Grief alongside infertility

Grief is something the infertility community is all too familiar with. It sneaks up and steals hope and joy in the form of poor test results, cancelled transfers, pregnancy loss and strained relationships. Today though, for the first time, I am experiencing a new type of infertility grief – the grief that comes with having a loved one miss out on meeting your child.

I come from a tight-knit family, and one of the relationships I have treasured the most has been the one I shared with my Grandma, Joan, who passed away this week. I know, we shouldn’t have family favourites, but there was always something a little different about the bond that we shared. In my early years, she doted on me with her time, affection, and attention. For a number of years we lived together while I was in school, and she often called me her ‘extra daughter’.

As I got older, our relationship blossomed from that of a grandparent-grandchild to that of a confidant and friend. We shared meals and holidays together, sure, but also hours-long phone calls several times a week. Despite how most people knew her, as a private, reserved, often quiet woman, she showed me a totally different slide. She was strong, loyal, and funny. She took a special interest in me, maybe because I was her eldest grandchild, maybe because despite her constant attempts to stay out of the spotlight I always followed her light.

She knew the names of my friends, their spouses, their children, and often even their dogs. We would exchange hot takes on world events, celebrity gossip, and local news. When she would divulge stories from her youth, often as a small throwaway in a larger conversation, it would remind me just how impressive of a woman she was – never boastful, always consumed in service to the wider community. She lived and breathed for others, first as a nurse working in both remote communities and with vulnerable populations, then working with grieving families in our family business, a funeral home, all the while as an active volunteer in organizations raising funds and other supports for children and families. Her joy came from others, and this was true until the very end.

In her final months, she was finally able to update her status to ‘great-grandmother-to-be’ when our embryo transfer stuck. She has spent the past few months gushing about her excitement for her first great-grandchild. She speculated on whether it would be a boy or girl (she thought probably a girl), and she recently gifted us a stroller (she wanted to make sure her baby gift would be used daily). She often spoke about how confident she was that I will make an excellent mother, and how Zane is going to be a doting dad. While she had already lost most of her physical strength, she asked if we would help her hold the baby once it was born.

Now, with her passing, we won’t have that opportunity to put baby in her arms.

It stings to process the grief of missing that moment. In another world, one where our journey hadn’t taken years, we may have had that. She may have gotten to coo over the baby, stroke its head, and tell us who she thought it looked more like. My mom and I would have been able to sit beside her and take it all in – four generations together, treasuring the closeness. Instead, we missed it by a few months.

People talk a lot about closure with grief, as if one day you simply close the chapter and don’t feel the loss anymore. In my experience, that isn’t really true. I think we learn to live within our new reality, but never really ‘close’ anything. My grandmother shaped who I am, and I’ll carry her wherever I go.


2 thoughts on “Grief alongside infertility

  1. My sincere condolences on the loss of your beloved Granmother. So sorry that she will not get to meet the baby. Natalie Cutler


  2. Baden, I am so sorry to learn of your grandmother’s passing. She was my Aunt Joan, and I miss her deeply. As a young girl I would write to her, filling her in on our lives. She had a special ability to make you feel that you were the only one in the world when we were together. You are so blessed to have such a tonight-knit family. May her memories and influence live on as you and Zane welcome the next generation into your lives.


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