The Dance of Joy + Grief in My Infertility Journey: Part 2

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 2, Jenn shares how after the loss of her twins, she spent another 4 years wading through grief, anxiety, depression and anger.

If you missed part 1 of Jenn Hepton’s story, we recommend starting here. Also, trigger warnings abound for child loss and pregnancy termination.

I’m not sure if you’ve had to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons. If you haven’t, I hope you never have to. If you have, I’m holding you close because the experience is worse than the worst. 

As my husband and I walked into the clinic we were told to take a seat. We were there to stop the heartbeat of our twins. 

I mean who says that! How is this me? 

As I was sitting there in pure disbelief that this was part of my fertility journey, I felt nothing and was in pure shock. I looked around the room and saw women of all ages and all I could think was, “This wasn’t my choice. I don’t want to be here.” That’s when I began to FULLY disassociate myself from the experience. I took myself out of what was truly happening. I don’t know how I did this but I think it was my mind putting me into freeze, flight or fight – aka survival mode. 

We went into the doctor’s room and I was asked to lie down on a bed. It was the most physically and mentally painful experience I have ever felt. The cold steel medical equipment, the pale grey walls, the stupid pictures of butterflies on the ceiling. 

I looked over and saw my poor husband just standing there watching all this and I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking.

That’s when we were told that we had to wait three days for our D + E and I freaked out. You mean I have to carry my dead babies for three days? So, we went home. I honestly can’t tell you what I did for those three days. I think I just slept with my dog next to me  and ate Chinese food in bed. 

The day came for my operation and as I was just about to be wheeled into surgery, we were asked if we wanted to book an appointment with a counselor or if we wanted a lock of hair or footprints. I was in shock. I just said NO to it all and thought, “Can we please just get this done?” Honestly, this should have all been done before. I know now that the lack of support from the hospital would lead me deeper into my PTSD. You see, how we are supported after our loss makes all the difference in how we heal. Find support, find your community and take time to grieve and heal. 

I said bye to my husband and went in…

After my operation, I woke up in a state of shock and was shaking uncontrollably. I asked for warm blankets and my husband. We then went into a room with other women and I was given apple juice and cookies. As I share this with you, I feel this DEEP sense of ANGER because of the lack of respect that I had just lost two precious babies that we wanted and you are offering me cookies?! I was in such shock that I didn’t know what to say or how to advocate for myself. I was in the depth of grief. I couldn’t breathe. 

We went home the same day. I knew I had to start thinking about how I would share this news. It was too much. This is when I started to dance with anxiety, grief, depression and anger. 

Our doctors said that we could start trying again three months after the loss, so we did. We tried and tried and tried. I was feeling really excited and hopeful. I had to. My spirit was reaching out for something. I was reaching out for the dance of joy again. 

We got pregnant again and the feeling of joy was mixed with anxiety and fear. It was a crazy feeling of overwhelm and all I wanted to do was feel joy again. Where was my dance with joy? After all, I was pregnant again. 

I shared the news with my husband and that day we miscarried. 

I fell into the depths of depression and it was hard to get myself up again. The only thing I could do was to ignore my feelings and start again.

Keep going – right? That’s what we do…we keep going. I had 2 miscarriages before we started to see a fertility specialist and went through 3 rounds of IUI and 1 IVF cycle and didn’t get pregnant. All I remember from this period was the morning appointments, the needles, and the DEEP desire to be pregnant, like everyone else. 

After four years of trying, several miscarriages and seeing a handful of fertility specialists, my body went into shock and my husband found me on the floor shaking from all the trauma. He held me. We stopped trying. We started to live life without fertility.  I started to focus on ME. I was eating healthy, exercising and treating myself with love and compassion which I lost in this journey. 

After a few years, we moved to Seattle and it felt right to start again. 

We took our time to find the RIGHT fertility clinic after seeing several in Canada and London without feeling completely supported. We found the most amazing community and we jumped into our journey again but this time it felt different. 

I felt connected to myself and connected to my body which I hadn’t felt before. I think it was because I took the time to pause, to feel and to be in the moment. I also felt held by our new fertility community. Our doctor shared with us that if we wanted an 88% chance of having a healthy pregnancy and baby, we should probably think of using an egg donor.

There was definitely a loss in not being genetically linked to my baby but all I wanted was to hold my baby and I was ready to do anything. We started our treatment  with an egg donor and found out that we were pregnant with our daughter, Loey.

I was pregnant again and yes, I felt anxious, nervous and fearful but I was also feeling excited and hopeful. I was back in the joy of things again. I was dancing in joy and excitement. I shared our news with everyone. It was a high-risk pregnancy because of my age (42), IVF and I was on blood thinners from a blood clot from our twins’ loss and I had another subchorionic hemorrhage. But I was still feeling joyful. 

This was our time and I was determined to feel happy and be present in the middle of my anxiety. 

Stay tuned for 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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