Building a family looks different for everyone, but it always requires love and dedication. Things don’t always go as expected, particularly when having children comes into play. The ups and downs, the joys and losses—these are all part of the journey of conception, usually made easier with people by your side.
While non-carrying partners tend to take on more supportive roles throughout the TTC process, they go through their own, unique set of challenges and struggles, which also deserve care and attention.
Phoebe is a nonbinary lesbian married to Morgan, a cisgender bisexual woman. They are the couple behind the popular TikTok account @couplagoofs. They’ve been trying to get pregnant with the assistance of a donor over the past six months.
While their path to conception is fairly recent, they’ve been talking about having kids since their relationship began in 2017.
“Back when we worked at Disney World and were barely making enough money to exist in central Florida, babies felt like a far off dream,” Phoebe says.
But it’s always been part of the discussion, and Morgan has always longed to be pregnant. When they moved to Oregon in 2021, they had more support from their parents, and were able to stop living paycheque to paycheque. After their wedding in late 2021, they decided to start trying to have a baby.
Fear and loss
Unfortunately, miscarriage is quite common for those trying to conceive. According to the Mayo Clinic, around 10% to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, although the number is likely higher when taking into account unknown pregnancies.
Morgan became pregnant in her first cycle, but had a miscarriage at seven to eight weeks. Since then, Phoebe and Morgan have been taking a cycle off here and there to prioritize rest and reduce stress.
Miscarriage is of course very trying on the body and mind of the carrying partner, but it can also deeply impact the non-carrying partner in ways we don’t often discuss.
As Phoebe says, “It was so hard to watch the person I love most experience something so traumatic. We were there together at the ER, and there wasn’t a single thing that I could do to fix or stop what was happening.”
Phoebe describes it as the most difficult thing they and Morgan have ever been through together, and the most helpless they have ever felt as an individual.
In an article for Healthline, Simone Marie writes the following: “Pregnancy loss can be a difficult and painful experience physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It can also put a strain on your relationship. The partner experiencing the miscarriage can feel blame and guilt, and the non-carrying partner may also have emotional pain.”
Fortunately for Phoebe and Morgan, in addition to being there for one another, they had their close family friend Hannah help them around the house while they grieved.
“I don’t know what we would have done without her,” says Phoebe.
Celebrating and appreciating the journey for what it is has also helped Phoebe and Morgan through the harder days.
Morgan says that for her, this often looks like making jokes and memories with Phoebe, being spontaneous, and appreciating the quick and precious nature of life.
Phoebe says that for them, getting matching blueberry tattoos with Morgan was a very profound, healing moment.
“At seven to eight weeks, a fetus is about the size of a blueberry. Our friend Lemon, who tattoos in Portland, did them for us. It was just a lovely experience to create closure for something that was awful.”
Taking time for the simple things also helps, whether it’s staying home to watch the Paranormal Activity movies, getting Starbucks and watching X-Files, or buying little treats to offset the tears. As Phoebe says, “We take serotonin wherever we can get it.”
As a non-carrying partner, Morgan says Phoebe has more than fulfilled their supportive role.
“Phoebe is the most incredible and thoughtful partner. I would say what they do best is actively listen and respond, then take what they learned and continue to use that information to support me.”
Morgan says that sometimes she feels as though her struggle with miscarrying was her or her body’s fault, and in those times, Phoebe will go out of their way to be extra kind to Morgan’s body.
“At the same time, they never invalidate my fears or concerns either, which is a delicate skill that a lot of folks don’t have. It leaves me feeling supported and heard, but also with the reminders that even ‘logical’ fears come from the anxiety part of my brain.”
Phoebe says it’s about balance, and knowing when to prioritize Morgan’s feelings while also taking into consideration their own.
“Obviously this has been difficult and wonderful and wild for the both of us, but it’s Morgan’s body and Morgan’s anxieties that are most relevant. Being able to realize when I need time to myself or need support from Morgan has been crucial,” they say.
Words of wisdom
Phoebe says they recommend couples look into what really happens during a miscarriage. They’re so common, but not talked about enough. They say the experience in the ER (with Morgan losing a lot of blood) really opened their eyes to what the process was actually like.
As both Phoebe and Morgan can attest, talking with other folks trying to conceive is also key.
“You realize you are not all alone and that the fears, worries, and joys you’re feeling are all normal. Plus, it’s great to have people to go to so you can say, ‘Hey, did this happen to you too?’”
You can follow Phoebe and Morgan’s TTC journey and their funny, sweet videos on TikTok and Instagram @couplagoofs.