Emotional Reflections: Stages of Grief through Infertility

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So we had a detailed 15 week scan with a MFM doc and all looks great. Was so much fun to see little man wiggling around and all his little features that are getting more and more pronounced as the days go on. We finally felt a bit more of the relief I had been looking for.

I’ve shed a few tears since that day. Happy tears. As I reflected on all of my years struggling to conceive, and as I really absorbed and acknowledged I was in the second trimester, I felt overwhelming in the best way possible. I finally made it! I am pregnant, and actually believing it will lead to a baby. It was the first time I allowed myself to truly be excited, and it was such a euphoric moment. But I still remember and feel the pain like it was yesterday, and in a sense it allows me to be more than happy. I feel eternally blessed, and immensely indescribably grateful.

When we first started trying to get pregnant I had these images of what our experience would be like. Maybe we’d try a few months… I’d secretly test and surprise Eric with the news in some cute memorable way. Well, as the months dragged on, the doubt started to creep in. At that time though, I think the doubt was more about how long it would take, and doubt of me having the image in my head come to fruition. I don’t think I yet considered it never happening for us. In that first year I was still certain I was meant to be a mom, and this was going to happen for us, and soon! I was in the first stage of grief for much of that first year. Shock that it wasn’t happening, and denial that it wouldn’t.

When we were finally referred to a fertility clinic a new picture was formed in my head. We underwent test after test and both Eric and I dealt with a lot of guilt and pain. Was it him? Was it me? Was it both of us? The blame game gets you nowhere, but in a way you hope it’s the other person’s “fault” so you don’t have to feel the guilt and pain of letting them down. You’ve already let yourself down in so many ways, it feels, you can’t handle that burden too. I’d overcome infertility. I’d go through treatments like the strong woman I am, and come out a winner. I’d defeat these obstacles… with some doctors help of course. The fertility specialists reiterated that nothing was wrong with us, and that this WOULD work. The first round failed. I was angry and pointing fingers. The doctor who did the transfer messed up. Our fertility doctor should have given us a different protocol. As we set on course for our second transfer, a frozen cycle, we moved into bargaining. We tried to control, “fix” and learn as much as we could from the last cycle in order to be successful. I made changes, we opted to put 2 day 5 embryos in despite doctor’s advice. If I put two in maybe I’ll be more successful. Another failed round later they were as confused as we were. My hope and faith were gone.

There is no way around it. When that cycle failed I was depressed. We took a long break from treatment and I tried to find purpose in my life again. Everything had become about fertility and I was very tired. All of my friends around me were moving on, and it became increasingly difficult to be around happy people. I wanted a change. I needed a change. As fate would have it, an opportunity came about for us to move and start a new life. We jumped on it.

Once settled in our new life in New York, we made the decision to push forward in our goals of parenthood. It’s an odd thing, pursuing treatments that you don’t necessarily believe will work. We still had very little hope. We were still in a sense depressed. As we met with a new clinic and a new doctor we moved into the testing phase. This would be our last attempt, and more than a hopeful one, it was really a “go through the motions” process of moving towards accepting our fate (which I at least thought to be inevitable at the time). We went through so much without any shred of certainty. Our experiences had taught us otherwise. A shred of hope could be found as new techniques by a new doctor were being applied. A textbook cycle, perfect in all ways, but yet still no success. This was the moment we had to really begin to accept that this may never happen for us.

That’s a very very hard thing to process, acceptance. Motherhood, something so many women take for granted, something so many women assume is their god given right. For me… I may never experience. If I was going to experience it, I had to accept it wasn’t in the way I hoped or imagined for myself. I began to process these emotions, picturing motherhood through adoption. The thing about infertility is you aren’t on this journey alone. There are two people, two sets of emotions, two distinct separate paths through the stages of grief even. I thought Eric and I had been moving through them at the same pace, but we hadn’t been. We went through a difficult patch trying to understand why were weren’t on the same page. I was ready to pursue adoption and became increasingly frustrated that he wasn’t on board. He hadn’t really ever gotten past bargaining. He still held onto hope this would happen for us.

The baby boy nestled in my uterus right now is a direct result of Eric’s persistence. He in no way forced me to undergo another cycle. In fact, through our discussions he began to work through and become excited for the adoption process. But I decided I could find the strength to do another cycle. Not just for him, but for us. This would be the last cycle for now, and I was clear on my expectation beyond that point.

Somehow, by miracle, our final cycle worked. The funny thing is, I began that cycle with a refreshed attitude. I made the deliberate decision to BELIEVE it could work. BELIEVE it WOULD work. And it did. I’m not saying that I willed it to happen, but I think the fact that I had worked through the stages of grief fully before trying this final attempt, allowed me to enter into it with an open heart…something I hadn’t been able to do for the years past.

So now sitting here, writing this, I become emotional because a dream I set out to achieve five years ago is finally coming to fruition. It hasn’t been easy by any means. It has been the most challenging five years of my entire life. But as I’ve said in posts before, I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot in the process. For all of it, I am grateful.

Second Trimester Begins

It’s been a long hard journey to get to this point, and I genuinely believed that once I entered the elusive second trimester, I’d feel better. I’d feel relieved or encouraged, or maybe even confident. Unfortunately, infertility has left more scarring than I once imagined, and my fears of my body failing me are more deep rooted than can be described.


A few weeks ago we had our 12 week ultrasound. All went very well, baby’s heart was beating away and was measuring “on track” (at least, consistent with being behind in the first place). We were relieved for that moment in time. We made it to 12 weeks! That felt like a huge accomplishment. They drew our blood for NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) and sent that off and I was feeling pretty sure that all would come back clear for abnormalities and we would celebrate the gender and be well on our way through this pregnancy.


The wait wasn’t as torturous for me as it seemed to be for Eric. While I took reassurance from my gut telling me the results would be clear, he was anxious to hear confirmation and to find out the gender. For whatever reason, I was patient. I was calm. This being out of character for me, caused me to pause and reflect on potential reasons for my lack of urgency. Could I just be a changed woman? Hardly. I think I was ultimately afraid of finding out the gender and becoming even more attached to our precious little baby for fears of potentially experiencing more pain should anything go wrong. The results took longer than they should, but I was not bothered. Eric asked daily so I finally checked in to see if this had come in. They had.

Our results were indeed clear. This was a huge relief and one worth celebrating. But it didn’t give me as much confidence as I had hoped. Although baby is normal, I still am not. I’m still relying on medications to sustain this pregnancy. I still recall the years of my body doing one thing when it should be doing another. The nurse called back to leave the gender on my voicemail but I was in no hurry to listen. Waiting for Eric to come home was easy and I did so with ease.

When he walked in the door he wanted to know instantly. I had always envisioned some grand gender reveal, some unique moment that was captured that would celebrate this baby perfectly. Yet here I was and I no longer really cared. My priorities had shifted. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t going to have a grand get together with family and friends and cut a cake or pop a balloon… what mattered was that there was a baby inside me. A precious life that we had fought so very hard to create. We didn’t care if it was a boy or girl. What mattered was that baby was healthy, and we knew that already! This was just information to us. Strange how infertility changes your perceptions in life.

I was very shocked with the results but also very thrilled and excited… once the shock wore off of course. What’s most exciting is that this meant we could start picking names, and buying clothes and planning the nursery… all things I had been looking forward to for years and years. Yet I still have a hard time buying anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve online shopped only to put things in my cart and then close the browser window without following through. The fears are still there. “If I buy things and something goes wrong, I’ll have to return them… or worse… look at them and be reminded.” So I wait.

Waiting for the nursery items is easy to justify as we are moving to our new home in May. It doesn’t very well make sense to buy furniture just to have it moved, so that makes logistical sense regardless of motivation. But as we settle on a name it becomes increasingly more difficult to remain detached. And I don’t want to anymore. I want to embrace this pregnancy. I want to believe and be confident. It’s something I work on each and every day, yet I struggle. I try to not judge myself for that, tell myself it’s understandable, but I continue to work to improve my mindset.

Next week we have our first appointment with a maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor who will assess our risk. A week after that is our 16 week appointment with our OB. Although I’d like to hope after those appointments I’ll have the reassurance I need, the truth is, I’m not sure I ever will. And I need to find peace with that.

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