The Dance of Joy + Grief in My Infertility Journey: Part 1

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, we’re sharing the harrowing, gut-wrenching story of Jenn Hepton told in 3 parts. In part 1 of the series, Jenn shares her own story of pregnancy loss and her dance with grief.

This might sound familiar to you. Walking into my doctor’s office for another yearly prescription of birth control pills and all I heard was, “You turn 35 this year. Are you planning on having children? If so, you should probably start now.”

Not what I was expecting. I just wanted my birth control pills so I wouldn’t get pregnant and now I’ve just been thrown into the depths of panic. 

I started to Google “Fertility in your 30s” and of course everything I read said that after 35 it becomes challenging to conceive and to have a healthy pregnancy. 

F*ck! 

This is when I started to grieve the life I knew and began what I didn’t realize was my  biggest performance ever: the dance of my life that would last for 10 years. 

Let me share a bit of background before I go in deep. My husband and I didn’t meet until I was 31 and we got married a year later. When you know, you know. Of course, we only knew each other for a year and wanted to take our time to get to know each other before we brought children into the mix. So that’s what we did; we travelled, we met friends, we lived in London and were enjoying our lives not really sure if we wanted to have children. 

I was then told that if we wanted to have children, we should really think about trying because it would only get harder. I convinced myself that I could still live the life I wanted and have children. I also thought that because we started at 35 that we would beat the clock…oh, silly me…naive me.

We were living in London at the time and decided to leave the crazy rollercoaster of pubs, live gigs and eating out  (if it sounds amazing, it was!) to live in Vancouver, Canada where we would hike trails, have matcha lattes and do yoga every morning. 

We moved back to Vancouver in September and started trying…a lot. Every month that I didn’t get pregnant naturally I felt frustrated and insane. I thought it was hormones, but I now know that it was grief. Loss hits you when the expected doesn’t happen and it’s a whirlwind of confusion and loneliness. 

Then in January, it happened. The moment I peed on the stick and saw two lines was euphoric…it was the only time I really felt truly excited about life and about being pregnant. After ten years, I still hold on to his feeling of joy. This feeling of pure excitement because after your first pregnancy loss nothing is the same. 

As we moved into the 8th week of pregnancy, I was dancing in the immense glory of knowing that there was a baby growing in my body. Then I started to bleed. I called my mom and my best friend and realized I had to go see my doctor. We went for an ultrasound and found out that we were having twins and that bleeding was typical. Okay, I got this. My mom said she had bled with me and now here I am, doing the same. I was feeling joy and gratitude that we had our instant family of four. Then we found out we were expecting identical twins which made my pregnancy high-risk and nothing was the same after that. NOTHING! My dance of joy quickly changed to a dance of grief, anxiety and pure fear with a lot of doctor appointments. 

Between our 8-week scan and our last scan at 22 weeks, I was at the doctor every week for ultrasounds, blood tests and more sad news. Even when I thought I couldn’t hear anything worse, it got worse and worse. We were referred to the high-risk department at our local hospital because after I was leaking amniotic fluid at 20 weeks. They said they couldn’t do anything else for us. We had to transition to another team of doctors which was another deep loss, because I trusted our doctors and felt taken care of and now we were seeing a whole team who didn’t know me, didn’t know the joy I felt and only knew me with my grief shoes on.

In the weeks before we were referred to our high-risk pregnancy team, I didn’t tell a lot of people about the pregnancy because that is what I thought we did as women. You know, just in case something happens. A few of my close friends knew and they were incredibly supportive, however I don’t think anyone knew the depths of insanity and sadness that came with this pregnancy. 

I spent the morning of my best friend’s wedding in emergency thinking I was having a miscarriage and attended her wedding an hour after being released asking my husband to check if I was bleeding on my dress. I spent a day in the toilet because the bleeding was so bad from my subchorionic hemorrhage at my parent’s and they thought I had the stomach flu.

A photo after our morning in the ER at my best friend’s wedding.

Why didn’t I ask for more support? Why didn’t I tell more people? Why was I hiding? That I don’t know, but the words shame, shock and pure disbelief come to mind. I now know that sharing means that if anything does happen, you have the support and it takes the shame out of it. 

I was still incredibly hopeful and wished that these babies would make it through till I was told that we had to make a choice; a decision I didn’t think I would ever have to make. We were told that my life was in danger and that our twins had twin-to-twin transfusion (TTTS). I had a ruptured membrane and was now leaking more fluid and the ‘best’ decision was to terminate…to kill our babies. I was in SHOCK. I was NUMB. I was SCARED. I felt so ALONE. 

This was a dance I didn’t know who was leading anymore. This was a dance that I knew I had to end and part of me thought, okay this all will be over and another part of me was holding on to the dream, holding on to the two lines on the stick dream. 

We made the appointment to terminate on May 31st, 2013. 


Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3 of this series.

Jenn Hepton is a Certified Grief Coach, Life Coach, Speaker, Author, and Educator. She coaches womxn who want to make sense of their lives after loss and who are tired of hiding their voices and feeling powerless in their grief. She works with them to navigate through the darkness, find a place of expansion, and purpose. After any type of loss, a purposeful and mindful life seems unreachable - but it’s not.

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