Courtney Reyes

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Content Warning: Miscarriage

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 1 in 4 pregnant people will lose their baby in pregnancy, delivery, or infancy. This is something that we do not talk about in our society. We wait to tell people we are pregnant because “what if I miscarry?” And then when that happens, we walk through that grief without anyone but maybe our partner or close friends knowing. We have to show up to work, events, life with this overwhelming grief washing over us.

The following is shared with the permission of my wife. It is as much her story as it is mine. After much consideration, I posted it to my social media and received so many messages from people who have lost a baby or have been through the heartbreak of IVF. We are not alone, but sometimes it really feels like it. 

Here is a bit of our story that I shared in May of this year. 

I never thought I would have to carry this grief. The boys came easy, but that was a different life. In this beautiful life, all we want is to add to our family. The work that goes into having a child as a queer couple is so intense. There are so many barriers. Access, affirming providers, cost. Holy shit, the cost. The time, the psych interviews, the assumption that your husband is coming to your appointment. The list goes on and on. I know that fertility struggles aren’t just a queer issue, but there is an additional layer of pain. Many people assume we don’t want babies. Either way, it is such a heart-wrenching and expensive roller coaster. Kate and I have lived our lives with a high-risk, high-reward mindset. With high risk comes the chance for a big disappointment.

I should be 16 weeks pregnant today. We had three days of complete joy (and shock) that it worked. Our levels didn’t go up as they should have, and we spent the next two weeks in this in-between hell. They couldn’t tell us it was going to end, but they couldn’t tell us it would be okay.

We worked so hard to get to that positive pregnancy test. Months of planning, shots, meds, writing checks, driving to Iowa City, and then just like that. We were waiting on a miscarriage. We held each other and cried and felt angry and then felt nothing at all and everything in between.

As I walked out of the appointment where they told us we were going to lose the baby, I had to field a call from my buddy telling me that the Iowa Legislature would shortly be introducing a bill that would allow people the “religious freedom” to discriminate against me, my family and my friends. It was a quick smack in the face that we aren’t living in a bubble. Life continues, no matter what we are dealing with. But give me a minute, and then we will get to your hateful bill. Shout out to the One Iowa team for being so incredibly supportive during that difficult time. 

I had a choice to stay in hiding with my miscarriage or to tell my team about it. I choose to be vulnerable and hopefully lead by example that sometimes we are just not okay as human beings and need a little extra care. I am so thankful for the support that I received, but I did not shout it from the rooftops. Colleagues with whom I was on a zoom meeting or exchanging emails had no idea what kind of grief and loss I was experiencing. Even though all I wanted to say is, I AM WAITING ON A MISCARRIAGE at the end of every email and call. Grief makes everything foggy, so this is my gentle reminder to be kind because you never know what someone is going through. They just may be trying to keep it together for the ten minutes they have to talk to you.

Our miscarriage was months ago, but the grief still washes up. I still think of the first embryo that didn’t stick, the babe we lost after seeing their sweet little blob on an ultrasound. Those losses are still hard to swallow even though we are expecting a baby now. The losses make me question everything, and there is fear lingering in the back of my mind that something will happen. I am thankful for my therapist, who always reminds me that I can hold both emotions, grief, and joy. 

To those of you who have experienced this kind of pain, I see you. You are not alone. And finally, a reminder that you deserve access to affirming healthcare. One Iowa will continue to make change across the state, and we will not stop fighting for our community. Please know that I am holding space for you on this day. 

Courtney Reyes

Executive Director