5 Ways to Handle a BFN

Not sure you can face a(nother) negative pregnancy test result? Consider this your resilience playbook on how to survive a BFN (big fat negative) when you're TTC.
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If there's one thing longtime TTCers have in common, it's that we are some resilient folks. Month after month (or in many cases, year after year) of failed attempts to get pregnant have taught us how to brace ourselves for disappointing confirmation calls or the absence of double pink lines. Don't think you can face another BFN? Try following a page from my resilience playbook on how to survive yet another negative pregnancy test result.

1. Rebel
Let's face it: No matter how seasoned you become at facing them, BFN's still majorly suck. And over time, you don't hate them any less. Coming face to face with one is enough to make you rage like a guitar-smashing rock star. But what would that accomplish? Satisfaction, says one mom who battled infertility. "Go through the motions—the crying, the depression, and even anger," says Desiree Jones of East Orange, New Jersey. "It's all part of it." Too glum to get the energy up for rebellion? Plug in your ear buds, crank up the volume,and let seething singers (my picks:Joan Jett, Pink, Dixie Chicks, Rihanna) do the ragingfor you.

2. Recognize
Having your journey to motherhood detoured is truly an exercise in resistance—namely, resisting bitterness. A key way to deal with this is to recognize when that bitterness is building up inside. "I became mad—very mad," says Pearl Nichols of Chamblee, Georgia. "I started really questioning why me, and why not me?I knew I would be a great parent and I didn't understand why Goddidn't believe I would be. I didn't understand why every time I was close something would happen to stop my journey of having a child." To avoid getting swallowed up by any bitterness burrowing into her mental soil, Cam Ly of Blacklick, Ohio, roots them out and focuses on something healthier, like the sweet promise of motherhood. "Sure, first I feel depressed, like ugh, another failure," she says. "But there's an instinct of wanting to be a mother that's pretty strong in me. That's what keeps me going."

3. Relax
Once you've let the storm rage, and recognized the harmful thoughts from the helpful ones, gather yourself and be still. There's a time to wave your white flag and concede, because resisting reality could cause more hurt. Vanessa Downs of Harrison, New Jersey, found something strangely comforting about this type of surrender. "I guess the silver lining was the fact that I couldn't control my situation," she says. "And I didn't want to not live my life because of it."

4. Rearrange Your Thinking
Instead of mentally marking every upcoming occasionwith a pregnancy scenario, try replacing those thoughts with ones that are pregnancy-free. Okay, so you won't be masking any morning sickness at next month's girls' night out, but, hey, maybe you can enjoy a drink or two while you're there. Start small, then determine how much mental streamlining is right for you. Having been told by doctors that she'd never get pregnant, Vanessa Downs took such thought adjustment a few steps further: "I stopped obsessing over having kids, stopped talking about it and sharing how I felt with others," she says. But 6 months after committing to this no-obsessing policy, she got pregnant. "To this day, I don't believe in the word never."

5. Rescue Someone
The way I coped with facing monthly BFN's was to step out of my own despair and offer encouragement to other women struggling with infertility, both in person and anonymously via online threads. Besides resilience, this journey builds mounds of compassion. So, I figured, why not use this superpower for good? It worked for me, and it's worked for others, too. "Now when others hurt around me (about their fertility), I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort," says Jones. "I see it, mourn it, and join them." Despite the pain they've endured, many longtime TTC women still hold tight to the promise of tomorrow, and they're not afraid to offer this reassurance to others. "Yes, there will be a lot of ups and downs and no one will fully understand your journey unless they have traveled your path," says Nichols. "But if having a child is truly what you want, do not give up. There is a way to complete your journey with IUI, IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. There is a choice—don't give up."

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