Pregnancy after infertility is the answer to a prayer. You are living your dream, and it’s time now to sit back and enjoy the fruit of all your hard work. Right? Oh, if only wishing made it so.
OK, let’s be honest. When you finally got a positive pregnancy test after all the infertility treatment and miscarriages, did you find yourself waiting for the bleeding to begin, waiting for the silence of no heartbeat on the sonogram, waiting to be infertile again? Were you scared spitless when you were released from the infertility clinic to your regular obstetrician? You are not alone.
I’m 9.5 weeks pregnant after 3 years of trying and 4 miscarriages. I still cannot express the joy and fear I feel everyday. We have just been released from our fertility specialist to now simply see our normal OB. I am terrified, but I really want to enjoy this pregnancy.
Oh boy, are you ever not alone.
Let Your Obstetrician Know You’re “High Maintenance”
Chances are good that you’re not going to be able to hide your anxiety, nor should you. If you’re pretty sure you’re going to need more reassurance and hand-holding, let your obstetrician know at your first appointment. Ask what might be done to help you trust this pregnancy– perhaps more frequent appointments and sonograms, at least until you start feeling the baby move. Given your history, I would hope that the obstetrician would understand. It is important for her to be on-board so that the sonograms and more frequent visits are covered by insurance. It is also possible to go to an independent sonogram center and the costs are not too high.
Home Dopplers? Home Sonograms?
Home dopplers are considered safe, but are hard to use, and the cheaper home versions are not nearly as sensitive as the professional dopplers in your doctor’s office. Even trained professionals often have a hard time finding the heartbeat early in pregnancy. By the time the heart beat is reliably easy to find by an untrained person, the pregnancy is far enough along that you are likely feeling movement so you don’t need the doppler for reassurance.
It is possible to buy a home sonogram machine at a reasonable price; heck, it is even possible to get one that connects to your smart phone and sends the sonogram to your doctor. But should you? I come from the philosophical background of less is better when it comes to pregnancy. I can understand the hypocrisy of talking avoiding too much technology when your child was conceived with the highest technology available, but I still question whether very frequent sonograms are advisable. But since I’m not a doctor, what do I know? Do me a favor though, and check with your obstetrician before you buy a home sonogram machine.
Find Other Pregnant Women
One of the little discussed aspects of infertility, is that often when you do succeed in getting pregnant you are out of step with your friend group because they are already past the pregnancy stage. You need to find other pregnant women for comparing notes and endlessly talking about every ache, pain, and movement. Join a exercise class for pregnant women, attend the pregnancy or baby care classes offered by your hospital, stalk other pregnant ladies at Starbucks. And don’t forget the wonderful 27/7/365 power of online pregnancy/baby forums. Nothing like company to relieve anxiety, or at least make you feel less alone.
How Does Anxiety Affect the Baby
One of the most irritating aspects of anxiety is that just being anxious can make you more anxious, especially when you are pregnant. As your brain starts to spin about the health of your baby, it’s pretty darn easy to start worrying about how all this fear is impacting your baby. That’s the very nature of anxiety-one fear leads to another and to yet another. Argghh! STOP.
Plenty of women have been stressed in pregnancy – think women whose husbands are being deployed or women considering making an adoption plan. I posed this question to Dr. Charles Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard University and Director of Research at the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. I figured he would know more than anyone about the long-term impact of a mother’s anxiety in pregnancy on the child. Dr. Nelson said that research has not found that maternal stress has not found a negative influence on the baby. At least that is one thing you don’t need to be anxious about.
If your anxiety does not improve after you start feeling the baby move or if it becomes too uncomfortable, get yourself to a therapist who can help you cope for the remaining months.
Were you afraid when you finally got pregnant? Did it get better when you felt the baby move? Was your obstetrician understanding? What helped to relieve your anxiety?Image credit: liquidindian
Add Your Comment
After so many miscarriages and the death of my son right after he was born I almost lost my daughter when I was about 7 months pregnant. It’s probably important to be labeled high risk and to be tested for genetic disorders. I had to take shots to thin my blood and it worked I do have a healthy daughter now, but the pregnancy was scary and rough! Well worth it though and well worth the shots every day. They told me that I would not be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant that I might need a donor egg or a surro. I couldn’t take a kid from their mom so that would have been the end of the line for me. Pregnancy was scary and I was glad when it was over!
I am currently 10 weeks, 2 days pregnant after four years of trying, 3 miscarriages, 8 IUIs and 2 IVFs (our last IVF was the one which brought us the twins I am carrying). Our first baby’s heart stopped at 10 weeks, 2 days, so to say today is going to be hard for me is an understatement. We were released from our RE’s office 2 weeks ago, so we haven’t had any ultrasounds since. Our first visit with our OB is tomorrow and I am terrified. The only thing that has given me some reassurance is that I am still sick with morning sickness…and my faith that God will see us through this. I came down with the cold yesterday and my husband is freaking out that this could affect the babies. I think he is more nervous than I am, especially since I have been spitting non-stop for the past few days, and now it seems to have stopped. This is going to be a long road! 🙂
I’m sending prayers your way. I will tell you that for most woman, some of the fear goes away when the baby(ies) start moving b/c that gives them mores steady reassurance. Also, once you make it past the stage of viability, many woman begin to relax. Hang in there!
Thank you! I am praying we make it to the point where I can feel these babies moving. This has been a long, hard road that I would not wish on anybody.
Thanks for posting this story. I’m 20 weeks pregnant after IVF treatments and a miscarriage. I’m really trying to enjoy the pregnancy but I worry so much especially because I haven’t felt the baby move yet. I did buy a fetal Doppler which helps bring some relief between appointments. I’m glad to know my anxiety won’t affect the baby.
Monique, many women find that the closer they get to their due date, the less they worry, so I hope the same for you. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask for more hand-holding from your obstetrician. You deserve it.
LOL that’s what I keep saying! It’s not my first rodeo… I don’t even remember having sex after my first… Could be because it took me closer to 10-12 weeks to recover 🙁
*hugs* Rayne that’s tough 🙁
I like his confidence. Doesn’t he realize that right after birth most women aren’t exactly overjoyed at the thought of hanky-panky, not matter how hot the guy?!? You could always use birth control for a while and then decide when you are ready to let nature take its course. Why the pressure to decide in advance. How do you know how you’ll feel. You may be too tired to even think about sex or you may want to savor the first years with this beautiful child. Or you may decide that it took you a long time to conceive this one, so why wait. You’ll know more after the birth about what you want to do.
Hubby and WIC keep asking what I want to do, and I really don’t know. I wish I could just leave it, but he claims I’ll be so hot for him that he may have to be the voice of reason “now honey you wanted to wait, remember?!” Haha he’s a little full of himself!
Janettee, since you are still pregnant, it seems like for now, just focus on staying as healthy as you can with this pregnancy. If you breastfeed, that forms a natural, although not full-proof form of birth control, at least until you introduce other foods. You could just take the approach of not using birth control and seeing what happens. I may, however, have misunderstood your point. If so, sorry.
*hugs* Rayne that’s tough 🙁
Janettee, I too am trying to decide what to do. We are 3.5 months post birth of our little petri dish baby. Our clinic won’t do IVF after 35. I’m also 32. Can’t start again at clinic til 6 months post baby but have to quite breastfeeding. Hard choice. Take away from one to attempt for another. Or push the age envelope and pray it sticks or not get blessed again. Not sure what to do!
I’ve been trying hard to leave the fear at the door, although we knew my PCOS (and weight) meant that I’m at higher risk for issues…
We are trying hard to enjoy our pregnancy, although we do worry… Especially after several losses in our pregnancy group who were all past the “magic” time in their pregnancy where the risks are lower…
One if the scarier parts for us though, is the worry about what next… Should we try right away? We know that’s the most fertile time, so we have a better chance that way…
We are 32 this year, and concerned that if we wait the recommended year to allow my body to heal before becoming pregnant again, we will end up either never having more children, or having them after 35…
Of course that time could be spent improving my health so the next pregnancy is filled with less worry… So is it better to wait instead?
*hugs* I had no idea you experienced that terror during M’s surgery… I am glad it had a positive outcome and he is feeling better!
Must chime in… Fretting over the new pregnancy isn’t going to change the outcome… it will just suck the joy out of it, whatever the ending might be. Our first baby was stillborn 12/04… we then went through 4 years and 10 IUIs and 1 IVF, all negative in part to no one bothering to do BLOODWORK on DH. once his extremely low testosterone was dx’d and treated (with HCG, same as the diet craze at about $800/mo), I did get pregnant… I had told him on my 40th birthday I was DONE. 4 years of BS… that is more than 48 BFNs, some of them at tremendous financial cost… a month later I was pregnant… it was a MIRACLE… which turned into a NIGHTMARE. Early on, my HCG numbers were off, but not high enough for twins…. baby measured small, but I KNEW which ONE act created her… at 19 weeks we found out that she had both Trisomy 13 and holooprosencephaly. Both are lethal in their own right, but put them together and there is no hope. This baby would also be born dead. It took 15 weeks for that reality to be realized. I was 40. I knew we’d caught the last good egg. It was the end of the parenting road (by birth) and I tried to enjoy it….
We adopted an older child from China… he had to have ear surgery and the dr let me go in until the gas knocked him out… with him laying there still, under the sheet, it looked like he was in the morgue… I maintained composure until I was out of the room….
I think that with my past and all it takes for me to get and stay pregnant, I will worry with another one just as much as with my newest addition. One successful pregnancy (via IVF) does not take away the fears of all the losses before. I do hope that if it happens again I am able to enjoy it just a little bit more with a little less fear. But the pain runs deep so who knows.
We have a Doppler at home too. My Dr is big on ultrasounds esp since I’m high risk. She’ll typically just take a quick look an it always makes me feel better.
After infertility and two miscarriages before an ultimately successful third pregnancy, I totally get this.
I think our worry was greatly reduced by knowing that things were chromosomally normal with the baby — and with the advent of the MaterniT21 and Verifi and other similar cell-free DNA tests, that reassurance is starting to be more widely available early on, and without any kind of invasive testing. Of course, other things can and do go wrong with the pregnancy, but knowing that we’d cleared a hurdle for the most major causes of miscarriage was really helpful.
I had a really uneventful, full-term pregnancy after early spotting, and I’m glad I let myself enjoy it and successfully talked myself down from anxiety that things would go wrong with the pregnancy or birth. Anxiety would crop up periodically, but I would do a bit of research into whatever I was worried about, and that would make me feel more prepared and then I could let it go.
Of course, after birth, we ended up with a few weeks in the NICU and then another serious mystery medical issue at 2 months… so I think the anxiety and worry-producing nature of parenting pick up pretty seamlessly from that of pregnancy! But what that means is that the calm-the-heck-down exercises you work out during pregnancy have a long and lasting career ahead of them once the baby is a freestanding unit!
J. I hadn’t thought of your point about often having more information on the chromosomal health of the baby conceived via IVF especially if you did PGD. That should give more support for talking yourself off the anxiety ledge. And you are so right about worry being a part of parenting. However, after birth for many formerly infertile, these fears drop to the level of parents who easily conceived.
I’ve never been pregnant either, but worry about becoming pregnant “out of the blue” as I hear stories of couples who try for years and years, and then quit trying, and then BOOM, surprise pregnancy comes along. Although we have two adopted sons who are wonderful and whom we love dearly, I would’ve loved to have had a baby and that whole experience, but it was not to be. At my age (I’m 44), I actually worry about becoming pregnant, because I understand that all kinds of health risks to both mom and baby can take place in an over-40 pregnancy. One of my doctors had told me when my hubby and I were going through infertility treatments that I’d have to have an amniocentesis (sp?) test due to my being over 35 at the time, and that the amniocentesis procedure itself carried a risk of causing a miscarriage! 🙁 So yeah, in short, my hubby and I would seek the best prenatal care and do the healthiest things for our baby if I were to turn up pregnant, but I’d be worried to the point of becoming a basket case! 😮
My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We’ve never been on birth control and have only gotten pregnant 3 times. We have had one child biologically. The other two were miscarriages (one molar pregnancy.) I so badly want to have another biological child but just the thought of two lines on a pregnancy test scares me to death!
Jenn, I think everyone who has experience a miscarriage holds their breath when/if they get pregnant again. It helps to realize that just being terrified, doesn’t jinx the pregnancy. Good luck to you.
Tina, I’m hoping someone who has recently had a baby will chime in on what their doctor said.
Having never been pregnant, I haven’t learned much about what happens after you are. Is there a problem with many sonograms? Just curious, cause my S-I-L does this for a living and I would be tempted to get her to do them for me a couple of times. She works at a place with 3-D, so the temptation is even greater.
We never had a sonogram. Just the Doppler to measure heartbeats and the ultrasounds up until 21 weeks. They wouldn’t do any more ultrasounds unless there was something wrong with the baby.
What is the current thinking on many sonograms? I wonder about the use of home sonograms.
Doppler just allows you to hear heart beat. It is what the hospital uses to check during appointments.
Rayne, is doppler different from sonogram?
Oh my gosh…..this was so me. The whole pregnancy I did every thing I could to enjoy it but all the while scared to death! I used a Doppler at work to ease my tension and worriedness in between dr. appointments. Would poke my belly just to get him to move when I hadn’t felt anything for awhile. I was terrified. And then he made me wait an extra week before I could breath a sigh of relief…his birth, yay, he’s ok. And then I moved on to worrying about SIDS and brother being too rough or the cats trying to cuddle him. It never ends when you’re a parent.