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Moving Forward After a Negative Pregnancy Test
A blog by Amira Posner, Healing Infertility, February 18, 2015
Getting a negative result on a pregnancy test is upsetting, especially if it's not your first try. You wait two long weeks to determine if the process took and then see only one line or read “not pregnant.” If you are doing fertility treatment, this negative result can sometimes get internalized making you feel like you want to crawl right back into bed.
I had a year and a half of negative results before I finally got a call from the doctor. I picked up the phone expecting yet another rejection. “Your beta level is high. I think they may have both taken.” As it turned out, that was the only month in the year and a half of fertility treatments, I had resisted buying a home pregnancy test.
There is no way around it; a negative result is a loss. Each month that conception didn’t work for me, I felt a loss of possibility. A lost opportunity. Lost hope. Another month passed. More time wasted. More money wasted. More anxiety developed. I felt defeated. But the feeling eventually lifted.
As I brought more awareness into what was happening, I noticed something. For a few days each month, around my period, I would retreat inwards, feeling negative and depressed. As I allowed myself to grieve for a few days, I would eventually, slowly pick myself up and seek a renewal of hope. It became a cycle that I learned to live with and be-friend, as opposed to resist. I prepared for it and planned for it. I would inform those close to me when it was time to test, so they could support me. I would inform them when it didn't work so they could give me a hug.
As I learned to accept the cycle of hope and despair, a layer of stress lifted. My expectations became focused on feeling in the moment. When I noticed myself further ahead in the planning mode, I would try to bring myself back to the now. Feeling my feet on the ground, anchoring into the present at each passing minute was crucial for me.
A negative result does not need to mean more than a negative result. Just because something isn’t happening now, does not mean it will never happen. We sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture when we get a negative result. Our minds have a tendency to demand all or nothing thinking. Taking a step back and allowing ourselves a couple days to grieve can be healing. Developing a larger fertility plan is important, but being calm and present for the process is essential. Thus, what is essential is creating the right balance of letting go and holding on.
Below is an exercise you can do to start being more accepting of this experience.
Being present with your thoughts is a practical tool that can help reduce your stress and make you feel calmer. Similar to the process of focusing on the breath in a traditional meditation, what you do is to notice where your mind goes and what your mind is focusing on as that can be helpful to be more in touch with your experiences and yourself.
You would begin the exercise by sitting comfortably in a relaxed position. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. As thoughts emerge, recognize them. Allow yourself to follow them. You will drift in and out of “thinking mode” to being aware that you are “thinking." Notice this process. As you recollect what you were thinking, notice how you are recalling, probably only to find yourself back into a thought.
Part of this process includes “accepting” the thought process even if what comes up feels negative. Allow yourself to be with the fear, the worry, the anxiety. Once we can be with ourselves in these states, we can learn to shift them.