The Carousel

Photo by Roger Hoover on Unsplash

We recently went to Disneyland for the first time with many of my in-laws.

Despite the $100+ tickets and impeccably themed rides and atmosphere, my 3 year old wanted to ride the bland carousel in the middle of Fantasy Land. Over and over.

“I think she went on it seven times,” my husband said when recalling our trip.

Someone else is back on the carousel, too.


“I want off the carousel,” I told my husband. He was silent; he hates my metaphors.

The carousel of loss. Grief.

I keep spinning around on that machine — thinking I’m getting close to happiness, closure, completeness. Being whipped away in the other direction every time I’m close. Over and over again.

I’m tired of seeing new nurses, new doctors. Each one exclaiming, “Eleven pregnancies?” Over and over again.

Looking back over each piece I’ve written on loss and seeing the number tick up with each blog post.

I hadn’t updated when, surprisingly, #10 resulted in a living child. My now 8-month-old.

But the healing still isn’t complete. I still don’t feel complete. This postpartum process has been rife with struggles I didn’t think would really happen: trouble bonding, detachment carrying over from pregnancy (the tool I used to survive the hills and valleys of pregnancy after loss). The surge of loving hormones I got after the birth of my first was absent with my “second” (living), and continues to be absent even many months after.

But there was still some closure — being around other babies and pregnancies was tolerable as I was pregnant with her and in those first early months after she was born. None of the seething resentment at people who navigated life without loss. Less of the jealousy of people confident enough to share pregnancy announcements from just a test with two pink lines.

Eventually all of the latter began again as the same crop of people whose previous pregnancies ignited my envy announced they were pregnant again. Soon every family event was filled with more talk of next babies, of “completing families.” Would my family ever feel complete after all of this grief?

But this armor got reset quicker than I expected. Soon I was looking at those lines again — with some surprise, though I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was. I’m not sure why I thought the hyperfertility diagnosis wouldn’t still be a part of my genetic makeup even after a second live birth.

And then the armor cracked real big down the middle and I am left vulnerable and exposed and full of grief and regrets and darkness once again. Only it’s worse this time around. So much worse.

How do my arms still feel so empty when I have an actual, living infant to fill them from a previous pregnancy? Is there never to be a balm to the act of loss?

I think a part of me naively thought things would be different this time around. “Pots of gold,” they’re called in the loss community. In an internet world of cutesy names (“angel baby,” “stardust baby,” “babydust”) masking how ugly we feel inside, the “bonus rainbow” baby seems to be called the pot of gold. The baby that came after the rainbow, with no more storms in between! (“Sunshine” is the title I’ve seen given to the first baby, for those lucky enough to have had a living baby before loss).

even knew pot-of-gold babies! Even within my very own family! Why not me, right? Why wouldn’t I get the golden goose of happiness after everything I went through?

That is the question, isn’t it?

I guess for another blog post.

4 thoughts on “The Carousel

  1. courtney says:

    Hi, Shelby. I found your piece on pregnant chicken and it sounds very similar to what I am going through. I just had my 6th loss over the course of a little over a year. I’m not getting any answers, except my own diagnosis of ‘hyperfertility’. After googling this term your piece came up – which is so refreshing because nobody I know or have worked with in the medical setting seems to have any experience with this. I would love to ask you questions about your journey. Would that be possible?

    • I’m so sorry about your losses, Courtney. Please feel free to comment and I’ll try my best to answer what I can. I also recommend looking into Professor Quenby out of the UK and her research, as she coined hyperfertility and is an amazing figure doing things to help figure out why recurrent loss happens.

  2. Natalia says:

    Hi Shelby,
    I am so sorry for all of your losses. Thank you so much for sharing and writing about it.

    Your piece on pregnancy chicken resonated with me so much (the hyperfertility, recurrent losses and DNA frag). I’ve gone through 6 chemicals so far (2 natural and 4 through IVF). Our only explanation is DNA frag (literally everything else is normal).

    Did you ultimately have success “naturally?”

    Thank you!

    • Hi Natalia,

      Thank you so much for commenting — I don’t know how I only just saw this. Sometimes my emails from wordpress get scrambled, and I happened to notice your comment now. The pandemic has definitely sapped time for my own personal writing.

      I did have success naturally — twice, fingers crossed. I had a baby in January of 2019 and am now due in April of 2021. In both cases, the only things that seemed to make a difference were my husband avoiding heat. Before my January 2019 baby, I was a stressed out control freak who begged my husband to put ice on his testicles per multiple studies showing how it reduced DNA sperm fragmentation (and he worked around high heat). After several months of that, we conceived her and had a healthy pregnancy.

      This time around, that didn’t happen… but my husband was home away from the high heat he usually works in for months (4+) and also had success as baby appears to be healthy per multiple tests. I reference that 3-4 month range because I know that’s the typical lifecycle for a sperm, and usually any changes to sperm take 72+ days before fully seeing affects.

      Please feel free to comment again or email me (shelbyilene @ gmail . com) if you have any questions or just need to vent. It’s so, so hard to deal with multiple miscarriages, and it seems an even smaller segment of the miscarriage world deals with it being a male issue.


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