Dealing with Anxiety after IVF

An ode to my fellow IVF mommas.

Going through IVF is by no means an easy endeavor. You get poked, you get prodded, and all of a sudden before you can blink you’re now completely comfortable with anyone in the office and their mother checking out your lady bits and whatever else is needed for that appointment. Then you get to the point of doing an embryo transfer and at the end of that appointment/procedure you’re suddenly considered pregnant until proven otherwise. Wow is that a ride. Now fast forward and your FET hopefully was successful, congratulations on being pregnant for the first time in your life! A magical feeling of “holy cr*p it worked” washes over you… and then your pregnancy starts and it is unpredictable and just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you’ll keep it, and now all of a sudden your worries shift from “will I ever get pregnant” to “what if I lose it” and they become a thing of nightmares. Am I staying away from all of the potential teratogens that I can?! Was that a normal feeling?! Is everything ok?! And now you’re a walking disaster waiting for the shoe to drop and for someone to tell you that baby stopped growing, or baby isn’t doing what’s expected, or that you’re miscarrying, or some other unknown horror. All you can do to manage these unknowns is take to the internet, talk to your doctor, seek support from friends and family, and wait in between appointments while reminding yourself that some anxiety is normal and there’s really no good reason to freak yourself out for the upteenth time. And yet that anxiety remains. I’ve never been pregnant before. I’ve never delivered a live or stillborn child. I’ve never miscarried (but got very close). I’ve never had to abort a pregnancy because of medical reasons or because the baby died. And yet even though my recent appointments have gone well, trying to shake the feeling that something is wrong or that something will go wrong is incredibly difficult. I am blessed in having a solid support system of family, friends, and you all- the support I never dreamed of having, my sisters on the front line of this IVF battle. I know that if anything terrible happens I will not only have people to relate to, but people that will share in my grief in a way none of my friends can. When we were in the height of our possibility of miscarrying, I had to inform some people at work what was going on after missing an important meeting. The flood of support washed over me and I couldn’t have asked for more. I had a colleague step out of the woodwork and confide that she had experienced three miscarriages in the past and was there to talk regardless of my own personal outcome. The power of that one moment- sigh. I will never forget how important that moment was to me. A simple sentence of raw emotion and love. Someone else being able to say, “I see what you’re going through, I understand your fear and your pain, and I’m here”. That will stay with me for my entire life. Nothing on this IVF adventure has been easy or without its own personal brand of pain. Even so, I wouldn’t trade the support and love I’ve been given for anything- even if it meant not having anxiety about this entire process. When it comes down to it, the anxiety keeps me aware and on my toes; I respond quickly and with purpose when I know something isn’t right with my body rather than waiting around or not seeking help or support. Maybe there’s a point in all of it. Maybe the crazy that comes with IVF is adaptive to making sure our little embryos survive the full 40 weeks. Who knows? All I can say is thank you to all of my support as well as “I see you, I see your pain, and I’m here as support.”

This particular strand of anxiety over the past few days was brought on by events from the weekend. We’re in the process of getting the house ready to move and so we had to weed and level the back of the shed on Saturday so our lawn doesn’t look like a jungle. A cousin was supposed to do most of the work with me just helping…. but let’s fast forward to what actually happened. Cousin and uncle came over, but instead of helping me; cousin had to help with the deck repairs with uncle and hubs. Sigh. Fast forward again to me over doing everything even though I’m on weight and exercise and a general “don’t over do it with anything” restriction. But it felt SO GOOD to be moving and doing things actively again that I didn’t pay attention to where the line was on doing things and over doing things. Fast forward again. Even later that day I started getting sore- not good. Next day I have a huge headache that lasts literally through yesterday (sun, mon, tues) and I haven’t really been up yet so not sure if it will continue today, and can barely move because of the physical pain and the headache. The headache was so bad that I caved yesterday and took Tylenol twice- my goal was to stay away from taking any unnecessary medication unless I felt like I was dying. Now my pain tolerance is pretty good, I’ve hurt myself pretty badly over the years with stupidity and from years of gymnastics, but this headache was one of the worst period headaches I’ve had- debilitating. So that isn’t horrible in and of itself, but the part that has had me the most worri d is that I’ve been convinced that I have been able to feel baby moving around the same time every night; I haven’t felt that for the past two days. Now I’m only just today starting week 16, and I have an apt with my doc soon so I’m going to ask about my concerns then, but dear god the worrying. I’ve already decided that if I get up today and the headache starts back up I’m calling doc asap. I just wish I had a more immediate resolution to my anxiety about this. There’s nothing worse than having been on all of the restrictions for two months and following it to a t, staying away from anything close to being on the list of stay away from or limit servings of certain foods, keeping away from smoke and the like, only to think that you might have over done it pulling weeds of all things and somehow hurt baby. I will be incredibly relieved the next time I hear baby’s heart beat. Until that time, I’m waiting patiently for baby to flutter again, watching what my body is doing, and reminding myself that it’s ok to be nervous but to not let it take over. 

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