The Fertility Files: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness
In this month’s issue, we were going to discuss how to navigate the fertility treatment discussion with your partner and practitioners, however, I have decided to change tack. Why you might ask? October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month across much of the globe. I felt it was important to take the opportunity to discuss this often-overlooked aspect of the conception journey. I also want to share my own experience with miscarriage, as all too frequently it is a topic that is not talked about. When my fiancé and I decided to stop “avoiding” getting pregnant, we got pregnant quickly. However, just as quickly, I miscarried. After years of being worried that I may have trouble getting pregnant, I was somewhat relieved that I could get pregnant. This happened so early in our process that initially, I wasn’t all that “upset”. . . or so I thought. I found myself flip-flopping between my “silver lining mindset” and the feeling loss. I felt silly for being upset by the loss of something that had barely materialized. But, I also became profoundly aware that no matter how early it is in a pregnancy, something changes — and it isn’t just the hormones! But, there were also the hormones. I started to lose my hair from the blood loss and the dip in estrogen and I was more emotionally labile than I had ever experienced. Then there were the other emotional “triggers,” like when my sister and brother-in-law found out they were pregnant only days after I miscarried. While I was happy for them, every milestone they hit was a reminder that I would have hit the same milestone with my baby only a few weeks before them. As the weeks passed, I still found myself struggling at times, especially with every month that passed that we weren’t pregnant. I then started to have symptoms over the next few months that suggested I might be having chemical pregnancies (or early miscarriages). We couldn’t know for sure, but the symptoms were all too familiar, and brought back the emotions. I found myself getting angry with my fiancé, because he didn’t seem upset by the loss (or possible losses). He didn’t seem to share my fears that we may never get pregnant again. But, it wasn’t that he didn’t care, it was just that he is a massive optimist, which was both beautiful and irritating at times. Even as I write this, I can feel myself getting a bit teary-eyed, and yet simultaneously feeling silly knowing that so many women lose pregnancies far later along than I did. But the larger fact remains that we often don’t talk about miscarriage or infant loss because it seems too painful. However, not talking about it can make it harder to move on. The best thing you can do to help support a grieving person is to just be there and listen. You can also access resources from organizations like PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network) so you can get additional support and be well informed. Join me next month in the Fertility Files, when we look at how to navigate the discussion around fertility treatments with your partner and practitioners.