Wednesday, September 5, 2012

After the Struggle: Pregnancy after Infertility

I stood in the middle of Wal-Mart shaking, choking back tears, and trying not to throw up. I can only imagine what my fellow shoppers thought of me as I reached for the box of pregnancy tests.

If they had been in my head, they would have known the anxiety and terror I was feeling. I did not want to buy these tests but at the same time, I wanted nothing more in the world for my suspicions to be confirmed.

My journey to that Wal-Mart aisle was over two years in the making. Approximately 36 failed cycles, countless negative pregnancy tests, fertility testing, and repeated pain and heartbreak led to this mess of a woman buying a simple box of pregnancy tests.

The scene in Wal-Mart was just the beginning of infertility’s rain on my pregnancy parade. Don’t misunderstand, the moment those two beautiful lines - the two lines I had started to doubt really existed - came into view, was the happiest moment of my life. But, once infertility entered our life, my view of pregnancy and motherhood was forever skewed by the struggle it took to get there. For better and for worse. My journey through infertility was far from over.

Infertility had already robbed me of the excitement and anticipation of buying and taking a pregnancy test, of joyfully planning a cute reveal to my husband. Infertility continued to intrude on my life.

The inability to find humor in the “it’s about time” comments from people painfully aware of our trouble. Salt in the still-open wound. Questions of whether we had conceived on our own or with treatment offended. Why did it matter? If it had on our own, did it diminish the struggle? If we’d had help, were you going to judge me? Assumptions that we had stopped trying angered. Not ever, not for one single day had we stopped.

My innocence about pregnancy was shot. I was terrified until our first appointment at eight weeks, fearing that every day might be my last with my precious peanut because all I’d known in this process was heartache. I found it nearly impossible to say the words “I’m pregnant.” I choked on them every time. While the world around me gushed and jumped up and down (literally, in a few cases), I felt like I couldn’t get too excited or attached.

Slowly, I found ways to get excited and to connect with my growing baby. Hearing the heartbeat at 12 weeks was a huge turning point in that. It was also then that I allowed the news to be shared with “the world,” i.e., Facebook.

Infertility had strengthened my love/hate relationship with Facebook. At one point, I counted the number of people who had gotten pregnant and/or had babies during the time I’d been trying. The number was in the 20s. It was so difficult to be happy for them while being so sad for me. I decided early on that I would be careful in both my pregnancy “announcement” and how I posted about pregnancy. In this way, I don’t feel as though infertility robbed me of anything, but has made me more mindful of what I don’t know to be going on in others’ lives.

As I enter my third trimester, most of my fears and anxiety (aside from all the normal “holy crap, I’m having baby/going to be a mom” stuff) have lessened. I have a very strong connection with my baby and it all seems real. Most of the time.

There are moments that this still doesn’t seem real. When I feel little kicks or see my expanding waistline, I sometimes cry in disbelief that this dream is actually coming true. I cherish every second from 2:30 a.m. potty breaks to outgrown clothes to every beat of that tiny heart. And I know that every second of struggle and every hopeless feeling was worth all of that.

Infertility gave me that.

Ashley Bearden is a full-time working soon-to-be Mommy after two and a half years of trying to get pregnant.


  1. Congratulations Ashley! Enjoy every second of your well earned pregnancy & that beautiful baby very soon. I struggled with infertility for years as well & completely understand what you went through. I truly LOVED being pregnant after so many years of trying & still say I would do it again in a second but we are done with an 8 year old girl & twin 4 1/2 year old boys. It was a long ride but as you said, worth every minute! Best of luck!

  2. I completely understand how you feel! I just got the two lines on Monday after literally a year of fertility meds. I have PCOS and endometriosis and was completely unresponsive to Clomid and Femara. The only option was IVF or ovarian drilling. Neither was a guarantee. The possibility of having overstimulation in IVF led us to make the decision to have ovarian drilling (which insurance covered). The odds were I would either ovulate normally for a while or be responsive to fertility meds if I didn't. Since the surgery I only had two periods. After a couple months of nothing, and not knowing I was regular (and not really trying to get pregnant since I didn't think I could), I was about to call the doctor to see about starting the meds again. Then, Monday, on a whim I took the test. I'm still in denial a bit. As if it's still all up in my head of wishful thinking. My husband thought I was kidding when I told him. I had him look at the test. Since I have no idea when I would have conceived, I have the ultrasound scheduled for two weeks from now. I'm just hoping it's real and everything is normal (now I will say I'd been experiencing some body changes which led me to take the test). I can tell you that faith has played a big part in my journey. We just got to the point of accepting it's okay if we didn't have kids.

    Through the journey I know how sensitive it can be to others that are struggling with infertility. If I truly am pregnant and get to the point when it's time to share, I am not going to be posting baby belly updates or baby growth processes. I have already told a select few, and those are the people who have been supportive of my journey and have been cheering me on when I've been down.

  3. I'm so happy for you! I struggled with Infertility myself. Everytime I had a friend get pregnant it sent me into a depression. I stopped hanging out with my friends and couldn't attend weddings, baby showers or get togethers because I knew I couldn't handle seeing them with their big bellies and happy families. After almost 3years I'm now in my third trimester with my beautiful little girl! Infertility is so hard and only those who have been through it know how it really is. I hope you enjoy being a mother! Your story brought tears to my eyes! Z3

  4. Wow. You might be the only person that I've ever felt gets exactly what I've been feeling. I'm beyond blessed to be 20 weeks along with my first after a long journey getting here, and it's so hard to articulate the mixed emotions of a positive test, an audible heartbeat, the first kicks, preparing for his/her arrival, when you've experienced so much heartache up to this point. Thank you for sharing this. I wish you and your growing family all the best!

  5. Thanks for writting this! I'm 16 weeks pregnant and after trying for 3yrs we went to a specialist had minor surgery & got pregnant after 2 cycles. I'm finally starting to relax and enjoy the thought of being pregnant. Wishing you the best to you and your family.

  6. This was exactly how I felt with my first child. It wasn't until I held him in my arms that I breathed a sigh of relief.
    As difficult as the road to baby was for you, and so many of us, it truly is worth it.

    I hope you have a healthy rest of your pregnancy and a speedy delivery :)


  7. The toughest question to answer is "Do you want a boy or a girl?" How should I tell people that my answer of "I want a healthy, happy baby" is the exact truth. They'll still say "Oh but you must have a preference." No I don't. It's been a dream for so long that the gender of my baby is completely beside the point. I'm just awed that I'm having a baby.

  8. Our journey for a child went on for over 5 years and countless failed IVF treatments, when I could not face the heartbreak of another failed treatment we stopped, it really felt like i had lost a child each time. We feel pregnant the month after our final IVF round, naturally!! It took along time for it to feel real, as i had imagined it so many times, I cherished every single day - every day i felt terribly sick I was thrilled it meant i was still pregnant. We told no one until it could not be hidden any more, i was so terrified it would all be taken away.Infertility takes away ALOT, but it gives you so much more appreciation for the most wonderful gift in the world - a baby!