You’re finally pregnant, but you can’t enjoy it. Being afraid after finding out that you’re pregnant is not uncommon.
One of the common themes I find amongst my clients is that after a long fertility journey, finally being pregnant is actually unbelievable. Tessa* and Sarah* tell me they’ve been peeing on pregnancy sticks almost daily, despite blood work and scans at their clinics confirming they are in fact, pregnant. Tessa can’t sleep at night and the anxiety is almost crippling. Sarah’s afraid to be excited.
Who can blame them?
How are we to expect people on this emotional roller coaster to not anticipate a rise followed by a sudden drop? The answer is we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t be adding to it by telling them that everything will be fine now that they’re pregnant. Early pregnancy is still very “up-in-the-air” as the miscarriage risk is high and there are more hurdles to get through. Fertility treatment doesn’t end the moment you get a positive pregnancy test. It’s just the beginning of a new journey through the first trimester. The ride hasn’t stopped yet (and will it really ever?).
Being afraid after finding out that you’re pregnant is not wrong and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
A lot of what I do at this stage is comfort measures – honest reassurance is key. Most people are looking for constant encouragement because they’re just waiting for something to go wrong. Every sign, symptom or lack thereof can send them into a tailspin of anxiety. So it’s important to constantly remind them that you’re there to listen and be there no matter the outcome.
Forming a plan
I try to discuss all the possible scenarios, putting a plan in place no matter what happens. In giving my clients a plan, I’m giving them control, which they often feel they are lacking throughout their journey. If they tell me about a sign or symptom that’s concerning, I don’t say “I’m sure everything is fine.” Instead, I affirm that their feelings and fears are legitimate and say, “I’m sorry, that must be scary. Let’s talk about what it could mean.”
Tessa* and Sarah* tell me they’ve been peeing on their pregnancy sticks almost daily, despite confirmatory blood work and scans at their clinics.
Hold back the excitement, for now
I also don’t show overt excitement, at least not in the very beginning. Even though I’m smiling big on the inside, a simple “that’s great news” or something along those lines is sufficient. This is because I like to tell my clients to be “cautiously optimistic.” I’m not saying don’t be happy or enthusiastic, but I also believe in managing expectations since it’s so early. That way, if something does go wrong, the emotional fall isn’t as steep or shocking and they have the right coping mechanisms at hand.
Celebrate little victories
Being afraid after finding out that you’re pregnant is not wrong and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I bring up shame because another thing I’ve noticed amongst my clients is that they feel guilty for still being fearful; that they’re somehow being ungrateful. I like to remind them that a positive pregnancy test doesn’t automatically flip the switch after you’ve been through so much to get there. But the fear also doesn’t have to be permanent or as heavy of a burden. Allow yourself the joy and thrill of the first little victory. While your fertility journey may have given you worry and anxiety, it’s also brought you strength. That strength will be incredibly important throughout the next chapters of your life.
*names have been changed