Since I started blogging, I get requests from people all the time to write about certain subjects. While the subject matter is always fascinating to me, I almost always say no, for one simple reason: I don’t feel I am able to write effectively about things I have not personally experienced. However, when I received the request to do an article on infertility, as I read through it, I felt an unmistakable pull towards the subject and this feeling deep in my heart that I needed to say yes.
If you have followed my blog, you probably know that I have never experienced infertility. Quite the opposite in fact, I got pregnant when I was actually trying NOT to. So I wasn’t sure how I was going to write this effectively, but I felt strongly that I was supposed to. So I put out a call on the Pink Sky Facebook page for you guys to help me, asking you if you would be willing to share your extremely personal stories and your deepest thoughts on infertility.
And oh my gosh, you guys came through something fierce. Messages and emails and stories poured in and I ended up having a really hard time choosing what I would share here. Originally I thought I would use your stories to help inform me so I could write something original, but after I started reading them I thought NO WAY. These are stories that need to be told in your own words.
So that’s what follows below. Stories from you, the women in the trenches of infertility. Some of you still struggling, some of you who have made it to the other side and are reflecting back on your journey. The only editing I did was remove any identifying details such as names, etc. What struck me in so many of the stories was how alone women felt in their struggles. I hope this piece is a reminder to you that you are so, so far from alone.
On Infertility treatments:
- My husband and I struggled with infertility for about five years after we got married. I went thru monthly inseminations, infertility drugs for over a year, exploratory surgery and a cyst removed off one of my ovaries due to the fertility drugs. After all our options were exhausted, we finally decided to look into adoption. Going thru adoption was an ordeal too. Besides having home studies, you also have to go thru counseling and evaluations. Then you wait and wait some more to be “chosen” by the birth families.
- I tried inter uterine insemination. I even did IVF. Not only was the $15,000 procedure a failure- all my embryos died. Back at my first consultation my doctor told me “I don’t know if you will ever have a baby.” Which is a nice way of saying – You’re infertile.
- [I was put] on Clomid after putting me on meds to “kick start” my cycle. Well after three rounds each time increasing the dose, nothing happened. The hardest part of this was all the time spent trying to get a cycle. The meds were 10 days and then it could take up to 3 more days before the cycle began, so each cycle took about 45 days! Then I had to test because my next cycle would never start. Then I had to start the whole process over. [My doctor] switched me from Clomid to Letrozole. The same process happened over again. Meds to start my cycle, Letrozole on days 3-7, wait two weeks after trying.
- I had ultrasounds mid-cycle to see if my follicles were growing large enough to reach a point to trigger me again. They wanted me to come in on day 13, 15, 17. That was 3 times each cycle. Of course insurance doesn’t cover this, so we paid $150/ ultrasound and that’s with a discount for paying the day of treatment!
- I knew going into getting pregnant that I would have a rough time because I have polycycstic ovary syndrome. So I met with a fertility doctor and he told me that I had to lose 30 pounds. So I went and did that over a 5 month period. I went back to the doctor and we made a game plan. I had to take different meds on different days of my cycle, give myself a shot on certain days and get a vaginal ultrasound on a certain day. Scheduled sex on certain days and certain times, sex as a chore is not very fun. After that routine, I would wait for 2 weeks to see if I was pregnant. The waiting was agony and the disappointment when I wasn’t pregnant was crushing.
- When you’re going thru infertility, it seems like the whole world is pregnant…except you!
- There is guilt, shame, blame and the green eyed monster: envy. Envy that everywhere you look there are darling pregnant women in adorable maternity clothes and adorable babies….another friend or co-worker has a baby, again, again, again. I cried “When is it MY TURN!”
- The hardest part for me was trying to keep emotions basically turned off the whole time. Also, I would remember seeing people mistreating their kids or having abortions and thinking, why can all these people who don’t deserve kids get pregnant right away and totally take it for granted.
- I judge others, It makes if feel terrible that I end up doing so. I feel like I’m being punished for looking at people who in my eyes shouldn’t be having children, the people you read about who have multiple babies and killed them, stuffed them in boxes, abused them, traffic them out and I think “I would be a much better parent then that person, why has God decided to give them children but somehow sees me unfit?” It’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s a hard thing to think.
On Reactions/comments from others:
- I really got tired of hearing “relax and you’ll get pregnant!”
- I’m now in a point in my own life and marriage where I get the gut wrenching question that always in some way or another comes as “when are YOU going to start having kids? [In the past] I would gleefully answer “hopefully soon! We are trying” words that seemed so hopeful and almost so matter of factually are now words I regret saying every day when those same people ask now “how are you doing with the whole kid situation?” I can’t fault them for asking, I mean I told them my situation out front and now […] I have nothing to show for it. They know and I know there is something “wrong” ha – wrong – it sounds horrible, like I have an incurable illness or something. I guess I kind of feel like I do.
- We didn’t tell anyone we were trying the first time around and we haven’t this time either. For us our decision to not say anything I guess we never really talked about as a couple but just knew this was between us. I don’t want to hear have you tried x y or z. or constantly be asked how things are going. Once people found out that we had tried for a while with the first one and had a miscarriage they all felt bad about how much they had bugged us about having a baby. I was sure that because of that they would leave us alone when it came to having another, but as soon as our child hit 1yr friends, family and strangers ask about getting a brother or sister. There are days I want to scream at them…. WE ARE TRYING. It doesn’t happen like magic.
- People’s words of encouragement now [feels like a] slap in the face. “have you tried this? Have you tried that?” “you know its going to happen when you least expect it!” “you should just get drunk and have sex” “go to vegas with your husband! It worked for us!” “have you tried the ovulation strips?” “God has a plan, you have to be on his time” “ I have some pills you can take, oils! You have to try oils!” “ you should stop/try eating this” So I did. I tried everything anyone would tell me.
- I’m not sure when it happened but people have seemed start tip toeing around us now. Whenever they hear someone is pregnant they seem to have an inner battle with themselves about telling us. They feel like it somehow is going to hurt us deep down hearing about someone else’s joy. In truth a little bit of it stings but mostly we are happy for them. When it starts to hurt is when people start talking about their problems with being pregnant. “I can’t sleep” “I’ve gained so much weight” “nothing fits” or when they have a baby “(s)he’s not eating, not sleeping, always sick” I would kill to have those problems. I know they are venting and have every right to do so but those are the times it stings the most.
On Losing babies/pregnancies:
- Recovering from a c-section without having a baby was extremely hard. That is putting it lightly. The only way I could cope was to turn to my husband and God. They are truly the only people who I felt like could turn to to mourn, the ones who knew my struggle.
- After the miscarriage, I spent the next 3 months in a depression. I came home and laid in bed and watched TV. I emotionally ate and gained 10 lbs.
- We knew that we wanted to try and get pregnant as soon as we could. We tried for almost a year. Finally my doctor put me on clomid, which I got pregnant with 4 times. I lost all 4 babies very early, with the last pregnancy being ectopic. I had to wait a minimum of 3 months after my ectopic pregnancy to try again. These months were so trying. I went through so many highs and lows, especially because of the hormones.
- [I ended up having] a chemical pregnancy which means that the embryo didn’t attach so it was classified as an early miscarriage. I was sad but I honestly felt bad for not being crushed. I think I was just feeling like the whole process was so methodical at that point.
On Finally getting pregnant:
- [When I finally did get pregnant] Every day was mercilessly long because I was scared of miscarriage. I was sick, tired beyond tired, and in disbelief.
- Even now, after being able to hear the heartbeat, I still tried to mentally prepare myself for another miscarriage. I caught myself multiple times thinking of ways, trying to explain to people what I was going through. I was worried when my morning sickness eased up. I wanted to be positive, but I wanted to be realistic.
- The first trimester was like waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. I was just waiting to lose the pregnancy.
- At 20 weeks when we went to find out the gender, that was the turning point for me. I had my whole family with me to find out the sex. The doctor told me that it was a girl and the floodgates opened. I cried harder than I have, ever. Just gut wrenching sobs. I held my sister and just cried for a good 15 minutes. I think I finally allowed myself to feel all of the excitement, love, fear and all the other emotions that come along with being pregnant. I finally felt like it was real.
- Although I am excited to announce [my pregnancy], there is something there I can never get back. It’s just not how I always wanted it to be. Although I am happy, I don’t think I will be able to feel excitement or peace until that baby is in my arms.
On Secondary infertility:
- I still grieve the loss of the big family I always wanted, I carry the guilt of not being able to give my child a sibling, I carry the pain that has torn my marriage apart. About 50% of all infertility is actually secondary infertility yet, my struggle, sadness, and so on is perceived as selfish because I should be grateful for my one. I feel sooo alone in this struggle.
- For me its hard sometimes as we have family and a lot of friends that all have 3+ kids and talk about getting pregnant like its a piece of cake. I do not wish they knew what its like for it not to just happen as its not a fun thing to go through, but I do wish they would not constantly harass us about having another one.
On the strain infertility places on marriage:
- When your husband cheats on you and divorces you after 5 years of infertility, you can’t help but wonder if your inability to reproduce sent him packing. You will then spend the next several months having nightmares about him and his mistress in labor and delivery.
- I must tell you. Difficulty getting pregnant is hard on a relationship. The emasculating event led in some ways to the demise of my marriage. I had a fever and there was only one cure: pregnancy. It became like an obsession. A longing. I journaled. I cried. A lot.
- I have to say at this point it’s been hard for my husband, myself and our marriage. Not hard in the way of we aren’t talking, we can’t make it through this. Hard in the way of sex and our lives has become a chore. He stays positive when I can’t, He is my rock through it all but I can see his heart sink every time I come in a say “I started spotting today”
- The whole thing really made me question my faith. I always thought what did I do to make God have to keep a baby from me. In the end, it actually made my faith stronger. The whole process makes you feel so alone and like your body is betraying you.
- Each month that went by was harder and harder. You start to feel like your life is on hold until you get that positive test. Every month I would figure up when our due date would be if this was the month we got pregnant I would figure out when and how we would tell our friends and family based on what time of year it would be. ..what holiday was close by. With each month that passes I start to wonder if there is a problem, will we be able to get pregnant. If I could get one sight to the future I just want to know if we will be able to. If I knew it was a yes then the waiting I don’t think would be so horrible. It consumes my mind. I try so hard to not think about it and know that it will happen in Gods timing but I am not very good at that at all.
- I read somewhere that infertility for women can produce the same emotional distress as being diagnosed with cancer. I have thankfully never had to experience that but I do know it is an emotional roller coaster and without my amazing husbands support I would not be sane.
- If you have never had to experience waiting month after month to get pregnant it is one of the most emotional draining experiences I’ve ever been through.
- The hard parts have been waiting just to have a cycle, and the constant disappointment each month (3-4 times) when my body wouldn’t grow follicles. I swear if the ultrasound tech told me one more time “You have some stubborn ovaries” I would have lost it. Of course the money adds up and I feel bad for being the one causing all the issues and stress. It was hard to be positive […] all I wanted to do was tell people so they could know what I was going through.
- I feel like a failure as a woman. It’s hard to explain, the one function you are supposed to do as a human I can’t do on my own.
To the women who shared their stories, thank you for being brave. To those who are reading, please leave these ladies a little love in the comments or on Facebook to let them know you appreciate them sharing. As my guru Glennon Melton at Momastery says: We belong to each other.