There is a certain mystery and unpredictability to IVF; sometimes it works, sometimes it simply doesn’t, and sometimes a baby results, but sometimes you are left with a deep, unimaginable wound when a loss and miscarriage occurs.
Research estimate that between 15% to 20% of IVF cycles result in miscarriage. Though most miscarriages happen before the twelfth week, occasionally we see losses much later than that. Whether a loss and miscarriage are in the fifth week or twenty-fifth week, it is painful — not only for the surrogate who loses this child but also for the intended parents who have been waiting with bated breath, eager to continue their journey.
Over the years, I have sat and grieved with countless intended parents and surrogates. It is beautiful in a heartbreaking sort of way when a surrogate can stay strong during not only the deepest, darkest moments for themselves but also for the people they have vowed to help.
Loss is loss. It’s horrible and cruel; so how does one cope?
Here’s what I’ve found helpful during these heartrending experiences:
Ask for help
Whether you are a surrogate reaching out to your agency for support or you’re the intended parent talking to your therapist, family, or friends for help, the most important thing to do is just ask.
Intended parents: check in on your surrogate, order her meals, connect with her partner and inquire about what she may need. Encourage her and remind her that this is not her fault and that when she’s ready, you will be there.
I cannot convey in this blog post how crucial counselling is. Sometimes it’s individual therapy, therapy with your partner, or even a session between both the surrogate and intended parents. Having a therapist to rely on and explore your feelings and grief is so important.
Self-care. Take lots of YOU time!
Surrogates, get some childcare lined up, stay in bed, go for long walks, or meet with your friends. Do whatever you need to stay present. Note that presence looks different for everyone; some individuals may need lots of socialization to work through their grief, while others may want to be alone and contemplate. The key idea is to focus on yourself and what you need.
Intended parents, take the time off work. If you feel you can share with your employer that you have just suffered a miscarriage. Whether you share the surrogacy piece doesn’t matter — what does matter is that you are taking time to grieve this loss. Just because you weren’t physically pregnant doesn’t mean that you are not entitled to grieve.
In the end
An unfortunate amount of people will say insensitive things. Remember that they don’t know what you’ve gone through. They don’t, can’t and likely won’t understand your grief. When the mean things people say no longer strike such a painful chord, you will know that the grief is beginning to fade, and you may be ready to continue your journey.