We’ve invested so much time, money, energy, and our hearts into trying to have a baby. This journey is certainly not for the faint of heart. Many of us in the infertility community refer to each other as “warriors.” I know some people disagree with this and say, “How can I call myself a warrior when I cry?” or they say “I feel so weak, and not strong like a warrior.” You may not see it in yourself, but we can see it in you. You are a warrior and you are strong. I am inspired when I see other people overcoming infertility, because it gives me hope. Later in this post I will talk about a couple who truly are the definition of infertility warriors and you may find their story as uplifting as I did.
I believe there are different ways to “overcome” infertility. This could mean building a family with biological, foster, or adopted children. It could also mean deciding to live child-free. But I think “overcoming” infertility is more about reaching a place of contentment. In all honesty, this is still a work in progress for me, and that’s okay too. You may also be at the same stage I am, a kind of in-between place. You can read more about my thoughts on overcoming infertility in my post HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings.
Catch up on my previous FET posts here.
Pregnancy Test Result
If you read my previous post The Two Week Wait, you’ll know I chose not to take a home pregnancy test during this time. I decided to wait for the official results to come in from my quantitative hCG test I took at the doctors office. I had my blood drawn the day my clinic said I should know for sure whether I am pregnant or not.
I went in at 8:00am for my test, went home, and watched some TV while I waited. I started watching Miss Meadows, a kind of offbeat movie with Kill Bill vibes. I decided to check my email about halfway through the movie, and there it was, my results. “Your Quest Diagnostics Lab Results are Now Available” the subject of the email said. I hesitated briefly and wondered if I should click on it, or wait to hear directly from my clinic. I decided to go ahead and open the email. Below is my test result:
You can see that my result was less than 1 mIU/mL, and it says that anything less than 5 mIU/mL means I’m not pregnant. I suppose I was in denial initially. Maybe this was a mistake. I’m not sure how many women take a home pregnancy test after they receive official results from their doctor’s office, but apparently I am one of them. I had left over pregnancy test strips I ordered in bulk from Amazon a while back. I pulled one out and waited three minutes to see the results. It too was also negative. I feel like I needed this visual to make it more tangible and to help me process the news.
I was feeling kind of numb from it all. I just went back to watching my movie. I waited until Kurtis came home on his lunch hour before I told him that we weren’t pregnant. I think he was also in denial too at first. I told him my clinic hadn’t called me yet, so he was hoping they may say something different on the phone. But I told him about the home pregnancy test as well as the email. We were both lying down in the bedroom and we just held each other for a while. He asked that I let him know what the clinic says when they call, then he went back to work.
It wasn’t until several hours later that my clinic called me. I listened to my nurse tell me that she was sorry it hadn’t worked out. She asked if we were thinking of doing another round of IVF in the future. I told her, “I’m not sure.” I could have asked any one of the questions that were on my mind about why this happened, but in the moment it was just too hard. I kept the phone call brief and thanked her for letting me know. When I feel up to it I will follow up with the clinic about what we can do to improve our odds, if at all, if we choose to do another round. I feel like I need that closure, at least closure from this particular clinic because I know we will not be seeking further treatment with them. If we do treatment in the future it will be with a different clinic.
Taking a Break
The third day after finding out we weren’t pregnant was very difficult for me. What made it so hard was the conversation I had with my husband that morning. I started talking about how I wanted to ask my doctor about a different treatment plan.
He said, “At what point do we decide to stop?”
I answered him by saying, “I feel like there are gaps in my treatment. They missed the fact that I had the MTHFR gene mutation for four years, I feel like there may be other tests I might need. I’ve heard about immunological tests. It could be that I need a certain medicine I haven’t tried yet. I want to find out more. I feel like there are other things we can do. I don’t want to stop now. I was just about to see a new doctor here soon.”
Then he said, “I understand you have low ovarian reserve and you don’t have much time left. But I need to take a break from it all. I can’t handle it emotionally or financially right now.”
He stood up, and took our dog outside. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I walked to the bedroom and holed up in there for most of the day, just laying in bed in the dark. I watched one movie. I cried a couple times. It was the first time I had actually cried after the bad news. Went back to laying there in the dark staring at the ceiling. I had so many thoughts come to me during this time.
It took me most of the day to process my own emotions before I started considering his perspective. This was the first time he talked about how it was emotionally affecting him. I know that it has affected him financially. Although he isn’t paying for the treatment or medication, he has been covering most of the other bills. He’s mentioned his worries about money before.
The more I thought about it there were subtle signs before that he was feeling the loss like I was. When I was holed up in the dark bedroom he had come in at one point and plopped on the bed face down right next to me. He asked me if I wanted to go for a walk or something. I told him maybe. He mumbled something into the bed and just layed there for a bit. In hindsight his body language and everything about that moment seemed to be an expression of sadness.
Then I remembered the day before when he called out from work. I asked him if he was sick or if he was taking a personal day. He said, “A little of both.” It didn’t click with me in the moment that maybe the stress of the bad news may have been a factor with how he was feeling. He’s not one to talk about his emotions.
He even said it himself, “I can’t handle it emotionally.” Why didn’t I actually listen to what he was saying then? After I got some rest I talked with him about it the next day. He said he was wanting to take a break of maybe one month. This was entirely different from what I expected him to say. Just based on what he was telling me the day before I figured he would say “one year.” I told him that one month is definitely reasonable.
I mentioned I will still plan on meeting my new doctor and see about taking any tests, but I agreed to no fertility treatment procedures for the month. I also told him, “I’ll try not to talk about treatment plans or anything unless you ask me what’s going on.” He agreed that sounded good. He needs a breather from all of this, and I get it now.
Range of Emotions
Over these past few days since I got the negative result I’ve experienced a range of emotions. I was feeling very numb the first day. The second day I was angry, and all my anger was directed towards the clinic. I felt like maybe they didn’t provide me with the care I needed as an individual. But I didn’t actually cry at all until three days after the news. It wasn’t an all consuming kind of cry either, it was more like a couple moments of crying. The third day is when I felt the most “heavy” emotions. I was basically in bed the entire day, just laying there in the dark. I had a million thoughts rolling through my head the entire day. It was a very difficult day mostly because that morning Kurtis told me he wanted a break from treatment. After I took the day to process my own emotions about the loss, I was also able to realize that this was also emotional for him as well. I was starting to see from his perspective when I thought this wasn’t emotional for him at all. The fourth day my primary emotion was that of hope. He and I had talked things out and agreed to take a short break from treatments and heal from this.
Several months ago I thought about the possibility that my frozen embryo transfer may not work. This filled me with so much dread at the time. I was worried what that would mean for us as a couple. I imagined it would break me. I told my friend that I would probably be drinking a lot of wine to cope. But now that I’m here, it doesn’t feel as bad as I anticipated. And I made the conscious decision not to buy any wine, because alcohol is a depressant and that’s the last thing I need right now.
I’ve been spending time with Kurtis and just taking it easy. We watched movies together at home, ones that are uplifting. I started taking the dog out for walks more, instead of Kurtis doing most of it like he has the past few days. I listened to music. I did some writing. I called my Mom. I received support from friends. I’m trying to do as many healthy coping skills as possible, I think because of that I’ve been able to accept this a little better.
Message of Support from Another Infertility Warrior
I was checking some of my messages a few days ago on my social media accounts and I saw a new one from one of my followers.
Here’s what their message said:
“Hey, just checking in with your journey. If we are right, blood test was today or yesterday? As one family who has experienced struggles to another, know you’re not alone. Whether it’s joy or frustration, both are real, valid, and warranted – never feel like you shouldn’t feel the way that you feel.”
Here was my response:
“[. . .] I wanted to say that your message meant so much to me and I was deeply moved by it. I apologize it took several days to respond, I was dealing with some hard emotions about receiving a negative pregnancy test. [. . .] I wanted to say thank you for reaching out to me and asking how I am doing. At first I felt numb, then I felt angry, then depressed, and now I am starting to feel a little better. So a whole range of emotions. I talked with my husband about your message and how much it meant to me. I said to him, “There’s people out there who really do care about us.”
It blew me away that others were following our journey closely enough to know I hadn’t posted anything about the pregnancy test results yet. They had looked at the timeline and knew when it would have been time for me to find out. What they told me felt like exactly what I needed to hear, at the exact time I needed to hear it. So who was it that reached out to me with those kind words? I asked if they were okay if I shared their message of support on my blog and they said yes. They are Charlie and Missy, and they too experienced infertility struggles. A while back I had watched their inspiring YouTube video titled Evolution of a Family: From 1 to 6 Kids in Less than 5 Years (Winning the Infertility Battle). It was a memorable and inspirational video of how they overcame infertility. It brought me hope to see it again and I think you will enjoy it as well. Thank you again Charlie and Missy for reaching out to me and showing your support! 🙂
Being open about my infertility struggles through my blog and different social media accounts has helped me to gain more knowledge, feel connected, and get support from others. When I can, I also try to give back too. Sometimes I share my knowledge, through my own trial and error. Or I’ll send words of encouragement when someone posts some tough news. I love congratulating other infertility warriors when they finally give birth to their precious baby. Seeing those stories fills me with hope. If they can do it, maybe I can too. This community has lifted me up in so many ways. I wouldn’t be the same without you all, and for that I am forever grateful.
You are truly a warrior! Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve shared mine so that others know they are not alone. Every journey is different but we are all bonded together.
Thank you. 🙂 Yes, I agree it’s so important to share, so that others know they are not alone. An online support network is just as valid as an in-person support network.