All week we have been celebrating National Infertility Awareness Week (April 19-25) one way or another. Some people have privately shared their stories and some have reflected on their journey and even publicly shared their struggles to raise awareness for this condition that affects more than 1 in every 8 couples. Despite what people may think, infertility affects all people regardless of socio-economic status and it also affects men and women equally.
Fertility or should I say infertility is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart because of my own struggles. This time 2 years ago, I was getting prepared to start my IVF treatments after 6 years of dealing with infertility and I’m so thankful that after all the blood, sweat and tears, I had my precious son last year who just turned one a few weeks ago. For more details on my personal struggles trying to conceive, read My Journey with PCOS & Infertility.
This year, I decided to remember my journey and inspire other people who are still struggling with infertility by sharing life changing stories of other women who also had challenges trying to conceive and have a baby. From now till mothers day, I’ll be sharing these infertility stories with you weekly. The beauty of it all is that these are women with diverse backgrounds, on different journeys but somehow have shared experiences because they had a common goal, which is to be a mother.
I am so thankful to each woman for being willing and open to sharing their most vulnerable moments and personal struggles. I also appreciate you taking out time to share some resources to continue to raise awareness about Infertility. I’m also so happy to see everyone with the children they prayed for and I’m in awe of your wisdom, your perseverance, resilience, boldness and bravery to push through and never give up until you realized your dreams. I’m honored to know you mothers and to me, you all are warriors, survivors, world changers, real life heroes and just bad ass women.
Here are 3 women and 3 stories. As you read, may you be inspired and hopeful. Also kindly share this post with your loved ones who are currently struggling or have struggled in the past with infertility. Spread the word to raise awareness and normalize the conversation about reproductive health.
a – Can you share a little bit about your journey to motherhood, how long did it take to have a baby and what was your process like?
When I was 22, I had my first emergency surgery to remove two large cysts that were about to rapture over my ovaries. One cyst was about 15 inches. The second was 10 inches. I never knew I had endometriosis and, on that day, I was told that pregnancy was not going to happen for me because of all the tissue scars and the cyst will be coming back. I was put on birth control to maintain the size of the cyst. After that, I had about two surgeries again to remove more cysts, which made pregnancy even harder according to my doctors.
Fast Forward to when we wanted to start a family, by now I’ve tried all the diets, vitamins and drinks, but nothing was working. After two years of trying, I decided to look into In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) because Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) would not work for me and was not suggested. I was told it won’t work for me until I have another surgery prior at an out of town hospital and had to get approved. This was to remove all the cysts and clean up all the endometriosis scars. After all the applications, I was approved and was ready to go in a few days. We made plans; my husband took some days off from work, we got our rooms, flight, and insurance to help with some of the cost. This surgery was over $24K, but 4 days before the scheduled date, I got a positive pregnancy test!!! Doctors still have NO idea how it happened; we just call it Gods Miracle. (Wow! So amazing!)
b – What was the most challenging thing for you and what did you learn from it?
My biggest challenge was not finding enough strength at times to keep trying, to have hope and have faith. My anxiety and stress were a lot. I constantly blamed myself and my body every single time I took that pregnancy test and saw the negative sign. It was heartbreaking and just sad, but my husband never left my side. He was ALWAYS hopeful and had so much faith! The biggest lesson I learned is that everything happens for a reason. You can try everything and anything, but if the time isn’t yours yet, then just breathe and it will happen.
c – What advice do you have for other couples trying to have a baby?
My biggest advice is don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a hard and painful process. I know this is crazy, but if you think about it too much, it causes stress which then makes your body weak. But, when you relax, your body will appreciate it. It was when we signed up for the surgery and had the month to relax instead of stressing about ovulation, that it happened!
d – The financial aspect of infertility treatment is one of the biggest things that prevent people from realizing their dreams of being parents, so how did you financially prepare for parenthood?
Sadly, our insurance was not going to cover our treatments. It was all going to be out of pocket. We knew we had money saved up to start a family and we were going to use that plus loans. Thankfully, we did not have to do that since no treatment was needed.
e – What does it feel like to be a mom to your beautiful daughter Nadia?
The best part is how she looks at me and up to me. Pure love! It’s the best feeling, my little best friend!
a – Can you share a brief summary of your journey to motherhood. What was your treatment process?
Jason and I started our fertility journey in March of 2017, when we thought it would be a great time to start building a family after surviving that 1-year marriage mark. When I look back on those first couple of months, we were so excited to start this journey and make our own little family. Months went by and with each month we faced disappointments as we found out that we weren’t pregnant.
After a year of trying we reluctantly decided to go speak to my OBGYN to see what the next steps were. We were prompted to take a few tests all to find out that we had what was called “unexplained infertility”, which essentially means that there was no evidence or direct link for the reason that you are unable to conceive. This diagnosis was a bittersweet one, because although technically we “should” be able to conceive, they couldn’t find out why. After meeting with an infertility specialist, we started the IUI process. Our fertility specialist recommended that we give this 3 tries before going to the route of IVF. We tried our first round and I just remember driving to the fertility specialist office and wondering why in the world we had to go this route, why couldn’t we have had it the “easy” way. Furthermore, the fertility office was so dreary, everyone wishing and hoping for the same thing. I intentionally tried to go in the office with a smile on my face in hopes to encourage others and to bring cheer, but even sometimes I couldn’t force a smile.
Our first round was not successful and you would think that after numerous negative pregnancy tests, I would be used to the pain but it really never goes away. The excitement of thinking that you are feeling pregnancy symptoms all to find it that it was just symptoms of your menstrual cycle are devastating. However, when the doctor called that day and told us that we didn’t conceive it still broke my heart. I remember that day so vividly, I remember going into my closet feeling absolutely distraught and just heartbroken. After encouragement and a lot of prayers, we decided to try again and go for our second round of IUI. This time felt different but I was too afraid to label any different feelings than before in hopes to not disappoint myself.
However, August 15th our prayers were answered, when we found out we were pregnant with TWINS, and my mind was blown, sometimes it still is. We now have 1-year old twin girls, Charley and Madelyn. During this year and a half fertility journey, it was our relationship with God that allowed us to have a new found hope each and every day. I also believed that God allowed me to witness others going through the same thing, to continue to encourage me to keep going. During this time, I promised God I would use my experience to help and encourage others.
b – What has been the biggest challenge for you during your journey?
My biggest challenge was seeing others getting pregnant without going the route we took. Although, I was genuinely happy for them, my heart still hurt at the same time. I had to intentionally unfollow others that had announced their pregnancy so that I wouldn’t randomly scroll across their pages and see a bump update.
c – What advice do you have for other couples or women trying to have a baby?
My advice for other couples or women that are trying to have baby is to know that everything you are feeling is SO valid. Cry, cry, and then cry some more, it’s okay to feel those feelings. But after those tears, know that there is hope and a future. If your hope and dream is for a baby, I truly believe that there are not there coincidentally, I believe that you will hold your miracle baby/babies one day. Believe in that yourself and hold on to that moment. When another negative pregnancy test happens or an embryo transfer doesn’t go as planned, hold on to that moment, to that dream, that vision of you holding your baby, it will happen.
d – How did you prepare financially to fund your fertility treatment?
I don’t ever think fertility treatments are something that you plan for. You are born into society where abstinence courses are so prevalent that you are never told that it’s a possibility that you couldn’t get pregnant until you can’t. So in regards to our savings/rainy day fund, it wasn’t really allotted for the possibility of not getting pregnant. When we found out that we would have to go through the route of IUI we sat down with the Financial Advisor at our Fertility Center and they provided information as to how much it would cost and how much insurance would cover.
It was really surprising how much wasn’t covered in our healthcare plan. We ended up paying half of the IUI procedure and insurance paid the other half, however we were 100% responsible for the prescriptions and medications needed during the fertility treatment. I would certainly encourage others going through the same thing to call their insurance company first to see what is covered in regards to the specific fertility treatment that you are on. I am grateful to learn now that there are resources for Infertility Treatment Grants and Scholarships for others that want to build a family but are unable to because of the financial cost. I recently found this great resource that lists the treatments and grants for infertility treatments.
My hope and prayer for this space is for other women that are going through Infertility or in the process of trying to conceive can encourage each other and believe not only for ourselves but for each other. If you are in this season of life, please know that I am praying for you and thinking of you. I can’t wait to see your miracle babies!
e – What’s the best part about being a mom to 2 little girls?
If I had to narrow it down (haha) the best part about being a mom to twin girls is their interaction with each other. They are getting to the age now where all they want to do is play and interact with each other. They always want to give each other kisses and hugs and it just warms my mama heart up. I sometimes have to pinch myself because I just can’t believe that they are ours. Also, buying matching sets of cute bows and outfits are so much fun and even sometimes 3 sets if it’s in my size (lol).
1 – Can you share what your journey to motherhood has been like and some of the decisions you made to realize your dreams of being a mother?
My journey to motherhood was a long one. In 2015 we started trying to start a family and 2 months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. Prior to chemotherapy I took preventative measures to freeze embryos and we were lucky enough get 3 high quality frozen embryos. Following my breast cancer treatment, I was forced to begin a medication regimen that limited my hormone production and put motherhood on hold. After 2.5 years we were given the all clear by my oncologist to start the family planning process again. I was lucky enough to have my cycle return and get pregnant naturally 6 months later.
Just a few days later, we ended up in the hospital and I was having emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that left me with only one fallopian tube. After grieving the loss of our pregnancy as well as the delay, we began trying again but had no luck naturally. Due to my cancer history, I was only given a 2-year window to conceive before having to go back on medication so there was an added level of stress and pressure behind each month’s failed test.
In the fall of that year we decided to take the route of a frozen embryo transfer using the embryos I had frozen before chemotherapy. We were thrilled the embryo transfer worked and we began to plan for an August baby. Sadly at 7 weeks we heard the dreaded words “there is no heartbeat” and once again we were forced to walk the path of grief. I lost faith in my body and my trust in the journey wavered. A few months later we were beginning to explore another frozen embryo transfer which was dependent on my hormones leveling out after the D&C. But it turns out my levels never went back down and to our shock we discovered I was pregnant naturally with our son who was born in November of 2019. It was quite a test of hope to the point where we got to hold Mason in our arms but are forever thankful for him and the experiences that led us to this point as parents.
b – What was the biggest lesson you learned from all you experience?
The biggest lesson I learned during our season of fertility struggles is that I am a better mother and a stronger individual because of what I faced. I do not wish the infertility journey upon anyone but I do think how you handle your hardest moments defines you and brings you a sense of strength and confidence moving forward, which can be applied to all aspects of your life.
c – What advice do you have for other couples trying to have a baby?
My advice to couples who are trying to start a family and struggling is to never give up. You are meant to be parents. Instead of giving up on the goal, change the plan for how to get there. Our path to parenthood didn’t look anything like what I imagined but now I know it’s made me the mother I am today.
d – How did you cope with the roller coaster of emotions during your fertility journey?
Here are some of my additional tips for coping with putting motherhood on hold
- Journal or document your feelings. Getting your fears and frustration out on paper can help you to process your feelings and let go.
- Give yourself a timeline for revisiting family planning. It could be 6 months or 5 years. Having a timeline may help you feel more comfortable with the delay and recognize that it doesn’t mean it’s forever.
- Consider talking to a professional. A therapist or medical provider who specializes in family planning may help guide your emotions and family planning decisions.
- Explore new interests and hobbies. Finding new passions can be a much-needed distraction and may lead to more fulfillment in your life.
- Invest in yourself. Making time for self-care is essential. Sometimes it may involve a bath or a massage. Other times it may be skipping a baby shower that you know will leave you raw and emotionally drained.
- Show yourself grace and patience. You’re going through a lot. It’s OK to have peaks and valleys of emotions.
e – What financial resources did you use to help pay for your fertility treatments especially after multiple delays and procedures?
Infertility is expensive and, in my experience, there are very few resources available to offset the cost. As a young cancer survivor, I was grateful to receive a family planning grant to assist and we had friends and family offer a fundraiser to help after our second miscarriage.
f – What’s the best part about being a mom now?
Seeing a human I created grow and develop into an individual is the most magical thing.
Thank you for reading. Now lets chat. If you have any comments, questions or resources, kindly share below. Also spread the word by sharing this post to normalize the conversation about Infertility. Finally, kindly Subscribe to my Blog and Follow Me on on all my social media pages.