I turned 30 in 2009. That was the year that my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. We had been married for 8 years and felt something was missing in our lives. Maybe it was time to think about having kids. We always wanted kids, just wanted to enjoy some of our married life together before we did that.
I thought it was going to be easy. I thought I’d just get off the pill and bam, I’d be pregnant. I thought it’d take less than a year. I thought it was going to be such a fun and joyous experience. Boy, did I think wrong. I had no idea that I would be on a 5-year journey to try and have a baby. I was given the “I” word. Jen, you have infertility.
No one prepares you to hear those words. As soon as you get married, everyone asks you when are you going to have kids? Then it’s followed by, kids are the best. Just wait till you have kids. You need to have kids etc. The phrases go on and on.
The thought never crossed my mind, what if I can’t have kids? But this is where I found myself. Devastated to learn that I was infertile. Not my husband, me! The guilt, the stress, the confusion all set in. So now what do we do?
I didn’t know anyone that had gone through this before, so it was new territory. I knew there were options outside of what my regular OBGYN had done (ovulation kits, period trackers, clomid etc) but all I knew was that it was expensive and not covered by insurance. We decided to go see a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist (REI) to see what our options were.
We met with the physician to go through history and to come up with a plan. The options he talked about were IUI (Intrauterine insemination) IVF and exploratory surgery to determine the cause of my infertility. This was a lot to think about, but hey was good to hear there were options. After visiting with him, he directed us to go speak to his financial counselor and they would go through the breakdown of things.
As I sit here writing this, I go back to that room with myself and my husband sitting down with the counselor and feeling sick to my stomach after looking at the what felt like a menu and the price! Immediate thoughts, how can we afford this, what if it doesn’t work, maybe we should look at adoption, why does insurance not cover?
But…we really wanted to try. We’d figure it out. We started out with IUI. It was the cheaper option and I really thought it would work. Round one…no, round two…no, round three, I mean third time is a charm right…no. I didn’t want to keep doing this for it to fail, so I decided to have the laparoscopic surgery to see if the cause of my infertility could be determined.
After the surgery it was determined that I had endometriosis. The doctor was able to get it cleaned up and said now would be my best chance to try and get pregnant. I was so happy to know that there was a reason and this had to work now, right? The recommendation was to do IUI again. We tried 3 more IUIs and all failed. I was once again devastated.
My last option was IVF. I was really conflicted at this point. I just kept thinking how is this going to work if IUI didn’t. We had already spent so much money and had nothing to show for. Maybe this just wasn’t meant to be. My husband and I are a firm believer in things happen for a reason.
Both our siblings were having kids and lots of them haha. We thought, maybe this was our path because God knew that we could handle this better and our siblings may not have. Maybe we were just supposed to be the best Aunt and Uncle ever, which we totally are.
Infertility can really put a burden on a relationship and can sometimes ruin a marriage. We grew stronger in ours. We put our faith in God and knew our path to becoming parents was in his hands. We decided to take a little break to ensure that IVF was really the path. During this break, we met with an adoption attorney to see if that might be our path. Again, so many options to think about.
Also at this time the hospital I was working for was being acquired by a larger health system. It was a stressful time, but ended up being a blessing in disguise. I thought I’d look up to see if they had any REI physicians and they did, 4. I thought what a great opportunity to go and get a second opinion.
I am so glad we did. From my visit I learned that as a hospital employee that I would get a discount on IVF and that insurance covered a portion of medications. Still very expensive, but every little bit helps. During the time frame that we took a break, my endometriosis had grown back and I was also developing large cysts. To get my body under control my new physician recommended I go through forced menopause, oh joy! This lasted for about 5 months. The upside is I know what menopause will be like when it happens haha.
After lots of vaginal ultrasounds, ugh, my doctor said it was time. We couldn’t wait much longer. So I started the shots. Shots shots shots everybody!!! Talk about thinking you are a crazy person. I have to say this was the worst part. I cried all the time, was super sensitive and I was in a lot of pain. We were getting close to retrieval day when my doctor called and said my levels were not good and we would not be able to do the full IVF.
Picture me sobbing on the other end of the phone. There was an option to go ahead and retrieve the eggs, fertilize them and then freeze until my body calmed down. I yelled out yes. I didn’t want to go through this all over again. We proceeded with the retrieval. They were only able to retrieve from one ovary due to the other ovary being block by a large endometriosis cyst. 7 eggs were retrieved and 5 of them ended up getting fertilized. It took 5 days of progression before we knew how many would be frozen. 2 embryos made it and were frozen.
6 months later my body was finally ready to give these embryos a chance. So exciting and so nervous. The procedure was the easiest of everything else I had done. I’d know in week or so if I was pregnant. I got the call and thought for sure it was going to be negative, but instead got the best news ever that I was pregnant. Today I have a happy healthy 4-year-old boy that gave me the best gift possible, to be a mom.
There are more details in this story and I could probably write a novel, but for blogging purposes thought I’d end here. If you need someone to talk to or have questions, I would love to be a resource. I love sharing what I went through to help someone else in their journey.
To those of you currently experiencing infertility or going through IVF, here are some things I learned along the way;
Get a second opinion. It’s A LOT of money. You want to make sure that the plan is the right plan for you. The clinic I went to is open 24/7 and you are not on a schedule with all the women in the clinic. Your fertility plan is yours and customized to your needs.
It’s ok to cry and feel like a crazy person. It’s not you, it’s the meds.
Try not to take what people say to personal, they just don’t know what to say and are trying to be helpful.
Talk about it. I think what helped me the most was to share with people what I was going through. They don’t know unless you tell them. I also had a lot of people coming to me for advice with their own infertility issues. They felt they had someone they could relate to.
Do what is best for you. You know your body and your health.
Join a support group. This is something I did not do, but wish I had known about it.
Know that this is a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.
And lastly, know there are so many women out there that are ready to rally around you, support you and love you! Best of luck and again I’d love to chat if you need it.