Infertility in Labor and Delivery

Every day I work, I take care of pregnant women. Some of these women wanted to get pregnant, while others got pregnant unexpectedly. As a labor nurse, sometimes I see patients who try so hard to have a healthy pregnancy. They limit their caffeine, they don’t smoke, and they stay away from prohibited foods. Some exercise, and some minimize stressors in their life. Some can’t seem to stop smoking, others don’t even try to stop smoking, and some don’t stop doing drugs. Labor and delivery nurses see it all. Seeing pregnant patient after pregnant patient, it’s easy for forget about all of the people who struggle to get pregnant in the first place.

Sad-Woman-Silhouette

I have known many women who have faced infertility. Emotionally devastating does not even begin to describe it. “Trying to get pregnant” is initially said with a smile on your face and a mischievous twinkle in your eye. Then your period becomes a monthly reminder of everything that escapes you. Finding an answer, and then exhausting your options is emotionally, physically, and financially draining. And time becomes water slipping through your fingers. Even the strongest of marriages can fracture from the weight of it all.

I once labored a woman who was a complete and total mess. She was disheveled, pieced together with pajama bottoms and uncombed hair. I don’t know if she couldn’t answer simple questions because of her significant lack of a basic education, or because of the drugs she couldn’t manage to stop smoking while she was pregnant. She had multiple children from multiple partners, all of which she had lost custody of. The father of this baby had left her months into her pregnancy, and she had decided early on that she would give this child up for adoption. Even with her pile of bad decisions and her lack of good judgment, she was a sweet patient. I supported her decisions: she did not want to hold the baby after delivery and she did not want the baby to stay in her room. I set up the couple adopting the baby in an empty room on the unit, so that they could bond with their baby. I knew they needed this as much as their baby did.

The adoptive parents arrived at the hospital carrying gifts for my patient, and a diaper bag embroidered with the name they had chosen for their baby.  They were bursting with excitement over the birth of the child they had been waiting for. I talked to the adoptive parents about skin-to-skin contact, and I showed them how to bathe the baby, change her diaper, and how to swaddle her. On the day the baby was discharged home, I grabbed an extra package of diapers to give to the parents. When I walked into their room, I was struck by how beautiful the family looked. They had not heard me enter the room. The parents were standing in front of a window with the baby bundled up in her car seat, which was situated between them. Their hands were clasped together and their heads were bent in prayer. The sun was setting behind them. Rays of light came through the window, making a golden halo around the three of them.  In that moment, I felt the love they had between them, and I felt the love they had for this baby that had not come from their bodies, but had been born to them out of wishes, and prayers, and a desperate ache in their hearts. I left work that day, thankful that I had been a part of a different type of delivery, that I had been witness to the making of a different type of mother. I was thankful that that baby would get the very best start in life.

I found out days later that my patient had changed her mind about the adoption the next day, when her boyfriend decided to come back into her life. I was crushed by how unfair it all was. I cried for that baby, and I cried for her adoptive parents, who had to give their child back after getting to initially take her home. Even now, years later, I wonder how long she kept that diaper bag stitched with her baby’s name across the front. My heart broke for a woman who was only given the chance to be a mother for a moment, and to this day I hold hope that that little baby knew how much she was loved in that instant that the sun set slowly around the three of them.

This year, I hope everyone gets the gift they’ve been longing for. If you’re the woman struggling with infertility, I hope this month is different. I hope this is the month that doesn’t weight you down with disappointment. I hope every single one of your wishes come true, and that you find peace with the wishes that evade you. When I saw that family bathed in light, I really understood that families are made in many different ways. If you are a nurse, know that we must celebrate and fight for the families that are made in front of us.  And if you are a patient, know that we must fight for what you long for together.

Until my next delivery ❤

RESOLVE works with advocacy volunteers and other organizations to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders. In 2016, RESOLVE will be tracking bills that impact the infertility community, whether they are pro-family or anti-family bills. Find out what is happening in your state.

Get involved!


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71 Comments on "Infertility in Labor and Delivery"

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mylifeasacasestudy
Guest

Amen! No one can fully comprehend infertility and loss without experiencing it, but it’s SO important to find people who are compassionate and supportive–thank you for recognizing the struggle. It is SO hard. And I am SO grateful to be in my third trimester–you will never hear me complain when people ask me how I’m feeling. XOXO

laughterandloveblog
Guest

Thank you for this! I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for 13 years and 6 years as an infertility patient. It’s hard and I’m so glad that we have people praying for us, many that we don’t even know! Love your blog!

arranbhansal
Guest

Reblogged this on Confessions of a published author and commented:
Beautiful post

Anonymous
Guest

this is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

Beenthere
Guest
As an l&d nurse who experienced inferililty there is nothing more difficult! I am a proud mommy of 2 beautiful babies that I was thankfully able to deliver. Sadly I know a PP nurse who experienced almost the exact same thing as your family…her beautiful baby was taken back by its biological parent. There is nothing more difficult than daily seeing women take home babies to less than ideal situations when there is nothing else more that you want, and while you love your job, nothing is harder than going to work! Infertility happens to all social and economic classes,… Read more »
My Ectopic Experience
Guest
meghanoc
Guest

Reblogged this on Expecting the Unexpected and commented:
Oh my. So much is said here. Infertility is another kind of loss- a more invisible one, so I’m glad this blog took a post to highlight it. It also makes me think of all the L&B nurses, OB providers (among many others) who care for these women who might too be struggling with infertility. She said it best: “This New Year, I hope everyone gets the gift they’ve been longing for. “

christine
Guest
My heart aches for the couples who cannot get pregnant. I had my oldest at 19, an unplanned pregnancy due to my own fault (I’m sure I took my pills late or skipped one or something). I did not have my 2nd until 8 yrs later, after I had completed college, met a new man, married, bought a house…did all of the “right” things. My heart ached for a baby SO bad, but I wanted to wait until all of those steps were complete. I even found myself getting upset with friends or family members who become pregnant, whether on… Read more »
sbear2014
Guest

Beautiful! Reblogging on Where’s My Baby Bear.

sbear2014
Guest

Reblogged this on Where's my Baby Bear? and commented:
Must read, this is just beautiful.

miku
Guest

Reblogged this on Me and My Crazy Womb and commented:
Absolutely beautiful <3

Lyla
Guest

Reblogged this on Ajourneythroughlife's Blog.

C.L.
Guest

This should probably come with a warning: Caution, May cause uncontrollable crying. Such a sad touching story.

Marcia
Guest

Reblogged this on Our Eggcellent Adventure.

xosummerxo
Guest

This is an absolutely beautifully written piece. It brought tears to my eyes.

redbluebird
Guest
Thank you for writing this. I have many, many friends who have struggled with infertility or still are, and it’s a life altering, heart destroying thing. I’m also an adoption social worker and have seen birth mothers change their mind as well. Such an emotional thing for everyone involved. I suffered two miscarriages before having my daughter, and one nurse shared with me that she tried for 8 years before she had her first child. I felt connected to her instantly because she KNEW the pain of desperately wanting a baby and feeling that dream might never come true. Because… Read more »
sweett775
Guest
This is very beautifully written. I too am a labor and delivery nurse, as well as a woman that suffers from infertility. I’ve only been pregnant once that ended in a miscarriage. I get asked all the time by patients ‘do you have any kids’? and all I can say is ‘not yet’. Sometimes I just want to turn and cry but I keep up appearances. I love my job and I think that birth is the most beautiful thing in the world. My heart aches for other women out there that will not be able to experience this wonderful… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Please hang in there. We went thru ivf for 11yrs dx’d with undetermined infertility. Due to insurance change we were led to a new Dr. He mentioned embryo donation as something to consider if our next cycle didn’t work. It was a lightening bolt moment. My husband and I looked at each other and simply knew it was right. At that exact moment we told the Dr we preferred to switch direction and go straight to embryo donation. We knew the obvious science behind it, but not anything else. At that point genetics didn’t play an important role to us.… Read more »
anabea1
Guest

Very well said! Thank you for sharing this! I pray all the same for you as well!

Anonymous
Guest
After 5 years of fertility treatments and 9 miscarriages, we’ve exhausted our accounts and can no longer seek out other treatments that might work for us. It’s unfortunate, as for the last 5 years we’ve paid for everything, while insurance covered nothing, and now are left with reassurance that this one treatment would work but the amount it would cost is just too great for us right now. I didn’t know about that act, thank you for posting about it. I agree with you, that those who are longing for a baby get one (in one way or another) and… Read more »
Susan Robinson
Guest

This is truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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[…] Infertility in Labor and Delivery. […]

meanttobemommy
Guest

Reblogged this on Meant to be Mommy and commented:
I beautiful post. Please take a moment to read it.

Elisha
Guest

beautiful!

lkgaddis
Guest

Reblogged this on Sophia's Story and commented:
Another very thoughtful post by my favorite nurse blogger. Her perspective shows just how multifaceted nurses are (let alone compassionate and empathetic). Nurses see the good, bad, and downright ugly truth behind the struggles their patients endure.

J
Guest

This broke my heart and made me cry. I ache for those adoptive parents’ broken hearts. I imagine the pain is similar to losing a child to death. So many hopes and dreams for that little one dashed just like that.

Awaiting Autumn
Guest

You painted such a vivid picture of love in my mind. I truly hope those parents got the chance to offer their love to another child. Thank you for sharing this story.

Bob Dalton
Guest

As hard as I know this is on the mama’s, this can also be devistating to the dad’s and potential daddys. I won’t go into any personal details, but I will say God bless the women who choose to put babies they can’t keep (for whatever reason) up for adoption. There really are couples out there who would love nothing more than to have a little one of their own!

Jenjen998
Guest
I was a labor and delivery nurse for 19 years, then began working at an infertility clinic. It was an eye opening experience to see how many couples suffer from fertility issues. Fortunately, our clinic had very high success rates and I had the privilege of telling some of these couples the good news that after the long, expensive, emotionally and physically draining journey, that they were pregnant. But, also had to let the unfortunate others know that they were not. It was emotional for me as the caregiver, and can only imagine how it must feel to be on… Read more »
lori
Guest

I’m sorry, as much as I feel bad for those with infertility, as a society we should not subsidize IVF! IVF is a horrible practice where embryos are created and destroyed on a whim. The babies that are born are often weak and face autism, health problems. … babies are miracles, we should not take that for granted.

Whut?
Guest

Do you have any scientific citations for your claims lori – or are you just an asshole? Betting on the latter…

sbear2014
Guest
Lori – I respect your opinion, and although I am going through infertility myself and have had to pay almost $20K out of pocket in one year, I am not necessarily for government subsidizing of IVF. Personally, I’d rather see better private insurance coverage of these items, which I’d be willing to pay for. I haven’t given it much thought, as I have already paid mine off and have zero plans of going through that process again. However, I did want to share some insight with you. First, I do encourage you to research the medical claims you have made.… Read more »
Lauren
Guest

This was a wonderful response (informative, calm, and respectful) to an otherwise ignorant comment.

K
Guest
Thank you for sharing. Infertility and L&D are my passions. I am a nursing student (changing careers) who has three miracle babies through the infertility process. It is difficult both physically and emotionally. I am able to offer advise and hope to friends and acquaintances through my experiences. I wish more people knew that it is not uncommon. So often, I hear women saying they feel like a failure or are the only ones. But, they are not. We are a sisterhood… A difficult one not asked for, but bonding nonetheless. My prayer is for all those dealing with infertility… Read more »
lovedandfavored996
Guest

How devastating!!

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[…] 3 | First parents change their minds. They can seriously consider multiple potential adopting families and will eventually choose only one family, essentially rejecting other adoptive parents. Even after first parents have chosen their adopting family and surrendered their child, the overwhelming joy of a newly adopted child can swiftly change to deep loss. Most states have a “waiting period” for private adoptions – this is a time for first parents to consider their decision and allows them to change their minds. In short, an adoptive family can lose their child after placement. […]

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[…] Infertility in Labor and Delivery. […]

annabanana210
Guest

Coming at you from the NICU side with much love and respect. I can’t do my job without the wonderful L&D nurses I work with. But I wanted to say Thanks. Your posts are very eloquent and concise. You’ve said everything I feel right now in this moment without me saying a word. So I thank you. It’s really wonderful to know that other nurses are thinking this way. It is very reassuring. Best wishes for a good year, can’t wait to read more posts.

hopeistrying
Guest

This is so so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!! We are heading toward that road of adoption and know that this story is such a possibility. All prayers and support are eagerly welcomed, but I can only assume that this family’s prayer included that possibility and also included the prayer that their child’s birth mother would find peace.

Margaret
Guest

So lovely. Thank you. I am a RN as well. I also suffer from secondary infertility. We recently had birth parents change their mind about n adoption. All I could do was send a meditation to the baby letting her know that she was loved and wonderful that two families wanted her with them. All I can do is send those parents love and hope for the best for them.

dfimxmqauri@gmail.com
Guest

I went over this website and I believe you have a lot of great info, saved to favorites (:.

fwseyqjm@gmail.com
Guest

Very interesting subject , thanks for putting up. “The maxim of the British people is ‘Business as Usual.'” by Sir Winston Leonard Spenser Churchill.

Kim Miller
Guest

As a labor nurse for 20 years, those adoption stories of mommas hanging their minds for whatever reason are the most difficult for me. The grief from all people involved is immeasurable. Who do we advocate for? It is such a heartbreaking situation. Thank you for bringing this out of he darkness.

krxjho@gmail.com
Guest

You have brought up a very excellent points , thanks for the post.

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[…] as a labor nurse, we see families made in different ways every day. For any woman out there that is struggling with infertility, you are not alone! I hope that everyone gets to experience the beauty of birth and babies in one […]

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[…] Adventures Of A Labor and Delivery Nurse […]

kaeleighmacdonald
Guest

I nominated you for a Blogger Award! Thanks for all you do and being amazing!Details are up on Unpregnant Chicken. http://unpregnantchicken.com/2015/02/sisterhood-world-bloggers-award/

Molly @ TheModernBelly
Guest

People with infertility deal with a lot of struggles that are invisible to those surrounding them. Thank you for bringing some of these struggles to light, and for sharing your unique perspective on them.

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[…] complaining.  The older I get, the more friends, family, and coworkers I see having fertility issues.  Pregnancy really is a gift—yes, the nausea, the back pain, the pressure—it’s […]

Recurrent Misery -- tw: @recurrentmis
Guest

Reblogged this on Battling for Baby and commented:
This is so beautiful to read.

girl4182
Guest

Reblogged this on Planting Beans and commented:
An amazing post I felt I should share with my fellow TTCers and mommy’s to be.

DitchTheBun
Guest

This is a completely beautiful and poignant post!

Beatrice Garrett
Guest

A large number of people are suffering from infertility issues. It’s sad that some doesn’t know the blessings of maternity. Please stop smoking and consume drugs while you are pregnant.

AmyMumm
Guest
Oh my goodness… I felt like you wrote this story for me…however ours took a different twist. Our b.m. kept her wish, but birthdad fought us hard for her. In the end, mom’s wishes were granted, she stayed with us after dad’s rights were terminated by a jury trial. We brought Korrie Ann home from the hospital at 2 days old… and adopted her at 9 months. Yes every day was a struggle knowing if we could have her one more day…. but I told everyone, it doesn’t matter how long we have her…she needs to be loved by someone… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest

You nailed it. That’s how it happened and that is how it felt. Heartbroken.

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