1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility in the United States. Infertility affects both women and men. It does not discriminate; affects people from all walks of life.

1 in 4 experience pregnancy loss. 1 in 100 experience recurrent pregnancy loss. As a woman who experienced IVF and miscarriage – let’s shed some light on miscarriage awareness to bring about support.

With my infertility diagnosis, I have done 4 cycles of IVF and I sadly had 3 miscarriages. My first one was due to an ectopic pregnancy – the embryo implanted outside my uterus. My second miscarriage, after doing some testing after my pregnancy loss, was due to an abnormal embryo. My third miscarriage was when I was pregnant with twins – one thankfully survived.

These miscarriages were devastating and brought great pain and heartache to myself and my husband. Was it something I did wrong that caused me to miscarry? Was I not meant to be a mother? Lots of sadness and confusion that I had to make sense of.

Miscarriage after IVF

A miscarriage is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive independently. The most common symptom of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding with or without pain. Tissue and clot-like material may leave the uterus and pass through and out of the vagina naturally, with the aid of medications, or by a procedure called a uterine dilation and curettage (D&C).

I still vividly remember the times I experienced a miscarriage. Waking up in the middle of the night with blood on the bed, calling the doctor frantically, going into the clinic for the ultrasound to confirm that there’s no longer a heartbeat, and having a D&C procedure done were painful memories.

Miscarriage after in vitro fertilization (IVF) is only slightly higher than in a normally conceived pregnancy. The cause of miscarriage after having IVF is likely very similar to any other pregnancy loss. Most miscarriages are thought to be due to chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby, not because of IVF procedures.

Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding miscarriage. A few that I’ve heard over the years are:

  • You caused your miscarriage. This is far from the truth. As stated earlier, most miscarriages are due to some chromosomal abnormalities with the embryo or fetus, thus resulting in pregnancy loss. Unless you are smoking and drinking heavily or doing illicit drugs which puts you at a greater risk for pregnancy and birth complications, a woman does not cause miscarriages. This stigma needs to be erased because far too often, women may internalize this into guilt which causes much grief and may lead to depression.
  • Stress, heavy lifting, exercise, or even having sex does not cause miscarriages. You just want to be careful that if you do engage in strenuous exercise or if you had an accident such as a fall, that you seek your medical provider’s input.
  • Don’t talk about your miscarriage – it should be kept a secret. Keeping silent and not seeking support perpetrates even more guilt, disappointment, and loneliness in an already stressful battle when dealing with infertility and IVF.

Grief and Depression

Any miscarriage is painful emotionally. With IVF and its physical (the endless shots and medications) and financial (expensive procedures) toll, its toll on you emotionally can be overwhelming grief and depression.

With not many people even knowing we were going through IVF, having a miscarriage made us even feel lonelier in this infertility journey. I remember I took time off from work after the D&C. I thought I would be ready to go back after a few days – I stepped into my classroom and just cried uncontrollably. If it wasn’t for a coworker’s hug and suggestion to take more time off, I probably would have been more of an emotional wreck.

Honestly the best thing to do is give your body and soul time to heal and grieve from your pregnancy loss – it is after all a death. A death of a loved one you never met, but loved from the very beginning. It is okay to feel sad and mad or whatever other emotions you may be feeling – it is important to acknowledge it and seek help to heal from it.

Support and Resources

Whether you turn to your partner, a family member, close friend, coworker, or even a therapist, it is vital to seek support after experiencing a miscarriage.

You can join a support group in person or online to hear of others going through the same situation, share your story, and gain insights on how to heal and ultimately move forward.

Reading can be a source of healing and I found solace in reading books on how to deal with my pregnancy loss. Here are some helpful ones –

Not Broken: An Approachable Guide to Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss by Lora Shahine M.D.

According to an editorial review on Amazon “The title for Not Broken is based on kintsugi, a Japanese art form in which broken pottery is repaired with gold or silver. It is a philosophy that embraces the cracks as something that should be highlighted, not hidden. Such a sentiment is the foundation of Dr. Shahine’s work and, in a world where every aspect of pregnancy from the sex of the child and beyond is blamed solely on the mother, Dr. Shahine breaks that misconception and works to ease the burden of guilt as well as provide practical easy-to-understand solutions. She writes as someone who is in the reader’s corner, and Not Broken is sure to be an excellent well of information – whether it’s a couple struggling with pregnancy, or anyone looking to gain a wider range of knowledge. Not Broken by Dr. Lora Shahine is a great resource to have.” – Kayti Nika Raet for Readers’ Favorite

I particularly liked this book because the author writes from the perspective of her being a board certified reproductive endocrinologist. Dr. Shahine is the director of the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program at Pacific NW Fertility in Seattle, WA. Her bio states that she is committed to increasing awareness and furthering research in infertility and miscarriage as a clinical instructor at the University of Washington.

Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage by Laura and Franco Fanucci

This book is written by a couple specifically for couples, understanding that both spouses have experienced a loss and grieve differently. According to it’s Amazon book review, the Fanucci’s use their Catholic tradition and teachings to gently guide you through:

  • The physical and emotional experiences of miscarriage – including help in making the hardest decisions
  • How couples respond to grief – and how to support each other
  • Turning to family, friends, and the Church – finding help and support from loved ones and your Church community
  • The future after miscarriage – where to go from here as a couple

It is important to note that miscarriage affects both partners and this book acknowledges that. As a Catholic, I struggled with my faith when I was dealing with IVF and my miscarriages. This book helped my husband and I to not lose faith but rather lean on our faith for support and guidance.

It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF by Rebecca Fett

I did a review on this book previously. What I didn’t note is that it also contains great information on how one can prevent miscarriage. These helpful insights can give you a better or fresh perspective on your infertility journey that you may have not considered before. It’s been recommended by many women who have had failed IVF treatments and numerous miscarriages.

One Amazon reader review stated “This book is everything! I would highly recommend reading this as a first step to anyone having trouble conceiving or having recurrent miscarriages.”

Another Amazon reader Pamela Woods states that “after 5 years of trying to conceive, 3 miscarriages, failed IVF, countless other fertility treatments; I bought this book.”

Rainbow Baby

I was blessed with two rainbow babies – children that are born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. It is stated that “After every storm there is a rainbow. After a greater storm, there is even a brighter rainbow.” – author unknown.

I am forever grateful to my husband (my ultimate support partner) and the wonderful doctors and nurses that provided us with the best care possible in this IVF journey of ours.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately there is no guarantee with IVF that you’ll end up pregnant. Or even pregnant without any risks. Miscarriage can happen to anyone – there is only a slightly greater risk to those undergoing IVF.

The whole IVF process has definitely made me closer to my husband (if that’s even possible), stronger as a person, and better as a mother.

IVF and miscarriage does not have to be a stigma that you silently face alone. I am here to bring miscarriage awareness and support to you.

Lots of faith, hope, and love is what got me through it. I pray it is the same for you. Feel free to share in the comments below what helped you heal from your miscarriage.

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Dana,

    This article feels very intimate, whereby I can feel your emotions as you share your experience. I believe women are born with immense amount of mental strength and I admire you for bravely sharing.

    It is true. It is better to pour out the emotions than to keep them in. Even in other context, there are always people out there, if we make that first step to open ourselves to the options available. 

    Thank you for sharing such an incredible piece of article.

    Cheers.
    SAM

    1. Thank you Sam for your kind words! It took many years before I had the courage to share my story…I hope it helps others. Feel free to share with others who may benefit:)

  2. Thank you for shedding light on this highly stigmatized topic. I struggled with multiple miscarriages back in the 1980’s and it definitely was not talked about. Taking time off from work for a miscarriage was unheard of. We were expected to carry on as though nothing happened. I was blessed to have 5 children each of which was preceded by a miscarriage. My oldest son and his wife have struggled with infertility and failed IVF. They were fortunate to follow the path of private adoption and now have 2 wonderful boys. It sounds like those books may have helped them through their struggles. I will mention your site to my daughter-in-law.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your life story. Times have definitely changed and it is only for the better that we bring attention to infertility and miscarriage awareness. People no longer have to suffer in silence and alone. Thank you for sharing my site with your daughter-in-law https://ivfcorner.com

      All the best to you and your family!

  3. Thank you for this article. I have found a great deal of information in here. I was not aware that 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility.
    I found the statement where you say that people should be opened about miscarriages this very true. Like any other emotions you repress and don’t share, it will multiply.
    Best regards,
    Yoana

    1. The statistics are eye opening. Infertility and miscarriage are more common than most people think. And you’re right Yoana, any repressed emotion becomes more amplified or multiplied later on if not acknowledged and dealt with. Thanks for reading!

  4. Hello, Dana,

    How very brave of you to write your own personal process here! You provide great support for people who also have to go through this.

    I have someone close to me who is struggling enormously to become pregnant with a second child. She got her first one through IVF, but now it all seems to be going a lot less smoothly. So far, her wish remains unfulfilled.

    I have a feeling your website might be able to help her. Thanks a lot for sharing your unique story with us.

    Wish you all the best,

    Catherine.

  5. Hmm! This is really a sensitive topic and I’m glad that you have been able to handle it very well and also buttrewss with your personal experiences. Sorry to hear about your experience with miscarriage and though I had one myself too which till now, I’m yet to fully recover from the pain that comes with it emotionally. Good post though

    1. I’m sorry to hear that…may you find healing soon. It is a sensitive topic, but please do not feel ashamed for reaching out. Thanks for reading! Take care!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. i know it is an intimte subject for many people but I am grateful that there are still strong women like you who dare to discuss such subjects. By the way I had no idea that 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility.

  7. Hi Dana,

    thank you very much for dealing with this topic about myths and misconceptions. One of the most common statements I have heard is that we cause our miscarriage and because of that we must be careful with what we do during those months. I believe there is a good intention backing the comment but it’s still a misconception.

    1. You’re right Ann. I think when one becomes pregnant, it is important to take precautions to stay safe and healthy – that’s the intention. But miscarriages often happen due to embryo abnormality which is out of our control. Thanks for reading Ann and feel free to share with others who may benefit. 

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