Next month, April, will mark one year of writing on this blog (you can read my first blog here). I started during National Infertility Awareness Week. And, while I’ve shared some pretty raw feelings and experiences that infertility has caused me to face, I haven’t shared our story.
My husband and I were married for a year when we started trying to have a baby. Seven months later, I wasn’t pregnant. I knew I was young and we hadn’t been trying a year, but I was inpatient and just had a feeling that it wasn’t happening for a reason. I had tracked my cycles by using apps on my phone, taking my temperature daily, and using ovulation prediction tests. I scheduled an appointment with an OB/GYN. It was a new physician for me, so I was happy to be able to meet her before I was actually pregnant. I was even more happy when I met her and she understood and emphasized with the uncertainty and frustration I was feeling.
In our conversation, my doctor learned that my husband was older than me and I had a history of irregular cycles. She ordered multiple tests for both my husband and me. She hoped that good results would make the process less stressful. I was so happy to have a doctor that listened to my concerns.
A few weeks later, our tests were all complete and we had a follow up appointment for results.
I was expecting a pretty quick appointment, telling us to relax and be patient. Instead, we found out that we were both facing fertility issues that left us with less than a 1% chance of ever getting pregnant naturally. Not only that, but the only way I would be able to get pregnant was if we did In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). None of the less intense treatment plans would be an option for us.
All I really heard her say was “You can’t have a baby.”
I don’t remember much from that appointment. Honestly, the only thing I remember is the compassion I felt from her. I think she told me that I would be mad, and sad and confused. That Bob and I would fight and cry and have some really bad days. That people would get pregnant and one day we would be so excited for them and the next day it would cause breakdown. I even think I remember seeing tears in her eyes. I say I think because I don’t remember. All I really heard her say was “You can’t have a baby.” She was amazing. She gave us both hugs, gave us information for the local fertility doctor, and told us she hoped to see us back in her office very soon.
It didn’t take long to realize that everything she said was true. The next couple weeks were a blur, but we were able to get in pretty quickly to see Dr. Shamma, our fertility specialist. He confirmed what we already knew: Our only option for getting pregnant would be IVF. He explained the process and we learned that he had a really high success rate. Also, because of my age and our diagnosis, we had about an 80% chance of success on our first try of IVF. We also had about a 50-60% chance that I would have twins.
Even though at that point we had answers, the weight was far from lifted off our shoulders. We now had to determine where the money would come from, when we hoped to try IVF, how to deal with pregnancies and babies all around us, how to keep our relationship strong, and, some days, how to function. We had to decide who to tell, how to answer people’s questions and figure out how to support each other. We had to learn to go out with our daily lives without burying our feelings. And, we had to learn how to support each other and ourselves.
That’s the beginning of our story. We didn’t know then, but sixteen months later, we would be embarking on our first round of IVF. I’ve found myself reflecting on that time often lately, as we make plans to try to have another baby.
Our story may sound similar to yours – or your friend, sister, coworker or neighbor. Or, maybe the infertility diagnosis is the same, but the details are different. Wherever you are in your infertility process, I hope this reminds you that you are not alone.
Melissa Kimball is a marketing communications professional who lives in Whitehouse with her husband, Bob, her toddler, Hope, and boxers, Blue and Bo. You can read her monthly columns by clicking here.