Infertility and a wedding: what if I can't have children?

March 4 | Guest post by Anne
By: Nathan CsonkaCC BY 2.0
Having a baby always felt like a given — I'd get married, have a baby, and live happily ever after. That's the way it works, right? After my fiance and I had been dating for almost a year, we had a surprise pregnancy. It was fantastic! Not exactly as planned (as my mother was prompt to point out….) but was definitely a blessing. We made plans for our new home (we were already planning on moving in together in the next couple months) and for the most perfect nursery. We started reading all the books we could find. Pumped in the prenatal vitamins. Looked for the perfect maternity doctor. Had major meltdowns over waffles (okay, that was just me). And then the baby was gone.

Losing that baby was heartbreaking, but after much research on the internet, I decided it was perfectly common to lose your first pregnancy. We decided to try again because we'd had a look at our perfect future with our amazing baby. A few months later, I was pregnant again. We made a concentrated effort to not get nearly as excited, but despite our best efforts we were soon picking names. Rebeccah for a girl or Joshua for a boy. Everything was looking great. And then the baby was gone.

Six pregnancies and seven miscarriages later (one set of twins) we find ourselves facing the very real possibility that I simply can not carry a child to term. Three months seems to be average, though one pregnancy was lost at five months.

This opened up a whole host of questions. What if I can NEVER have a baby? What if he leaves me because I can't have children? What if he doesn't leave me but then is unhappy forever? What if we adopt? What if we try IVF? What if we decide to not have children, but end up feeling like we never fulfilled part of our lives? What if I can't be happy without a baby? What if adoption/IVF is too expensive? If I do manage to get the money together, would it be more sensible to "buy" a baby or a house? What if buying a house means I can't afford to adopt?

After many soul-searching discussions together and alone, we decided that we can really only play most of the questions by ear. We decided that we would be happy just the two of us if it came to that and that we'd be even happier if something came along that brought us a child. There are days when I'm not sure that I'll be able to be happy without having a baby. There are other days when I know that we will be just fine being "just us two."

As we proceed with the wedding, I have a handful of concerns. I worry that on the wedding day I'm going to be watching my beautiful flower girl (who was born about a month before my first baby should have been) walking down the aisle and I'm going to have a panic attack thinking about all the children I've lost. I worry that my amazing fiance is making a mistake by marrying a woman who may never give him children. I worry that one day, my future husband will be gone and I'll be there all alone. No husband, no children, no grandchildren. Just me.

Still, a part of me is convinced that on some magical day, all the stars will align and I'll be there with my beautiful husband and our perfect child living our perfect life. So, come August, I will walk down the aisle smiling and silently praying that everything doesn't come crashing down around me.

  1. Oh honey,

    My heart breaks for you. I hope your stars will align and you`ll be given the family you want.
    Best of luck to you and your partner.

    24 agree
  2. I can't imagine what those losses must feel like, but if there's any bright side, you and your husband-to-be have already faced fertility issues before you marry, while most couples must face them after. It doesn't make the questions you need to ask yourselves and each other any easier to answer, but you're both going in to your long-term family partnership knowing the chances that you'll be able to carry a pregnancy. I hope you find a wonderful child – inside your uterus, in foster care, in your friends' families, wherever – who can share your love.

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your lost children. I too hope you are able to create the family you want, soon.

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  4. I can't imagine going through seven miscarriages in such a short time period. Wishing you both the best — you obviously have a really strong relationship to have already gone through so much together before marriage.

    One thing to keep in mind is consider making an employment decision that will give you the best possible insurance coverage. It might be worth making a sacrifice (not sure if there are differences in infertility coverage in Canada, but in the US there is huge variation, with some employers offering free IVF). It really sounds like, whatever is going on, you already know you need to be seeing an absolute expert in the field of obstetrics and infertility. (I personally had to get surgery on a possible uterine malformation before getting pregnant, because my doctors said that it could cause repeat miscarriages if left untreated.) I'm sure you've already been to tons of doctors, so..

    My advice would be to think about what forms of family planning intuitively make the most sense for you, and try to plan ahead for a life that would accommodate those. Perhaps a family member or best friend could serve as a surrogate uterus, for free? Maybe you prioritize the baby over the house, for now, in your finances? Etc. Good luck!

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  5. I'm very sorry to hear about all your miscarriages. Not that this would make the situation any better, but your fiancee is equally likely to be responsible for you not being able to carry a pregnancy to term. Either one of you could be carrying a chromosomal rearrangement that might make a fetus non-viable.
    All I'm trying to say is to not blame yourself and maybe to go see a doctor if you haven't done so already.
    Good luck with the wedding!

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    • Nah, it's all me. At least, according to the doctors.
      Alex is rad though. He's super supportive and extra loving. I think I'll keep him. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      • I agree with D. My husband and I endured several miscarriages. The doctors always blamed me without investigating further. When we finally had our first daughter and she passed away, they decided to do a full workup on both of us. It turns out he has a balanced translocaton that was presenting as unbalanced in our babies which meant that they were not viable pregnancies. It is always better to go to a doctor who will explore all options.

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  6. I don't often go all squishy but you've hit close to home. touched a nerve or some bollocks. I don't have any wise old pearls of wisdom, but you can have my thoughts. Although we know far more about it today than at any point in the past, fertility and pregnancy are still full of unknowns medically speaking. We still don't know what exact chemical cocktail causes one foetus to stick and another one to fall, we don't know why one embryo develops and another just stops. We're learning more and more about genetics, and we have childbirth down to fine art, but so much of how the whole process starts is still just one big "?" we can't properly control.

    What you do know, is that your fiance is committed to team you. you can walk down the aisle with a flowergirl representing what couldn't be, and a man representing what could. What you can control is setting a date for those "we do's" and going through with them. Nothing will take away the need for children, or your sadness when it doesn't work out the way you'd like, but you can't do any more, or control any more than you already have. Nobody can ask any more of you. It's a shitty unfair situation, and it's been thrust upon you for no better reason than random chance. I sincerely hope that it works out for you, and I'm sincerely happy once you get back up that aisle you'll have a perfect mutual support network for everything you're going through.

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  7. I'm sorry. I've had two miscarriages myself, and while I have a living child, I know how painful it can be. Have you looked into adopting from foster care? In my area (Ontario) it's free, but you're unlikely to get a baby. Still, it's a good chance, right?

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  8. What a great piece.

    When my husband and I got married we knew that it was highly probable that I would not be able to get pregnant. For us this knowledge opened up possibilities that might not have been there otherwise – instead of the loss of a biological child (which you have experienced in a much more immediate and sorrowful way) what we experienced was that the awareness of that potential loss opened up possibility and conversation that otherwise wouldn't have happened. If I hadn't known that bio kids were going to be a challenge then I may not have considered other ways to build my family, or truly considered not having kids.

    Fast forward and eight years into our marriage we have two amazing adopted daughters and a family I am very proud of and chose in a really informed way after trying some and saying no to other options for getting pregnant and really strongly considering a child-free life.

    I think you start stronger when you have some idea what the challenges ahead may be. Every marriage faces challenges – you know what some of yours might be and have weathered a lot already. It's just one opinion,but to me those sound like things that will make your unique wedding day an even braver more beautiful way to begin a marriage that it might have been if all this was still unknown.

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  9. Thank you for this. Although we are married and I've had no miscarriages, I have asked and am constantly trying to answer all the same questions you are (we've been trying to conceive for 16 months now). You're not alone–hopefully things will turn around for both of us.

  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your struggles. All I can say is please don't worry about one day being alone just because you don't have children. I'm a nurse and I can't count the amount of people with large families I've seen who are still all alone and yet the one person I always remember who had never been married, never had children but always had neices/nephews/counsins/friends etc around. She is never alone! It comes down to your personality not how many children you make. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get your miracle baby.

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  11. You have my sincerest sympathies. I find it a little soothing that you can at least write about your experience, and it seems you are doing okay at this point.

    In regard to your future dear, here's something my fiance' said to me a few years ago when I went through a rough time in my life, worrying he was going to up and leave me. "I stay with you because I want to, not because of some marital obligation." It hit so hard that he really does stay with me because he wants to and not "just for the kids" or because of marriage. I don't know if this helps you in any way. I just wanted to share it with you in case it can.

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  12. When we got married, my husband and I knew it would be harder than average for us to have kids. After almost a year of not ovulating and one failed medicated cycle with a crazy RE, I found Stirrup Queens (www.stirrup-queens.com), Mel, who kind of organizes a list of blogs of other women going through fertility issues. It really changed my whole life. I don't know that we would have persisted with treatments if it weren't for the women I met through these blogs.

    I'm so so so sorry to hear about all of the losses you've suffered and everything you have been through. I hope you find the support you need, and that you and your husband have a beautiful future together.

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  13. Next to almost losing my baby because she was so sick, infertility was the hardest thing I've ever been through. I can't imagine the pain you've experienced. But you have a wonderful spirit and sounds like a fabulous partner. I'm sending you lots of positive energy towards finding your family, however you decide to build it.

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  14. I cannot begin to fathom your experience and what you are going through. I had one miscarriage and a coworker told me about the fourteen she had prior to successfully carrying her daughter to term. That was nearly 30 years ago now, and she is now a grandmother.

    It freaked me out to hear her story because I was just post miscarriage, not yet even trying again, but desperately wanting a baby. I could only think, "What if that happens to me, one miscarriage after another?" I was so stressed out about her story.

    But now I can see how wonderful it is that she kept trying, and now has a daughter, and a granddaughter.

    I wish you the best in whatever path you choose. No one can help you make those decisions easier, but sometimes it is nice to know that there are miracle babies out there.

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  15. Oh honey I'm so sorry to hear about your losses. ๐Ÿ™
    Have you ever found out what exactly is causing you to miscarry every time you get pregnant?

    I have a friend who's had recurrent miscarriages because her Rh isn't compatible with her husband's. Do you think it's that or something else? Have the doctors confirmed anything that could be wrong?

    Anyway, I'm wishing you good luck on this difficult journey.

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  16. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but all I can say is that I'm so, so sorry to hear of your losses. You sound like a very strong couple. Good luck with your wedding – I hope you and your husband have a wonderful life together.

  17. Hey Anne

    I just wanted to reach out because I've also lost a high number of pregnancies (5) in a short amount of time (2.5 yrs) at a young age (29 now) as well as failed IVF, and I've never met anyone whose story was as similar to mine as yours is.

    I don't have anything comforting to say, unfortunately. There is very little that others have said to me that has been helpful. I just wanted to connect with you because my experience has been an intensely isolating one.

    Take care,
    Joanna

    2 agree
  18. You are an eloquent writer, and illustrated the heartbreak in your situation so well. I wanted to give you a hug as as I read this post. Just imagining your circumstances are heartbreaking enough, much less what it must have been like living them. Wishing you and your partner a happy life together – whatever shape that life takes. I hope it is the one that you two most desire.

    As for the "What ifs?"… you'll figure it out. Trust yourselves, as you'll make the best decisions you can as the circumstances come to you. It looks like that's been what you have been doing ๐Ÿ™‚

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  19. I'm so sorry you've had to go through such a wrenching string of losses. (IVF, unfortunately, doesn't alleviate miscarriages.) Going into a marriage with these thoughts and questions can really strengthen the relationship, though. So many couple start off with very little heartache behind them, and many issues left undiscussed.

    When my husband and I met, I didn't want to have children at all. By the time my husband and I got engaged, I really wanted to have a child with him; he already had an older child from a previous marriage and wasn't up for having another. I didn't suffer something as terrible as a miscarriage, but I had other health problems and feared trying to be a mom with disabilities, much less a mom with disabilities and a reluctant partner. We spent four years in couples' counseling talking about it. I was in a constant state of grief over the baby who didn't exist.

    All of this made for some great couples' counseling sessions and an understanding that one really doesn't know what is going to happen in life. Marrying, we decided not to have a child but also that if I ended up really, really needing to try for a pregnancy, he would go for it. Well, I really, really needed to try. We have a lovely toddler, and the experience of this tumult made us, like you, realize that we have to play stuff by ear. It's a good thing to know solidly as we navigate everything from financial problems to out-of-nowhere tragedies.

    Consider, though, having an older girl be your flower girl. Some people also skip that part or use a friend/attendant in that role. A wedding day is so loaded with emotion. We only had two young baby/children at our wedding, but even their presences weighed heavily on me.

    1 agrees
  20. I am so sorry for your losses. I have not been in your shoes, so I cannot offer my advice on the matter, personally. But I can at least say I feel that if your soon-to-be-hubby hasn't given up on you by now, he is planning to stick it out with you no matter what…..you two have been through a lot already in that department, and he is still there ๐Ÿ™‚

    I might have missed it in previous comments, but there is the option also of a surrogate (possibly, not sure of the laws where you live…they are illegal in some parts of the US). I know its not as exciting as carrying your own, but you can use your own egg and sperm and have the baby of your dreams. Another option, if it seems its genetic chromosomes that are to blame, of using a donated egg. While the baby wouldn't be genetically related to you (just your husband) you would still carry and birth your little joy. I have donated my eggs several times to couples in need and *almost* was a surrogate (the couple dropped out and decided they wanted to keep trying on their own) but I have plans to be a surrogate in the future. It can be a wonderful experience for both sides.

    Best of luck with your journey!

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  21. I truly hope this does not come off as ass-vice, but I (and close family members) have dealt with similar issues with pregnancy loss. It seems that low progesterone, thyroid issues & gluten-intolerance run in my family and all of those can cause miscarriages and infertility. I was able to carry to term after I dealt with my health issues – I wonder if it might be worth checking out for you too? And big hugs, this stuff sucks ๐Ÿ™

  22. When the money ran out, and we had to take a break on trying for our baby, I told my other half that we will NEVER be as married as we are already. No ceremony, no legalities, nothing will compare to everything we've been through in the years we've already been together.

    He's stood by you this long, he's already your husband in every way that truly matters.

    I hope that doesn't sound flippant. It's not that I don't have all the same questions you do, on a daily basis, to the point where my hands were shaking just reading this. I won't be alright if we don't figure something out eventually.

    But our relationship has survived 2 bouts of cancer, 2 major surgeries, moving 3 times, months of fertility treatments, thousands of dollars…and we're still standing. That man is probably the only part of the world around me I don't question.

    I'm sorry you have to experience this. I'm sorry you had to write such a heart-wrenching article. I hope things change for you soon, Anne.

    1 agrees

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