For the first years and rounds of IVF, my husband and I kept our struggle a secret. It felt too private, too fragile, and I was too vulnerable to tell even our closest family and friends. Saying it out loud would make it true.
Eventually, as I came to terms with our journey, I became more open and shared with ever-widening circles of people. Almost everyone had their own or a close friend or family member’s experience to share in return. And in every case, we left the conversation feeling a little lighter, a little bolder, and a little stronger.
Such a powerful thing to know you aren’t alone.
Seven years ago, I made great ceremony of throwing away my birth control pills. I was 31, my husband and I had celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, we both had good jobs, we’d recently bought our first condo…we just needed to complete the picture with a sweet, healthy, little baby. After all, everyone else was doing it. So we “tried”, growing increasingly frustrated month after month. After a year, I went to my gynecologist and started crying in the exam room as I told her of our efforts. That was the first time I realized just how much I wanted a baby and how frustrated, sad, confused, and discouraged I felt. Still, I’d mentioned our struggle to no one.
We did a monitored cycle and lo and behold – positive pregnancy test! On the stick! At home! Oh my goodness, the joy. We told our families just before week 8. And then, during week 8, I had a miscarriage.
After the miscarriage, my gynecologist suggested IUI and we went through two rounds. Still nothing. After that, due to my elevated FSH levels, she suggested we go to a fertility doctor. Scary stuff. We didn’t know anything about anything – we didn’t know we could choose our doctor (we went to the first one available), we didn’t know what questions to ask, we didn’t know a thing about IVF. I didn’t know how to take care of my body or myself during what was the most significant medical challenge, thus far, my husband or I had ever faced.
Our first round of IVF ended in an early miscarriage and after the second unsuccessful round I knew something had to change. I worked up the nerve and called a friend. She had twins through IVF and was the first to help me realize I still had a hand in how my story was written. She reminded me I was more than my reproductive organs and that, one day, somehow, I’d be a great mom.
The next round of IVF, with a new doctor, protocol, acupuncturist, diet, supplement regiment, and a new outlook, we were blessed with our now 4 year old son. Three rounds later, we have his little brother.
I wouldn’t have known how much control, how many options, or how many other women I knew had gone through something similar if I hadn’t worked up the nerve to share that first time. I wouldn’t have known how much it means to have someone say “I understand”. And I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now in my career as a fertility coach without the belief that sharing, supporting, and encouraging one another gets us to a better place.
I encourage you to reach out to someone today. Tell them your story, ask for their support, or offer a hug or volunteer to be a mentor if you’re on the other side. You’ll see you aren’t alone and how much your story matters.