Infertility’s Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

For me, denial and bargaining have gone hand in hand. I will never forget the morning I got my AMH result I just fell apart completely, sobbing in bed. We spent the weekend watching bad movies to take our minds off of it. I was instantly in despair. Within days, however, I’d switched to some kind of denial/bargaining situation.

Diminished ovarian reserve? This means nothing. I can get pregnant so I’m fine. We’ll just try every single month and I’ll go through 20 miscarriages if I have to until we get our baby. Or I’ll just get IVF, and just like that, we’ll have a baby. All I need is one baby and I won’t ask for anymore. Just one. I’ll take every supplement, do every alternative therapy, I’ll go to a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, I’ll lose a hundred pounds, and I’ll have a baby, right?

The past week I’ve slipped into anger and depression. First came the depression, which I wrote about yesterday. Now the anger is coming through.

Sometimes I feel angry at strangers. A guy on his bike almost ran me over as I crossed the street yesterday morning so I yelled an expletive at him. I was short and irritable with some vendors I work with because they did something stupid.

Sometimes I feel angry at the team of doctors who chose to not test my ovarian reserve until now. A simple blood test and I wouldn’t have wasted a year and a half. Sometimes I feel angry that the professional reproductive health community doesn’t test all women for this in their 20s. No, I wasn’t ready to have a baby until I was in my 30s, but had I known, I may have gotten my eggs frozen, or not wasted years with a partner who didn’t want children because I thought I had time.

Sometimes I feel angry at other infertile women. Women who already have children and have secondary infertility. Women who also have diminished ovarian reserve but are well into their 40s. Women in my online groups who ask the rest of us to tell them if they are ovulating or pregnant. Women who post their BFPs or pictures of their babies online and tell the rest of us to not lose hope. It is important to note that I don’t voice any of this anger at other women out loud. I realize that it is nasty, unproductive, and usually irrational. But it’s still churning away inside some days and I have to acknowledge it for what it is as part of my grieving process.

We are all on Infertility Island together and yet we are really alone because we can only leave alone. I need the support communities I have found, though. I wish I could connect more. The people I can relate to the best are the ones with diminished ovarian reserve, especially when I can see they have been able to have acceptance.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Infertility’s Stages of Grief”

  1. I’m part of the DOR club and actually found myself arguing with someone who said that she was worried about getting pregnant because she was adopting and all her friends told her that it would naturally happen because of her choice to adopt… As if the simple act of adoption cures infertility. And I really let another lady have it on a blog where she was defending her right to tell women that they should never give up on trying to have a child because “anything’s possible” when that’s clearly not the case for many of us out here (not to mention telling people that they shouldn’t give up is telling them that it’s not okay if you decide to end your journey towards trying to become parents). Being in our sixth and final round of DEIVF, with our transfer next week, I don’t know anyone who has had this many failed cycles of donor egg IVF so it’s really hard for me to even empathize with a large percentage of the fertility treatment population, as it seems like whenever anybody goes to donor eggs they finally get pregnant because the odds are usually 60 to 80% success rates. Yet here I am having already used so many embryos from a donor and nothing but failure and a miscarriage at 9 weeks. The amount of stupid comments that people make (that we know all too well), I simply end up responding, “Doing X does not make my ovaries start working again, so please stop saying that kind of thing.” Today on my way back from the fertility doctor I was thinking about the fact that the last two embryos are going in me next week and I don’t even consider them to be donor related, because after this many cycles, those embryos are mine and my husband’s, period.

    Anyhoo…Holla to us all in the DOR squad!!!

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    1. I find myself struggling to connect with other infertiles because I want that connection and knowledge and support but it’s definitely hard to relate to others when their infertility can be fixed (in those case where it can) or when someone is getting 32 eggs retrieved and I can’t get my ovaries to stimulate a single follicle. I don’t want to be that person placing hierarchies on suffering but your experience really strikes a chord with me. I haven’t heard of anyone with as many failed DE cycles as you, either. I have been reading about more failed DE cycles, i.e. not just seeking out success stories to comfort myself, and it’s more common than I realized. Some of us have bodies that defy all odds in the ways we don’t want (so far, mine included), and you’re right, what looks like “giving up hope” for some people is just acceptance.

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      1. Yeah we tried to stimulate my ovaries and got half an egg using bravelle so rather than waste money we went straight into donor egg IVF, with a proven donor who had been successful four times in the past… Needless to say we were more worried about having twins so we transferred one at a time the first three times… Ironically when we transferred to is when we got our one pregnancy but then miscarried, so we’ve been doing two ever since (because of this donors amazing ovaries we got a dozen blastocysts, so these last ones we are using this Friday the last of the good ones). For me it’s been two years since deciding to go the donor route, so I don’t even think about the eggs involving someone else because I’ve done a hell of a lot of work​ on my own 🙂

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      2. I’m trying with my own eggs first, knowing that it’s possible I’ll use donor eggs, so I’ve been working on also accepting that. And I don’t see anyone’s donor eggs as anything but their eggs at this point, either. I know that if I get donor eggs, they will be mine.

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