It is a new year and we enter it with wishes, resolutions, and expectations about what we will encounter. One of the toughest things you may have faced last year was a negative pregnancy test or perhaps a miscarriage. I remember taking my pregnancy test into the bathroom certain I was pregnant. When I saw the results I didn’t want to ever come out. How could I tell my husband who was as anxious as I was to start our family? For those of us who experience this more than once the devastating feelings that emerge overwhelm us and insidiously gets us to a place where we believe that we may never be able to conceive a child and have a successful pregnancy resulting in a healthy baby. The insensitive reactions of others can intensify and extend these feelings and make it harder to move forward and take the next step.
There are some things you can do on both a physical and emotional level to help cope with negative pregnancy tests and miscarriages:
- Remind yourself that you are more than your infertility. It is easy and normal
to blame yourself and feel like a failure when these losses occur. Do not let your infertility define who you are.
- Don’t assume that because you have had one miscarriage you will have more.
Consider seeing a doctor like a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in treating infertility. General guidelines are if you are 30 or under give yourself a year to try to get pregnant. If you are 35 or older, give yourself 6 months and then consult with a physician specialist.
- Give your body and mind time to recover from these losses. Consult your Obstetrician/Gynecologist about when is the right time for you to try again. Don’t discount the emotional toll losses like these take. You need time to grieve. You also need people to offer you a safe place to discuss and mourn these losses. It may be your partner. Try to identify friends or family you can share these feelings with whom you know will offer you a safe place with the support you need. If you don’t have this option consider going to a therapist who specializes in working with people who are trying to build their families.
- These losses may continue to negatively impact your ability to work, go to school,
and complete day to day tasks. Close relationships can be damaged as well. If these scenarios sound familiar and occur for an extended period of time pay close attention. This is a strong signal that you may need professional help to understand and implement the coping skills you need to decide what the right next step is for you.
- Try to take care of yourself physically. Get some sleep. Eat healthy and consult your doctor about the right type and amount of exercise for you. Stay away from smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
The veil of silence about infertility and miscarriage that occurred in the past has evolved in present day society. Magazines, TV, and radio show are more openly addressing infertility related topics. There are thousands of sites on the internet where you can gather information or talk to and learn from others in a similar place.
The science of reproductive technology continues to evolve offering more information and improved diagnostic and treatment options. There is a variety of family building options available including adoption. Spend time carefully considering what is right for you. Remind yourself you are not alone in facing these circumstances. Thinking about why you want to be a parent will help you determine the path that fits for your individual situation. Treat yourself gently and with kindness every step along the way. You deserve it.
Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility. Ms. Waichler is the author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles.