Is miscarriage worse if you have no children?

I have been wavering on whether or not to write this post as the miscarriage and infertility community is a small one and I think it’s important that we stick together and don’t get into a scenario of comparing grief. There is nothing to be gained from a “my loss is worse than your loss” battle. We have all lost and the strength of our grief is something which is personal to us. However, yesterday’s news that Sue Radford, the mother of Britain’s largest family (currently 16 children), had suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks, has got me thinking about the question I have asked myself since my first miscarriage; Would this be easier if I already had a child?

This is a difficult question for me to answer as plainly I don’t already have a child. I’m sure the only people who can really know the answer are those who have suffered a loss both before and after a successful pregnancy. But I can’t help feeling that my current anxiety for the future as a result of my miscarriages would be greatly diminished if I already had a child. This is because I feel as if my husband and I are trying to achieve a family. We want to be parents and that will be achieved the moment we hold our newborn baby in our arms.

I have always thought that I would have two or three children. My husband is an only child and he would have liked a sibling so he’s always wanted multiple children too. But since our last miscarriage we have both agreed that one is the goal. One is the difference between a couple and a family. The difference between being a wife/daughter and a mother. Despite being an only child, husband’s family is no less a family and Sue Radford’s brood of 16 children.

Whenever I think of having a child I think of all the things that I would like to do. Taking my newborn home for the first time. Lying on the sofa with my baby on my chest. Walks to the park to feed the ducks. Unwrapping stocking presents on Christmas morning. The first day of school. All of these things can happen if I can just get one embryo to go full term. One is like the milestone, all or nothing! I’m sure that I would still feel tremendous grief, sadness and the pain of loss if I were to have a successful pregnancy and go on to have further miscarriages in the future. But I can’t help but feel that the anxiety would be less. At the moment it feels like my entire future is dependent on getting one baby to term. Whilst I feel very sorry for Sue Radford having to go through something as awful as a miscarriage. I can’t help but feel that in a year’s time her life as a mother of 16 will be very much the same as it would have been as a mother of 17. For my husband and I, each miscarriage is the difference between being a family and just being a couple. With one baby everything is different. One is the goal, any more is a bonus!

17 thoughts on “Is miscarriage worse if you have no children?

  1. Takes a lot of guts to write your post hon, thank you for that. I can relate to your feelings that baby = family. That our lives have two paths. One as a family, and one as a couple. I still have no idea which it will be and that terrifies me. For now it feels like limbo, like we are in the waiting room in purgatory clutching our number not knowing how many will go before us or whether we’ll even be seen before closing time. Thinking of you xx

  2. I don’t have any answer to your question as I suffered my loss and do not yet have any children, but I’ve spoken to people who’ve had miscarriages and had children ( my mother had two young kids when she lost a baby at 5 months) . Some describe feeling like they couldn’t focus on themselves because they were too busy with the kids, others found great comfort in the child they had that they could hold, and others, still, felt crippled and were barely able to care for their living children at times.
    I suspect it is entirely a personal exploration, and must differ for each of us. I know I’ve wondered the same thing myself.

  3. I totally agree with you that we shouldn’t get in to comparing grief- it isn’t productive and it doesn’t work anyway because we all experience things differently. But, I do think there are two parts to this, the pain of the loss and the pain of the infertility. Someone who has one miscarriage and also has kids (especially lots and lots of kids…) is dealing with the horrible part of the loss, but not infertility. The infertility is at least as hard, if not harder for me than just the losses themselves. I would do just about anything for just one single child at this point, and I don’t think a person with a few children already is experiencing this in the same way.

    • I agree with this response… I think that a loss is painful no matter what. But I think that for those who have birthed other living children the fear of never being able to get pregnant or carry a baby to term is not a factor. Those of us in the infertility community know that fear all too well.

      • I echo your words. Loss is all difficult and painful beyond explanation; no matter what it hurts, but the thought I may never carry a child to term terrifies me as well. It is a pain that I also cannot explain.

  4. I think it is an enormously complex issue and everyone experiences grief differently. While it is difficult for me to personally comprehend the experience of loss when one already has kids, that doesn’t mean the experience is insignificant. My mil had two miscarriages after having two kids and then went on to have three more kids. Yet she was more understanding of my own loss than just about anyone else I know. Again though, everyone experiences loss and grief so differently. My own husband had an extremely different experience if our loss than myself even though it was the same loss of the same much-wanted child. I’ve also been comparing my own experiences of infertility alone and pregnancy loss. For me personally the loss was so much harder than the infertility alone but obviously that’s not the case for everyone. I say compassion all around. Thank you for being open about your experience and thoughts.

  5. I don’t know what it would feel like to have never had children. I had my miscarriages after I already had two children. It removed all my faith in my body and was an utterly traumatic time. And in some ways I felt disloyal to the children I had for putting them through the anguish that we all felt over the missing babies, not to mention me being ill for months as a consequence.

    Having said this, I can completely see that not having any children is a different situation entirely, and that level of pain when you are desperate to be a parent, is surely separate in a way from the miscarriage loss?

    Sending love.

  6. I lost twin boys at 22 weeks (technically a miscarriage as the pregnancy was under 24 weeks). The grief was/is enormous, the only thing that kept me going was having my almost-3 year old to take care of. For me, the grief, the emptiness is still there but having a child means there’s more to distract you from it. And more to be grateful for.

  7. When I had my son, I had the false sense of security that I could have my next baby whenever I wanted…despite having one healthy child, I suffered for over three years with secondary infertility and five miscarriages. Whether your mourning the loss of a baby with no children or three, you’re mourning the loss of the vision you had for your perfect family. Some people view the perfect family as two children. Others see themselves with three or more. The loss of a child is still the loss off a child whether you have living children or not. The pain of the loss isn’t any worse, it’s just some women are mourning over infertility too.

    • This is exactly what is in my head. I had an early miscarriage before my son was born. I would still truly grieve so hard for the huge loss if I was to miscarry again which having polysistic ovaries & no fertility in my left ovarys has been explained to me by drs as probable. When I miscarried I didnt loose the vision or hope for a family its scared me & broke my heart but I kept faith. The loss of such a huge blessing is overwhelmjng what ever the scenario, whatever your race, religion or class. Im so very sorry your suffering with such a loss x

  8. I totally agree with beorganic. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers a miscarriage. I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks and already have one son. The sense of loss was heartbreaking and although I already had a son, it did not take the pain away. I never thought about miscarriage until it happened to me. Who thought that getting pregnant would be so difficult and even just having a healthy baby is taken for granted, I myself thought it was so easy before the miscarriage. I can understand how someone might think it is easier if you have other children to be thankful for and in a way, it helps but a loss is a loss and it is still hard. But on the other hand, I can be grateful for one blessing. I did so want to have a child with my second husband so that we would have a child together (as we both have children from previous marriages) but time is getting on and I am now 43 and yet I still try. Its so easy to say stop trying so that the stress of it is reduced, I wish! Good luck to everyone still trying.

  9. I think about this every now and then, and then I feel guilty for thinking that my experience feels worse than those who miscarry that already have children. (I think I’m just jealous that they have children, which is the ugly side of me coming out!) Plain and simple, a loss is a loss and it is traumatic for anyone regardless of whether you have kid(s). Those with kids must have so much strength to take care of their children on top of everything else in the midst of that pain — it’s a 24/7 job, and it’s not like you can vent to your children and baul all day in front of them. Looking back, I don’t know that I could have taken that on during my miscarriage. With that said, it’s tough for me to picture an innocent pregnancy. Because I miscarried with my first, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get through a full-term pregnancy without anxiety that I might lose it, regardless if I go on to have 2-3 successful pregnancies before another miscarriage happens. Not that those that had a successful first pregnancy didn’t/don’t experience anxiety; I don’t want to undermine that.
    But I do envy some of my friends that seem to be happy in their first pregnancy, blissfully unaware of what can and does happen. However, I don’t go too far down that road, because 1) you never know the battles someone is facing or has faced, and 2) you never know the battles someone WILL face in the future. Everyone has their own story, their own miscarriage/ttc experience, their own pain. It’s not for one woman to say whether hers is worse than another’s, and it would behoove us in the ttc/miscarriage community to pour love on one another and resist the urge to think this way. Great post… very well thought out! Sending love and prayers your way! 🙂

  10. I agree with you and everyone else. Great topic. I’m in your camp of not having any children and I do often think I’d be so much better off in my grief if I already had a child but then again, I know a loss is a loss. It sucks any way you look at it. Sorry for your losses

  11. I’ve definitely contemplated this. It is def. not fair of me to compare…pain is pain, even if it is a toothache. But I think infertility is a little different than just miscarrying. My miscarriage was incredibly sad. Dealing with infertility and possible never having a baby is incredibly scary.

  12. Thank you everyone for your posts and for understanding. I was apprehensive when posting this that people would think I was trying to underestimate someone else’s loss, which was never my intention. So I’m very glad my post was taken in the spirit it was intended.

    I completely agree with the comments which have been made. I’ve always found it difficult to associate what I’m going through with people who are struggling with infertility as I seem to be able to get pregnant, it’s staying pregnant which is the hard part! But I see now that the losses and the infertility are separate things. Everyone who suffers a miscarriage has the pain of the loss regardless of how many children they have. I see now that my anxiety is due to infertility and the fear that I’ll never have a baby and that’s a separate thing. Thank you for helping me see this.

  13. There’s a big difference between comparing your grief to someone else’s, and wondering if your own grief would have been better or worse under different circumstances. We all do it. We all wonder if our miscarriage would have been worse had we carried the baby longer, or less if it had been a chemical pregnancy. I can say with a great deal of certainty that had I carried my baby to term and delivered a stillborn, I would absolutely be more grief-stricken than with my 12-week missed miscarriage. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s the same for everyone, or that my grief is any less valid than my friend who lost her baby to SIDS. To your question: Yes, I think I would have coped better with the grief of my miscarriage if I had had the comfort of another child. Again, I hold no assumptions that it’s the same for anyone else. I sometimes think my infertility is worse because I did get pregnant once; I knew the joy of a positive pregnancy test and felt my body growing and changing. If I had never known that, maybe I wouldn’t be so desperate to get pregnant, and maybe this whole infertility thing wouldn’t bother me so much. Who knows? But I would never say that a woman who has never been pregnant can’t know the true pain of infertility. That’s ridiculous. Pain is pain. Just as joy is joy. What brings great joy (or grief) to one person may seem trivial to another, but it doesn’t matter to the person who feels that joy (or grief).

  14. Pingback: Talking about miscarriage | By The Seat Of My Panties

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