I cannot speak to the biology or chemistry behind it, and I will not attempt to try, but the common refrain I hear from patients who are trying to conceive after a loss of a baby is that each month, it just doesn’t happen. Maybe they had a pregnancy loss at 10 weeks, maybe it was a full-term baby loss, or maybe it was a fetal anomaly that was lethal and they had to end the pregnancy. Either way, they’re ready for a baby now, but it just won’t happen.

Fertility Treatment

These patients often consult with fertility doctors. They take medication to stimulate their egg production, or they start the “fertility diet” of foods said to boost fertility like beans, pineapple and specific herbs. But in the end, months pass and nothing happens.

Then I have my fertility patients. Transfers get cancelled, not enough embryos are high enough quality to implant, chemical pregnancies come and go, and still, no positive pregnancy test.

Grief & Loss Counseling

What can I say to them? How can I keep hope alive? I start with the truth—the good news is that they have proven that they are able to conceive. That’s huge! Until there are three consecutive losses, most OBs will not initiate any testing as that is still within the range of “normal.” But no one in this situation wants to hear that what they’re going through is “normal” and that all they need to do is simply go home and try to get pregnant. For this reason, pregnancy loss counseling, infertility support groups, and loss of a baby support groups in Chicago are plentiful. Women aren’t alone in their struggles with conception and the grief felt by their loss.

And what about the hundreds of dollars spent on pregnancy tests? One tip I’ve found helpful came from a patient of mine who found Wandfo pregnancy test strips. These test strips, sold in bulk on Amazon, can be purchased for a much lower cost than what it would cost to buy one or two tests at a local drugstore. This doesn’t speed up the waiting game, but it can at least help you save some money along the way.

The Waiting Game

It is the waiting that is so painful. One patient told me that it felt like everyone in her life was moving on, progressing to a new chapter in life with their growing families, and she was left behind. She felt excluded, cast aside.

As for me, I had two losses in a row when trying for another child. The first was very dramatic and happened in the second trimester, and the second was just one month after the first pregnancy loss, during my first trimester. Until this point, I had never had a problem conceiving. But then, month after month the pregnancy test was negative. I felt damaged, broken, frustrated and sad. I thought if I could just get pregnant again, quickly, all the pain would fade away. Of course, that did not happen.

I ended up needing a close friend to help me figure out the best days and times to try. Even after having giving birth before, I was still paralyzed with fear, and thought I would never have another child. Finally, it happened. It was terrifying and painful, but I endured nine long months and delivered a healthy baby.

Pregnancy After a Loss

I recently held in my arms the most beautiful baby boy. His mom had lost twin boys at 18 weeks gestation more than a year ago. Now, here he was—stretching, cooing, opening and closing his eyes.

I sat down to my computer last week and was excited to see an email from a former patient who had delivered a stillborn son at 39 weeks. She had sent me a picture of her new gorgeous baby who was delivered several weeks ago.

I have several patients now who have had losses in the second and third trimester previously, and are now well into their 33rd week of pregnancy.

Hope in a Jar

I make all my patients spread a lotion on their bellies when they are trying to conceive. It is by Philosophy and is called Hope in a Jar. The bottle reads: “Where there is hope, there can be faith, and where there is faith miracles can occur.”

The proof is in the evidence. Women can and do get pregnant again, and they can and do have healthy babies. I know this to be true because I am one of the lucky people who gets to hold their baby in the delivery room just hours after birth.

So, what can I tell these women to make them feel better? Only what I know: After a pregnancy loss or the loss of a baby, there is life, and their time will come. We never know what it will look like.  Will it be IVF, natural birth, surrogacy, or adoption? What I do know is that they are mothers now, and will be mothers again to living, breathing, beautiful human beings.