How "Bachelor" Alum Sarah Herron Is Healing After Losing Her "IVF Miracle Baby"

In January, Sarah Herron of "The Bachelor" and her fiancé, Dylan Brown, watched as Oliver, their "IVF miracle baby," tragically "passed away in his dad's arms." About 24 weeks into the pregnancy, they found out their son had a health complication that meant he wouldn't survive outside the womb. After 20 hours of labor, Herron gave birth to him, and he quietly passed away.

She initially shared the heartbreaking news via Instagram on Feb. 1, just a few days after giving birth. "There are no words for the magnitude of loss and pain we're experiencing," she wrote in the caption. "It's beautiful and simultaneously tragic."

In a new essay for Women's Health, Herron shared more about her story in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. "Oliver, our IVF miracle baby, had defied so many odds and fought through so many hard milestones to be here," she wrote, "but the higher powers still had other plans for Oliver, Dylan, and me."

"After all we'd been through, it felt as if our son was struck by lightning."

The couple had battled for IVF for two years before finally becoming pregnant. In 2020, Herron was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, and she also has "stage 1 endometriosis and antiphospholipid syndrome, a blood clotting disorder that causes recurring miscarriages," she wrote. Their first embryo transfer resulted in an early miscarriage, but their second transfer was successful. The couple believed they had "circumnavigated any congenital risks" their baby might face, but "against all odds, despite the genetic testing, the surgeries, and mounds of medications to ensure a successful pregnancy, at 22 weeks, we discovered Oliver's condition," Herron wrote. "Something that couldn't be screened for, that we couldn't have seen coming. After all we'd been through, it felt as if our son was struck by lightning."

When Oliver was born, "the nurses gently passed him around, gushing over his angelic features, treating him like a visitor from heaven," Herron wrote. "He was."

The weeks after losing Oliver were difficult for reasons Herron never could have imagined: she was going through many of the struggles of postpartum healing but without her son. She should have been in her second trimester, but instead, her breast milk came in, and she had to worry about her own adult diapers. "Postpartum after pregnancy loss is still postpartum. Biology doesn't care if you've read the chapters on perineal care or lactation support when you lose your baby," she wrote. "You jump from the second trimester to the fourth trimester overnight."

Herron shared an Instagram post on Feb. 28, opening up about what the initial few weeks of grieving had been like. In the caption, she shared that she was unsure how she and her fiancé "managed to survive" throughout the prior month. "[I]t's required a certain type of wintering that only a grieving mother knows. But somehow, we're here." She noted the heartache of watching the season of winter shift slowly to spring, admitting she was "not ready" for it. "The minutes of daylight gained each night is an insulting reminder that life carries on, despite my grief still being held in January. I don't want the snow to melt or the trees to bud. I want to winter with Oliver forever."

Though Herron wrote on Instagram that she was physically healing from the pregnancy, she opened up about how it was another reminder of the time moving forward without Oliver. "What I hate, is that as more time separates us from the night we met Oliver, sometimes I can't distinguish if the last month has been a nightmare or if my pregnancy was all a dream. And as each new day brings increments of space and healing . . . I am gutted that we are moving back in a direction of life that physically looks like the one we lived before Oliver. My body is healing, yet I remain in maternity jeans — a paradox of relief and grief at the same time."

In a March 30 Instagram post marking two months after Oliver's birth, Herron shared that she had to undergo surgery again to remove parts of the placenta that remained. "It has resulted in nearly 9 weeks of persistent bleeding, anemia, and my body not being sure if it's pregnant or not. On the outside, the signs of my pregnancy have almost all but disappeared. But on the inside, my body has not been able to let go," she wrote in the caption. "For as long as this placenta has remained stuck in me, it has felt as though I was stuck in the trauma of my labor and postpartum. At times I have felt comforted knowing an actual piece of Oliver was still with me, and at other times I have felt guilty for wanting it gone. For wanting to 'move on.'"

As she approaches what was her due date — May 17 — Herron is reminded of the other ways this experience could have gone. In mid-April, instead of attending her baby shower (which was supposed to be adventure-themed), Herron went rafting and camping with her two "original adventure buddies," Brown and their dog, Rio. She posted about the milestone on Instagram, writing: "It was warm, and healing and also still very sad. The distractions were needed, but even in the familiarity of the things we love, and the places we go to remind us of who we are — we are different now. This is clear. Trying to avoid or ignore the ache of that is unavoidable . . . As we move through the difficult weeks [a]head and Oliver's due date draws near, I'm humbled knowing that I get to feel this ache; the ache of having loved him. As gut wrenching as it is to feel loss, I never want to avoid love."

And despite all the hardship, "joy ~has~ come back sooner than I gave it credit for," Herron wrote in the Feb. 28 Instagram post. The Denver native said she has leaned on her friends and family during this time and "focused exclusively on healing." Thankfully, she is finding space to laugh and cook again, and she's started walking with Rio, who she said has been her "lifeline."

Chris Harrison and others from Bachelor Nation shared their condolences in the comments of Herron's initial announcement. "God bless you all Sarah," Harrison wrote. Clare Crawley added, "Sarah you are the most amazing mother and your strength through to everything to fight so hard for your son has been nothing less than beautiful to witness."

In the Feb. 1 Instagram post, Herron shared a black and white photo of Oliver lying on her chest with her husband kissing her forehead. "While our hearts are shattered beyond comprehension, we are comforted knowing that our son's soul only ever knew love and will not suffer in a body that wasn't built for this life," she wrote. "We'll never understand the cruelty of it all, but through the darkness, Oliver remains so so bright. We love you so much, baby boy. You will never be replaced."

— Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo