Finding Joy After Pregnancy Loss

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How I Found Joy Again
It’s been years since I’ve written about our struggle to grow our family, pregnancy loss, miscarriages and my ruptured ectopic pregnancy. 

Partly because it still makes my heart hurt, and partly because we are just too busy living live and having fun. Yes, we are having fun. I used to feel guilty saying that.

My babies died, and here I am enjoying life. 

It all started years ago. After over a year of trying I’m finally pregnant. I’m already feeling sick and I don’t care. I’m so happy! 

And then I’m not, life starts to spiral down fast. I go every 2 days for blood work and ultrasounds. I have what looks like a baby growing in my uterus, but I’m also having pain on my side. I can take the shot to end the pregnancy because either I have a baby in my uterus and one in my tube (although we can’t see it) or there is a baby in my tube and a “false” growth in my uterus. 

I can’t take the shot. I know I should, but I just can’t. I wish I was braver.

Another week goes by and we tell our families about the baby. I justify it that no matter what happens it is a baby, and I love it, and I want everyone to know that it’s real.

That afternoon I’m driving to the grocery store with my then 6 and 4 year olds. All of a sudden I can’t breath, I feel like I’m being stabbed. I feel something tearing inside me… then I don’t feel any more pain just pulsing. I think to myself… I might pass out.

I call Pete and he calls my Dad (to meet us and watch the kids) and then the Dr.

I drive back home the whole time on side streets (just in case) and I tell my 6 year old to push the emergency button on the car if I pull over and stop talking. I get home. We drive to the hospital. They are waiting for me. They offer pain meds because the pain is back. I decline because it’s bad for the baby (denial). They prepare to do an ultrasound and there is blood everywhere. I start to understand. My doctor arrives. I lose my baby and my tube. It was an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. I could have died but I didn’t. Even getting pregnant had been a struggle and involved 2 surgeries and I didn’t just lose my baby, I also lost my last Fallopian tube. I couldn’t “just get pregnant again”.

My baby died and now I want to die too.

Ten days later my Doctor calls… the pathology report says “normal fetal tissue”.

I ask when I will start to feel better and I don’t mean physically. 

Years go by. We do more rounds of IVF than I can remember. The baby (and babies) implant… and then I lose them. Numbers rise, bleeding starts. It’s a horrible cycle and I slip deeper into a depression.

We decide to do a “throw everything we’ve got” cycle. Every drug, treatment… everything you can imagine and it still doesn’t work. The baby is gone and I’m a medical mess. I can’t walk, can’t eat, can’t focus, can’t imagine living after this last loss.

And the worst part was that I felt like there was no support to help me through this. Pete and girls were amazing and they really were the only reason I kept on going. But they too were in pain, but we stuck together and it helped us all heal.

But everyone outside of our little family either didn’t know what to say and said nothing, or the words they did say just caused more pain.

From “you can always have more” to “at least it wasn’t a real baby” or my favorite was how I should be thankful for the kids I did have, normally followed by how the loss in their own life was much worse than mine so I should just be happy.

Even then I knew that there were those that had suffered much greater losses than I, those words didn’t help to heal my broken heart.

20150211_163325What I really needed to hear were these things:

1. It does get better. It’s not something that happens over night. In fact six years after my last loss I just now realized that I’m really happy again. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think about those babies and get sad. I totally do… but sadness doesn’t consume me now.

2. Sadness is necessary. It helps lead you to happiness by aiding you in processing your feelings. If you don’t allow yourself to feel it, you will never feel better.

3. You will be okay. You will be okay. You will be okay. When you are at your darkest moments keep telling yourself this. You don’t need to know how you will be okay, just know you will be okay.

4. It was a real baby. It was loved. That is all that matters. 

5. Yes, your baby died. This is so harsh, but I wanted someone to acknowledge this. It was alive with a heart beat, it died. I think people are scared to say this because admitting there was a death makes things more serious to everyone. But let me say it again, yes, your baby died.

6. It’s going to be hard. Grieving is going to suck. You will make it though. Take it day by day. Push yourself to live life. Set goals. Make a plan to grow your family. There are a lot of ways to build a family. Look into all your options.

7. If something is funny, happy, silly or fun it’s okay to smile and laugh. You can still experience other emotions and still be horribly sad and grieving. This is part of the process.

And six years later this is what my life is like:

I have that desperately wanted third baby. She is five right now. I am healed and out of that deep dark place. I don’t want to say she healed me, because that is a lot of pressure for one little girl to hold, but she definitely helped… just like my other girls and Pete helped. The bad days are few and far between. It’s been years since I’ve had a day that I was so consumed with grief that I couldn’t enjoy life. 

I treasure every moment. Seriously. Every happy day is something I treasure so much more than I ever did before. 

I cry when I’m happy. I feel things more than I ever did. Happy commercials leave me sobbing in a good way.

I don’t allow negativity into my life. My circle of friends are carefully chosen… I know how short life can be and what a gift it is. I don’t waste a moment.

I keep those that don’t value life like I do at bay. If they have to be in my life I limit the time we spend together and I build a wall internally to protect myself. I’ve come so far to let anyone break my stride!

I allow myself to day dream about my lost babies. I know how old they would be, I acknowledge when they would have started kindergarten and I think about what they would have looked like. I allow pain and sadness into my life to keep their memory alive, but I don’t let it overwhelm me. I also imagine them in heaven with my other family members that have passed away.   

If you are where I was six years ago, I want you to know that you are going to have to work through the pain and that it’s going to be okay. Life goes on and it’s beautiful and worth all the ups and (horrible) downs. Never give up, life really does get better. 


Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I can not even imagine what that was like for you and your family! I am so sorry for all you went though.

  • Thank you for sharing such a profound and painful moment in your life. I’ve never had a baby, and I doubt I ever will, but I am so moved by what you shared. You and your family are so strong.

  • I can’t even image the pain of going through this process but you do deserve to be happy again. Pain is not supposed to last forever and while you’ll always remember, you don’t have to stay in that place and I’m so glad you haven’t!

  • That is hard. I had a couple miscarriages when we were trying and it is devestating, even more so when you find out you can’t ever have kids again. There’s something that makes you feel….”not whole”. I like how you’ve listed out things that are ok to feel, say an do. A big part of you doesn’t feel like you can go on. Eventually you do, but you always feel it and sometimes its a smell or an image of something that brings all the emotions back again.

  • Aww Heather, this is such an emotional part of your life that I thank you for sharing. So many people are hurting inside from losing a child. I am sure you are bringing comfort to those who may be going through the same thing. I am glad you have your little one now!

  • Oh wow. I cannot even imagine the strength it takes to write a post like this, to help you stay living life fully and being happy as well as to help others. I am thinking about you and glad you are sharing this for you will find strength and happiness in others who have experiences similar battles and felt similar feelings. Hugs!

  • You are very strong to have gone through what you have, I have not experienced any of this and could not imagine how it would feel.

  • I don’t even know what to say. This is so raw and powerful and beautiful. Thank you for opening up and sharing. You are a brave mama… and I am so glad you are not where you were 6 years ago <3

  • I can’t even imagine what you were going through six years ago. But I do agree a baby is a baby even at conception to me. I haven’t had a miscarriage but it is a loss of a loved one. You are right that you have to grieve. I know if I lost a baby that it would be si hard because the moment you find out your expecting you long to old your baby, care for this tiny human, and watch them grow.

    I applaud you for sharing such a raw, emotional, and heartwarming post. I know that when I lost my mom that I knew she would want me to grieve and miss her but I also know that she would want me to be happy. I think a child would want this too.

  • This is truly an inspiring post for those who have been or are where you were 6 years ago. You are an inspiration to many by showing them it is going to be okay and not to give up. I too dream about my baby I lost. Thanks for sharing.

  • It’s nice that you found joy after, no matter how long it took. I can’t say I know what it feels like but I do sympathize with you. Writing all this out was good for your soul, I’m sure of it.

  • I am so sorry to hear about your loss. We lost 3 babies and it was devastating. After a lot of counseling, we got through it and went on to have 2 healthy babies.

  • I do not think you ever get over the loss of a pregnancy. It gets easier to live with as time goes on but a piece of you always holds on to the grief.

    • I agree whole heartedly. This post is wonderful and one of the best I have read at summarizing the pain of pregnancy loss and the lasting impact it has on your life. We will never forget our babies. Thank you for sharing your experiences in a way that others (myself included) don’t have the courage or the words to express ourselves x

  • You are so brave to share this story with us. I’m glad that it’s all over and you were able to find joy after what you have gone through.

  • I’m glad you let yourself think and dream of your angel babies. I can’t imagine the sense of loss you’ve felt over the years, and I’m glad time has helped to ease some of the pain.

  • Hugs to you. THanks for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how you felt but I thank you for being transparent about this topic so at least I will know how to be a friend if my friend ever need me after experiencing the loss of a child.

  • ((HUGS))! Your story hits home with me. My middle son is the one who made me feel whole again. We had a long wait for him, and when he finally came out of my body, I never wanted to put him down because I had tried so hard for him.

  • Really a beautiful article. You are really strong to have gone through this. I feel very sorry for your loss. I have lost my 2 girls and I know how horrible & painful it will be. But it is important to move on with life and find happiness someway or other. Thanks a lot for sharing your personal story!

  • Hearing stories like yours makes me realize how lucky I’ve been that all of my sons were fairly easy (though my wife would disagree at the time) pregnancies. I can’t even imagine how hard this was to go through.

  • Reading stuff like this makes me want to cry but I do know that for every hardship you encounter, every loss, every pain, something bigger, better, and lovelier will happen. I know that loss is never good but I believe, because from all the lovely things on your blog, that something wonderful will happen because of the strength you build from this.

  • Oh Heather, thanks so for sharing your heart. This, was me, I suffered through so many miscarriages. The things people say to you . . . Just so awful. Someone once told me I was being irresponsible for trying to have another baby. The heartache and depression are real . . . It does get better. But I don’t think, like you, my heart will ever be the same . . . And I don’t think the ache in my arms and yearning for another babe will ever go away. Hugs Heather!

  • Thank you for sharing. I identify with so much that you have shared. Your experience and story gives me hope that through the fog there is the ability to live and be happy after the journey of growing a family comes to an end. And still acknowledge those losses our now angel babies. We have a beautiful 6 year old who only took five months to conceive…however have had one ectopic and three miscarriages trying for a second child over the last five years. We aren’t yet finished trying but there will come a time that if we aren’t successful we will have to make that decision that we will have or one and only. What you’ve shared will be a good reminder during low moments that whatever is to happen we will be okay.

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