Happy New Month! The month of May is actually Mental Health Awareness Month and Mothers Day. In celebration of Mother’s we’ll continue to share stories of resilient women who have struggled with infertility.
When my husband and I started our fertility journey almost 8 years ago, we didn’t realize the roller coaster ride we were about to get on. But I’m glad I heard some stories about infertility and got some resources from past coworkers that helped us. This shows how important it is to open up and share our infertility stories with some friends, family members or even strangers in a safe environment. By sharing our stories, we can connect, give support, share resources and inspire other people who are still dealing with infertility.
I’m honored these brave women shared their stories with me and now to you. They may be 3 women, from diverse backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives but we have similarities and share a common goal to be mothers. Here are the ladies…..
1. Nikki Dolce is single, has a dog and is an Infertility Warrior dealing with Diminished Ovarian Reserve.
a – I know you’re still on your journey to be a Mom but what has your process been like so far?
I’m still on my journey to motherhood. I, like so many others, put no thought behind the possibility that I may not be able to have children. I thought it would just happen when I was ready and consciously trying, after my degrees, wedding and my finances were great and after I got my house… and… and… well you get it.
The thought to ask my doctor did not come until one day a close relative came over for us to work on a project. She walked up the stairs and said “I just came back from the doctor and (insert expletive) ya’ chick ain’t got no eggs! I laughed at first because it was just the way she said it. Then she explained it and I said, “Well, I guess I better get checked out too.” I had no idea what to expect.
In August of 2016 I had my well woman exam and a referral to the reproductive endocrinologist. In hindsight he was a good doctor, but at that time I wanted and needed a second opinion. His treatment option for me was to just get a donor egg. The cost was not outlined for me, they just told me that my insurance did not cover anything. That late winter I took a break. I was stressed and didn’t want to think about it. I did my follow ups and medication checks, and decided to change doctors that spring of 2017. The new doctor was more aggressive with supplements and helped me set goals. I was working really hard on my diet and taking my medications, then came the set back; I was so sure about this place, but I had no clue where I was going to get the money. The treatment alone was $14-18,000 and that was just for the procedure that didn’t include the medications and subsequent doctors’ visits and at this point finding a donor egg, the supplements helped but my follicle count was not great. I was working with an insurance plan that gave no support. I was increasingly discouraged. I had no friends or family who understood infertility. Everyone who tried, couldn’t help. At this point I felt like I was running around in circles. So, I took another break. I lived quite miserably for a while, trying to fill my time with activity, social groups and working out. I also changed my job along the way to one that would give me the schedule and the flexibility that I needed to get time off for fertility treatment and to work overtime for money, because this employer’s insurance plan also did not support infertility treatments.
In June of 2018, I heard about foreign travel for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I researched the clinic and found that for the experience, care and success rates, I was better off going out of the United States. And in November of 2018, I set out on the next part of my journey to be a mommy. This process took two weeks and since it was out of the country, I didn’t have to worry about the stress of work between the appointments. I did everything I could to relax. I did my best and it was an experience I will appreciate for the rest of my life.
After a total of three weeks (5 days of embryo growth, then 2 weeks after transfer) my pregnancy test came positive! I told only a few people about that first test and I was so excited that week. I called my RE and they gave me instructions to test again one week later but my second test came back negative. I went to my local OBGYN and my blood work came back negative. That was pretty much the end of 2018. I officially found that I had a chemical pregnancy on my dad’s birthday. It was so hard to tell my parents but especially my dad. He accompanied me on the trip and took care of me throughout the highs and lows of that experience. He was so great and patient. We laughed a lot and cried more. It was a tough experience.
So, at this point you have figured out that I don’t have my child… not yet anyway. I have not given up. The first 6 months of 2019 were a blur and I really hated it. I started feeling better after therapy and came to the decision to try again. The next 6 months were filled with self-reflection and trying my best to enjoy life. In the meantime, I would plan so that I could try IVF again; work on paying my debt by creating a realistic budget and saving, this also included paying back the loan I took for my first IVF cycle.
b – What has been your biggest challenge and how are you coping?
My challenge in all this has been making decisions. I continued going to my therapists (one who helps with multiple issues and a new one who deals with all reproductive health issues) and the things they helped me work through gave me a lot of confidence in myself and how to handle this whole Trying to Conceive experience. It took a while for me to decide when I was going to try again. I changed jobs again (because, at this point, it’s about the benefits), and still, no infertility support with this new job. I would get help with school loans though and with better pay and more flexibility, I continue to feel blessed.
By November of 2019, I hit a brick wall in research and organizing my thoughts and desires. I had to talk to God, well it was more like pleading and literally laying it all on that throne. One night at work, I took my lunch break to pray and meditate and God spoke to me and told me when I should try again. I felt a weight lift off of me and it was wonderful. So, I just had to do my part, keep working, saving, and not worrying
While I am waiting for my miracle, I have my donor, I found a new clinic which provides in house financing and up-front pricing. I am working and saving, my health (mental, physical and spiritual) has improved and I am working through my stress.
c – What specialists and resources have you used so far, on your journey to motherhood?
HERE are some of the resources I found and used on my infertility journey.
d – What have you learned throughout this process?
My experience has taught me a lot: 1. Trust in God and God’s time line for me. 2. Know my role, because I cannot control everything, I need to do my part and know I made good decisions and I am doing my best. 3. Find the highlights in this journey because it can be hard and sad, but it can also be a great time of revelation. I found out how much I can deal with, who my human support system is, what I prioritize and I am willing to fight for.
Overall, I am stronger and I am confident that this time, no matter the outcome, I am where I am supposed to be and going through this not only for myself, but for many others who wish to build their family.
2. Cherese Henry is a Fibroid warrior who survived 3 miscarriages. She’s also married and is now mom of twins (a boy and girl).
a – What was your journey to motherhood like? What was your process and path to parenthood?
My journey has been about 7 years altogether. I was diagnosed with multiple Fibroids in 2012. Post op, I was told that I had a blocked Fallopian tube and that pregnancy would be difficult. I got pregnant with my first baby a year later which ended in miscarriage. We decided to try again in 2017 and sought the help of a fertility specialist @ccrmhouston. To our surprise, I found out I was pregnant right after the consultation. Unfortunately, we experienced heartbreak twice again and gained our second and third angel babies. We decided after that to give In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) a try.
In May 2018 I officially started my IVF journey. After multiple tests, procedures, and treatments, I transferred 2 embryos in September 2018. We prayed for one healthy baby but ended up being blessed with boy/girl twins who were born in May 2019. It was a long, painful, and often dark road but worth every injection and tear.
b – What were your biggest challenges and what lessons did you learn from it?
I think patience is a huge one. There is a lot of waiting during fertility treatment and it can get extremely frustrating. I think society has us all wanting to race to the finish line. As with everything in life, infertility is a marathon, not a sprint. I had to learn to focus on short-term goals and celebrate small victories during this process. Sometimes, just getting out of bed was the victory of the day.
c – How did you financially prepare for parenthood? How did you pay for your fertility treatments?
We were very blessed in that my husband’s health insurance paid for most of our treatment and gave us unlimited attempts. We did have to come out of pocket for our deductible and a few ancillary costs. CCRM Houston was great about having agreements with some testing facilities to cover costs that our insurance rejected. They also helped with emergency medications when I was awaiting insurance approval or shipments. I know that is not the case for everyone and my heart goes out to those dealing with the financial aspect of infertility. I was able to donate some of my unused fertility medications to women in need.
d. As a mother one of the hardest things is having a miscarriage. How were you able to deal with 3 miscarriages?
MEND @m.e.n.d.1996 was a great resource and support for me. I went to weekly therapy with a licensed therapist. And at the point when I was suicidal, the suicide hotline (1 800 273 8255) pointed me in the direction of several resources. They also have live chat.
e. What does being a mom mean to you? What has been the best part so far?
Being a mom means that I chose to care for, nurture, and love my children above all else. There are so many ways to become a mom. For me, I felt like I became a mom when I cared for my angel babies in the womb. When the twins were born, motherhood felt substantially real and tangible.
The best part of motherhood has been watching my twins develop each day. That and watching their grandparents faces light up when they see them. My favorite moment so far has been when my son looked at me and said “Mama”. It was a moment I had been waiting on before he was even conceived. It made me feel like finally everything I went through was worth it.
3. Michelle Hammons is an infertility warrior, wife and mother to 4 children.
a – What was your experience with infertility? How long were you trying to conceive and what was your path to motherhood?
My husband and I tried for four years to get pregnant with no success. After, I got so tired of crying every month because I was not pregnant and everyone around me was getting pregnant and having babies, we were ready to try another option! We felt very strongly that adoption was not a last resort but first priority so we started the process to foster to adopt. We went to meetings, filled out paperwork and took courses for six months.
Then at our six months mark, we were asked to adopt our son. He was actually one of my speech therapy clients and we had been working together for a few months and had truly already fallen in love with him. So, when that Child Protective Services (CPS) worker asked us if we wanted to adopt him, of course the answer was yes! It was a dream come true.
Fast forward to 9 weeks after our son had moved in with us, we then found out 9 days later that we were 9 weeks pregnant. We were so overwhelmed in that God is so faithful, that he would give us two babies at one time. Then, when my daughter was 15 months, we found out that I was miraculously pregnant again with another baby girl without even trying. And when by second daughter was 4 months old, we became the guardians of my niece.
We struggled with infertility for four years and then God blew us away and gave us 4 children in the next four years, so we have been super blessed and super excited and thankful for this journey.
b – What has been one of your biggest challenge and what lesson did you learn from it?
My biggest challenge was remaining thankful in the good and in the very challenging times because I struggled with bitterness and anger. All I wanted, was to be a mom and watching others who did not even want to be a mother get pregnant over and over while I was trying to conceive, made me so frustrated. I struggled with their unthankful attitude and I had to overcome bitterness and resentment. As my heart softened and I was able to rejoice in the blessings that they were receiving I was able to be at peace, knowing that God had the perfect plan in store for our family. As we settled in such supernatural peace for adopting our son, God blew us away again and gave us three more children!
c – What advice do you have for other couples trying to have a baby? How did you cope?
I would advise couples to never give up. If they have a passion to be parents, that is a God given dream and desire. God wants your dreams to come to pass more than you do, and has the perfect plan for your life! God’s plan for you might not look like how you imagined it, but I truly believe that it will exceed your expectations. Also, rest in the fact that you are loved, you are not alone and that this journey will end with a beautiful testimony if you just DON’T give up.
d – How did you pay for your adoption?
We invested in the classes and courses that we took for fostering to adopt, you can find all different agencies in ways that you can adopt by going to Google and type in adoption agencies or adoption options in your local state or city.