My Miscarriage in IVF, and How to Heal from Loss

Many women experience miscarriages, yet this topic remains largely unspoken, leaving many to navigate their grief in solitude. As women, we have been conditioned to normalize and minimize our suffering. It is has become a burden that we carry alone, often silently, within our grieving bodies. 

The term, “miscarry” in itself is fundamentally flawed as it dishonors a woman’s experience by framing her as a “failure.” The truth is, no woman ‘fails’ to carry life– sometimes, it’s something that just happens. However, in certain parts of today’s world, we have gone as far as criminalizing pregnancy loss, casting pregnant women as mere vessels rather than human beings. 

It is my hope that by sharing my story, we as women can dismantle the stigma surrounding these experiences. I hope that by sharing this intimate story of mine, we can feel less alone and more empowered through the words of our hearts and voices. May we come together and move forward with the strength and depths of our wombs and bellies, echoing the wisdom from our ancient mothers.

The First Positive Test in 3 years.

I still remember sitting on the toilet in the early hours of the morning, sobbing, as I saw that second line appear, faint as it may have been. I had waited three years for this moment, and despite how surreal it felt, I thought to myself: this is it, this is the one! My tests also showed positive signs; my HCG levels were doubling up until the first ultrasound at 7 weeks. I even surprised my husband by placing a bun in the oven for him to open, revealing a positive pregnancy test. 

Of course, the day arrived when we walked triumphantly into our first ultrasound appointment, only to discover no sign of a heartbeat. Not even a faint glimmer of hope. The room fell into a deafening silence, and we felt our hearts sink into the floor.

Vanishing Twin Syndrome.

The embryo had successfully implanted, but it had split into two sacs, one being empty and the other containing yolk. We were told that this was a case of Vanishing Twin Syndrome, which happens in 36% of pregnancies. The single embryo we transferred could have overspent its energy splitting into two. And when that didn’t work out, the mission was aborted. 

I should also probably mention here that my husband is an identical twin! So, for our little embryo… it was either, “Be a twin… or be nothing at all!” 

Since there were still no signs of a developing heartbeat, I eventually miscarried at 8 weeks. The doctor initially suggested a D&C, but at that moment, I wanted to fully experience the loss of our baby with every fiber of my being.

The Details We Need to Talk About.

On Easter Sunday, shortly after stopping IVF medications, I collapsed in the bathroom from losing too much blood. My husband, seeing our bathroom turn into a crime scene, was no doubt scarred for life. While I had never been afraid of blood, the amount of bleeding was something I had never experienced before. Even a ‘super’ pad became useless within minutes. I was in such excruciating pain and anguish that it felt like my womb was being violently torn apart along with the remnants of our precious baby.

“To feel and know that another life is growing inside you in one moment; only to have that reality abruptly stripped away in a matter of seconds is something that simply cannot be described in words. It is a language that can only be felt within our wombs.”

I was devastated and heartbroken. We trusted and prayed relentlessly, but even the power of love couldn’t save our baby. Throughout my entire life, I firmly believed that with good intentions and hard work, dreams would come true. In an instant, that belief and everything I had known about myself shattered into a million pieces, leaving me hollow and empty.
The bleeding lasted for six long weeks, draining the very life out of what remained. Upon waking up, all I wanted was to retreat into my dreams, where I could be with our baby. Days blurred altogether, leaving me disoriented and unaware of the simplest details like what day of the week it was. It felt as if I were adrift in the vast expanse of infinite darkness, yearning to be found. There were moments while driving when I had to pull over, overcome by floods of tears. 

“The world carried on as if nothing had happened, while I struggled to come to terms with what was taken from me.”

I was desperately searching for ways to process my grief. Miscarriages are still such a taboo subject, rarely talked about openly. Since these experiences are often kept in the dark, women are left without any context for understanding their emotions. There’s a deep need for emotional consolation, but even well-intentioned loved ones may inadvertently offer insensitive advice that further isolates our experiences. Phrases like “At least you’re still young” or “at least you know you can have children” may not be the comfort we seek— what we truly need is empathy.

It’s hard to fully open up about the things we keep hidden. That’s why we must be given a safe space to share our stories of loss. A space where we can openly speak about miscarriage, including the graphic details of blood, physical and emotional agony, the shock of medical emergencies, and the overwhelming feelings of vulnerability and desperation.

Writing the raw material of my experience gave my suffering a voice, allowing it to be seen and heard. As I confronted my grief, my words gradually liberated me from the shackles of my experience.

Journaling can be a sanctuary in such times, offering refuge to our feelings instead of becoming overwhelmed or defined by them. By unfolding ourselves upon the page, we open our hearts to healing and change. Like a compass, our words guide us through the depths of our pain and suffering.

Becoming a Mother to Myself.

The miscarriage plunged me into an emptiness that made me feel unloved and unworthy. Yet, all of it felt strangely familiar, like an old wound that was opening. In the pursuit of becoming a mother, I lost sight of the one who needed mothering the most. Within me was a little girl that still felt unworthy of love, burdened by shame, and fundamentally flawed for who she was. The truth is, having a child was not going to fill that void. 

Through the darkest days of navigating my grief, I learned to choose myself. I found ways to honor who I am, not only by doing things I truly loved, but also learning how to lean into discomfort. Often, when the heart feels tight, there is an inner wound. In these moments, I tell myself there’s a story here that needs to be seen and heard… so I write about them. Gradually, I confronted the feelings of self-blame, codependency, and abandonment, replacing them with love, radical acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. As wounded children, we always dreamed that someone would come save us. Little did we know that the savior would, in fact, be our future selves. 

Grief is the price we pay for Love.

In the brief moments of sharing a body, our precious seed of life taught us so much of love and life’s impermanence. 

“Grief is the price we pay for love,” a quote I read that remains true, no matter how hard it is to accept it. My grief wasn’t measured by the fact that I had miscarried but from the depth of attachment in being a mother. At it’s core, grief is simply love. When I finally understood this, even when my heart felt like it was breaking, in a profound way, it was also opening. Grief carves out the space we need for transformation. 

‘Conception’ is not the final destination but a mere part of the process. Despite my miscarriages, I could see that it was a necessary part of my journey in becoming a mother. Looking back now, I realize how much I’ve changed. I’m no longer saddened by the experience, in fact, it’s quite the opposite— I am grateful for every part of it. I am thankful to have experienced motherhood, brief as it may have been, for it opened my heart’s capacity to love. I’ve come to accept that I don’t need to have children to be a good mother, as much as my purpose is to mother myself first. 

If having a child is indeed written in the stars, then I am deeply honored. For now, I entrust all things beyond my control to the true creator: Mother Nature herself. 

love, emyli.