“I was convinced that my new clinic would have the answers we longed for and bring our baby to us.”
After my second miscarriage in March 2021, I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). Over the following year, I saw three other REs and two OB-GYN physicians and received conflicting diagnoses of recurrent pregnancy loss, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Disease, diminished ovarian reserve, and endometriosis. I underwent numerous tests and procedures, went on and off various prescriptions, had weekly blood draws, took all kinds of supplements, and experimented with different dietary regimens. In January of 2022, I finally got the go-ahead to try to conceive again.
Answers to Bring our Baby to Us
I was so, so anxious to get going, convinced that my new clinic would have the answers and bring our baby to us.
Our first try was a superovulatory cycle with timed intercourse, where I was on Clomid to make me ovulate multiple eggs (not as many as in an egg retrieval, but more like 4-5) in hopes that one egg would be genetically normal. There was a positive pregnancy test late into that cycle, but my first ultrasound at five weeks showed no fetal pole.
I miscarried before the next ultrasound, a week later.
Devastated. That is how I felt, even though this pregnancy was not as far along as the previous two. This pregnancy was technically something called a “blighted ovum” and after our second cycle failed to result in a pregnancy, I told the fertility clinic I needed a break.
My Unrecognizable Emotions
At this point in time, I remember feeling desperate in a way that scared me. My emotions were so strong, as to feel unrecognizable fear, dread, and despair clouding any rational thoughts left in my head. Even though I had only gone through two cycles of fertility treatment, I already doubted if I could keep going.
I worried another loss would break me.
We really, really wanted to grow our family; to give my son a sibling, but I did not know how to take the next steps to get there or even think through what the next steps might be. My marriage was also suffering greatly because my husband struggled to interact with me while I was in such a state. I felt like I had worn out my family and friends’ sympathy. It was our THIRD loss.
We had just been through the hell of losing my mom to brain cancer a year and half before. How much more could people handle from me? I felt I had to bottle everything inside, rather than share it, to “protect” my relationships (note: this is not an effective strategy).
This left me feeling completely isolated and broken.
I knew this was not sustainable and so resigned myself to googling pregnancy loss support groups. Most of the in-person groups near me were not meeting because of the ongoing pandemic, but I found an online infertility group with a paid monthly membership fee. It was cheaper than therapy, I told myself, and so I signed up.
My First Infertility Support Group
I am not sure I spoke at my first meeting, but I know I cried listening to people say things out loud that I had kept in my heart, while trying for months to keep up outside appearances. To act normal at work, to avoid talking about it with my friends, all while so much of my brain was consumed with thoughts of the babies I lost and the desire to hold my baby in my arms.
The meeting was a much needed break from the everyday monotony of feeling abnormal, alone and broken. For this hour and a half, I felt an instant connection with strangers from the internet who were bravely saying aloud everything I was having trouble admitting, even to myself.
Some of the things that resonated with me in the first few meetings I attended were:
“I cry in the parking lot after seeing a pregnant person.”
“I hate my sister-in-law for getting pregnant with my nieces so easily, even though I love her and adore my nieces.”
“I don’t know if my doctor knows what’s right for me.”
“I feel like I’m just going through the motions at work and in life.”
“Sex is really, really hard for me right now, and I’m just struggling to be interested.”
“My partner and I are never on the same page anymore.”
“I’m worried my family is tired of my tears.”
“I wish I didn’t want this so much because it would be so much easier to quit.”
Courage to Share
Eventually, I got up the courage to share at a meeting. I was nervous talking about my pregnancies when so many people in the group had not yet experienced pregnancy. Would I just be adding to their grief by sharing mine? My worry was I would present as insensitive and that I had not experienced grief or heartache comparable to theirs. Therefore, I felt I had no right to be there. I voiced some of these concerns aloud and immediately received so many assurances that I was where I belonged.
We were all in the same boat of wanting a baby that we did not yet have, regardless of the different barriers in our way.
I joined Instagram around this time because many people in the group were sharing their stories on that platform and using it as a way to connect between meetings. This helped so much because I struggled waiting the full week until the next support group meeting. Especially on days I received test results, needed answers quickly, or found myself in a spiral of doubt and anxiety.
I just soaked up all the love and support. Gradually, I found the strength to return the support and be a welcoming presence to new people who joined the group.
Giving and Receiving Support
Giving and receiving support online was the life preserver I clung to at a time when the sea felt so rough and I felt constantly underwater in my grief and despair. Going to the support group was like coming up for air. Through it, I found the courage to begin IVF treatments, change clinics (again), do my own injections, and advocate for myself at my appointments.
Sharing at group meetings helped me to talk about my feelings with my husband, family, and friends and ask for the support I needed. I also learned so much practical information about fertility medication side effects, pharmacy coupons and how different clinics and doctors operated.
Valuable Perspective Gained
My infertility support group has given me valuable perspective. Most essentially, that I am not alone in this struggle or in my emotions and also that there are many ways to cope within the struggle. Something that has brought me the most healing has been learning how to be a support for others. I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me.
My life changed for the better because of my support group and the people I met through attending. I became a braver, stronger, more caring version of myself.
If you are searching for an infertility support group where you can find the support and love you’re desperately needing, the Hopeful Mama Foundation would love to have you attend either our virtual or in-person infertility support group. To learn more about our groups and how to register, CLICK HERE.
Written by Jess Hall for the Hopeful Mama Foundation. We are incredibly grateful to all of our writers, who open up their heart and share their journey with this community. If you would like to connect with one of our writers, please let us know by submitting an email on our website’s contact page.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Hopeful Mama Foundation. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.