When are you going to have kids?
I can’t count how many times we’ve gritted our teeth and casually responded to an innocent and well-meaning question like this. The truth is, we don’t know if we will ever be able to. Infertility has taken that certainty from us.
Our journey to parents has looked nothing like what we imagined. When we first started trying, we were filled with so much hope and excitement for the future. That turned to worry and fear as the months went by and has ended up being something that brings no joy at all. We were given a diagnosis of unexplained infertility after trying for a full year. Over the last couple of years, we’ve tried medicated timed cycles, impatiently waited for our clinic to open back up again after closing in March of 2020, had a cancelled IUI cycle, 3 subsequent failed IUI’s and a round of IVF up to egg retrieval which yielded some worrying results.
I remember the sick feeling I got after the call with the embryologist on Day 6 and realizing there was something more wrong than our “unexplained” diagnosis would suggest. I dove right down the rabbit hole and obsessively compared our results with others while waiting for the follow up consultation with our doctor. I spiraled into a very unhealthy mindset, which I believe was mostly grief for those lost embabies and fear that IVF wasn’t in fact, going to be our final step to building our family. As it turns out, our combined genetics just yield poor embryos. I spent a long time processing that particular grief and had a hard time finding a way to move forward with the FET of our one, precious, miracle embaby. I was paralyzed with fear. “What if this doesn’t work, we only have one shot at this”.
After some time spent in therapy and riding out the grief cycle, we have finally settled on a protocol for transfer. This will include an aggressive medication protocol and an ERA first to ensure that we give our embaby the best possible chance. We are also preparing for the possibility of having to undergo another round of IVF.
These last 3 years have broken us, over and over again. We felt like we weren’t doing enough or weren’t deserving enough. We felt like we were failing and that feeling quickly took over our lives. Month after month of heartbreaking negative tests, countless appointments, long days of travel, side effects from medications and multiple treatments have become our reality. Watching others so easily conceive around us made us feel left behind, like we were being forced from a club we so desperately wanted to be a part of.
I remember very clearly the moment that we realized we couldn’t live like that anymore. We very intentionally learned to focus on and remember what made us happy, outside of our dreams for the future. We have slowly learned how to embrace the unknowns and how to continuously look for hope in a future we have no control over. For me, this took an infertility therapist and connecting with the infertility community. I am the biggest believer in seeking out help when you can’t cope with something heavy. Sometimes we can’t do it alone and that’s okay!
I will never ever be grateful for having to go through this but I have learned to look for the smallest bits of light and positivity in the darkness.
I choose to be thankful for the lessons this has taught me:
I have learned to love my husband more than ever. He has put the broken pieces of my heart back together more times that I can count and he can always make me smile even on the worst days.
I have learned that our support system is even greater than we could have imagined. That those special people that we shared our struggles with, would bring so much comfort and help us through days we never thought we could manage.
I’ve learned that being vulnerable and speaking up is HARD but staying silent and hiding our struggles was far more damaging.
I’ve learned that it’s more than okay to put myself first. To ask myself, “what do I need to be okay in this moment?” and then to follow through with that answer. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself, especially when you’re trying to find your way through something so heavy.
I’ve learned that grief and joy can co-exist. You can live in this space of feeling these conflicting emotions all at once.
In spite of all these lessons and the moments of joy that we’ve found, this hasn’t gotten any easier.
The ache of something missing in our lives is still incredibly painful and there are no guarantees that we will ever become parents. That’s the scary side of infertility. We can spend tens of thousands of dollars on treatments and years of our lives and still not be successful.
But we choose to be grateful for what we do have and we take comfort in knowing that we will exhaust every option to build our family.
One of those options is adoption, which we are actively pursuing while continuing treatment. The thought of adoption has truly lit up our lives and brought so much joy. It feels right. Right in a way we haven’t felt for a long time. We know that regardless of where our infertility journey takes us, adoption will be a part of our lives and we will grow our family this way. We are about a year into our adoption journey (it’s a longggg process….good thing we have practice at being patient!) and while there are many challenges, it is something we are super passionate about!!