In December of 2018, my husband and I were told we needed IVF to get pregnant. If you're reading this, you might have had your own experience with that moment. For me, it was like that carnival ride where the floor drops out from under you and you're pinned against the wall, spinning and spinning with your heart in your throat. And just like a carnival ride, that feeling lasted about 30 seconds, and then it was over.

Truthfully, I laid on the couch for an entire weekend feeling sad. But one weekend in TTC time is practically a millisecond.

fertility warrior rachel sloan in doctor office

I am a doer. Give me a crisis, and I will give you a detailed plan (most likely color-coded in a spreadsheet) on how to make it to the finish line ASAP. Before there's time to process much of anything, I'm already making phone calls and checking boxes. In short, Mama gets shit handled.

Fast forward to June 9, 2019, 6 days after our FET. I stood over a positive pregnancy test, my best friend on the phone figuratively holding my hand, and I felt absolutely nothing.

I wasn't excited.

I wasn't relieved.

I wasn't anything.

collection of ultrasound pictures

I achieved what I had set out to do, and it’s like I wasn't even there for it. As it turns out, when you try to spreadsheet your way through something that requires feeling, you stunt all of the emotional growth it takes to make it to the other side a whole and healthy person. I hadn't processed any of the trauma, or the heartache, or even accepted what I had been through. I had numbed myself into an emotional coma.


So then, when friends and family exclaimed their excitement asking, “WHEN IS YOUR DUE DATE?” and “HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT NAMES?” it was very overwhelming and just felt wrong. Everyone's relief was, to me, a minimization of the massive, soul-changing experience IVF was. In my head, the hard thing wasn't over and I wasn't relieved. I was still stuck in a tangled-up mess of trauma and HSG flashbacks (the worst day of my life). I felt rushed to feel something that I couldn't and felt more alone than ever.

fertility warrior rachel sloan with ivf needle in front of her face

So where do you turn in that moment, when your friends and family are so excited and relieved, but you feel like you can’t relate? At the same time, I no longer felt like I belonged in the TTC community, since I was now triggering. During that time, I felt so much guilt over making others feel bad because I was pregnant. My saint of a husband, the eternal optimist, just knew everything would be okay, and he was right, but it was hard to believe him at the time.

For me, the answer was counseling. I was a psychology major, and I tend to think I know everything, so when my psychologist started walking me through the '5 Stages of Grief' I could have laughed in his face. But surprising to me, I cried my eyes out in his office instead.

Someone had died. And that someone was me, the me I was before all of these terrible things happened: the financial stress, the physical pain, having too many strangers up inside my vagina with medical instruments, injection after injection, and the fear it would all be for nothing, to name a few. But the time for vigilance and armor was over, and I needed to sit quietly with my grief for as long as it took for me to be okay again.

Pregnancy was not a magic pill that undid everything infertility did to me. It has taken time and boundaries, but I have finally leaned into how vulnerable it is to be pregnant and accepted what it took to get here. I'm also beginning to invite the people I love into that space with me, which is a big deal for a girl who would rather talk about facts than feelings.

fertility warrior rachel sloan pregnant

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As hard and annoying as they are to hear when you are in the thick of a messy situation, all of the cliches about struggle are actually true. You will find a new normal and something good can come out of all that trauma if you let it. Every day, I grieve a little less and feel a little more excited about our baby.

Am I grateful for what IVF has given me?


Am I happy it’s over and would I ever do it again?

Hell yes and probably not.

But here I am, 27 weeks pregnant with our first of 10 embryos. Ready or not, I'm going to be a mama.

fertility warrior rachel sloan

Rachel Sloan is a 31-year-old wedding photographer living on Oahu, Hawaii with her handsome husband Adam, and their adorable puppy Penny. Rachel is passionate about business, mental health, and now, of course, the infertility community.