Surviving a negative pregnancy testMay 23, 2022
I feel like I’m a bit of an expert on this subject. You see, it took me 6 years to finally see those two lines on a pregnancy test. And as crazy (and unhygienic) as it is, I actually keep that pregnancy test in my desk draw, almost 7 years later. That means I saw a crap load of negative tests. In fact, I should have purchased shares in all those pregnancy test companies! Hindsight is a b*tch, right?!
But while I am an expert on receiving a BFN, I don’t consider myself an expert based on my behavior back then. You see, my first reaction was to numb, because the emotions that came up were too big and too intense. I couldn’t handle it, so my go-to was wine. Every time a cycle didn’t work, I’d go on a bender. Which didn’t help of course for so many reasons – firstly, alcohol is a depressant, which means that it fuels the fire. Secondly, the hangover created a HUGE amount of regret, and then there came the self-punishment – of course I can’t get pregnant, because I keep drinking alcohol!
Back then however, I didn’t know any better. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with this sh*tty hand we’ve been dealt, right?! I can’t go back and help myself through this monthly blow, but I can help you.
I’m going to walk you through a process (because I love a little structure) for helping you deal with the disappointment of a negative pregnancy test, whether it’s month after month, or following a failed IUI or IVF cycle.
- There is no need to punish yourself. You are not foolish for having hope – in fact – you are entitled to it. We need hope to push us through, to make us keep putting one foot in front of the other. Nor is this your fault because you didn’t have hope. This is a slippery slope. There are so many possible reasons as to WHY you didn’t get the positive result you were wanting. But it isn’t because of your mindset. It isn’t because you did something wrong. It isn’t because you ate square of chocolate, had some cheese at that party, had take-away on Friday night, or a glass of wine at dinner. It isn’t because you’re not worthy. You are. This is not your fault, and recounting every step you took to get here and blaming yourself is not helpful. So stop.
- Like me, your first thought may be to numb the pain you feel right now with things like alcohol. But as I learned the hard way – it doesn’t help and in fact, it just makes it harder. There is no short cut here. There is only one way to get through this, and that is head on and allowing yourself to acknowledge how sh*tty this is. Give yourself permission to be angry, frustrated, heartbroken, disappointed, sad – all of the above. Because this is tough! I promise that you won’t stay stuck here – in fact, this is a rite of passage. Our emotions are transient, so in order to allow them to pass, they need to flow through you. Yes, you need to feel all of this for a moment.
- Process it, understand it, and feel it. Easy, right?!! Ok, not so much!! How exactly do you FEEL it? Good question – we aren’t taught HOW to feel the uncomfortable emotions, are we? We’re only encouraged to be positive and hopeful and to minimize our losses by saying “at least……”. This is grief you’re going through right now. You are grieving the loss of an idea, a dream, a magical path, that picture you had in your head, time, hope. So many things! You get to claim it. I did a separate blog post on grief with some tips that you can read HERE.
- Vent or Release – once you’ve sat with the heavy emotions, it’s time to move them on. Rather than sitting with them bouncing around inside you for a prolonged period of time (which can lead us to getting stuck in that victim mentality), we can do some things to release them. Journaling is a great way to get the thoughts and emotions that are swirling around in your head, out onto paper. Think of it like an exorcism or downloading information. Another way is to find someone safe to unload to. Someone who may know how this feels, and has the capacity to validate your feelings. Before you download, set the boundaries – tell them that you don’t need to be fixed, merely listened to. If you find a way that feels comfortable to release the emotions each time, it doesn’t build up as much.
- Get back up slowly. Be gentle with yourself. Re-enter society. Go out and soak up some sunshine and fresh air. Catch up with a friend for a coffee. Go for a walk. Take care of yourself and do a little self-care. These are all healing methods and things that fill our soul (and our cup) back up.
- NOW you can take action. We always tend to divert to……what’s next?......a little too soon (me included). As soon as we see that BFN we jump to the next step to make us feel like we’re in control. But it’s important that we make decisions and take that next step from a place of power, not desperation. If you went through an IVF cycle, organize a follow up appointment with your specialist – write down ALL the questions you have before the appointment (because you’ll probably get caught up in the emotions on the day). Do you need to make some tweaks to what you’re currently doing? Do you need to get some emotional support through a therapist or a fertility coach like me? Do you need to take a pause to regroup?
Unfortunately, this is a process that we have to walk through from beginning to end. There is no skipping to the final step – ok, you can – but if you do, it will keep getting harder and harder. Because the grief and the anger only compounds. This is a way of dealing with it bit by bit.
Acknowledging, processing, releasing and taking action is a proven process that I walk through with my clients. It’s not pleasant, it’s not easy, but this is infertility we’re talking about. If you can walk through that, you can walk through this process too.
But most of all, you don’t have to do this alone.
You will get through this. Even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Because you’re amazing.
Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward? My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.
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