Mother’s Day without a baby

After losing 7 babies due to recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, 41-year-old Alex is learning to live with the idea of not giving birth to the child she longs for. In this blog, Alex reflects on her personal experience of unexplained infertility and how the baby loss community can support families without rainbows on Mother’s Day.

Time is something we’ve all had quite a bit of recently, due to lockdown and not being able to live our lives in the normal way. We wish we could be filling our days socialising with family and friends, going shopping or on holidays, even going to the gym! But for me, due to my struggle with recurrent miscarriage, for years I’ve thought to myself: “I wish I had more time.”

Multiple miscarriages and trying to conceive

My husband and I started trying for a baby when I was 27. Now, as my 42nd birthday rolls around, I am learning to live with the fact that I will not give birth to our biological child. The constant medical procedures and interventions affect your life in every single way – and the constant loss gets too much for couples to bear, physically and mentally.

“Sadly, not everybody gets to have their rainbow baby. Even today, in 2021, for some couples there is no answer and no treatment available to prevent baby loss.”

The first couple of times I miscarried, I had a blind faith that one day I was going to have a baby. Eventually, that faith slowly but surely ebbed away. We tried different medical techniques each time to sustain the pregnancy but none of them worked. By the seventh miscarriage, and after losing my second IVF baby, I felt that another pregnancy would inevitably end in miscarriage. 

I’d gone through so much throughout the years: ectopic pregnancies, injecting with blood thinners, IUI, IVF, countless medical tests... But now there was nothing left for us to try, and still nobody could tell us why it was happening; I felt like my body had let me down.

Grieving baby loss and moving forward

Physically and emotionally, I was broken. I remember coming home from the hospital when we found out that I was going to miscarry that seventh pregnancy, just lying on the floor and sobbing, pleading with somebody to save my baby. At that moment, the grief was so raw that I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to even get up off the floor, let alone get through the coming months and years. It’s something that you learn to live with every day.

“Even when the raw pain and emotion has passed, there’s always a sense of sadness as to what could have been, and a sense of injustice – why me, what did I do wrong?”

My husband and I have learnt to focus on all the good things in our lives; we talk about the sadness that we feel but also remind ourselves that a life without children can still be a happy and fulfilling one. I do worry about growing older and not having close family around me if I were in ill health or lonely – not that having children definitely removes those issues, but it’s another thing you think about when you don’t have a younger generation coming after you. 

Holidays and life events without children

On my birthday, just before Mother’s Day, I won’t have a card to proudly display saying ‘mummy’ on it – but my nieces and godchildren always remember me and send something special to let me know they love me. Knowing there are young lives I can have a positive impact on, that I am making memories with, who I can cuddle and spoil when I am feeling sad about my situation... That makes the day so much easier to get through.

“Mother’s Day is a day for all of us who haven’t been able to fall pregnant or who have lost babies, as well as those who have their children around them to celebrate. You might feel alone but you are not.”

For those who find Mother’s Day difficult, I think it’s important to spend the day in whatever way makes you feel comfortable and gets you through. You might need to switch off from the world and take care of yourself. You might want to do something special to remember the babies you’ve lost or acknowledge the loss of the chance to be a mother to your biological child.

I share my story in the hope that if you feel at your lowest point like I have - on Mother’s Day or any other day - you know there are others who feel the same way and great support from charities like Tommy’s whenever you need it. Despite going through something so painful, it gives me some comfort that I can try to change the outcome for others and in some small way help them have longed-for babies. That’s why I will keep supporting Tommy’s, raising funds and telling my story, so that one day we can end baby loss.