Last year, in an article published at Our Bodies Ourselves, freelance writer and registered nurse Jen Dozer wrote about the emotional effects of pregnancy after infertility or loss. She later spoke with Our Bodies Our Blog about her own experience with infertility and the anxiety and distrust she felt toward her own body when she did become pregnant.
After Dozer’s article was published, she asked readers of her blog, Mrs. Spock, to share their own stories about infertility and pregnancy loss. Some of those stories are now published at Our Bodies Ourselves.
With unflinching honesty, the writers describe what it’s like to undergo test after test; to commit to infertility drugs only to see hopes rise and fall with each cycle; or to conceive after infertility, with no clear understanding of why the pregnancy suddenly happened — and whether it will last.
Kathleen O’Grady sums up the anguish that comes with realizing a pregnancy cannot be willed by love and desire alone: “Pregnancy was not supposed to happen like this — with the cold medical hands of specialists leading me through an intricate web of possible bodily malfunctions. But through a spontaneous moment of grace, a sacred orgasmic moment when one plus one makes three.”
In another story, the writer walks readers through her discovery, at her 20-week scan, that her son no longer has a heartbeat; his sister still does. “I began to think about the flu I had come down with last week and the antibiotics I had taken for the resulting sinus and ear infection, the accidental diet Sprite I had, the Tylenol I had taken to help with the misery of the flu symptoms. I thought of all the things that I thought I had done wrong and asked Ajay, “Did I do this? Is this my fault? […] How is this happening?”
Personal experiences of loss and doubt are rarely included in books about pregnancy. But they are essential. As Dozer writes at her own site:
I’ve often thought that birth, to us in the infertility trenches, is more denouement than climax, because we do all our laboring on the front end. All of our blood, sweat, and tears, all of our anticipation, all of our hard work, is spent on conceiving our children, or navigating the adoption process. And just like a labor, no two experiences are alike. I liked the idea of sharing our stories of infertility and loss, and pulling back the veil on the many paths to parenthood- or to childfree living as the case may be. […]
It is only by sharing our stories that the ten percent of us that have “tubeless” or “unicornate” or “incompetent cervix” or “anovulatory” stamped on our foreheads look more like the daughters, sisters, friends, and neighbors we are, than the kooky Octomom looking for a reality show deal the fertile world thinks we are.