This week was baby loss week. Posts everywhere of heart breaking stories. Unimaginable pain. Strength no one would think they have until it happens to them. Women who have shown amazing bravery both privately and publicly.
In the midst of all that are women who’ve lost their embryos in IVF. Not a miscarriage, yet not just a failed medical procedure. Somewhere muddy in between that isn’t spoken about. That isn’t understood. Where women (and men) feel alone with this grief that doesn’t have a name or fit a category because it’s silent.
I spoke on instagram stories (@itsjulesfurness) on Friday about having a wobby day. Then it all tumbled out. I’ve often shared our IVF video diary. I haven’t shared how the failure feels. How I was struggling with feeling loss, but feeling it alone.
Did you know, that when a woman (let’s say woman A) has IVF, the day she has her embryos put into her tummy, she is at the same stage as woman B, with a nearly 3 week non-IVF pregnancy? Both women have their embryos in their tummy and are hoping they manage to nestle in to attach. That the day woman A takes her pregnancy test to see if her embryo managed to stick, she would be the equivalent of nearly 5 weeks pregnant? If woman B’s embryo doesn’t attach and she is aware, it’s called a miscarriage. If woman A’s little embryo doesn’t attach, it’s called a period. “Just save up and try again….”
And we’ve done that. We are starting our next cycle of IVF now. But that doesn’t take away the fallout from last time.
I’m not saying it is miscarriage. I’m saying it’s this painful, overwhelmingly sad thing that happens, that has no name and isn’t given much time. That for many many women it’s a loss, the beginnings of their baby. It was alive. They saw it dividing on screens. They saw it on the scan being placed in their uterus. They nurtured it. They hoped for it. Imagined what could be. It passed away inside their bodies. They went through the bleeding afterwards (FYI consultants, a “normal period” doesn’t ruin 3 pairs of pyjamas in one night).
And according to the hundreds of messages I got after speaking about it at the weekend, and the posts I see in forums, it’s causing a huge group of women to feel alone, to grieve and to not have support out there specifically for them. Who felt they couldn’t join in with baby loss week because their embryos where put in their tummy by catheters. Is it because they knew it may not work? Does that mean they don’t have a right to grieve too?
I tried to speak up for us as a group of women a few months ago and the message I felt back, all be it from a minority of people, was “you don’t belong here”. Go sit in national infertility week like a good girl. Your loss doesn’t count. It doesn’t have a name. Or worse, comparisons. Comparisons over loss in my opinion should never take place. Every loss is different. It is all painful. It all deserves us supporting one another through it.
Over 67,000 cycles of IVF take place each year. Around 65% of those fail every year.