You’re pregnant — Hurray!!
Hurray and “Oh lawdy!”, right? What we found very quickly here at RRC is that a positive pregnancy test after a series or cycle of fertility treatments is almost always greeted with two, very powerful emotions. First, there’s elation – and that is quickly followed by an immediate sense of fear.
How to Keep Calm When You’re Pregnant After Fertility Treatments
Those who have battled infertility know exactly how precious that hard-won conception is, but it often means a slightly more complicated road ahead. Physically, you may be met with certain challenges – depending on your infertility diagnosis – but the greatest concern is often mental and emotional as you fret (and try not to fret) about potential complications.
Pregnancy after infertility treatment typically results in more complex and complicated emotions because there are deeper layers of fear and anxiety mixed in with all the joy.
The biggest elephant in the room: What if we miscarry? That is often followed with fears regarding the baby’s congenital health and whether or not there could be birth defects.
Maybe you suffer from terrible morning sickness, fatigue or general physical discomfort – but feel guilty about complaining because friends and family assume you should fall in love with those feelings – safe in the knowledge that you are finally expecting.
As if those concerns weren’t enough, there are other complex emotions to navigate. Sometimes, your identity and existence have focused so much on fertility that you have to re-attune yourself for your identity as a pregnant woman and mother-to-be. You may feel guilty telling other infertile friends and infertility forum members about your pregnancy because you feel you are “leaving them behind” and are scared to illicit the same emotions you experienced when you heard someone was pregnant.
Coping With (Finally) Being Pregnant
The good news? All those emotions, however complicated and layered, are completely normal. You are not alone and there are all sorts of resources to help you cope with them. Here are some we have found to be the most successful for our clients.
Seek an infertility counselor. If you’ve never sought an infertility counselor before, this is the time to do it. It might seem funny to consult with one after you’re pregnant, but this is a very unique and highly sensitive situation, one that an infertility counselor is trained to help you deal with. You’ll learn valuable skills for calming yourself, addressing your fears around miscarriage and complications head on, focusing on the positive, getting to know yourself in your new role, bonding with your baby and your partner, and so on.
Many therapists who have gone on to specialize in this type of counseling have been through an infertility diagnosis and fertility treatments of their own, which can provide a more comprehensive platform of mutual understanding.
Choose an extra special OB and/or Midwife. You have been through a journey that only about 8-10% of the population will ever experience, and that makes your feelings and anxieties a little more unique. It’s important to seek out a very sensitive, patient and compassionate OB who won’t mind going the extra mile to put your fears at ease. Enlisting the help of a certified professional midwife is another great idea as this can provide another layer of support – one that’s available via phone or text around the clock. Choosing the right labor and delivery team will make you feel more comfortable as you make the transition from trusted fertility team to trusted pregnancy/birthing team!
Maintain bonds with your infertile friends/communities. Don’t shy away from your infertile friends and support groups or communities. These bonds you share will last a lifetime and although things might be a little tense from time to time (you remember how it felt when you were the one “left behind” right?), you will be a tremendous source of strength, support and information when it’s their turn to be pregnant.
Get a home doppler unit. In truth, this is not typically recommended but if you are so paranoid about losing your baby that it prevents you from enjoying your pregnancy, you may need to take more desperate measures to relax and get the rest you need. Speak with your doctor and/or midwife and see if they will teach you how to read the feedback provided by these highly sensitive machines. There’s a lot that makes swishing sounds in the abdominal cavity, so distinguishing the baby’s heartbeat isn’t always as easy as it looks. Dopplers range from $50 to $500, but you can also rent one.
Don’t worry if you don’t feel bonded right away. Your fears and anxieties might make you more reticent about bonding with your baby and that is entirely normal. In fact, many women celebrating unassisted pregnancies feel the same way. You can still participate in baby bonding moments by talking to the baby, reading stories, listening to favorite music, responding when the baby moves, etc. Slowly but surely, you’ll feel yourself falling in love.
In many cases, the real journey begins AFTER the “+” appears on the pregnancy stick – and that’s as it should be. Your mission is to rouse your support troops – both inner and outer – and rely on them to help buoy you through a scary but very exciting time.
How did you cope with pregnancy after infertility treatments? What were some of your biggest fears or concerns and how did you put them to rest? Please share your stories and advice with our RRC followers.
Image courtesy of Nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net