1 in 8 couples is impacted by infertility.
As women, we spend our whole young lives being warned about getting pregnant, discussions on virginity, unplanned/unwanted pregnancy, abstinence—it seems like a baby is literally going to drop out of the sky at any moment if you aren’t “careful.” There are never discussions about what happens if you cannot get pregnant or the steps you need to take if you want to have a family.
In our society, when women reach an “appropriate” maternal age, people will commonly, in everyday casual conversation ask you over and over about when you plan on having kids, offer their often unsolicited advice about how to get pregnant, and family will lament about their needs to add another little babe to the crew.
My story of infertility is no different.
I married my high school sweetheart when I turned 26, and people always asked us when we planned on having kids. In fact, on our wedding day, I was asked if we even wanted to have kids (because at that point we had been together nine years so since we shockingly didn’t have any, it must be a question of “if ” we wanted them). Surprise, my husband and I indeed did want children. However, we had both embarked on a significant health journey where we had collectively lost over 150 pounds, so I thought of course once my body was in the ultimate health status that a baby was going to just magically surprise us at any time, like it had for literally all of my girlfriends in my close circle.
I didn’t really talk about it with anyone, but I’d hoped that our magic baby was coming every month for three years. I would tell my family/friends and even my husband at times, that I just wasn’t ready or I wanted to focus on this other external activity/goal because a watched pot never boils, right?
At 29, I remember reading a health article detailing that women are born with all the eggs they are ever going to have—so my eggs were twenty-nine years old!? That after thirty, the likelihood of conceiving dramatically decreases. I’m sorry, but where was that discussion when we all just thought pregnancy was around every corner? I finally tried to, real cool and casual like, ask my doctor about what I needed to do if I wanted to have a baby to which she educated me about putting in actual effort (tracking, ovulation kits, testing if it doesn’t happen including timelines).
As an avid reader and researcher, I quietly immersed myself in reading everything I could get my hands on about infertility, which (to be honest) I knew absolutely nothing about. Quietly because I felt ashamed—no one in my inner circle had been through this, and if they had, they definitely didn’t discuss it. I remember getting one of my very first bloodwork results back that everything checked out, and it sent me into a tailspin of “what do you mean there isn’t a magical pill that can fix this?” I spent the evening crying and researching everything from IUI to IVF to adoption and all the costs/procedures that come with it.
A boomerang of feelings (from elation to happiness to sadness to guilt to anger to remorse for feeling angry) began to plague my mind at every baby shower, birth announcement, and child birthday party I attended. Each “when there was going to be a baby” began to feel like a personal assault to my continuous failure at trying to become a mother. Sounds dramatic, right? I can tell you with almost absolute certainty that if you know someone who has dealt with prolonged infertility or suffered a miscarraige, that these feelings are only a miniscule look into the pain that goes along with the journey.
In the end, it took my husband and me five years, countless OBGYN and infertility specialist visits, procedures, testing, more bloodwork/needles/oral hormone medications/specimen samples than I can recall, several failed IUI (Intrauterine insemination), a FOX4KC news segment about DNA testing/baby genes, for us to finally have our sweet miracle baby girl in 2018.
She was conceived during a break before our very last IUI attempt that would be followed by IVF and the fertility office being closed for Christmas. That is why we call her our miracle baby because we truly don’t know how she happened after all that work. So I just “had to wait and just stop worrying about it” like everyone said and of course that magic baby would just drop out of nowhere, right? WRONG. I would never tell you that advice and for the love of GOD, please don’t say that to someone who is trying to have a baby. Your friend from the internet pleads with you.
If you are struggling right now with trying to grow your family, I know you are receiving so much advice and comments, but from someone who experienced it herself, if I could share just one bit of unsolicited advice, it would be this. TALK ABOUT IT.
I know. It’s personal—extremely personal. So personal that some people may look at it as distasteful or maybe they can’t be empathetic because they have never experienced it. I will tell you that I waited three and a half years before I ever spoke to people about our infertility struggles and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. My inner circle didn’t know what I was going through, but old friends from high school that I had only had communication with via social media had. I got connected with a Facebook group that literally opened my world to women all over Kansas City who were experiencing the same thing, sharing their stories, offering advice, sharing doctor information. I talked about it on my own social media and received lots of DMs from acquaintances asking for my advice or just someone to listen to. I wasn’t alone anymore in my grief, and finding community helped me cope more than I could ever thank any of those people. It allowed me to be honest with myself about what I was feeling and how it was affecting me. Ultimately, it allowed me to be able to get the tools to really get my journey in the direction I wanted to be able to start my family.
Taking to social media eventually pushed me to talk to people in my life, my inner circle, and gave me the strength to share my experiences here with you. I now know that I was never alone, and I’m here to say that you aren’t either.