As some know, but many do not, this week has been National Infertility Week. The goal of this week is to not only increase awareness about infertility but to remove the barriers and stigmas that stand in the way of building families.
Infertility is an incredibly personal and private journey a couple takes and many men and women don’t feel comfortable sharing their journeys. Some feel embarrassed or judged. Others feel like a failure because our body isn’t working as it was intended to. But the common theme that almost all couples experiencing infertility feel is very alone and isolated. It is difficult to realize that WE ARE NOT ALONE in this as every 1 in 8 couples trying to get pregnant are diagnosed with infertility.
We have been struggling to get pregnant for nearly 3 years. It wasn’t easy to talk about a year ago when we were in the thick of it and it STILL isn’t easy to talk about now. When I choose to post about it I feel very vulnerable and uncomfortable. I have this internal monologue and fight with myself every time I share. The reality is I WANT to share because it is such a constant struggle in our lives but I also DON’T want to share because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want the comments of “It will happen”, “Just keep trying”, and “Just relax and enjoy the process”. I just want to share because it IS my entire life and the world around you has no idea the vast void that you feel…. The struggles and devastation you experience on an almost daily basis. Once diagnosed, infertility is a constant. There are no breaks because it is something you cannot escape.
There is also a stigma that surrounds IVF as well, as some people don’t believe in it and tend to cast judgement on those who choose to use it as their method of having a family. Adoption is often touted as an “easy” and “cheaper” way to have a family. But it is not. Oh boy it IS NOT. It is also a long, arduous adventure that is incredibly expensive and heartbreaking and, like IVF, does not guarantee that you will have a baby at the end of it. IUI, surrogacy, medicated cycles with timed inercourse are all no guarantees and none of them are “easy”. None of them are the “right” or “wrong” ways to start a family either...
But this is WHY we need to talk about it and be open about it. Because 1 in 8 couples are feeling THIS SAME WAY. 1 in 8 couples are desperate to connect to the other 1 in 8 couples roughing the same storm.
When we first started treatment we had no idea the number of friends we had who also went through various fertility treatments to have their little bundles of joy as well. This is so much more common than we ever knew!
As most know, last year we went through the most challenging and emotionally difficult time in our marriage (and arguably our lives). We had the excitement of FINALLY truly believing it was our time to become parents. After many tests and procedures we started our IVF journey and through the retrieval everything went almost perfect! But then we had once frozen embryo transfer that failed to implant. We went through that heartbreak, picked ourselves back up rather quickly and moved forward to another frozen embryo transfer. We thawed out two, one embryo didn’t survive the thaw so we thawed a third and transferred two. 8 days later we got the absolutely devastating news that these two didn’t implant either and it, again, had failed. That broke me in a way I can’t even begin to explain. I was in a pretty dark place through the holiday’s and had difficulty seeing any hope.
With time we healed and worked through our second loss and in March we felt ready to dive in again. It took me a full TWO WEEKS to gain the courage to call our doctor. But with a shaky voice I finally did and she was able to get us in a week later for a consultation on how to proceed with transfer number 3. I started to get some hope again.
But then COVID-19 happened.
ASRM advised that all non-essential procedures be put on hold for the foreseeable future as it is unknown how COVID may affect a mother or her baby. We cancelled our consult and are now in the long wait until the majority of the pandemic has passed and we hear that we can continue. A few months may not seem like much to many, but for those who have already been waiting years to begin their family, a few extra months seems like an eternity. The void is ever present recently knowing our future of a child is on hold. It’s all I can think about yet there is nothing I can do about it.
While this may seem like such a small thing or like “no big deal”, one of the toughest things for me this year is the fact I will be turning 30. My dream was to start my family at 26. As 26 came and went I was okay with maybe 28… and then 29. But 30 seems like such a big deal to me. I will not have a child this year. I may not even become pregnant this year. It’s another “loss” to me in a way and something I am trying to come to accept.
So as National Infertility Week comes to a close….
We’ve been trying for 32 months.
2 failed transfers.
& still nothing to show for any of it.
That doesn’t include the hundreds of hours of research. The thousands of miles traveled. The tens of thousands of dollars spent… and on and on and on.
We are 1 in 8
Know that you are not alone in this and there is no “right” way to start your family whether it is through IVF, IUI, medicated cycles, adoption, surrogacy. Whichever way you feel in your heart is the way to have your baby is the right way.