I think the saying is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or something like that. Sharing our journey is another way that I can help turn a negative into a positive.
My husband and I are one of those couples. I share our story in hopes that it can help someone else. No two stories of infertility are alike, but in sharing our story I hope that someone else out there doesn’t feel so alone in this fight.
And while I wouldn’t wish this battle upon my worst enemy, I also recognize that experiencing this provided me with a deeper insight into what is truly important in life, and a far greater appreciation for the gift of a child. Every ordinary little thing can just seem fantastic. Max could just watching Moana, eat a popsicle, or pick nose with no shame, and tears will well up in my eyes because I think it is amazing that I finally have this little baby who is growing into a little boy, and yes, sometimes he may unabashedly pick his nose and smile.
The best advice I can give to anyone going through this journey is to find a community to support you. Find others who can relate to what you are going through. Whether it is a supportive on-line fertility group or a friend of a friend, find someone that can relate to what you are going through. Find someone else who speaks the language of medical jargon like HCG, HSG, follicle, AMH, embryo transfer, Menopur, FHS, IVF, IUI and Beta. If you aren’t up to talking with someone (because sometimes it just seems too emotionally exhausting), there are on-line groups and books you can check out as well. You can find support and kinship all around you.
My husband and I are hard workers, always able to accomplish most things we set our minds to, but it seemed that having kids was a whole new roller coaster of which we had absolutely no control. We were several years into our IVF journey and though I felt like I couldn’t give up after all this time, as there was nothing I wanted more, I also felt like a fool for continuing to try when all I saw was failure after failure. People start to ask if you will adopt, they ask when you will accept that you might not have children, to just enjoy what you have. While you want to tell them why they are wrong, inside you secretly wonder if they are right and doubt your choices.
While licking my wounds from yet another failed embryo transfer a few years back, I didn’t know what we should do next, if anything, and one morning I saw an interview with Jimmy Fallon on the Today show about the birth of his daughter, in which he was exceptionally candid in sharing his family’s own experience with infertility. He captured so many feelings my husband and I shared about our own journey, and how hard it was seeing others so sad and disappointed for you. But his excitement about his newborn daughter was simply intoxicating, and he encouraged those going through the journey to build a family to keep trying, and eventually, somehow, you’ll get there. He said, keep trying! I promise, “it’s the most worth it thing…” That video will still make me cry if I watch it today. In the darkest days when I felt like giving up, I would go back and watch how his eyes sparkled when he spoke and how amazing it all was in the end. I saw that they got there eventually, and it was so helpful to know someone else had been where I was at that point.
An increasing number of celebrities are publicly sharing their infertility journeys, and more news stories are making it out there on national media outlets, disseminating information about new advances in the field. Bobbi Thomas, a fashion and style guru on the Today Show, features her IVF experience on the program, going so far as to show acupuncture and fire cupping procedures on-air. At that point in my journey, acupuncture was about the only thing I had not tried so despite some apprehension, I tried it anyway. After two months of treatment with acupuncture and my amazing fertility team, I was finally able to conceive and carry our son. Had she not shared her story, maybe I wouldn’t have tried acupuncture, and maybe THAT last embryo transfer wouldn’t have worked… but it did. I’m so grateful she shared her story.
After my initial round of IVF treatment, I reconnected with a college friend who had was an IVF girl herself, and she recommended I join a Facebook infertility group that she was already a part of. Over the next few years, I was lucky enough to have the support, love and understanding of those ladies. I formed close friendships with several women I met on the board, and though many of us have not met because we are geographically far away, they remain sources of strength and love for me. Whether in Ireland, Israel or Philadelphia, these ladies had my back.
Along the way I formed a bond with my friend Jen in Washington, who I met as part of the Facebook group. Shortly after I suffered a miscarriage she sent me a note one morning. She said that the night before she had this vivid dream the two of us were together in Orlando, pushing our baby boys in strollers around EPCOT. She reminded me of this dream from time to time, and how vivid it was – she was sure it would happen somehow. Not terribly long after her dream, Jen would get pregnant and have a baby boy named Daniel, and shortly thereafter I had my son Max. Last week Jen and I finally had the chance to meet in person for the first time when she was in Florida for a family vacation, and it was every bit as sweet as I thought it would be. Watching our sons high five was just the best, like, “Yay moms, we did it! We are finally here! Woo hoo! Thanks for not giving up on us!”
If you are also one in eight, know that you are not alone. We are out there. We are on TV, on the internet, on Facebook, at work, in your neighborhood. I share my story in hopes that it helps you not feel like you are in this journey alone – there is a whole family of infertility warriors that have your back.
If you would like to learn more about my personal story with infertility, please check out a Q&A session I recently did for INFERTILITY OUT LOUD, a website and blog created by licensed counselor and a fellow infertility warrior, Liz Strong. Realizing that people often feel isolated and alone in this process, she started her site in hopes that through sharing and reading the stories on her site, other couples would find it to be a place solace and support.