I promised a Friday post with our story of infertility. I’m a day late. Between helping my parents pack and move and preparing to do a couple overnight shifts I totally lost track of what day it was.
Some stats first. 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. Think about your work place. Think about your church. Think about your card club. Think about your fill in the blank. You probably know a couple who is struggling and you don’t even realize it. Infertility is a disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected sex. This includes getting pregnant and staying pregnant. The average cost of one cycle of IVF is $12,400. The average cost of an infant adoption in the United States $34,093.
I shared our story in a post I did a while ago called This. But because it is National Infertility Awareness Week I wanted to share it again. This time sharing more of the raw emotions that come with infertility. I’m just going to lay it out there and be honest and speak from the heart. I don’t think infertility and the feelings a woman/couple goes through is talked about enough. I think people have heard of it and probably have heard or maybe even know couples who are or have struggled.
I had a plan and I thought it was one God was in on. Get married, have a bunch of kiddos and be a stay at home mom. Not the plan. Not even remotely close. I got married but the bunch of kiddos never came and I’ve never really been a stay at home anything other than a very short time I’ll mention later.
For most of our early married life I really thought it would happen. I bought a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I learned way more from that book than I really ever wanted to know about my body, but I put in to practice everything I could. We saw my primary doctor and tried oral medications. I took my temperature. I charted everything. We used ovulation predictor kits. I stood on my head. I exercised but not too much. I quit my job for a while to try to reduce stress. I tried to switch my husband to boxers. No hot tubs for him either. I prayed everyday. I had surgery to remove the endometriosis. I went on medications for 3 months at a time to try to keep it away. Then we’d try for 6 months to a year again. Still nothing happened.
How I felt:
- There must be something wrong with me. There was physically. I suffered from endometriosis. But more than that. I must be odd or weird or emotionally stunted. I don’t know how to explain this one. I just felt like something must not be right if I couldn’t have children.
- God must know that I would be a horrible mother and that’s why it’s not happening.
- I must have done something in my past to cause this. I made a huge mistake somewhere and this is my punishment. I don’t deserve to have a child.
- Why do all those people who don’t even want the kids they have keep getting pregnant and I’m over here begging God and it’s not happening?
- Angry and frustrated. What am I doing wrong? I can’t afford to adopt. I can’t afford fertility treatments. Why won’t this just work naturally?
- Bitter and jealous of women who could just look at their husband and get pregnant.
- Shame – Some self inflicted . Some from the way others looked at you when you explained you were trying but it just wasn’t happening.
- Like a failure – this should be so easy and yet it’s not.
- Like a liar – always coming up with some excuse of why we didn’t have kids rather than deal with the looks and the well meaning unsolicited advice from people when you told them the truth.
- Faithless – my faith must not be enough. I must have some doubt somewhere otherwise God would be answering.
- Alone. I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the same thing I was.
Advice people gave us/questions people asked us:
- Just relax. It will happen.
- Drink some wine before intercourse to relax you.
- Do you know how to make a baby? Has anyone explained it to you?
- Everything happens for a reason. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.
- Have you considered adoption?
- Have you prayed about it?
- Maybe it’s just not God’s will for you.
- I understand what you are going through. It took me a couple of months to get pregnant the first time too.
By the time we hit 10-11 years of marriage I finally began to accept the fact that I would not be a mother through the normal methods. I grieved. It was a loss of a dream. A desire of my heart. I gave up. I cried Uncle. I surrendered. Whatever you want to call it.
I’m sure you are wondering, don’t you have a kid? You just posted about him. I do have a kid. He’s a miracle. A conversation at a baseball game between a good friend of mine and the woman who would become a dear friend and my supervisor. That conversation almost didn’t happen because one of them was going to skip the game but decided against it at the last moment. A random conversation with a provider at the clinic where I worked, that led to a complete fertility work up. An amazing doctor/employer who was willing to do IVF even though I had just given my 2 weeks notice. A very determined doctor who wanted me to have a New York baby to bring back to the Midwest with me. An enormous amount of shots. A pregnancy and a miscarriage. Wonderful friends and coworkers to walk through that with us. A crisis of faith. Another cycle of IVF with no pregnancy. A month break and then back for an embryo transfer. And this one took. A viable pregnancy. And then the heart beat. And then seeing movement. Shear terror at 14 weeks. A gush of bright red blood. Oh no – another miscarriage. Panic and a trip to the emergency room to be reassured and told it was just a burst blood vessel and the effects of being on blood thinner. Then on April 5,2008 he arrived and he was perfect.
We only had that one kiddo. I am super thankful for him. God answered and gave me the desire of my heart. Just not in my timing or preferred method. We’ve continued to struggle with infertility. 10 more years of hoping every month but it not happening as the physical struggles continue for me.
I often wonder if God had told me back when I was a 19 year old newlywed what exactly his plan for me to become a mother was, would I have been patient? Or would I have tried to rush his plan? Would I be the person I am today? The person that 13+ years of infertility made me to be.
There is a verse in the bible I came across after my kid was born. I had probably heard it before but it hit me different this time when I read it. It’s 2nd Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God.”
I talk about our journey with infertility because it needs to be talked about and because of this verse. I know that there are many women who are going through this and feel so alone. Women who are physically unable to have children and IVF or adoption is their only option. Women who are frustrated at the cost of IVF and adoption. I want people to know they aren’t alone. Your journey may not be IVF. Your journey might be adoption, foster/adoption through your state, embryo adoption or a surrogate. Every journey to motherhood is different. For us it was IVF. For two couples we know it was adoption through the foster care system.
I also want to talk about our infertility story for those who haven’t experienced empty wombs or empty arms. Be sensitive. Support not advice. A hug goes a long way. If you have a friend or a family member who is struggling with infertility and really want a picture into what they are going through watch a documentary on Netflix called One More Shot. It follows a couple from start to finish on their struggle to have a family.
That is our story. Thanks for reading!