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There are tons of stories out there about infertility, just google my infertility journey and you’ll get about 6.6 million responses. But even though there are so many stories out there, it’s still a very lonely journey for many including myself. We have our supportive circle of friends and family but there is always a void in knowing that as much as they support you, they don’t really understand the hurt and pain you are going through. Today, I want to share with you something very personal, very painful and very scary to share. My infertility journey.
When others find out about your infertility
When you get the courage to share what you are going through with others, it could be a very awkward moment. I guess it’s because it’s not a subject that is easily relatable or talked about. When you share your story with others, they want to understand, they want to help, but they don’t know how to go about it. They don’t even know what to say, and that’s ok. It’s ok not to know what to say. Sometimes all we need is a hug and a sincere “I’m here for you”.
What not to say…EVER
One thing I’m going to share, and I can’t stress this enough is this: If you have a friend who is struggling with infertility don’t ever say “relax and it will happen”. You are not helping, and deep inside they (including myself) just want to punch you in the face. Why? because deep down inside, most of us who struggle with this issue, think infertility is our fault. You saying “relax” is adding to the “is your fault” internal conversation within ourselves.
Believe me, I have tried it all to conceive!!! But unfortunately, some of us are not as lucky as you to just “relax and it will happen”
Most of us have probably already attempted the relax technique. I have changed how I eat – add more veggies, eat only organic. I have tried herb supplements, fertility diets, fertility herbs, acupuncture, reiki, tea, yoga, fertility massages, position A, position B, legs up. To care, not to care. Change jobs, or not even work at all, the list goes on!
I am constantly feeling I must be doing something wrong, am I damaged goods? Am I causing this? Am I not doing this or that? Am I eating the right foods? Am I doing the right amount of exercise? Too much? Too little? Add anxiety into the mix and it’s a never-ending circle of questions.
Somehow, despite all my efforts, I continue to be part of the infertility statistic.
1 in 8 couples will struggle with infertility. You are not alone Click To Tweet
I put a lot of pressure on myself and also my body with hormone medications that makes me even more emotional, more anxious and depressed.
It’s an emotional process. All for this miracle baby. Let’s not even talk about the physical pain one can endure as well. We’ll get into that a little later…
Honestly, it’s just NOT FAIR!
So, next time… just zip it! just hug me and say … nothing… or say “I’m here, what can I do“, or a simply say “I can’t imagine how it feels” because it’s true, you don’t even know half of it – and I don’t expect you to.
My infertility Journey –Realizing there was a problem
In 2012, I had a weird feeling that something was wrong. We weren’t actively trying to get pregnant but not preventing it either. I went to a fertility specialist to check if all was good with my body. I wanted to make sure that if there was anything wrong, that I would find out soon enough and get it fixed so that when the time did come to actively seek a baby, everything would be ready and it wouldn’t take long.
Dr. Wood found I had a polyp the size of my uterus. The giant polyp was then removed through surgery. Doctor Wood said, “you should be able to get pregnant in 3 to 4 months”.
3 months passed, 4, 5, 9 months… nothing…. nada, zilch! no baby!
Later in the year, we got engaged and then decided to forget about baby making and just enjoy the journey of planning the wedding. Again, not preventing pregnancy but not actively seeking it.
Realizing we might need some extra help
Once we got married in November 2015, we decided to check with the doctor again and make a plan to get pregnant. This time, actively seeking. I started tracking my ovulation, timing intercourse and all those things Google tells you to do when trying to conceive.
We decided to get some professional help and find a new doctor. Someone with a new plan, with a check-list of what to do and make sure to check every single thing you could possibly check to make a baby. We found Dr. Sueldo at the IVF clinic in Florida. She did all the tests possible, from hormone testing, ultrasounds, blood tests, to everything in between. You can’t imagine how one can get used to getting blood taken out so often.
Everything seemed normal, all tests were way good on the husband’s side! Enough to give him an extra boost in the ego! And everything seemed normal on my side. Nothing to be too concerned about.
There was a possible fibroid pushing into the uterus that might be the cause of my unexplained infertility and Dr. Sueldo recommended surgery to remove it.
July 2016, off to surgery, again. Laparoscopy surgery goes great! it seems that what we thought was a fibroid was actually a polyp. It was successfully removed. Now we are ready to start IUI.
Life seems to be on hold…
At this time, July 2016 my dog Lola gives birth to 9 adorable puppies. Nine! Can’t tell you how that shook my world. It was hard for me. Not just hard having to raise them while trying to recover from surgery, bottle-feed them and everything that involves taking care of those little ones, but how I wish I was the one pregnant.
In a way, it was a mental break for me. I didn’t have to think about me and my issues, at least for a little while.
I wanted to be surrounded by puppies and ignore for a few months the fact that this had been the hardest year of my life.
But realizing that, even my own dog got pregnant before me – was hard! it hurt down to the core.
Seeing Lola take care of those puppies and everyone on Facebook announcing their pregnancy – I wanted to die. Life seems to be moving forward for everyone else but me.
Facebook is full of baby showers and baby announcements –
oops! I got pregnant,
oops! we were not even trying!
You are invited to blah blah blah…
I wanted to delete Facebook, I still do sometimes. Not because I am not happy for them. I am thrilled and excited for every single one of those pregnant ladies and families that are growing, but I am sad for myself and for my empty womb.
Baby showers hurt. Seeing pregnant ladies shop for baby clothes hurt. A hurt so deep inside that it consumes me. Yet it’s almost inevitable to avoid all the baby-ness around me!
When you are in your lows, you are really low… add a bunch of medication and hormones to the mix, and it is definitely a recipe for some hard times to live through. The emotional rollercoaster is once again a never-ending ride.
I often ask what is wrong with me, why me? why NOT me? why…. there seems to be no answer.
Between Lola and her 9 puppies, I try to recover from surgery and we move forward with our plan. After taking all the necessary tests, in September we try our first IUI. What a great birthday gift that would be, right? but NO….
I got a big fat NO.
I knew that my chances of getting a positive pregnancy test were between a 10-15% chance, but a girl can dream, right? I hoped and wanted it so badly to be positive, but once again it was a NO. It was a no the first time, it was a no the second time but how about not working after 3 times! What is a girl to do?? It was a total WTF moment!
September, we got a no. But someone on Facebook did.
October, no baby for you! But someone got a yes… and they were not even looking for it (rolling my eyes here…)
November, my body decided to take its time to ovulate and we had a vacation scheduled, so no IUI that month. But what a great story it would have been if I say “we were not even trying that month and boom!” but as much as that’s what I hoped and dreamed for that’s not my story. My story is a big-fat-no-baby-for-you-again-month.
December came and I would think… Imagine if I get to start the year with a baby! that would be wonderful. I sang “All I want for Christmas is ….a baby!” Instead, I got a no again.
You can’t help the positivity
Every time I did the IUI I got excited, my hopes would go up. I would think “this is it! my journey will be over this month” then, my period would come and every dream, every smile would just get wiped away. You cry, and cry, and cry. No one might see it, but you do. every. single. time. because it hurts. It’s unavoidable to not break down.
You can’t help how you feel, at least I know I can’t. Not getting excited when you are in the two-week wait after the insemination is unavoidable. You might say, expectations are low, but how can you be a positive person and bring positive energy into the process if you do not get at least a little excited.
So, when the no happens, it’s like the expected but not really expected punch to the gut, that knocks the air out of you leaving you breathless, and weak, wondering what the hell just happened? What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t this working?? Why am I not working on the inside??? Why does my uterus think she is for decoration purposes only??
Houston, we have a problem!
After three tries with IUI, we meet again with Dr. Sueldo to make a new plan. She wants to review my case again and see what our options are. Possibly reconsider surgery.
She evaluates the fibroids again. This time was a little different. When we did the surgery in 2015, we decided to take the lesser invasive approach with a laparoscopy and just handle the one that was interfering with the uterus vs. removing all of them and go through a bigger surgery.
She suggests doing a saline ultrasound to really see where the fibroids are and to discuss a possible surgery again. This time – the big surgery… the one that needs lots of recovery time. The one that cleans the house and removes all fibroids regardless of their location.
Ready to try it until the end!
As it turns out, there are at least 4 fibroids hanging around my uterus. Two of them are in the wall of the uterus and surgery is inevitable. It requires 6-week bed rest and a 3-month recovery time before we can even move on to evaluate and begin IVF – if possible.
It might seem as everything is moving smoothly throughout, but emotionally I am a complete mess. No one can see it. I hide it, I don’t show it. I am used to people not knowing what to say and feeling uncomfortable when I do speak about it. I turn to my friends and support group on Facebook of those who are in their own infertility process to cry, to say – once again – that it is not fair, and that I am scared and broken.
It’s been a hard, painful and emotional process. It’s been a year since we met with Dr. Sueldo for the first time and I have learned that I am stronger that I thought. I am learning to be compassionate with myself and my body. And that I am enough. Just as I am. Without a job attached to me that defines me. Without a baby attached to me that defines me. Just me. I am enough.
I’m not sure where this journey will take us. I’m not sure when God will say it’s the right time to give me this gift. I’m not sure how much more I can endure this emotional roller coaster. I know that I really want this dream for me and for my family. I wanted it my whole life. More than anything else in the world. I know that we will try as much as life allows us emotionally and financially. (Yup! most insurances like ours, do not cover fertility treatments)
The sun will rise again…
If you have a friend going through infertility, just hug her. Just be prepared to wipe some tears, as there are way too many emotions that we are holding inside.
Be ok with knowing that you might not know how it feels, but feel good about being there to support them. And not just her, but the husband. This takes a toll on them as much as it takes a toll on her.
If you are the one going through the journey of infertility, know that there are good days and bad days. That you are strong. That you are loved. That you are enough. That most of the time, the emotions are amplified by the hormones you are taking.
Take one day a time and one step at a time. The next test, the next appointment. The next surgery. The next plan.
One day our miracle will happen. It will. And we will look back and be thankful that our journey through infertility has finally come to an end.