Guilt about abortion/ Fear I won't get pregnant again
April 18, 2017 7:41 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant and it hasn't worked yet. What makes me feel especially guilty and depressed is an abortion I had two years ago.

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for two months (I know, not that long) but it hasn't worked so far and I'm getting pretty depressed and stressed out about it. The thing is, two years ago - about two months into our our relationship - I accidentally got pregnant and ultimately had an abortion. It felt like the right (although sad) decision at the time given how new our relationship was and I haven't seriously regretted it until now. But now that we're actively trying, and it's not happening, I can't help but think that somehow I've screwed up my chances at being a mom, that I'm not going to get pregnant again, and that this is going to be my "punishment" for having had an abortion. So basically, guilt, anxiety and some depression all mixed into one.

I'm 34 (will be 35 in a few months), generally very healthy, normal weight, active, with fairly regular periods, so there's no huge red flag about my fertility other than my age, and I've done enough research to know that 34/35 is still not that old (though... not great). I've been doing the LH/ovulation tests and am fairly certain that I'm ovulating every month. I had an OBGYN evaluation several months ago with no issues.

I realize that my negative thought patterns are just that - thoughts - but it's difficult to get rid of them. When I have had previous upsetting situations which were somewhat out of my control (such as fear of staying single forever after a prior divorce), I found myself spiraling into similar patterns. I thought I had gotten over that way of thinking but here I am again.

Has anyone had a similar situation, or found themselves in similar negative though spirals? How have you handled it?
posted by nightdoctress to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What helped most for me to escape negative thought spirals was to just declare certain thoughts off limits.

First I worked on noticing where the spirals start. For me, there are a few trigger phrases that my brain throws up that start me spiraling.

Then I asked myself if anything good has ever come out of these spirals. Once I realized that the answer was no, I decided that I am just not allowed to go there.

It took a lot of practice, but now I can catch myself at the beginning of a spiral and I say to myself "you've got a choice: you can think this and feel terrible or you can just not think this." And then I distract myself. It's gotten easier and easier and my life is immensely improved.

I wish you much happiness.
posted by mcduff at 8:06 PM on April 18, 2017 [36 favorites]

It couldn't hurt to talk to a therapist about your general issue with spiraling negative thoughts. It seems that this is an ongoing issue and that there may be therapeutic techniques for training yourself to respond to these thoughts and redirect them.
posted by bunderful at 8:24 PM on April 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. I admit I have never been in your shoes, but I do know that Backline is a great resource if you're looking for a nonjudgmental person to speak to.
posted by cowboy_sally at 8:26 PM on April 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Would you consider going to see a doctor who can reassure you that everything is fine (or inform you of anything to be aware of)? I'm not sure if you're concerned about some sort of moral/religious retribution which I can't really help with because I am not religious and think that if there is a god, he would allow people the choice whether or not they continue a pregnancy, BUT if you are concerned about the myths surrounding pregnancy post-abortion, a quick google shows that you most likely have nothing to worry about! However, time has passed and you and your partner are now older or may have health changes, all of which a doctor could help with. I'm so sorry you're feeling this way, and I hope you get the pregnancy you wish for.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:45 PM on April 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

Maybe this is off-base, but if this were my experience I'd find out if my nearest Planned Parenthood has counseling services, so you have room to explore the fear that abortion is affecting your fertility with trained, compassionate medical professionals who can you talk through why that's not the case, and why.
Or if you feel like talking it through from a spiritual perspective (the punishment idea) someone just as compassionate from whatever religious tradition you're from/feel ok about. Or, you could address the thoughts and how to deal with them in other ways with a counselor. Whichever or multiple of the above you feel would be most effective/comforting?
posted by sacchan at 8:46 PM on April 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

2nd masquesoporfavor on getting more information - because, it's only been two months! If nothing happened over a year or two of trying, that'd be one thing, but in my non-expert opinion, you have time.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:32 PM on April 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

You need to take a chill pill on the not getting pregnant right away bit. It's not magic - you need sperm to make it the egg and timing is important. It's not unusual for it to take 6+ months to get that right timing. It's unrelated to your abortion and 35 is not too old to get pregnant.
posted by Toddles at 9:57 PM on April 18, 2017 [14 favorites]

Two months is nothing! You have plenty of time and it will happen soon. Your abortion has nothing to do with this. You're normal. The book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" is an excellent overview of the process, and it explains why these things sometimes take time.
posted by Ostara at 10:15 PM on April 18, 2017 [19 favorites]

I'm just going to present some info here:

1) the fact that you got pregnant recently, with this partner is a good sign
2) 2 months is not a lot of time. I think the chances of getting pregnant in a given cycle with 2 healthy people is something like 15%? Below 35 they won't look at you for fertility issues until 12 months of trying. Above 35 they shorten it just because they don't want to waste time.

Really, try to focus of the basics. Make sure you're having plenty of sex around the right time, don't use lube that's not fertility friendly, take a prenatal.

Don't beat yourself up. You made an important choice for the health of your life, relationship and parenting needs. Now is the time to look ahead.
posted by vunder at 10:45 PM on April 18, 2017 [25 favorites]

Maybe it would be a good idea to get some counseling. The stress you are feeling can be harmful, and it is unwarranted. You have done nothing wrong at all, you are healthy and you need to relax and enjoy your life.

If it were at all possible, you shouldn't even think of getting pregnant the first year, just let nature do it's thing. I know this is probably not realistic. But try to focus on being intimate and together for your own sake, not only for getting pregnant - have fun!

You will be OK.
posted by mumimor at 11:59 PM on April 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

It couldn't hurt to talk to a therapist about your general issue with spiraling negative thoughts. It seems that this is an ongoing issue and that there may be therapeutic techniques for training yourself to respond to these thoughts and redirect them.

I want to echo this and point out that it probably has very little to do with the specifics. This isn't a problem that needs to be solved by facts about human reproduction. It needs to be solved with appropriate mental health treatment, because even if everything goes "right" by your current definition of right in the next couple months, you're embarking on a period of your life that is heavily defined by stress. You'll want to be getting your head in order for this the same way you take care of your physical health or clean your house.

You wouldn't go through this diabetes without being under the care of a doctor for it--take this that seriously. You're not going to make that process easier by waiting until after you've been doing the hormonal roller coaster for months, you know?
posted by Sequence at 2:23 AM on April 19, 2017 [7 favorites]

I had an abortion a few years back - very much wanted. I've never once regretted it, but it's the sort of thing that, when I'm feeling sad and thinking about wanting kids and the dissolution of my relationship and my friends' pregnancies and so on, it makes me a little sad, too. I don't feel any guilt about it, and I'm certainly glad I decided what I did when I did, but it's an occasional pang of wistfulness. You're certainly not alone.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:40 AM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Try to remember that it was the right decision for you at the time. You shouldn't feel bad about that. Further, you should be patient with yourself and the process of trying to get pregnant. Human fertility is weird. Sometimes it just takes a while, no matter what your (or your husband's, it could just as well be his equipment that is not working optimally, or even more likely nobody's) medical history.
posted by wierdo at 5:07 AM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, 8 years ago, I was you. First, have you discussed how you feel about the abortion with your partner? Perhaps with the assistance of a therapist to sort out your own thoughts. Much of my guilt and anxiety about our family planning was relieved when we were able to speak about these issues openly. Second, two months really is a small amount of time. We tried for two years, and found out I was pregnant the day before our first appointment with a fertility specialist. So please, please, please, be easy on yourself.

ETA: Morning sex helps with conception
posted by jennypower at 6:12 AM on April 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

I know saying "Don't worry about X" doesn't help one little bit with the worrying. I will give you my personal data: I got pregnant at ages 32, 35, and 41, and each time, it took longer than 6 months of actively trying. It's just a thing that nobody talks about, so you don't expect getting pregnant to take long. It's a monthly emotional roller coaster, for sure. Each month you'll be sure that you hit the target ovulation dates on the nose - but no baby yet. And then you've got to wait some more for the next window. You just gotta give it time, and adjust your expectations.
posted by molasses at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

It took me 2 years at age 30 (so I got pregnant at 32). It was a pretty classic case of as soon as I stopped "trying" I got pregnant, but when I was tracking and having sex at "the perfect time" each month... nothing. It just takes awhile, sometimes. Though doing something after about 6 months helped me feel more in control, I'm not sure any of it mattered in the end (fertility work up, acupuncture, and other trial-and-error things.)

As for the abortion, that makes a lot of sense feelings would be coming up right now, even if you know rationally you made a good choice. I found every step of the pregnancy journey, including trying to conceive, actually conceiving, being pregnant, birth, postpartum.. and then of course motherhood/actually having the baby... all of it brought up so many deep feelings for me, and a lot of it was about grief. Grief over things that had happened in my past, grief about infertility, grief about not having the ideal pregnancy, grief about then becoming a mother and letting so much of my old "self" go. I can't fully explain it here, but baby making and babies tap into loss as much as bringing forth this new life/baby. I can't explain it all here, but know you are not alone. Many women go through these types of feelings on their path.

I think it really helps to have a therapist to explore everything with, or at least another person who understands your process.
posted by Rocket26 at 1:03 PM on April 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

The abortion and your feelings about it are of course one thing, but scientifically it's not been proven to have an effect on anyone being able to get pregnant again.
posted by actionpotential at 9:16 PM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

If it wasn't this, it would be guilt for waiting until this age, fear that you're not healthy enough, hypervigilance over every body symptom and every meal... trying to get pregnant is so stressful and breeds anxiety like mad.

Things that have helped me spiral less: meditation, taking a month or two off so my body was just mine again, tracking fewer things, remembering the reasons why Past Me made the decisions she did and thanking her for taking care of herself.
posted by sadmadglad at 5:04 AM on April 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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