Can you briefly describe your struggles with infertility?
I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 16. However I really did not understand what this would mean to my future until my husband and I tried to start a family.
PCOS is when you have microscopic cysts on your ovaries and as a result you do not ovulate on a consistent basis. Women with PCOS have higher level of testosterone which can make staying at a healthy weight very difficult and it also puts women at a higher risk for miscarriages and pregnancy complications.
We worked with our OBGYN for 2 years until she told us that there was nothing more she could do for us and referred us to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. This was devastating news to us because our insurance would not pay anything for us to meet with the specialist. When we had finally saved enough money we met with the new doctor. She gave us new hope.
After several invasive and embarrassing tests our doctor recommend that the best chance for us to get pregnant was through Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This involved taking hormone shots every night and going to the doctor every other day. Our first several rounds of IUI failed and 2 ended in early miscarriage. We were just about out of money and out of hope and our Dr. told us that she felt that she had come up with a protocol that would not only result in a pregnancy but would most likely prevent another miscarriage.
Our options at that point were to stop trying and come to peace living child free or try one more time. So after many prayers and tears we decided that if this upcoming cycle failed that we would be done. I had more injections, more ultrasounds, my husband endured more tests and finally the day came for the IUI. Everything went just as it should. We would have to wait 2 weeks before we could find out if we were pregnant.
The morning I was supposed to go in for the blood test I started to spot so I took a home pregnancy test and it was negative. I called my Dr. in tears barely able to speak. She had me come in anyway for the blood test. I tried to go to work after my appointment but I was so devastated that I went home and laid in bed and cried for hours. It was about 3pm and the phone rang…it was our Dr. and she said the words I never thought would come…”You are Pregnant!” I had her check the results several times because I thought maybe she had called the wrong patient.
2 weeks later we went in for our first ultrasound and I will never forget the moment when I saw the heartbeat…steady and strong. Due to my history of miscarriages I was followed very closely for the first 14 weeks and was able to see my baby that I had prayed and hoped and wished for grow and turn into a thriving baby.
When your husband was at work and you were by yourself and lonely, did you find anything that helped distract or comfort you?
Although my husband is not a chef, during that time in our life he was working full time and going to school full time so I only saw him an hour or 2 in the evening and at our Dr. appointments. Infertility can make you feel broken and alone and not like a real woman and for me it was hard to share my pain with my husband because he was gone so often. I found a website that was devoted to encouraging women with infertility and made friends who were going through the same thing. I made life long friends with some of those women. If anyone is reading this and going through infertility I just want to say you are not alone. There are many of us who understand your heartbreak and are willing to walk along side you.
How can we as mothers or future mothers best support you?
Please encourage us that we are a “real family” child or no child. Please just be “here” for us, tell us you love us and that everything will be okay. Please also be understanding if we don’t come to your baby shower or children’s birthday parties. It is not that we are unhappy for you, but that it is just too painful. Some may say that is selfish and maybe it is, but when you are in the trenches of infertility treatment, there are times you need to be selfish and take care of your heart.
Is there anything we can say or should not say to someone who is struggling with infertility?
Please don’t tell us to “relax” and we will get pregnant. Infertility is a medical diagnosis and relaxing won’t cure us.
Please don’t tell us we should just “adopt” while adoption is a beautiful and wonderful thing, it is not for every couple.
Please don’t tell us about your brother’s, cousin’s, grandmother’s friend who got pregnant after adopting or after xyz…those stories may be true. However they are the exception and not the rule and are painful to those hearing the story. Most couples who adopt never have a biological child and hoping to have a biological child is never a good reason to adopt.
The last thing I would say is please never say to a couple struggling “Maybe God never meant for you to have children.” I have heard that or a variation of that several times and it is cruel even if it is not meant to be cruel. We do not know God’s plans or why we have to endure infertility, but this I do know….God Loves You. He has a plan for you and His plan is good and His timing is perfect.
Is there anything else you can think of that might be helpful to other couples struggling with infertility?
The hardest part of infertility is that you are consistently going through the 5 stages of grief. Every month you start over with hope and at the end of the month you are devastated all over again. You are not just grieving the fact that you are not pregnant, but of what you thought your life would look like. Our daughter is 6 ½ and there are still days that my heart aches for another child, that I know will never come. Infertility changes you for the rest of your life…the pain dulls over the years but every once in a while a pregnancy announcement will knock the wind out of you and that is okay. Take a moment allow your self to feel and then move on.
My encouragement to anyone reading this is that you will be okay. You will come out of the dark pit that is infertility and learn to have peace. However you choose to resolve your infertility or if you and your spouse choose that you have had enough and live child free, it will all be okay. I recommend finding a support group to help you feel less alone. Reslove.org is a great place to start.
(This is Jennifer again . . .)
I know many couples struggle with this and I hope and pray Leanne’s words have been an encouragement to you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or if you are more comfortable, send me an email. Either Leanne or I would be happy to talk with you.
Hugs from one chef wife to another,