Today I am sharing with you all on a topic that some might believe to be too personal, or a bit taboo and that is even more reason why I believe that it should be shared. Before having walked the journey of infertility I really couldn’t say that I understood it very well, or even knew exactly what it was…. I mean I knew what the medical terms meant but the part about it being so emotional, and such a mental battle, the sad days that turned into weeks, and months, leaving one feel empty and cold, and alone…. I had no idea.
Getting pregnant with my first daughter wasn’t a struggle for us, so naturally I assumed the second one would be the same way. A few months go by and you wonder, and then a few more and I knew something was wrong.. I knew we were going to need to seek medical intervention, I knew that wasnt going to be easy…. As a mother.. sometimes you just know. I’m not sure really what the feeling felt like but I just had this feeling that there was something more going on. Sadly though.. it seemed easier in the moment to just push those thoughts to the side and go on believing everything was ok. As time went on I started questioning things, and wondering if it was me, or something I was doing or had done… the guilt gets ugly quickly… I reached out to some friends who had struggled as well … and let me tell you.. if you find yourself in the middle of the infertility journey it is soooooo important that you find yourself a tribe of women who have been there and understand and can support you, I’m telling you… this is important.
We finally decided it was time to seek medical help, so we met with the incredible people at Shady Grove Fertility…. they are lovely and from your very first phone conversation with them that begin to make you feel like you aren’t crazy and maybe there really is help, and answers available to you. That was at the 8 month point. They ran a bunch of tests, a few procedures, and finally at the 9 months of trying with no luck I was given a diagnosis. PCOS… Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and from the results of my test my doctor told me “it wasn’t going to be easy to get pregnant”. As much as I was looking forward to answers… hearing those words…. knowing there was a true reason behind all of this was also hard to take in. Another thing that was hard was that there was no magic answer or quick fix, infact moving forward didnt have alot of positives either. We decided to keep going…. at this point our first daughter was getting older and I was worried about what kind of Age gap they would have between them. We explored medications, and tracked cycles, and came up with negative results after negative result. It was depressing, it was stressful, and it was sad.
We didn’t tell many people that we were even dealing with infertility…. why? Because sadly people, even those who mean well will say incredibly hurtful things, things about topics and subjects they know nothing about. During that time there were alot of events and announcements that were very hard for me as well. I photograph newborns multiple times per week…. THAT was tough, but it was also really good for me, because in talking with my clients I learned that MANY of them also dealt with infertility…. they also know the sorrow and pain that this journey brings with it.
Did you know that 1 in 8 couples will struggle with infertility ? more then 15% of couples have trouble but still nobody wants to talk about it. It’s real, it’s hard and it’s most likely affected someone you know.
During our journey to a baby we also experienced Loss, which is so so hard… nobody can prepare you for that. After waiting all that time, and all those tests, and all the blood draws…. to finally hear you are pregnant, and then to find out your body wasn’t able to carry that baby.. the thing your body is supposed to be able to do is devastating. It’s hard to recover after that. We continued on and finally, we decided that a year and half 18 months would be when we decided that having only one child was ok with us. Not at all because we didnt think a baby was worth trying longer, or we didn’t want to…. we just couldn’t. I couldnt handle the waiting, the frustration, the sadness, the fear of loss again… it was much to great a burden to handle any longer. We accepted that our family was perfect just the size that it was…… it was that month that we found out that we were expecting again…. and it was scary. I was so worried that my body would once again fail me, that I’d experience loss again… and in fact a few weeks later was told that I was. My doctor had even set me up for a procedure called a D&C since all test showed the evidence of another pregnancy loss….. But God…… had other plans, and the day before I went in, I had to get another blood test per our fertility doctors recommendations, and I asked them to check my HCG just once more… even though I was showing all the signs of loosing my baby again…. Kyle and I began to pray, that whatever the outcome would be that we would try to see God’s plan for us, that we would be able to feel him working in our lives and that this whole experience would bring him glory. … shockingly the doctor called me explaining that she had never seen this before, but that I would need to cancel my procedure with her, as my most recent test results were showing a pregnancy with increasing signs of health. I couldn’t believe it, in fact I didnt and asked her to send me for a repeat test… which also showed rising levels of pregnancy hormones… Of course that whole first trimester I was nervous, and thought all the worst things. But, God heard our prayers and answered them in a real way and that sweet baby girl is peacefully sleeping in her crib in the room next to me as I type this.
What I want to most importantly share with you is that I learned a lot about infertility but I also learned what it is not…. and I hope in sharing this, you will also learn and can be a huge support to those who need it.
1.) It is not something I did– Infertility doesn’t discriminate for age, or race, and isn’t because I didnt eat organic, or work out hard enough the last time.
2.) We aren’t able to get pregnant because we are trying to hard– PLEASE if you take anything away from this, please remember this….. if you encounter someone who is dealing with infertility and you do not know what to say, please just say… I am here for you , and will be thinking about you, or praying for you…. DO NOT say…. “Well, Maybe it’s because you are trying TOO hard” Those are hard words to hear….. of course you are trying hard, and going to appointments, and reading books, and taking meds…. its something you want really bad…. of course you will try hard for it.
3.) Maybe its time to think about adoption- While I am fully in support of adoption, Just because someone cannot get pregnant doesnt mean they want to adopt or that its right for them or that the fact there are tons of women getting pregnant and unable to care for their children so they put them up for adoption is going to make this any easier.
4.) Just be glad you already have one child– Just because I already have one doesnt negate the pain of not being able to have more, I am very grateful for the child I have.. I never took her granted.
5.) It will happen when its supposed to don’t worry– Well you see I am worrying, thats why I see a doctor and watch everything that I do, and its wasnt happening also why I met with a doctor.. and don’t worry about it… sounds alot like… stop complaining about what you dont have.
6.) Annnnnd then there are those with all of the advice…. ” You should really start working out” , ” Dont work out anymore its too much for you”, ” Stay away from alcohol”, ” maybe what you need is a glass of wine” , ” you shouldnt lay out in the sun” , ” Maybe you are deficient in Vitamin D” .. and on and on and on..
7.) If you dont know then you just dont know- PLEASE do not pretend you understand what its like to wish so badly to be pregnant and the months to just keep on passing you by. If you find getting pregnant very easy.. that is wonderful, in fact its a gift…. but please dont try and add your opinions, or your thoughts about infertility or how others are handling it.
Please be as tender as you can with these women, especially around things like Pregnancy Announcements, baby showers, showing off your bump…. of course we are happy for you… we want you to find joy in your journey too… but it’s just hard. Some women may handle these things differently then others… I personally was affected too much by baby showers, or babies being born.. but pregnancy announcements were hard for me, and seeing women with their hands on their noticeably pregnant bellies.
My point is this…. if someone lets you in, enough to have knowledge of their infertility issues, and they tell you their struggles, and you are unsure of what to say….. dont say anything….. especially not those things above….. there is nothing wrong with just saying… I am here for you, let me know if there is anything I can do. Those words are real, and they mean something. Sometimes sharing about our struggles is half of the battle, letting people in is hard.
To any mamas, mamas to be, or mamas in waiting reading this I support you, I am thinking of you, and praying for you…. I would love to chat with you as well, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org