Libby’s Story: “There is a lot of secrecy and stigma around pregnancy loss, so I talk loudly and often.”
Posted by Ariane Beeston on 19th July 2022
Libby Trainor Parker is an author, speaker, MC, radio presenter, health advocate and a proud step and foster mum. She kindly shared her story of infertility & pregnancy loss, as part of COPE’s The Truth campaign.
When I was a kid, I always imagined I would have a noisy, chaotic house full of children when I eventually grew up to become a mum. I always wanted to be a parent. I loved kids and was a babysitter from when I was 12 (oh the ‘90s, when it was okay for babies to look after babies), and I would jump at the chance to help my mum out in the junior primary classrooms she taught in. Don’t get me wrong, I also wanted a meaningful and successful career, millions of dollars and to marry Leonardo DiCaprio, but I always factored a stack of kids into my glamourous lifestyle.
After a string of failed relationships where the partner either didn’t want kids, wasn’t ready for kids or was sleeping with my best friend, I met and fell in love with Matt. He had two kids from a previous relationship and I found myself becoming an instant mum to two little girls under five, which was beautiful, challenging, hectic and messy. I longed for my own baby though. Matt’s children are gorgeous, but they also live with their mum half the time and I miss them so much when they’re gone and I was desperate to add to our family and have that noisy, chaotic house.
We planned to start trying in February, 2013. I fell pregnant immediately. ‘Well, that was easy!’ I thought. Matt and I are artsy people so we were in the middle of staging a performance at Adelaide Fringe Festival, so I put off any medical appointments, thinking I’d sashay in for my ten week scan, admire my extremely handsome unborn child, high five the sonographer and obstetrician on a job well done by everyone and then go shopping for overpriced baby goods.
But I got sick. Really sick. I was in so much pain that I passed out at the theatre on opening night. Then the bleeding started. Not much. Just a bit. Enough to go to the doctor who took one look at me, mumbled the word ‘ectopic’ and sent me off to emergency.
Ectopic. Cornual Ectopic, to be exact. My baby was growing on the outside of my uterus. It was never viable. We were crushed.
That was the first of eleven pregnancy losses in total, including a second ectopic. No successful pregnancies, just loss after devastating loss. Our house was still noisy with the beautiful chaos of the girls who were growing up so fast, but on the days they weren’t with us, the silence could be deafening.
We kept busy. We made comedy cabaret shows and laughed through the pain. We started a business, we went on holidays, and we tried and tried for a baby. We saw specialist after specialist. We listened patiently to advice from well-meaning friends, like, “Have you tried yoga/acupuncture/going on a holiday/trying harder/not trying at all/get a pet/hold my baby and get pregnant by osmosis” for eight years until I was tired. We were tired. We had to call it.
A couple of years before Matt and I got together, I registered and trained to be a foster carer, but when he and the girls came into my life, I made the choice to put the idea on the back burner to focus on being the best step-mum I could possibly be. Then, after eight exhausting years of trying to have a baby, we decided to revisit the idea of being foster parents together.
My house is chaotic, hectic, alive and noisy with the sounds of our teen, tween and now, a toddler. I always knew I would have a house full of children, but I never anticipated they wouldn’t come from my body. The loss has been significant, and the hurt may never heal, but my heart is full knowing that I am devoted to my job as a parent, stepping up, showing up and loving the crap out of the three kids I am honoured to be caring for. I never married Leo DiCaprio (his loss), and we don’t have millions of dollars, but what we do have is worth so much.
I always knew I would have a house full of children, but I never anticipated they wouldn’t come from my body.
Not being able to fall pregnant has been devastating and it has taken me a long time to come to terms with it. I watch all my friends having babies around me and it’s hard. Some days it’s impossible. But I am working to forgive myself and to let go, so I can be the best step and foster mum I can possibly be for the three little loves of my life. Finding friends who can relate helps a lot. There is a lot of secrecy and stigma around pregnancy loss, so I talk loudly and often about it, and will happily listen to anyone who wants to talk through their experiences with me.
If you are experiencing pregnancy loss and/or infertility, you are not alone. There is a huge club of us out there and we get it; we’ve got your back. Just reach out if you need to and know that we understand, we hear you and we see you.