And Then There Were Three: My Loss Story

Experience the conflicted feelings of a mother who lost an embryo during an IVF transfer.

Today marks National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, a day of remembrance for all babies lost during pregnancy, at birth, or during infanthood. At 7 p.m., candles around the world will be lit in remembrance of these angel babies in an International Wave of Light. I’ll be lighting a candle for the friends, family, and fellow triplet mamas who’ve experienced this heartbreak.

And I’ll be lighting a candle for my own.

On the advice of our RE, Chris and I chose to transfer four embryos. (Well, our RE wanted to transfer eight, but that’s an entirely different story.) Moments before the transfer, the doctor gave our embryo report. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that three of our embryos were thawing quite well. The bad news was that one wasn’t; it was breaking apart.

Experience the conflicted feelings of a mother who lost an embryo during an IVF transfer.
Our very first pictures of the Tagalongs—and Baby D.

We had two options: (1) we could transfer that embryo anyways or (2) we could opt not to transfer it. Our RE advised for Option 2 because the embryo wouldn’t stick, and transferring it would very likely trigger an immune response that could potentially cause my body to attack the embryos we were transferring. This was a split-second decision Chris and I were unprepared for, and in the seconds we had to choose, we chose Option 2. The doctor nodded his head and disappeared into the other room to appear moments later with an instrument that held the three embryos he quickly inserted into my uterus.

Fifteen minutes later, we got into our car and pulled out of the treatment center. Our tires had barely rolled away from the parking lot asphalt before I started crying. Not from nervousness over whether anything would “stick”—from the incredible sadness I felt over leaving one behind. I’m one who believes that life begins at conception, so the embryo we’d chosen not to transfer wasn’t just a mass of cells, it was a living tiny human. And it had died in a cold medical straw rather than inside my warm womb listening to my loving heartbeat and surrounded by its siblings. That thought broke my heart more than the thought of the transfer not working.

Thinking of Baby D still breaks my heart. I don’t necessarily regret the decision we made because as crazy and upside down life with the Tagalongs is, I’m so very grateful that they defied their odds—odds that could have been even further threatened by transferring Baby D. I do regret that Baby D didn’t get to know the great love I had for it. Love I still have for it. I don’t know where babies go after they die (I’d like to think they go to heaven, but my theology might be a bit off.), but I hope Baby D was greeted with a loving touch and warm words—just as its brothers and sister were when we first greeted them in NICU. And I hope to one day meet it again and hold it myself.

So I light a candle tonight for the babies lost in a “conventional” way and the babies lost in “unconventional” ways like mine was. When you think about it, they’re all unconventional losses. And they’re all heartaches. And they should all be remembered.

Experience the conflicted feelings of a mother who lost an embryo during an IVF transfer.

About Marcella Hines

Marcella Hines

Marcella wants to live in a world where she can escape to quiet rooms stacked high with books that come bundled with a brownie cookie dough DQ blizzard and cuddly purr monster. When she’s not finding creative ways to play with cars for the eleventy billionth time or shouting, “Undies! Pants! Sit! Pee!” at toddlers who have the attention span of a gnat, you can find her running to the beats of an audiobook/podcast or assisting writers in crafting their work through her editing business, A to Z Editing. Marcella likes talking about the day-to-day experience of raising triplets, like how to navigate toddler time and a park playdate with three toddlers in tow. Follow her running, English weenie-ing, and ice creaming on Instagram: @hineschica.

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