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The Five Stages of Grief and Learning to Forgive Yourself When Fertility Treatment Does Not Go As Planned

A blog by Jessi Wallace, August 26, 2016
It was my 23rd day of Follistim. I had just finished my 5th ultrasound of the cycle, and was still waiting on my 6th estrogen lab results. Things weren’t looking good. My three leading follicles were gone, and my lining decreased from 10mm to 4mm. The long walk from the ultrasound room, to the elevator, to the parking lot, to my car… was sad. I think I held my breath the whole way to my car, and I could feel my heart beat hard with every step I took on the cold, wet pavement. I felt like my lungs were about to burst. I could feel the tears welling up inside, and if they weren’t going to come out of my eyes as I held them back, they were definitely going to come out of every pore on my body. I got into the car, put my head on the steering wheel, and wept.

And wept.

And wept.

Going through fertility treatment is really hard sometimes. We go into it with so many plans, so much hope, so much expectation. But then sometimes things don’t go as planned… and the hope waivers a bit… and the expectation is replaced with devastation. Thoughts of “I can’t wait to wear maternity pants!” are replaced with shouts of “I hate my ovaries! I’m 31, not 57! Why won’t you work?!”

There is a lot of self-blame involved.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a Type-A personality? I plan things all the time, and when one thing is done, I’m planning the next thing. I just plan everything – it’s what I do. And when plans don’t work out the way I think they should, I break down. It’s a flaw I’m working on.

Type-A aside, going through fertility treatments comes with a slew of emotions for everyone involved – good and bad. It’s a major roller coaster, not just because of the unexpected news each office visit brings, but also because of the intense changes in hormone levels. And sometimes, it means we blame ourselves for our broken bodies. This is the lowest point we can reach – the point of blaming oneself and self-proclaiming the word “broken”. I have been there many times. I sometimes wonder what I did to cause my PCOS when there isn’t a trace of it in my family history. I wonder if I did something wrong. I often hear it’s genetic, but I can’t find the connection. It’s maddening.

Alas, here is what I have learned: my PCOS does not define me. It’s a set-back to growing our family, yes. It’s unpredictable and can sometimes be a pain to live with (literally). But I didn’t cause this. My body isn’t in protest against me. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just something that is a part of me, but it’s not all of me. Admitting all of this is freeing. When I was first presented with PCOS, I went through the five stages of grief. I was in denial… I got angry… I started bargaining with God… I went through depression… and finally accepted it.

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I’m starting the cycle all over again. When we started trying to conceive a second child nearly four years ago, I was totally in denial that I’d need the same treatment it took to conceive the first time. We even tried for a year naturally before seeking help again. Then we started the help, and it wasn’t going as planned (shocker). I was angry… I started bargaining with God… I went through depression… and finally accepted it (again).

Now that we are going through Follistim, I often find myself bargaining with God… and feeling depressed… but I am learning to forgive myself for the things I didn’t cause and cannot change, and to just accept that this is how we have to grow our family. It’s not what I had in mind when I got married eight years ago, but it’s what I have presented to me, and life is too short to live it in grief. Instead, I choose to forgive myself (and my stubborn ovaries), and will move forward in hope that something great is on the way.

Comments (2)

Reading your blog struck a nerve for me. I also went through Ivf three times. 2 successful. I have a blog were I also share my story. It's nice to read about people who have the same feelings and emotions you did while going through such a traumatic and emotional experience. God bless!

Your so strong! Thank you for sharing an extremely difficult time in your life. I feel like there are so many women out there that are going through this one way or another. Many Blessings <3

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