Mandi Brown, Physician Liaison @ Carolina Conceptions
A couple of months ago, I stumbled across an article from Redbook and shared it on social media for Carolina Conceptions. The article was about pregnancy after infertility and was the most viewed post ever on our social media sites –it went viral (for us!).
In this article, after an ultrasound visit to check on her baby twins, the author broke down crying and told her husband she had “Infertility PTSD.” Some may feel these words are a bit dramatic, but this particular article reached 5,324 people after we shared it on Facebook. It was quickly obvious that for many, the author’s words were right on target.
When you finally get that longed for positive pregnancy test- it feels like you’ve victoriously reached the end of your journey. Now everything is going to be ok. You can move on with your life, put everything you learned about infertility behind you, start googling baby names and announcing the news everyone in your life has been waiting for.
For some this is reality. If you are in this group, count yourself SO lucky, and ENJOY every moment of planning the nursery, baby name dreaming, maternity clothes shopping, and baby bump patting. Savor this time you’ve been waiting to experience!
You’re pregnant, but so on edge…
For others, the news of their longed-for pregnancy can be terrifying. It’s been so difficult to get this far, and you know this is not yet the joyful end of your rocky road to parenthood. Maybe you’ve experienced miscarriage or infant loss before. Maybe you’ve got a hematoma and EVERY time you use the bathroom, you’re afraid you’ve lost the baby you so desperately wanted. Maybe you started with twins and now only one remains. Maybe you’re expecting multiples. It’s never the goal- but this can be a reality for a rare few who have gone through fertility treatments. Maybe you’re already at the high risk doctor monitoring your baby’s brain or heart because they are watching “something.” None of these scenarios are easy, and can add so much new stress and strain on the pregnant mother and her partner- who are trying to recover from the often stressful journey of infertility.
Remember, your feelings are valid.
The emotions during this time can run deep. You’ve invested so much emotionally, physically, and financially to get this far. Your emotions may feel even heavier to bear if you have not yet shared the news of your pregnancy with some of the most important people in your life, outside of your partner.
It’s ok. Acknowledge how you are feeling and try to move forward with “cautious optimism.” You are not alone. There are MANY women feeling just like you – not sure why they can’t just let go of their anxiety because they finally have what they’ve been waiting for- yet, they are terrified.
Find someone you can talk openly with during this time- your partner or a close friend who understands. Support is essential to help you through the days when things feel hard.
Breathe. Try to take each day at a time. Take extra good care of yourself. Rest. Eat well. Find something to be happy about each day. Look for distractions that help you pass the time while you wait for the next news about your baby.
Transferring to your “regular OB.”
In the world of fertility babies- we KNOW about our pregnancies so much sooner than the average woman. We might see that tiny shadow on the ultrasound as early as 5 weeks! What a gift! At the same time, we get used to extensive monitoring at the fertility doc and their constant feedback.
Many of us become friendly with the physicians and staff at our fertility clinic. We come to depend on them and when it is time to “graduate” to our regular OB, it can be hard to leave the safety of the relationships we have formed.
It can often feel a bit nerve-wracking once transitioned to your “regular” OB because you are suddenly treated like any other pregnant woman in the practice. Appointments are much more spread out and you’re no longer getting that constant feedback about how your baby is doing. The waiting between appointments can feel like an eternity, especially if you’ve suffered miscarriage before.
As you try to adjust to this new normal, it can be hard. Take each day at a time and breathe. Try to find ways to enjoy your pregnancy even if you are worried about it.
If the days pass slowly and the your anxiety doesn’t diminish over time, it’s ok. ASK FOR HELP.
If you are struggling with anxiety, or if you suddenly find yourself in a completely unexpected situation within your pregnancy and the feelings are hard to deal with, you don’t have to do it alone. Ask for help. Often times discussing the situation with your partner or a close friend can lift your spirits. If it doesn’t anymore, sometimes one meeting with a professional can work wonders to validate your feelings and help you move forward with new coping skills or strategies.
Here is a list of local therapists (recommended by your CC physicians & staff) who have specifically worked with fertility patients. Any of them would be more than happy to meet with you to work through whatever you are experiencing:
RESOLVE Offers an online support group called “Living After Infertility.” This may be an excellent resource for you to connect with others who are also pregnant after infertility. It may help to help validate your feelings and remind you that you are not alone in your experience.
You can do this!
Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to reassure you that you will get the outcome you’ve been longing for with this pregnancy. Many will. Some may not. Regardless of where this pregnancy takes you, you WILL be ok and you WILL find a way to get through it that works for you. It will change you and is another step in the journey to parenthood that is uniquely yours.