I always debate on posting personal posts as I know most of my readers prefer my home decor and tutorial posts. But something has been weighing on my mind that I felt compelled to share. I know many friends that are battling infertility and I wanted to share my journey and some words of encouragement and to let them know they’re not alone. This will be a long post and if you prefer my decor posts a new one will be coming up shortly!
When I met my husband 12 years ago, I was the girl that never wanted kids. It never crossed my mind. I was happy with my life and ok with never being a mother. Fast forward a few years and I am a married woman who is madly in love. When my husband approached the subject of having kids, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My mind didn’t change simply because he wanted them, but because I realized the reason I never really wanted them, is because I never really was in love until him.
We tried for over a year with no result and my Dr recommended we see a fertility specialist. She sent me a referral and I met with my new Dr. Well, from day one I just felt like he wasn’t the Dr for me. I can’t explain it. I have always lived my life by following my gut instincts and I decided to see who else was out there. My little sister also battled infertility and she recommended her Dr. Again, I just felt like it wasn’t a fit. Through a little research I found the Dr I had been looking for. He is one of the leading Drs in infertility and I loved him from the day of our first consultation.
We started with some routine tests and when those came back ok, we moved on to medications. He started me out on one med called Chlomid. We did that for one month and due to the expense of IVF we knew our only course of action was medicated IUI. Based on sonograms, my body responded great to the medication. I was so excited and optimistic that first month. When they called to say it didn’t work I cried. I mourned the loss of a pregnancy I never even had. It’s hard to explain that pain. Infertility is brutal.
The next round we added a few hormones. One included daily injections into my stomach. Not fun but necessary. The drugs were becoming more and more expensive. So added pressure began building up as well. The second sonogram also showed great results, and yet a few weeks later I got another call that ended in tears. Another loss I never even had. Infertility is brutal.
Our third round, even more drugs. Fourth round even more. Cost was adding up, emotional damage was being done. I gained over 50 pounds, developed cystic acne and was an emotional wreck thanks to those lovely synthetic and expensive hormones. Your love life is also on a schedule due to the Dr attempting to give us the best odds based on statistics. However, that schedule sucks all the romance from a marriage. We were going through this together and yet I never felt so distant from my husband. Infertility is brutal.
The hardest part was we were classified as “unexplained infertility”. That means there was no real reason or cause that could be “fixed” to give us the best odds. We were gambling and playing a guessing game every month to see if anything would work. Our Dr recommended that after the third round we stop and wait until we could afford IVF. We knew that was never in the cards due to the estimated cost being between $15.000-$20,000 for a single round. So, we decided to keep going and pray.
The things women may not tell you about infertility is how it changes you. Before this battle I could happily attend baby showers, and visit friends in the hospital that had just given birth. I could scream with excitement when a loved one told me they were expecting. That all changed. And I HATE that it did. With every announcement and birth, with every baby shower… I just became more and more depressed. Not because I wasn’t happy for them, but because as hard as it is not to, you wonder daily “why not us?”.
You spend your days and nights consumed with the thought. Many who knew me would ask questions like “why are you letting this consume you?”, “you never even wanted kids so why is this such a big deal to you now?”. Well friends, that was the worst part. Having to explain and talk about those feelings you just wanted to keep to yourself. Why was I obsessed? Because I felt like I couldn’t do the one thing all women are supposed to be able to do.
And to top it all off, no one could tell me WHY I couldn’t. My best friend of 15 years became pregnant right after I got the news of the fourth round not working. When she told me, I had to hug her and walk away. That was one of the hardest days of my life. I felt guilty for the thoughts racing in my head. I felt guilty for my inability to show how happy I was for her. The guilt doubled when she lost that pregnancy. Infertility is brutal.
After four rounds I was done. I told my husband “no more. I just can’t”. He sat me down and said, “Just one more time and we will never bring it up again. Just try one more time.”. I agreed because I saw the longing in his eyes. I was tired of feeling like a disappointment. I was tired of crying and weight gain and being broke. I was tired of all the questions and explanations. I was just tired. Infertility is brutal.
The overdose of synthetic hormones tricks your body into thinking its pregnant. You have all the symptoms. Moody, tired, hungry, breast tenderness… all of it. So every month I had convinced myself it worked. Everyone around me knew I was trying and I got many, many questions daily. And every time I said “it didn’t work”, I got the weird sympathy hug. I know people don’t know what to say or how to act and I appreciated the support, but I was so tired of feeling like I not only let my husband down, but I let down all those that were rooting and praying for us. Infertility is brutal.
I am ending my paragraphs with the same phrase to convey a point. It was the hardest time of my life. It was consuming, sad, frustrating and just… brutal. It doesn’t discriminate. It effects all types of people from all walks of life. It is on your mind 24/7. I spent more time in the Dr’s office and on the phone with nurses and specialists than I did with my own husband.
People try and help and say supportive things, but what they didn’t realize is there was nothing they could say that I haven’t thought about or tried. “Just stop thinking about it and it will happen.” “Stop trying to force it and it will happen.” “Get drunk one night and it will happen.” “Go on a vacation and it will happen.” “Try this miracle drug that worked for my friend.” Again, I know they meant well, but with every recommendation that I tried and ended in failure, it made those words hurt rather than be supportive.
On the fifth round we added yet another hormone to the mix. At this point I was on 5 different synthetic hormones. FIVE. With every other round we had potentially 4 eggs that could have fertilized. The fifth round we had 5. After what was to be my final IUI, I laid on that table and talked to God. I didn’t talk to him often back then. I said “if it is your will to make me a mother, this is it. I can’t fight anymore. I can’t cry anymore. I want my marriage back.” My husband and I didn’t tell a soul we were doing that final round. Everyone was under the impression we were done. I kept this one private. I just couldn’t talk about it anymore. I didn’t even tell my best friend or mother.
For the next few weeks, I went on about my life as normal. I had convinced myself it was over. That I would have to find a way to be happy with my life as it was. I told myself “I’ll just have really nice cars and take nice vacations.”. The day I was to receive that final call, I was a nervous wreck at work. My best friend who worked with me as well could tell I was having a bad day. She kept asking me what was wrong. I just made excuses.
At the end of the day I was still at my desk when it was time to leave. She asked if I was coming and I said “no”. She knew something was up and wouldn’t leave my desk until I told her what it was. I figured it was all over at this point so I told her. She teared up and said she would wait with me at my desk for the phone call.
Time passed by so slowly that day. I finally gave in can called them myself. The receptionist kept putting my on hold to wait for an available nurse to talk to me because only they could give out information. This went on for about 20 minutes. I finally yelled a the poor girl and said “The rest of my life relies on this answer and I just want someone to tell me now”. Her response was “I am not supposed to discuss this Mrs. Stewart but let me be the first to say “Congratulations.””. I was in disbelief. My best friends response waited in the balance as she didn’t know if my tears were from sadness or joy. I shook my head yes and she cried with me.
What I didn’t know, is just a few days before, she had found out she was pregnant as well and couldn’t figure out how to tell me. That’s what’s sad about infertility. She should have been able to tell me and because of how I reacted previously, she was nervous. Infertility effects every relationship around you.
So, after 3 years and 5 rounds, we had our little miracle baby. Our statistics on that final round were less than 2%. I kept telling the Dr 2 was better than 0! I write all this to tell those still battling, that you’re not alone. Those feelings and thoughts are normal. To not give up. We may not always understand the path in front of us, but it’s our path to take. If you’re still reading then thanks, and if this post pertains to what you’re going through, I’m sending you a hug. Keep fighting.
Infertility is Brutal