After three years, multiple IVF cycles, two devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.
I honestly don’t know how many negative pregnancy tests I’ve had over the past three and a half years. I imagine I could figure it out if I dug deep enough, but who wants to go there? I’ve already dealt with the disappointment that comes with each of those negatives so there’s no need to revisit it.
It was just last week that I got my latest “nope.” The two-week wait was as awful as they always are, but by the end of it, I suspected I wasn’t pregnant even before I took the blood test. I was right.
Dealing with infertility and multiple pregnancy losses can and will wear you down, as anyone who has experienced this can attest. And the longer you’re in it, the longer you’re part of this cruel game, the more you learn how to handle the ups and downs of it all.
Getting a negative pregnancy test is definitely a down, but there are ways I’ve managed to cope with the disappointment over the years:
1. Plan a date for your test day
If you end up getting a BFP (what women trying to conceive call a “big fat positive”), you’ll be celebrating. But if you get that unwanted negative, you’ll already have something fun planned with your spouse, partner, or BFF if you’re going this alone. It can be something as simple as a neighborhood walk with your dog, or a nice dinner. Use the date to softly mourn the negative, but to also refocus your love and energy on the whys of your journey. Remind yourself why you want to become a mother. Focus on the good in you and refuse to be defeated.
2. Eat a pint of ice cream
Seriously. Do it. I don’t suggest you deal with your feelings by drowning your sorrows in Ben and Jerry’s, but there are times when it’s appropriate. This is definitely one of those times. You’ve likely spent the two-week wait and the time leading up to your pregnancy attempt doing everything by the books and eating all sorts of good and healthy fertility food. Allow yourself a day or night of gluttony — just be sure not to make it a habit.
We’re going camping soon, and we’ll unplug 100%. As much as I love reading others’ stories and as much as I appreciate you reading mine, it’s important to stay away from the Internet at times, especially when you’re feeling your most vulnerable and questioning your worth (something I think we can all admit we do when dealing with failed attempt after failed attempt). That first day of your negative test, it’s 100% guaranteed that someone in your social media feeds will either a.) announce their pregnancy or b.) announce the birth of their baby. You don’t need to see that right away. Give yourself some time unplugged and recharge YOU.
4. Consider taking a break from trying
About a year ago, I quit this journey. I was done trying. There was only so much I could take, and I had it. I knew I’d begin again when I rebuilt my self worth and regained my strength of character. This journey depletes both of those in record time. It took me a few months, but I eventually hopped back in the saddle, with a renewed sense of hope. I was refreshed. Taking a pause on this journey is a hard decision to make — we all wanted babies like yesterday, and none of us is getting any younger — but sometimes you need to simply get back to yourself before moving onward.
5. Binge watch anything
Zone out. Don’t face that negative today. It will still be there tomorrow. If it’s just too much to handle, don’t. At least not today. Go on a mini getaway with Netflix (perhaps with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, too?), and get up tomorrow — or the next day — and deal with your shit then. It’s okay to let yourself wallow for a day or two. Negative pregnancy tests are heartbreaking. It’s totally okay to be bummed and sad and disappointed and self-pitying. This sucks! But don’t let it last longer than your binge-watch session. Feel it and move on.
6. Write it out
I suggest this survival tactic when dealing with all of life’s ups and downs, but especially when being enslaved to infertility and pregnancy loss. You don’t necessarily have to share your words with anyone (though you could). Just be sure to get them out of you. Forget grammar, rules, or style. Just write. Put it all out there and be done with it. I promise, you will feel lighter. With the heaviness of this journey, who couldn’t use some weight lifted?