. We drive each other mad at the same time as we admire and support each other. But all is not roses. I fell pregnant 3 months after we started trying and I thought  “infertility was no longer a thing for me”. But a week later, we lost the baby at 5 and a half weeks. His nickname is Pequeño, which means “little” in Spanish. Later we named him Ethan. Curiously, we both saw him in dreams on the same night and we both thought about the same name without knowing.

After my second loss the need for answers became overwhelming as it was the need to improve my health, which deteriorated badly in the months following the miscarriage. I lost the motivation to go on. But I pushed through fertility testing and I started doing counselling, acupuncture, a radical change in diet and taking lots of supplements. However, months after months I was disappointed, I took a pregnancy test even when my period had arrived for fear of having a miscarriage and not knowing. I became mentally unstable and obsessed with pregnancy, babies, ivf, medical journals and books about fertility. I read all the research that I could find to help me understand what was happening to me. The fertility testing provided no answers and the recurrent miscarriage tests were inaccessible to me after only 2 losses. It was a very dark time. But thanks to it, I now know lots about rpl and infertility, and I hope to help people with this knowledge.

Eventually, in 2019 we were referred to have IVF in April of 2020. I started looking forward to trying for a baby again, thinking “if nature fails me, then there is science”. But our cycle was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. I just couldn’t believe our luck! I cried so much and I got blind drunk to forget about it all. The lockdown favoured us in unexpected ways, however. We no longer felt the pressure to socialise while we were going through so much internally. I relaxed and thought that I also exist. I hadn’t thought of myself like that for what seemed like centuries. I wanted to be a better person just for myself. Not for IVF, not for a baby and not even for my partner. I started running and teaching online after almost a year of being unemployed. I was probably mourning the loss of my 10-year job for about a year! But it felt like I was human again, and I started to think that good things can happen to us too.

Unexpectedly, I became pregnant in April 2020. I couldn’t believe it one bit. I felt elation at the two lines of the pregnancy test. I kept it. I said to myself that I was grateful to even see those two lines at all. The elation was mixed with so much fear though. It was a couple of days into the pregnancy and I already felt like I had been pregnant for months. Minutes became years, hours became decades. I remember thinking “how does a woman survive 9 months like this?” It was pure panic. But I was determined to enjoy the pregnancy for as much as I could for as long as it lasted. (Thinking about it I think I feel so guilty for subconsciously expecting a miscarriage). But again, a week later, I lost my baby at 6 weeks. This time there was no howling. I wish I could have howled. Everything became surreal and the anger surfaced again this time at the medical professionals for not finding any answers after my second loss. Because of this I decided to name my baby Jesus (pronounced in Spanish) because he has potentially given up his life so that others could live. I am not sure whether I want answers or not anymore. I dread the familiarity with which I greeted this miscarriage. I can’t believe the bravery I see in other people’s stories of infertility and loss and how I experience mine with a sense of utter destitution. I think we always need other people to put things into perspective because we become so ingrained in our own grief that we can’t see that we are an example of perseverance, acceptance, endurance and, in my case, probably a little stubbornness and pig-headedness.

The name for this blog came about when I was on the bus in Spain and I thought about alternative universes. I realised that in another universe I was a mother to 2 living children (perhaps 3, as I had a chemical pregnancy too), and that filled me with pride. No matter where my children are, I will love them for ever. I also thought that, when I was infertile the first time, I mourned for the children that I didn’t have with my ex-husband. Those are my space babies. These are my space babies and the ones I will or will not have are my space babies.

With this reflection I wanted to share my story and maybe help people to identify with it. If you are suffering from infertility or loss, know that you are valued and loved for what you are doing and going through, whether you tell your story or not, your efforts are never in vain. If you know someone who has been through this, please support them and listen to them, tell them that you love them. My story has no answers and no happy endings yet, but this will be updated and reviewed. Now I am off to grieve a little.