I Was Afraid You Wouldn’t Understand {Grieving Lost Embryos}

Lonely Teddy bear

“So, how many children do you have?” 

Immediately I looked down as a lump began to form in my throat and tears slowly filled my eyes. I debated on whether I should give you the answer on my heart or the one I had rehearsed. But when I wiped away a tear that had sneaked its way down my face, I noticed you were starting to fidget and shift in your seat. I could sense you scrambling to excuse yourself from the conversation and I knew at that moment you weren’t ready for my answer.

At least not the one on my heart.

And so instead I flashed you a smile as to let you know it was okay, and then I gave you the answer I had rehearsed. But it’s not because I didn’t want to talk about them or the incredible imprint they have left on my heart. It’s not even because I am ashamed of my story; but simply because I was afraid…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that those eight precious embryos that were lost in a lab and the two that survived only a short time in my womb meant the world to me. They were the beautiful combination of me and my husband’s genes created in love and hope… they were our ten beautiful children…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that those “dots”, tiny as they were, were just as precious in my sight and in God’s sight as any other beautiful baby born to full term.

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that even though they were only five days past conception, God had already picked their hair textures, given them their eye colors, and branded them with unique personalities –all of which I often catch myself wondering about.

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that despite never hearing their heartbeat or feeling them kick, toss, or twirl inside of me, I had already developed an unbreakable bond.  And I had already dreamed a million dreams for their lives and pictured a thousand moments they would live to remember…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand the guilt I so often feel and painfully carry around, because if it were not for me and my decision to pursue in vitro fertilization, this wouldn’t have happened to them. And it hurts…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that my ten embryos, as “early in the game” as they might have been, were boys who would have fished with their daddy and little girls who would have one day held his finger as they twirled around in their pink ruffled dresses. And had each of them survived, they would have grown up to be someone’s best friend, perhaps lead a lost soul to Christ, or maybe even become the president…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand the grief spasm I might have if I do mention them to you. It’s nothing scary; just a few moments, maybe minutes, where I start to cry because I begin to replay my darkest days. And I begin to think about how it’s been four tiring years and I still long for a baby to be in my arms…

I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to understand that every embryo created, even though it was inside of a lab, was a life to me. A life that, no matter how short lived, was meaningful and special. A life that changed who I am today. And a life that I will always view as a person. Because as Dr. Seuss says, a person is a person, no matter how small.

Even microscopically small.

Maybe one day I will be able to share with you about these precious lives that have left an incredible imprint on my heart. And maybe I’ll be able to do it without being afraid of what you might think or being fearful of how you will react. But until then, and until I think you will be able to understand my unique grief that comes from a unique loss, I will just continue to smile and give you my unique answer. It’s the one which I rehearsed and the one in which I proudly say, “I hope one day I will have more than ten.” Because I do still hope.

I believe God is not finished writing my story. I have hope He is not finished in His pursuit to fulfill the desires He has placed in my heart. And I cannot help but dream of the day I am rocking a baby in my arms…a sweet baby whose eyes, ears, nose, and mouth will look like the ones his ten brothers and sisters would have had too.

With Love


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36 thoughts on “I Was Afraid You Wouldn’t Understand {Grieving Lost Embryos}

  1. Beautiful. It’s so hard to try to figure out how people will react to our stories, and our feelings for those babies that we had, but never held. You should write a book for everyone out there, both those who have struggled, and those who don’t know what to say to people like us who have.

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  2. I always appreciate your perspective so much because I feel like we are so different yet I find such value in your opinions. I always close off my heart and mind to an embryo until I hear a heartbeat for self preservation. These words are touching and I am sorry for those ten little ones you lost.

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  3. Oh, dear friend! My heart breaks with yours, and I just want to remind you that you are often in my prayers. I am believing our dear Lord for the completion of your miracle. I am going over to finish reading your post now. Sending you much love and many hugs across the miles!! 🙂

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  5. Thank you for writing this, Elisha! ❤ Even though my miracle Rainbow baby is finally on her way in less than 6 weeks, I still don't know what to say when people ask me,"Do you have any children?" or "How many children do you have?" after so many losses. Love to you.

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  6. It was suggested I visit this site. This post totally hits home. I just experienced my first miscarriage at 9dp5dt. Although I never saw my embryos turn into a sweet baby/babies they still meant so much to me. People that haven’t been through this don’t get it whatsoever.

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  9. Your story really hit home hard. My first Embryo Transfer were in 2013 where I lost one of the two. Thank God my son survived. Its still so hard to talk about the ones that didn’t made it.. I get all choked up… In April this year we tried again (baby #2) where I lost 2 Embryo’s and in May another one. I’m expecting another little boy due Feb 2017. Thank you Lord. I light a candle and say a prayer on my sons birthday for the little brother or sister that gave him a better chance of survival. Will definitely do this on the other ones birthday too.. Thanks for the great blog!

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