Infertility and loss have single-handedly been the most isolating and lonely experiences of my life. The truth of the matter is, that you can feel alone even when surrounded by others on a similar journey. You can feel left out even when others are left out with you. This is what happens when you’re on this journey for a long period of time. The connections you initially make at the beginning of your journey may move forward without you, and it will be hard.
When I was originally diagnosed with infertility, there were only two others in my immediate friend group that were experiencing something similar. Both of those friends found success, one getting pregnant naturally and the other after her first IVF transfer. Then I finally found myself pregnant after 2.5 years of trying, just to lose my baby boy at 21.5 weeks, having a stillbirth due to abnormalities.
Pregnancy loss is such a difficult thing to go through. As soon as you find out you are pregnant everything shifts. Instantly your priorities change, the space in your heart changes, and without even consciously doing it your whole world changes the moment you see those two pink lines.
I was struggling so much mentally after I lost my son; I wanted to die. For the first time in my life, I understood why someone would commit suicide. Waking up feeling this way day in and day out was exhausting, and I just wanted it to stop.
I went to a support group, where I felt so supported, but then within a couple of sessions, all of my angel mom sisters began popping up to our meetings pregnant. One after another, after another, until eventually I got a call; they had decided to end the support group because it was clear that its focus had changed into a pregnancy-after-loss group. That left me feeling alone, isolated, and forgotten.
We then started on our IVF journey, making a YouTube channel documenting our journey and meeting so many amazing women who were also embarking on this journey alongside me. However, I had poor results with my first round of IVF and was only able to do one transfer, which of course failed. Yet again another loss. Each loss chipped away at me, taking a little piece of me away from myself.
I started my stims for another round of IVF. While I was giving myself injections and going for monitoring appointments, a lot of the original women I had connected with during my first round had successful IVF transfers. Again I felt alone, isolated, and forgotten.
Then, during my second round of IVF, I had multiple failed transfers, while yet again many of the women I had met who were cycling and transferring with me had gone on to have success. At this point, I felt very left out, left behind, and just downright angry.
It really is amazing and gives me so much hope to see all these women gain success with their IVF cycles! The truth of the matter is we all have our own unique journeys, and we will all move at a different pace. Although it can be hard at times to feel like we are constantly failing while others succeed, having a support system of those that know the struggle no matter where you are in the process makes all the difference between being able to continue or giving up.
Maybe saying this makes me seem jealous, but that’s not it at all. I’m simply just trying to acknowledge that there will be many ups and downs. No matter how your journey looks, you will often feel left behind or forgotten, and it’s okay and normal to feel that way.
I’ve come to learn that while walking your own journey can be difficult, watching the journey of others can also be difficult, especially when they go in different directions. The thing is, you can hold both sadness and happiness in your heart at the same time. It’s confusing to work through because the two seem like conflicting emotions; however, they can both be present together. You can feel happy for someone who has success while also feeling sad, alone, and forgotten for yourself.
In the end, though, you must remember that we are all in this together. Once infertile, always infertile, and I think women will always be able to remember the pain and hurt that comes along with infertility, whether successful or not.
I’ve learned that grief is complex, no matter at what stage you experience loss. I lost my baby at almost 22 weeks. I have also lost three beautiful embryos that failed to implant. The grief I felt for those embryos was just as real as the 21-week loss. I loved all of my babies. I had hopes, dreams, and space in my heart for every single one of them.
Some people may think that embryos are not babies, and that’s okay. However, having an embryo transfer feels like being pregnant (pregnant until proven otherwise, right?), and so when you find yourself not pregnant after the two-week wait, it feels like yet another loss.
The emotional turmoil of infertility and loss puts you through is something I would never have imagined before my journey began. There are moments when I feel strong, I feel able to keep on going, and I feel positive. However, there are also many moments where I feel weak, like a deflated balloon, like I couldn’t possibly go on anymore.
There are days when I feel like my journey is coming to an end when I feel like it’s already over, and like I don’t really want to do it anymore. But then I think of the five frozen embryos I have left, and I feel a sense of responsibility to give them a chance.
When we start this journey we think it’s going to be the physical stuff that will be hard—all of the injections, the pills, the suppositories, the vitamins, supplements, and hormones. Little do we know that the toll it will play on our emotional well-being and mental health will far outweigh the physical pain.
I personally feel like I would do 1,000 more needles if it meant I could only suffer half of what I feel mentally and emotionally. It is a constant internal struggle of not knowing what to do and not knowing what the future holds. It is the feeling of being beaten down again and again, and the anxiety of waiting for every appointment or scan, test result, number, start date, and end result. It is feeling depressed and watching the whole world go on around you while you’re still stuck in the same place.
I don’t know where or when this journey will end for me or if it ever will. What I do know though is that this shit is hard. It takes a warrior to walk this path they call infertility. For everyone going through this, you’re a superstar, even on your bad days. I see you. If you feel forgotten and lost, I got you! We are all in this together—we are going to get through it. Regardless of the outcome, we all have each other.