Exclusive: Tamar Braxton on How Hard It Is When You Miscarry After IVF
On the most recent episode of Braxton Family Values, Tamar Braxton opened up about miscarrying a baby—a girl—much to the surprise of her family and viewers. Though the episode was filmed a few months ago, the loss is still fresh for Braxton, 40, and her husband, Vince. During a recent visit to the Glamour offices in Los Angeles, the singer opened up about her infertility struggles, why son Logan—almost 4—was a miracle baby, and the untold reality of in vitro fertilization.
“Beyonce gives me hope. She’s pregnant with twins in her late 30s, and that’s such an amazing blessing. And for myself, I want the Patridge family. I just don’t know how they’re going to get here. I’m very nervous about going through that whole process of IVF again, because having a loss after going through it is really devastating. It really is a loss you can’t explain.
Early on, there was a time where I was like, ‘I don’t want kids! I’m all about my career,’ and my gynecologist said, ‘Here’s the thing, Tamar: You never know what life is ever going to throw you, so you should really consider freezing your eggs.’ Vince and I talked about it, and when I went for my initial IVF—when I was just going to freeze my eggs—I didn’t know that I had infertility issues. I was blocked on both sides as if I had my tubes tied. I was 34 when I found this out. They don’t know what causes that. The devil? Ha! It’s just my makeup. The doctors didn’t think I couldn’t have kids; it wasn’t going to happen [the natural] way. I didn’t even know that until I went to go freeze my eggs. But I was cool with it, because at that time I didn’t even want to have kids. Now, I would have started at 28, 29, 30, but you don’t know until you know.
What happened was, right after IVF, coincidentally I got pregnant with Logan. He’s the best thing that ever happened to Vince and I. Considering I was told I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids [without help], that’s why Logan is a real miracle baby.
At first, right after I had him, I’m like, ‘I’m not having any more kids!’ I hated being pregnant! I wanted an apple martini the whole time. I craved it. [Pregnancy] was hell. And then you fall in love with this kid—this crazy miracle—and all of the sudden want more. He has enriched my life so much.
Vince and I started trying for a second child, but it just didn’t work. My gynecologist was like, ‘You need to use the eggs you were able to freeze.’ I didn’t want to go through the whole IVF situation again because I knew what [was involved]. My personality changed. I was a hateful heffer. And I didn’t want to be hateful! I knew what it did. And I was so hungry! I ate all day! But I knew I wanted a baby more than I cared about all these other things. So, me and Vince went through getting the injections all over again to get my uterus ready to have the embryo implanted. And when you’re 38 or 39, the doctors only want to implant one embryo. I had six viable embryos, and four were healthy. But when you’re in your late 30s, the doctors only want to implant one at a time because there’s a higher percentage rate of multiple births. Knowing that they could only implant one at at time was devastating to me. Because if that one didn’t stick, I knew I would have to go through the entire process again. Aside from the physical toll on your body from all the shots, the IV’s, the blood work, etc., it’s so expensive to keep going through it. No matter how much money people think you have, expensive is expensive! And there’s no guarantee it’s going to work.
I got the implantation, and I went for my pregnancy test, and it was positive. Three days later though, they called to tell me my numbers were going down. When your numbers are going down, it’s a wrap. I wasn’t pregnant that long after my pregnancy test.
I didn’t know how I was going to get out of my bed for a couple weeks. But you just do, you know? The same choice you make to be courageous and go through this process is the same choice to get up and keep going. It was hard because I still had to work. But after the miscarriage, I wanted so badly for the other things in my life to work. My tour got canceled. Of course everybody knows what happened at [The Real]. [Ed. note: Braxton and the show parted ways in May 2016]. My album came out and I couldn’t support it. I had to stop Dancing with the Stars. I just wanted to feel like I achieved something that I set out to do. When it didn’t happen, I felt like I was going to have an emotional breakdown. It was tough.
But I refuse any more losses. I feel like I deserve wins. I’m not going to take anything less than that. Like the music I’m getting ready to put out—it’s a ‘W’ for me because I feel like it’s amazing. And I’m proud of it. And if I decide to go through this whole situation again with the IVF, then that’s a ‘W’ for me, because it’s hard to make that decision for me. So I won! I’ve dedicated myself to losing the weight from IVF too, because it won’t come off until it’s ready. So being comfortable with that? That’s a win for me.
But this is still a struggle. And sometimes when I’m alone, I feel less than a woman. Like a failure. And it’s very sensitive and it’s very hard to talk about and you don’t want to share it with a lot of people when you’re going through it. Vince and I didn’t discuss it with anyone. I didn’t even tell my mom because you feel like if you tell somebody it’s bad luck. I just wish people would be more sensitive and maybe ask ‘How can I help you? Is there anything I can do?’
But when someone hasn’t gone through it, they don’t understand the level of the loss. You don’t want to hear, ‘Oh, it will all work out. Don’t worry.’ Like, ‘how do you know?’ People that say, ‘Oh, you can always adopt,’ drives me crazy. I think adoption is great, but I want to have my own baby. I have these embryos in the freezer, and I want to be able to see what they look like. Are they anything like Logan? I put myself through that situation because I want to see that outcome. I can’t lie and tell you at this point Vince and I have not talked about adoption or a surrogacy, but if I can have my own, of course [I want to].
I tell my girlfriends, ‘will you please go freeze your eggs?’ Everyone is waiting for the right guy and the right time and the right financial block that they’re in, but we kind of take it for granted that we’ll always be able to have children. Go and do it. Because you never know. Once you turn 35, they view that as a high-risk pregnancy.
But just know that making the decision to freeze your eggs is just the start. You have to find the right doctor and fertility center. I went to two different places originally. The doctor that we went with said, ‘we want quality, not quantity.’ That stuck with me. And know that you can’t be on the hustle and bustle when going through the egg-freezing process. You have to be really committed to it because you basically live at the doctor’s office. You have to go there almost daily for an ultrasound and bloodwork. Every day is something else. Vince and a nurse did the shots for me. I’m a real wimp. You also have to disrupt your day because you have to take these shots on time, and the older you get, the more strict your doctors are about the time that you take it. You’ll sometimes even get depressed during this. You’re like, ‘I did this to myself?!’ You’re bruised and you look six months pregnant and you’re hungry all the time. But you always have to remember why you’re doing this. You do it because you want to have the final result.
Logan is such a blessing. He’s like my best friend. But I know that I have the gift of responsibility to be the woman that he has to look up to. And I will not fail at that.
I have three embryos left. I’m definitely going to put them to use. I just don’t know how yet. I’m looking forward to expanding our family because it’s very important to Vince and I. And I am looking forward to learning more about myself, being proud of myself and not being so hard on myself as a woman and as a mother. It really is a choice to have a good day or to have a bad day. You can have the most jacked up thing happen to you, but the choice is how you handle it!
Everybody in the world can give up on you, but you cannot give up on yourself. And that’s just the bottom line through IVF, through your career, through your relationships, to your goals. The minute you give up, that’s when it’s over. You can’t give up. You have to make that promise to yourself that no matter what, I am not going to stop until I succeed at my goal. It’s a long road to get there, but sometimes it’s the universe changing to make things better for you.” As told to Jessica Radloff
A new episode of Braxton Family Values airs tonight on WE tv.