your fertility stories.

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I had an evening full of goosebumps and teary eyes reading through so many beautiful emails this past week filled with your own heartfelt stories as many of you have worked to build your families in response to my last post. Thank you for taking the time to share them with me. I wish I could re-share all of them here.

One of the common themes I kept seeing in many of your emails is the pain often felt when commentary is offered up like, “just be patient,” or “I know it’ll happen for you soon…” or with secondary infertility, comments like “Well at least you have one!” or “But you got pregnant easily the first time so it’s not the same.”  While I have learned with a lot of time attached to my own experiences that commentary like this often comes from a place of the commentator trying to lend support, I have felt that sting when someone tries to tell you your pain isn’t valid. Mostly, they just don’t understand your pain.  And while someone else’s pain may indeed be greater, bigger, or ever so present, it does not invalidate yours, whatever your situation or circumstance may be. I am confident as we continue to share more open conversations around battling delayed conception and secondary infertility, we will better learn how to show up for one another and our different stories with a full show of support in both our words and actions. I really believe we are on track for that and it makes me so hopeful. Thank you for being individuals in this community who want to help shine a light on the complexities of this topic and give support and encouragement to others walking through it, however different their walk may be from yours.

A FEW OF YOUR STORIES….

“When my oldest brother got married, his in-laws forced him to get tested for a genetic abnormality that runs in our family and can create serious complications around conception and birth. He didn’t have the gene (thankfully). A few years later as my next brother got ready for marriage, my parents had the three remaining siblings tested just so we would know what we were heading into when we got married. All three of us were carriers.

When I was about to be engaged I remember being so nervous to talk about it. What if my almost fiancé didn’t want to marry me because of this genetic abnormality? He still wanted to marry me (phew), and after a few years of marriage we decided we wanted to start having kids. So we started talking to IVF doctors. I decided to post about it on my blog and we documented the journey there. Our first round of IVF we only got one embryo that we could implant that did not have the marker. By a miracle, that embryo took and is now our rambunctious three year old. We did a second round of IVF about a year ago and also ended up with only one embryo, that took and is now our squishy 11 month old.

I share this with you because we didn’t face normal infertility. In fact, we got pregnant before IVF but found out at our 15 week appointment the baby had died two weeks prior due to the genetic complications I carry. That ripped me apart. And then my SIL [sister-in-law] got knocked up by her boyfriend of two months. We spent all Christmas break with them at my in-laws and I cried every night. I was so desperate for a baby and so daunted by the process of IVF. And at the time, I felt like my SIL didn’t even want a baby and here she was about to have one. It all seemed so unfair. Not to mention the people asking if I felt morally wrong for doing IVF for genetic purposes (literally something I hadn’t even thought to consider until this oh so kind stranger asked).

Moral of the story, fertility treatments can be so isolating. It is such a hard burden to carry and there are so many reasons women go through them. And how grateful I am for this miracle modern medicine that facilitates the processes of fertility treatments! I know it can be so hard to share, but, like you, as I’ve shared my experiences so many women have shared theirs with me. Nothing made me cry more than when one of my friends who had confided in me their infertility problems (because of my blog) called me on my birthday to tell me that after 6 years of trying and a round of IVF  they were expecting their first child.”

–Emma

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“I’ve shared my story with very few people, because I worry about being seen as selfish for wanting more children and putting myself through infertility treatments when I already have two beautiful, healthy kids. However, like you and Josh, my husband and I feel strongly that our family team is not complete yet, and we want to do whatever we can to have the big family we feel God has called us to have.
I never expected to be dealing with infertility. Our first two children were conceived extremely quickly, and my husband and I used to tease each other that we were the most fertile people we knew. However, when we began to try for our third child- when our second child was 13 months old- I experienced three back to back miscarriages. Then we were unable to get pregnant at all for two years. Tests have found nothing wrong, just “unexplained secondary infertility”.
As we’ve begun the IVF process (I am actually currently recovering from an egg retrieval that was performed yesterday!) I’ve kept very quiet about it. Only my immediate family and a couple close friends know we have been pursuing fertility help at all. Battling secondary infertility has been isolating, because it is not commonly discussed. There is also a certain amount of guilt attached, since so many people are fighting so hard to have just one baby.
However, as you said in your book, each family’s story is their own. Pursuing treatment to grow our family is a personal decision that, to my husband and I, is so worth it.”
–name withheld

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“I am experiencing secondary fertility, which (as you know) is when you go through infertility after  a previously successful pregnancy or pregnancies. My three-year-old son, Clay, was conceived effortlessly, after only trying for one month. I assumed that I’d get pregnant easily the second time around, and after fourth months of trying, I became pregnant with my second son, Leo.
However, our journey took a turn when at 17 weeks pregnant, I received the devastating news that Leo had stopped growing. I shared my story here.
Leo was born in the same hospital as Clay, on May 4, 2020. It was the most traumatic, heart-shattering, piercingly sad day of my entire life. To birth a baby who’s not breathing into the world is excruciating. I know I’m forever changed by it; I think about Leo every day.
Anxious to try again, my midwife gave me the go-ahead three months after Leo was born, but negative test after negative test began piling up.
I began seeing a reproductive endocrinologist in October 2020 and experienced a chemical pregnancy/miscarriage in January 2021 and February 2021. I ended up switching doctors to an ANGEL, a true health partner (so important!), and we are working on taking care of a uterine infection that possibly has been causing my miscarriages. I fully expected that I would be pregnant again by now, and each day, each month feels so long.
But, I have hope, I truly do. People often say that they’re inspired by my strength, but I don’t think I’m strong. I’m doing what any mother (or woman longing to be a mother) would do and that’s this: you move foward. You feel hope, feel the hope die, feel crushed…and then find a tiny glimmer of hope that keeps you taking the next step. I daily picture what it will feel like when I’m holding my newborn baby on my chest, the relief and the indescribable joy. I can’t wait. That keeps me going.
I’m SO grateful to have a tremendous community of support, including friends who have gone through loss or infertility, and on the hard days, I text them and know that ‘this really really sucks’ is understood.”

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I haven’t personally walked the IVF road, but I’m actually holding the hand of my sister-in-law, Emily, right now as she walks it, and I’m reaching out to you about sharing her story.
Emily has had 8 miscarriages. Between her miscarriages, with the help of fertility treatments, she has had one rainbow baby, but otherwise, she hasn’t been able to keep her babies, which is why she and her husband started IVF in February. As her sister, it’s been more than heartbreaking to see her experience so much loss. When she chose to do IVF, I wanted to help her fundraise to put a dent in her IVF expenses (Emily and her husband had to take out a large loan to cover their expenses, as her husband is still in school). Emily didn’t want crowd funding, though. Rather, she thought of designing a crew neck pullover all about hope in an effort to not just raise money for her IVF, but to also literally give hope to other women, both in and out of the infertility world. We made a video of Emily’s story.  Her story of hope is here.

-Jeni

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“12 years together – starting a family – unsuccessful – partners’s testicular cancer – no sperm at all – what now – life decision – open donor IVF treatment – not possible in our country – what now – let’s go to Denmark (1300km from our place) – Covid 19 – closed borders – waiting – waiting – open borders but no flights – let’s go with the car (1300km one way) – successful IVF treatment – our miracle son Oto.
Sending you all the love from across the Atlantic, from small country of Slovenia, where I was told we were one of the first (if not the first) couple who speak openly about MAN INFERTILITY and CHOOSING OPEN DONOR (no identity secrets for our son).
Let’s just not forget that also man can have healthy problems and is struggling in this process – not possible to have his biological child.”
–Tanja

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“Thank you for sharing your story. For the past few years we struggled with secondary infertility, and now we finally have our little baby brother here. Before going through this I had no idea how painful it could be. The feelings of wanting to grow our family, hold another baby and have a sibling for our daughter were so desperate and intense that it is impossible for me to describe. I would start crying silently on the subway when I watched siblings play together, or if I saw someone pregnant. If someone told me they were pregnant I would try to smile and congratulate, then I would go home and sob alone in my bed. And people started asking questions like «Dont you want another baby soon?» or «The age gap is getting bigger and bigger!» I know they didn’t mean anything wrong, but it hurts so bad. At one point we got pregnant, but at the 12 week scan the doctor found no heartbeat and it turned out we had a missed misscarriage. I know loosing a baby like that feels very different to different people, and to me that loss was the biggest loss I have ever felt, actually much harder than loosing friends and family in the past. Because this was my child. I never got to hold him or her in my arms, but I carried the baby inside me for 3 months and loved it and prayed for it every day. And actually one of the hardest parts were that almost everyone expected me to get over it so fast. After the D&C at the hospital they told me I could go to work the next day, and I was like «What?! Im grieving my baby here!». That is why I think it’s so amazing that you share your story and put focus on this topic. Because if we tell our stories people have better chances of understanding and supporting. And anyone going through it can hopefully find some sort of comfort and support in knowing that they are not alone.

And we are so lucky to have a beautiful healthy baby boy in our arms now, and a little baby angle that we will never forget in heaven.”

–name withheld

 

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And one last beautiful story blogged in full RIGHT HERE by Chelan.

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I just want to close this post by saying I am thinking of all the families working so hard to start growing or build upon theirs. My email is always open if you want to vent or share more or just have a virtual friend from far away hear you out. You and your loves ones are in my prayers every day. And you’ll always find support here.

  1. Tara

    Shout out to those who are single and choosing to have a child as well! I’m 34 and knocking myself up via sperm donor. I want to be a mom more than anything. After an awful divorce, and a few miscarriage’s I’m starting IVF soon. Everything is this life is through the lens of a couple, but I’m very HAPPY with my life and my choice to become a mama no matter what.

  2. Cemre

    Wow this post is so new. I mean It’s good to know you you are not just a blogger also you listen your follower’s stories.

  3. Cemre

    Wow really good story. You are powerful woman.