Failed IVF: How Does it Feel?

No one sets out on this journey to fail. That’s not to say we’re naïve and think this is a guaranteed process. We know the risks involved. We understand getting pregnant is not a promise. We also know we will never have our own child without this risky process. 

Taking the plunge into the world of IVF is scary. We’re handing our reproductive abilities over to doctors. Initially, somehow we find reassurance in the fact that the doctor will be taking over our babymaking. After all, by the time we reached the IVF process, we’d tried and failed for a long time. So the fact that another person is taking it out of our hands is a bit of a relief. However, as the process gets rolling, there are ups and downs. There are times of intense anxiety while we’re waiting for answers and we just want to know how it’s all going to end. And where is the end exactly? How long will it take to get there? There are countless times where we so badly wish we could have a baby “like everybody else.”

Last week, I finally saw a therapist about our failed cycle. Something hasn’t feel quite right to me since we got the news. When I’m sad, I can’t cry. I haven’t cried a tear since the day we found out. When I feel joyful, I can’t laugh. In fact, nothing really strikes me as funny anymore. The highs aren’t high, and the lows aren’t low. For lack of a better way of expressing it, I feel emotionally dead. 

The doctor told me I’m experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This news was shocking. I’ve always pictured PTSD happening to war heroes and combat veterans. It never occurred to me that a failed IVF cycle could bring this on. 

I learned that anyone who goes through a traumatic life event is at risk for PTSD. At highest risk for PTSD are those with pre-existing anxiety, and lack of a support system. Anxiety has been a struggle for me throughout my entire life, and only one trusted member of my immediate family, and his awesome spouse, actually know we’re going through this. So there you go–it’s the perfect storm for PTSD. 

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just tell my family. Why would I voluntarily put myself in a position of isolation and loneliness? Simply put, it’s easier this way. I realize I never know unless I try, but both Chris and I feel so strongly about not keeping my family in the loop. They know we want kids, and we’re trying for kids, and that’s all they’re ever going to know. We don’t need to add more stress to this already stressful situation by informing them of the particulars. 

So how does it feel? Failed IVF is more painful than most can imagine. These are wounds that I will actively work to heal in therapy. I hope one day, I can look back on this experience and be safely on the other side. I hope our future IVF attempts do not deepen this wound. The hard part is, we’ll never know unless we try. 

20 thoughts on “Failed IVF: How Does it Feel?

  1. Surviving Infertility says:

    Heather,
    Im sorry what you are battling with emotionally right now. It just sucks, no other way to put it. I think its great u saw someone and started to try and sort through some of your feelings. It took me until IVF loss 3 to do this. Likewise, I found out I had PTSD. I was shocked bc I always thought of it as something a war veteran or such would experience.

    I also agree that throughout this IVF process unfortunately there are no guarantees like you said, but we never know unless we try. Praying for you to have the strength you need to get through this!

    Like

    • heatherhopeful says:

      Okay, I tried to reply on my phone, and I guess it pushed my comment down to the bottom, so I’m rewriting up here. Thank you for your kindness. I’m so sorry to hear this is something you’ve been diagnosed with, too. It’s horrible. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind that’s not my own. I hope things look up for us both. Really soon. Hugs, sweetie!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dreaming of Diapers says:

    Unfortunately, I know exactly how you are feeling. After 3 failed IVF’s and 6 FET’s…I’m beyond over this feeling. It is very hard and I am in the same position of not telling many people. This is just such a hard process that explaining everything to family and friends is just too much…it’s exhausting on it’s own. Just know you are not alone and somehow we will get through this..xoxo

    Like

    • heatherhopeful says:

      Thanks for the support, love. You’re so tough to get through this multiple times. I cannot even imagine the depth of your pain. If we go through this again, and it fails again, I don’t think I’m going to be okay for quite awhile. Thinking good thoughts for you, and hoping for a brighter future for us both. 💞

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Essie says:

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you’ll find your way through this somehow. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  4. Nara says:

    So sorry you’re going through this. It sounds so tough. I agree with not telling family. I couldn’t deal with them wanting updates especially when other members are super fertile. I hope that you have a positive outcome.

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  5. theskyandback says:

    I’m so sorry you are having a rough time. I, too, see a therapist — I started seeing her when my mom died and have kept seeing her since. I like her, but sometimes I wonder if I need one that specializes in infertility. She really focuses on “not getting attached to the outcome,” which has it’s place and all, but ugh. Anyway, I digress. I do think infertility PTSD is totally legit. I’m fine if I just take everything step by step, day by day, but if I ever stop to really think about what I’ve been through these last two years — good lord, I just about have a panic attack. These are not easy times, lady, but we’ll all make it through. Oh and side note: my blog is not anonymous, so like any friend or extended family that cares to know can read about our journey — and it still sucks, even though I have support! They love me, but they often just don’t understand.

    Like

    • heatherhopeful says:

      I have to figure this replying on my phone thing out–lol. It keeps deleting or pushing my replies to the bottom. I digress. I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. I’ve wondered if my therapist should be more specialized in infertility, as well. And I’ve heard her use that exact line, “not getting attached to the outcome.” It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Thanks for your support. It means a lot.

      Like

  6. My Perfect Breakdown says:

    Arg! I just wrote you a comment and my computer ate it! I’ll try again.
    First, for our first three losses we didn’t tell anyone. With our forth we told a few more people. With our fifth we went back to not telling anyone. Honestly, we reverted back to not telling anyone because just like you said, it was easier. And so now that we are adopting we have told virtually everyone, but we’ve also made it very clear that we do not want daily/weekly/monthly questions about updates. It’s hard enough taking ourselves through this process, let alone having to deal with all of our family being anxious.
    Also, I think it’s wonderful that you are talking to a counsellor about all of this. I know for me, speaking to someone has been such an important part of our healing and even just surviving.
    I hope that whatever you try next results in your happy ending! I’ll be cheering for you ever step of the way!

    Like

    • heatherhopeful says:

      You and I are both having techie issues! Sorry to hear your computer deleted it. I agree, it’s easier when people don’t know. I find I’m often disappointed by the comments friends make. Though, I think it’s difficult to say the “right” thing. There’s not much anyone can say that makes this easier.

      Congrats on adopting!! I’m so excited for you. I can’t wait to read all about the process.

      Thanks for your support and love. 💗

      Like

  7. thelongestjourneyoregon says:

    So sorry you are going through this. The world of IVF is not easy to navigate and even harder when things don’t work out. I am glad that you have found a therapist to talk to and hopefully they can help you with the healing process. Best of luck to you. xo

    Like

  8. heatherhopeful says:

    Hey sweetie. Thanks for your kindness. I’m so sorry to hear this is something you’ve been diagnosed with, too. It’s horrible. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind that isn’t my own. I hope things look up for us both. Really soon.

    Like

  9. heatherhopeful says:

    So sorry to hear about your Mom. I’ve been wondering the same about my therapist. The therapist I’m seeing now is a bit more generic. Not getting attached to the outcome–I’ve heard that exact line–lol. It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Thanks for your support. It means a lot.

    Like

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