I’m Struggling to Accept My Family Might Be Complete

Written by Katie

If you’d asked me a year ago when my family would be complete, I would have told you without hesitation, “When there are four of us.”

Since the loss last summer, the months have crept by in 2-week increments. I bleed, I ovulate, I fail a test or two, and then the cycle starts all over again. In December, I had a brief flicker of hope that the cycle was over. A second pink line so unexpected, rather than feeling joy, I felt confused. The next day the cycle started over again. Hope gone, just like that.

In the evenings, my family gathers at the dinner table, and the fourth chair is conspicuously empty. Especially now, as my due date for the loss approaches, I think to myself That chair shouldn’t be empty. There should be a high chair there. There should be a bassinet by our bed, a crib in my daughter’s room, a second car seat in both cars.

We go out to eat, and I see parents sitting with 2 children, one big, one small. We go to the playground, and I see dads supervising their little one on the playground, while mom cuddles an even smaller one in a wrap. At daycare, frazzled mothers wrangle both their children into their car seats at the end of the day.

My little family is wonderful, but at the same time, it feels too small. Incomplete. We keep waiting for the one who will round us out.

But…what if this is it?

I didn’t get to choose how my pregnancy ended. It was decided for me, by a host of medical professionals. I didn’t get to choose how breastfeeding my daughter ended. My milk simply dried up one day, and that was that. And maybe I don’t get to choose when my family is complete.

Maybe my body just won’t cooperate this time aroundlike it did in birth, like it did with breastfeedingand this is exactly what my family is supposed to look like.

One thing a loss will teach you is gratitude. I’m grateful for my daughter, who was conceived easily and born healthy–a feat which now seems so impossible, it might as well be magic. I’m grateful for my husband, who is a wonderful father and who has been loving, supportive, sensitive, and patient with me through all the hard stuff we’ve been through together. I’m grateful for my job and for our home and for our life, all of which are pretty amazing.

I’ve been trying to adjust my perspective, to focus more on all the things I do have rather than the few things I don’t. It’s hard to let go of that idea of what your family should look like, though, and to accept that three may be all that ever sits around your table.

What if this is it, though?

A lot of people think when I say this that I’m looking for assurances.

Of course you’ll have another baby.  You’re young-ish. You’re healthy. You had one no problem, and got pregnant easily the second time, even if it didn’t go to term. Of course it will happen for you.

I don’t want assurances, though, because they may not be true and because they don’t really help with the sense of loss and emptiness. I want acceptance. Affirmation.

If this is it, your family is beautiful just as it is. There is nothing missing, nothing lacking. You’re whole…which is something very hard to feel after a miscarriage.

Sometimes I feel like everything about motherhood has been a lesson in letting go. Letting go when your doctor tells you at your 20-week ultrasound that your baby may have something terribly wrong with them. Letting go when your baby crashes when you’re in labor and you have to be rushed into surgery, all choice and action taken from you.

Letting go when your baby is collicky, when your baby barely sleeps, when your baby wants to eat every hour on the hour, around the clock. Letting go when your milk is gone, even though you weren’t ready to stop breastfeeding. Letting go when your toddler doesn’t want to cooperate and seems determined to do exactly the opposite of whatever you ask them. Letting go when your attempts to bring a new life into this world fail.

What if this is it?

What if this is it?

Then this is it. And you just have to let go of whatever else you thought would be.

About the Author: Katie is a busy working mom in Austin, Texas. Her brood includes a 2-year-old, a dog, and 4 cranky chickens. You can read about her family at Mom in Leggings. This post originally appeared on Katie’s blog Mom in Leggings.

About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


  1. I’m struggling because I haven’t conceived at all. I desperately want a child of my own. I have three wonderful bonus sons in my life & maybe this is it. Maybe this is my perfect family- God’s perfect plan. It’s hard to let go….but I have to.

  2. Secondary infertility is so hard for others to understand. I am dealing with this now, and feeling very much like our family is not complete, even though it might very well be. Thank you for sharing these words with the world.

  3. My husband and I are dealing with secondary infertility and it stinks! We got pregnant two months after our wedding and lost that sweet baby at five weeks gestation. Two months later we got pregnant with our rainbow baby. She will celebrate her second birthday in a few months. I wanted our first two children to be close in age so they could be best friends. We have been actively TTC for over a year and it’s not happening. Of course, all of our friends and family are getting pregnant again. We are very excited for them but wishing it could be our turn too. We are just now getting to the place where we are accepting that maybe she will be our only one. And that’s okay. 🙂

  4. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope you get the second baby you dream of, but if you don’t, it sounds to me like you’re an extraordinarily strong woman and you will find peace with it. It’s a little maddening how sometimes the things we want most in life are completely out of our hands. Best wishes on growing your family!

  5. April will be a tough month for me because it was the due date of the first miscarriage I had back in August and then it would have been the gender reveal month for the second miscarriage I just had at the end of January. We have two girls but like you I always had this vision of our family being complete with three and now after two miscarriages in five months I don’t know. Some days I think I’m going with it and then other times when my sister and friends are getting ready to have their third I feel slightly angry for not having the same thing. Then I do like you do and think of all the things I do have to be grateful for.
    Angela @ Stepping into Motherhood

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