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Navigating Infertility

As humans, most of us want so desperately to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Our need to belong is why we root for specific teams, even though we never attended the college. Some of us join clubs whether it be art or sport related. There is a club that one in eight of us belong to. This club was not one we sought nor would ever wish on our worst enemy. This club, my friends, is the infertility club. It’s lonely, empty, and downright heartbreaking, but my hope is that my experience can help you manage it.

It’s Okay to Talk About it…or Don’t

Given I am writing this, I think you are fully aware of how much of an open book I am. My desire to open up to others about my infertility journey, whether they asked me or not, started when I was at my new job and many girls I became work friends with started announcing their pregnancies. Here I was married for three years and childless.

I noticed many would talk to one another about their pregnancies but not to me. Did they assume I didn’t want kids? I think some wondered and some just didn’t know. This left me out of many conversations that I really wanted to be a part of. They had no idea that I actually had gotten pregnant and that baby was still very real to me even though he or she didn’t make it very long.

I ended up opening up to several about the infertility path I was on, and through these conversations they learned that I did want to hear all about their pregnancies because I wanted to be in this club with them. They also learned that I was trying and very much wanted to be a mama. What I gained from this was a handful of gals that have become my tribe and been with me through my infertility journey– all three miscarriages, the adoption of my son, and my IVF journey to have another.

Take Care of Your Heart and Mind

I vividly remember being at a baby shower literally one week after our second miscarriage and just wanting to crawl out of there so fast. This shower was for a really good friend, though, and I really wanted to be there for her. I’m glad I stayed because not only was I able to be there for a friend, but it led to me discovering an outlet to help me get through such dark times.

The hostess of the shower did all of the baking on her own and I learned she would often bring baked goods to her coworkers. It was like something switched in me: I could bake for my colleagues and I really wanted to. I started a weekly tradition of baking for whatever national food day it was. This started in February 2017 and still goes on today. It just felt good. It felt good to bake something for others who appreciated it. Was baking giving me a baby? Outside of a food baby, no, but it made my heart happy and that’s what I needed at that time.

At one point, I also stopped going to baby showers. I almost ran out of the last one I went to because I couldn’t keep the tears in. From then on, I made a commitment to myself that if it hurt too much, I wouldn’t go. Some could say I was being selfish, but I highly doubt anyone living this would agree. You are your own advocate and do not have to subject yourself to anything that is going to cause so much pain. Whether you attend the showers or not, you need to take care of yourself. I also encourage you to find something not baby related to help keep your mind busy and heart happy.

Do Your Research

When my husband and I were tested, my OB-GYN referred us to a fertility clinic. I was new to the process and trusted the system. Not that the clinic we went to was bad, but I had no idea what their statistics were. I didn’t interview the doctors to see which would be a good fit for me, and I didn’t get outside opinions from women who attended other clinics. There is a lot of success rate data out there for fertility doctors that I did not check into.

No matter the fertility path you are on, it can all be costly. It is important to make sure you are choosing a reputable doctor with a high success rate for the specific procedures you are having done. In fall 2016, I had surgery to remove a septum. I was told the entire septum was removed. February 2017 we fell pregnant and I was so confident this one would stay because of the surgery. When we miscarried for the second time, I was devastated and didn’t understand.

Fast forward to a different doctor two years later, when I found out my septum was still there. When the first was removed, there was still quite a bit left that required a second surgery. Could the septum have caused the second miscarriage? I will never know, but I do know that my new fertility doctor is amazing. She wants the best chances for pregnancy and has poked and prodded me enough to make sure. So when you are doing your research, find an advocate for you.

Join Support Groups

The feeling of talking all things infertility with someone who gets it is the best. When I started blogging about our journey, I received hundreds of messages from girls who have been there. Some were open and others more private, but they talked to me about their paths and what they went through. A few of them invited me to private groups on Facebook where there were thousands of women who had been there and were going through infertility.

I hold these groups in my heart and always will because these women, who never met me nor knew me, answered so many of my questions about doctors, procedures, what to expect from the meds I was on, and so much more. It was a group of women who had each other’s backs. The beauty of this group is that we celebrated one another. Even though many of us had had losses or were trying for years with no results, we still celebrated when one of us would get pregnant. We knew the road to get to that point and our own path would not get in the way of their joy.

There are groups that meet in person as well. If that works for you or you’d rather hang behind your screen for some sense of security, I do highly recommend you join an infertility and loss group, such as this one. Talking about your extremely valid feelings and feeling a sense of belonging with others who get it is everything.

Join our community group here.

Be Positive

I guarantee someone just threw something at their screen when seeing that heading. Please, hear me out. This path sucks. It is long, sometimes lonely, scary, and seems never ending. What won’t help you is never getting yourself out of that mindset.

When we met our doctor who performed our IVF procedure, I kept saying, “if this works.” She politely reminded me this will work. She said you have to believe it. I think there is something to that. When we started this infertility journey, I made a decision that I was going to be a mom someday. I was willing to do anything to make that happen. Whether it be through fertility measures, adoption, or by miracle, I was going to be a mom. I didn’t know how, but I knew it would happen because I wouldn’t stop. This helped as we progressed through each phase because I knew I had a back-up. Knowing that calmed me.

My faith also came into play. I had many harsh conversations with the big guy upstairs and am sure he laughed at me a lot, but he brought us our son. Had we not gone through this fertility process, I never would have blogged about it, and our son’s birth mother never would have known we existed. Our son’s story is the reason I know there is a bigger plan for all of us that we just have to keep fighting through and know it WILL happen.

What worked for me may not work for you, but I hope you can take away the key messages in finding your happiness and knowing you are not alone. You are part of a club to which one in eight of us belong. The infertility club may not be what you chose, but you are among the strongest, bravest, most beautiful souls I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Stand strong, mama. You’ve got this.

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