Author:Beth Hide, MSN, CRNP

I was asked to write a story, and since it is a “story” and not a “clinical article”, I have chosen to share my 32 years of experience as a Nurse Practitioner in Women’s Health with most of that time spent in Infertility Care.

As a Registered Nurse, my experience was in Labor and Delivery. During that time, I took care of patients who unfortunately lost preterm and full-term babies. In the hospital, we used the program Resolve Through Sharing (RTS) and I did training to become a perinatal grief counselor. When I started practice in infertility it quickly came to my attention that most of Infertility Care is a series of losses, and the RTS model was perfect for patients experiencing infertility and early pregnancy loss.

In my opinion infertility encompasses many losses: the loss of what the female body is intended to do (make babies) the loss of ovulating properly in order to make babies, the loss of any number of reasons one can not achieve pregnancy, and the loss of control (realizing that one has no control over these losses).” Then there are the early pregnancy losses. To patients who have completed an ART cycle and had a viable embryo transferred, a negative pregnancy test can denote a “miscarriage” and rightfully so. A patient who has completed what looks like a very good ovulation induction cycle with good hormone levels, follicles and a good IUI prep may feel the same.

As Nurse Providers and Nursing Staff, we try to take all this to heart and recognize how patients feel. Once a pregnancy is achieved and then ends in a loss, no matter how early, we are empathetic and strive to make the best of a bad situation. We do our best to recognize the loss and understand the level of grief is related to how attached a patient has become. And we know attachment occurs every step of the way!

We do many things to make the time of loss as comfortable as we can. These things include alerting all office staff of a loss, providing emotional support, providing literature and a compassionate gift and, if needed, providing referral for support. We also ask if there are particular things that would help, such as not being put in the same room for an ultrasound, being able to leave out a back door, or anything that will make a patient more comfortable.

In the very end, as we become emotionally attached to our patients, we share in their grief. I am a very old nurse who was taught to “never show emotion; take care of your patient,” but I can tell you I do not follow that teaching! My heart goes out to all who have lost! I have cried with many.

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