I miscarried at the same time as a close friend who had also been fighting infertility. She told me she was pregnant two weeks before I found out I was pregnant, too. Our due dates were fifteen days apart. We were thrilled about the idea of raising babies together. I miscarried first. She miscarried two days after me. 

When we were in the depths of it all, still bleeding as our bodies worked to become un-pregnant, we consoled each other. We updated each other on appointments and procedures, comforted by the fact that we were both experiencing the same things. We would vent to each other about how much we hated infertility and miscarriage. We would comfort each other whenever people were tactless or insensitive. We shared our fears of trying again, our frustration with waiting for our cycles, our plans with restarting fertility treatments.

Then I got pregnant, and she didn’t. 

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

I was traumatized by infertility and miscarriage, fighting anxiety and depression, and still living in the pain of all the years of bad news and disappointment. I was living in limbo between fertile and infertile, pregnant and not pregnant, acceptance of my circumstances, and denial of the fact that I was pregnant again. I couldn’t talk about my pregnancy. I held my breath between doctor’s appointments and expected blood every time I went to the bathroom. Worst of all, though, I couldn’t understand why I was pregnant and my friend wasn’t. What cruel twist of fate would allow me to move on while she continued to fight month after month? I wanted it to be her instead of me. 

Weeks went by, and she continued to confide in me with each new step of her fertility journey, with each painful emotion, memory, or moment of anger at those who said the wrong things. I continued to validate her as the guilt inside me grew. I hated that I was pregnant and she wasn’t. I hated that I still couldn’t talk about my pregnancy. I hated that I was hiding it all from her. I would cry for everything I had been through, for everything she had been through, for everything we had been through together. I would cry because I had left her behind to fight the battle alone.

I began seeing a counselor around a week after I found out I was pregnant post-miscarriage, and that was when I finally began understanding how layered my grief was. Not all of it was conventional. The miscarriage was easy to recognize, as were some other losses we’d suffered along the way—a large one being the loss of a foster son we had hoped to someday adopt. But the grief of infertility was harder to process, like the fact that pregnancy was never going to be easy for us, and that trying to conceive was a terrifying, traumatic process.

I grieved all of the possibilities we had lost along the way, the fact that our odds of conceiving were so slim, and all the years of tests, procedures, meds, and shots. I grieved all of the moments of joy that had been stolen from me. I grieved for my friend, who was currently still experiencing the reality I had fought so hard to escape.

My guilt was like a harness, strapping me to infertility and holding me back from experiencing my new reality, and my fear of hurting my friend with the news of my pregnancy continued to tighten its grasp on me. I hadn’t realized how hard it had been to breathe until I finally let go and told her. 

woman who is pregnant after miscarriage

One of the most difficult things about pregnancy after infertility has been accepting that even though by some miracle, pregnancy happened for me, it doesn’t always happen for everyone. We are all—within this tight-knit circle of sorrow—grasping at straws to get out, and yet, if we are finally the ones to grab the long straw amid the sea of short ones, we face the horrifying reality that we will be letting go of the hands of friends to take hold of it.

I didn’t deserve to draw the right straw any more than any of them; none of us deserved to be there in the first place. We spend so much time questioning what we’ve done to deserve infertility, and then if we manage to escape it, we spend more time questioning what we’ve done to deserve relief from it.

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After managing to move on to a healthy pregnancy post-infertility and miscarriage, I realize that our empathy for others can knock us down as hard as any other side effect of infertility. But just because so much of infertility hurts, that doesn’t mean it only brings the bad. The pain I feel in my empathy for others nurtures my ability to love them deeply. Watching my friend respond to my pregnancy with grace has taught me more about responding graciously when those I love receive good things. The guilt I have felt for leaving friends behind as I moved forward in pregnancy has allowed me to be more intentional as I walk with them on their own journeys. 

I am a different person since battling infertility, and even though the days of hating myself and my body, I’ve learned to love, respect, and appreciate myself and my body more, which has, in turn, allowed me to extend that same kindness to those who are still unable to give it to themselves. What counters the guilt, I think, is grace. Grace to accept where we are. Grace to extend to our friends who are hurting. Grace to respond to friends who want to help but don’t know how. Grace to give to ourselves as we grieve. Grace to accept when good things happen to us.

We’re all doing the best that we can to navigate this crazy world. At the end of the day, that grace that grows inside of us with each new twist and turn through life’s darkest corners gives us the strength we need to keep fighting.

Nina Correa White dreams in words and acrylic. She prides herself on being a Virginia Beach native, and you may spot her paddleboarding in one of the city’s many bodies of water come summer. She is also known to brag on her alma mater, Old Dominion University, from which she received her Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing in 2013, and her MFA in Writing/Fiction in 2020. Her happy place consists of a warm, cozy space surrounded by family—bonus if ice cream or mac and cheese are included.