Nichole’s Story: The Path to Adoption

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This story was submitted by Nichole, who blogs about life with her amazing duo at Love at First Smile.

I’m a planner! My entire life is a well thought out, well constructed plan! I think things through. I don’t make rash decisions. I make sure everything is squared away before moving on to the next step! I’ve always been this way and it boggles my mind that there are people who fly by the seat of their pants! Those people stress me out and I feel the need to make a plan for them!

I’m a rule follower! I do things the way you are supposed to. Society tells us the sequence of events for our lives and that’s what I do! I don’t stray from the rules…ever! (I am known to speed, so I’m not a full-on buzz kill.)

I’m also terrified of needles! There, I said it! It’s silly and ridiculous and extremely embarrassing but it is what it is! I’m talking the mere mention of a needle will have me in a cold sweat. Don’t let me see a needle or I’m going down! As a kid, adults would rib me about how I was going to have children and my answer was always, I’m going to adopt!

Before I married my husband, we, of course, had all of the talks about having children and how we would raise them… all of the talks that you are supposed to have. I had always hoped that I would adopt a child at some point in my life. I had known a few people who had adopted and I felt a certain calling for it. I loved the idea of giving a child a chance that they wouldn’t have had.

Boy, did I learn that when you adopt, you aren’t giving them a gift… they are giving you a gift.

My future husband was totally open to adoption too so in my plan I thought the ideal situation would be for us to have a biological child and then later on adopt our second child. I had it all figured out. Can you tell?

 I’ve learned that some of the greatest things in life were discovered by getting off the sidewalk! Infertility led to the adoption of two lovely daughters.

Now that I’ve given you a 10-cent tour of myself, here’s my journey through infertility to adoption!

Remember, I’m a rule follower! I got married when I was 22 and I knew that I wasn’t ready to be a mother yet. I was always terrified of getting pregnant before I was ready. The stars needed to align just right and my ducks needed to be in a straight, non-curvy, no bumps in the road, line! My plan was to be selfish for a little while: enjoy being married, travel, spend money on myself, do exactly what I wanted to do! I knew that for me to be the mother that I wanted to be, I needed to be able to give 100% of myself to motherhood, when the time came. That time was NOT my early 20s!

I’m a planner, remember? Well, according to my well-constructed, I’m-in-charge-of-my-life plan, we were going to start “trying” to get pregnant on our 5th wedding anniversary! That anniversary was celebrated in Las Vegas and we followed the plan. We started “trying” that week in September, 2008.

I believed we would totally have a baby by Christmas, 2009. We probably needed to go ahead and talk about baby names. We should probably pick out nursery colors and furniture. Writing all of this makes me giggle out loud. I just knew how everything was going to go because I HAD A PLAN!

My husband and I continued to “try” to no avail. After a couple of years, the word infertility kept creeping in to my brain. I wanted to be a Mom so much that I would literally ache. My husband and I considered starting out on the fertility journey but I was not on board with being poked and prodded and tested. Remember my fear of needles!

We started to throw around the adoption idea but getting started on an adoption journey is so hard! There just aren’t any resources out there that tell you how to start the process. We learned early on that with adoption, you either have a lot of money or a lot of time, meaning you can either spend a lot of money for a quick adoption or you can spend a lot of time waiting on an adoption opportunity! Well, we had time!

Adoption had always been on my heart and was always part of my plan. I believe that infertility affected me so that I could let go of my plans and the “rules” and go down another, different path than I thought I would. After lots of research, emails, phone calls, tears, and many late night talks, we decided to start the adoption process in 2010. Our home study was completed in 2011 and we began the wait. Since we chose not to go through an agency, we decided we would just let God’s plan be. Everyone we knew was aware that we wanted to adopt and we knew that when the timing was right, God would plant a child in our lives!

I’ll save all of the adoption details for a blog post on adoption. Fast forward to 2012 and we were blessed with not one, but two of the most beautiful, sweetest little girls in the world! They were 4 and 6 at the time they came to live with us, not babies! Remember my plan? I was prepared for a baby, not 2 little girls!

Nichole's very loved daughters. The family was united by adoption.

In August of 2013, the adoption was finalized and we are now the parents to 8 year old Hazel Kate and 6 year old Kellie Caroline and life could not be any better!

God’s plan was so much better than mine! We jumped in head first and we haven’t slowed down since! Life is so full and the biggest miracle! I thank God every day for these 2 little lives that we’ve been chosen to parent!

Our infertility/adoption journey was heart-wrenching, exhausting, sad, infuriating, and confusing. However, that 4 year journey was also marriage-building, motivating, and a bigger blessing than I could see when I was in the middle of it! I learned so many things about myself and my marriage during that time, but most importantly I learned that my plans are not always the right plans.

I needed to let go and get off my path. Otherwise, I would have missed the most incredible gift!

Many times, we have to let go of the way that we think life should be to head in a different direction. I’ve learned that some of the greatest things in life were discovered by getting off the sidewalk! It’s amazing what life can give you if you change the way you think it’s supposed to go!

Everyone’ s journey to motherhood is different and that’s OK! Being a mother is the greatest gift in the world, no matter how you got there.

Whether you get pregnant on the first try (congrats to you, if that’s the case), go through fertility treatments, adopt your little one, help someone else take care of their children, stand in as someone’s mom, or fill any other type of “mom” role, you were chosen for that role.

Make it count!


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Baby-Maker’s Guilt: Spontaneous Conception in an Infertile World

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(By Sadia.)

I was new to motherhood when I realized that being a twin mother made me a tourist in the Land of Infertility. I remember the exact moment that it happened.

I was at a meeting of my Mothers of Multiples group. Our featured speaker was done speaking and our questions had been answered. We were all gathering up our things to head out to dinner together when my friend said casually, “Hey, who else is going to the fertility clinic reunion?” A couple of the other moms responded, just as casually, that they’d see her there.

I fiddled with my purse, avoiding eye contact, overcome with the realization that for these moms, the “Are they natural?” question wasn’t just an opportunity to shake their heads at strangers’ ignorance. It was a cut to their hearts, a reminder of a long and hard journey to become parents. I thought back on everything I’d said that evening. Had I inadvertently offended anyone with my question about breastfeeding and birth control?

I was aware of the statistics. I knew that fertility treatments had resulted in a 76% increase in twin births between 1980 and 2009. I just hadn’t paired those statistics with my friends’ life experiences. With so many infertile women around, the guilt of being able to conceive easily is very real. The guilt that settled in at that moment has never quite left me. Conception was so easy for me.

We scheduled it just so. I finished up psychotherapy to make sure that I’d vanquished the demons of my childhood so I wouldn’t introduce them into my kids’ lives. We’d starting building our first home. I’d learned to drive, found a solid job, and bought a car. I spent a year on both prenatal vitamins and birth control to prepare my body. We were ready. We decided to schedule my pregnancy for while my husband would be in Iraq. The baby, we thought, would never know that Daddy was away.

We gave ourselves a 4-month window for conception and achieved success in the first month. Seven months later, I had two beautiful little girls. My husband hadn’t even had time to deploy before our twins were home with us. We used the second pregnancy test in the two-pack we’d bought only because I’d taken the first test way too early to detect anything.

It was so easy for me. How was that fair? I would have perfectly satisfied with adoption instead of pregnancy, but my husband wanted one biological child before adopting. And here were these mothers, these wonderful, inspiring mothers, who’d had to spend thousands of dollars, to endure disappointments and losses, to get there.

When women approach me and my children in public to ask whether they were conceived with fertility assistance, on occasion I see a hopeful light in their eyes. I feel awful, telling them that no, my daughters were conceived spontaneously.

Why do I feel guilty for the fertility that allowed me to be a mother? Motherhood is guilt-infused enough as it is! The guilt can be gift, though, just a reminder of what a miracle it is that I get to experience every day. Every conception is a miracle. Twins, even more so. And my identical twins, these brilliant, funny, energy-saturated, amazing little girls calling me Mommy every day? They’re the greatest miracle of all.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Angela’s Letter to Her Infertile Self

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(A version of this post was originally published by HDYDI author Angela on her blog, angelabickford.com.)

Writing a letterDear Infertile Self,

I know it’s hard right now. I know you’re struggling…

You think your body has let you down. It hasn’t. It just may need a little more time. You think you’ll never have kids. You will. Just maybe not the way you think or when you think you should. You wonder why all the people around you are getting pregnant so easily, and you’re not. They may not be, or they may, but you’re really just seeing it more because you want it more, not because it’s happening more. Try being happy for them.

You worry that every time you go to the bathroom, there’ll be blood on the toilet paper and you’ll be miscarrying again. Try not to worry. Find the joy in being pregnant and try not to obsess that it’ll all go wrong again. You stress over every symptom, side-effect, feeling because you ‘just know’ it means bad news. Relax. Let your body do things the way it’s designed to. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. You seclude yourself from friends and family who care because you are too depressed to do anything but read books on how to get and stay pregnant. Spend some time with them, they’ll be the ones throwing your shower and helping you with the baby when it comes, and you’ll need friends to get through motherhood too.

You obsess over every tip and resource out there to help you get pregnant and resort to bad tasting concoctions and weird sex positions to try to achieve pregnancy. These things aren’t proven to work. If they stress you out more, don’t do them. You’ve started to hate sex – it’s a chore now – a means to an end. Try to enjoy sex with your husband. Forget about the timing, the medications, the charts and restrictions, and the awkwardness. Be spontaneous. You’re going to need to get the magic back after your struggle is over, so don’t let it go completely.

You are scared to reach out, to talk about the curse of infertility, to share your troubles or relate to others who are going through the same thing. It’s such a shameful thing, to be childless. LET THAT GO, most of all. There is no shame in difficult situations, only lessons and hope, if you look hard enough. ‘Let your darkness be a light to others so they don’t hit the same rocks you did’, a great man once said.

You think you’re life will be over if you don’t have kids. It won’t. You may just have to learn to live it a different way. Remember, being a mom doesn’t just mean someone who gave birth. Find ways to be motherly – they’re all around you…

Love,
Self of Now, Mother and Overcomer

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.

Letter to my infertile self. Hindsight is wise.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Infertility: It Still Affects Me

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(This post was submitted anonymously.)

I’ve run the race, and I have not one, but TWO t-shirts to prove it.

I traveled the path of infertility. It was long. It was hard. But I have my twin girls to show for it. I am so very, very lucky.

My girls color my world with love and joy, the depths of which I never could have imagined.

Infertility should be a thing of my past then, right? A chapter I closed, to focus on the happily ever after.

It’s not, though.

Infertility isn't easy to leave behind, even as motherhood takes precedence.

I always said I wanted two children, and that’s precisely what I got…two brilliantly amazing children, whom I love more than life. I could not be happier.

Why, then, do I wince a little when I see a glowing mother-to-be?

Why do I switch to the other side of the mall, to avoid walking past the maternity store?

Why does it sting to hear about the “oopsie” babies…the declarations of “we want a big family”?

Why can’t I bring myself to read the “how do you know if you’re ‘done’” posts?

Infertility still affects me.

I know it will always be a part of who I am, and I hope it at least makes me a more compassionate person. But the pangs of wanting I feel? They are isolating, and they come with a lot of guilt.

Why can’t I just be happy with what I have, content with the gifts I was {finally} given?

I am. I am so very happy. And I can’t imagine feeling more content than I do, walking hand in hand with my girls down the street, or snuggling with them on either side of me, reading books.

Had I been able to have my two children by conventional means, would I still feel this way? I don’t know.

I don’t know the answers. I just know how it feels. I hope I can one day move past the rawness of the emotions.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Liz Wonders: Why Was She Crying?

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Over a decade ago, I pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall. As I pulled into the lot, I saw a woman pulling out of the same lot and could clearly see she was crying hysterically. I know it sounds like a weird thing to remember, but that woman has haunted me since I saw her that day. I’ve pictured what she was crying about as I’ve entered into different stages of my life.

Infertility CryingWhen I was in the dating world, I wondered if her boyfriend broke up with her in an ugly way.

When I got laid off of my job, I wondered if she was devastated not knowing how she’d pay her bills.

When I got married, I wondered if she just had a big fight with her husband.

When my mom got sick, I wondered if she found out she was going to lose a cherished loved one to a terminal illness.

And of course now I wonder if she had just been handed an infertility diagnosis or maybe had lost her baby to miscarriage.

 

Obviously I’ll never know for sure, but it’s fascinated me that she’s stayed so embedded in my thoughts this long after the fact

It has made me realize that no matter where we are in life, someone we walk past might be about to get into their car and cry. Or maybe they just got done crying and had wiped away the tears to face the world again.

When we see the woman in line who dropped the mayonnaise jar and tears well up in her eyes, it may be deeper than the mayonnaise. When we walk past someone at the mall and accidentally bump into them and they respond with dirty look, they might not be a rotten miserable person after all. There may be pain that is not as obvious as a billboard sign on their face.

The moral for me is that it is important to be kind to strangers because you never know what battles they are facing.

There are times I wish the world had been kinder to me even though no one knew the pain behind my smile. And kindness from strangers felt amplified when I was especially sorrowful.

I hope and pray I’ve offered a moment of kindness to a silently suffering stranger. But one thing I know for sure, I’ve definitely been that woman crying alone in the car. And I wonder if there was ever a time a stranger saw me and has wondered why.

Have you ever been that woman?

This post was submitted by Liz.  Follow her inspiring story of pregnancy after infertility, embryo adoption, and loss at Wishing on a Snowflake.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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“Legitimately” Infertile?

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(This post was submitted anonymously.)

Starting in about July 2012, I started to get the bitter feeling about not being pregnant. I was upset for days when I would start my period, knowing that another month was wasted and a failure.

In September, I started feeling upset towards friends and others that were pregnant because I wasn’t.

In December, I officially associated myself with the infertility community after we saw the results from our testing. But I had a problem: in the IF world, you are usually considered infertile after 12 months with no success. By the time I got pregnant with my twins in March/April, we had only been “trying” for 10 months.

How much pain and waiting before a couple can really consider themselves infertile?

So, where did we fit in? Were we infertiles? Could we call ourselves that? After all, I DID get pregnant through IUI. Or, did we just speed up the process, and would we have been able to get pregnant on our own, just after some more time? Was my self-made IF label a hoax? Was I just trying to belong to that community, or was I really in it?

What do you think? Is there a bright line dividing the infertile from everyone else? Who is legitimately infertile?


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Buy One, Get One Free: Affordable Fertility Treatment!

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(This post was submitted anonymously.)

This isn’t some heroic tale of how I overcame years of infertility followed by thousands of dollars worth of fertility treatments to eventually bear children. My experience was cheaper and of shorter duration. The end result was a beautiful pair of b/g twins. I’m sharing this for those women who are afraid to speak with a fertility specialist. I want them to know that sometimes there are easy answers.

Fertility treatments can be covered by insurance!

For six months we tried to get pregnant. Each day would begin with me lying in bed, thermometer in my mouth ready to capture my basal temperature. I would diligently chart every rise and fall, and spend hours studying the resultant graph, trying to make sense of my cycle. But I was generally confused by the timing of things, and was becoming more stressed with each passing day.

Each month progressed in a cycle of excitement and anticipation followed by disappointment and fear. I was a health-conscious teetotaler following ovulation, only to become a careless lush with the onset of my period, my need for release fueled by the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

I felt inadequate, scared, and sad. I had always held this belief that the women in my family were highly fertile: my maternal grandma had three children, my mom had three children, my sister was pregnant with her third. Was it possible I was wrong all these years? I stopped visiting my sister – her growing belly a constant reminder of what I didn’t have. I worried that stress was preventing me from getting pregnant, and became more stressed as a result. Everywhere I went I saw babies and pregnant women.

I would read news stories of child abuse and would curse the heavens for allowing these parents to bear children, while I, who wouldn’t so much as slap a child, remained barren. I became frustrated with the daily temperature tracking and would boycott the thermometer for weeks at a time. I began discussing alternatives with my husband and was disappointed to learn that he was against adoption. I felt lost and alone. I felt like my body had betrayed me.

In retrospect, six months seems like a short duration, but at the time it felt like an eternity. I was 33, and could feel the pressure of time running out. I worried that I had waited too long to get pregnant. Most guidelines recommend that women under 35 try for a year to get pregnant before consulting a fertility doctor. I ignored this and made an appointment after six months. I was too close to 35 to wait a year.

The fertility specialist began by inspecting all the equipment, so to speak. The appointment was scheduled after my monthly ovulation so they could examine my ovaries. With ultrasound they could tell that I had ovulated. They also examined my uterus via ultrasound to ensure a hospitable environment. They filled my uterus with water and blew air through my cervix to check for blockages in my fallopian tubes. This was the most painful procedure and unfortunately, the only one at which my husband couldn’t be there to hold my hand. The specialist also examined my husband’s sperm to ensure quantity, morphology, and motility.

All of this was covered by insurance. The insurance company covered any tests to determine a diagnosis of fertility at 100% of costs, (less the typical copay and coinsurance and after meeting the deductible). Treatment, however, would be out of pocket.

Much to my relief, the tests hadn’t revealed any problems in my own anatomy. The problem was likely my husband’s sperm, which had moderate agglutination. This means the sperm tend to stick together, and is likely caused by illness or injury. Basically, he had plenty of sperm with strong motility, but because they liked to travel in groups, they struggled to get through my cervix and up the fallopian tube. I was further relieved to learn that the solution was simple: intrauterine insemination or IUI.

With IUI, the sperm are washed, which facilitates separation, and inserted directly into the uterus. I was prescribed Clomid and told to use a daily ovulation test kit to determine the moment of ovulation. This would ensure that conditions were optimal for impregnation.

Like many people, we assumed that fertility treatment would cost tens of thousands of dollars. For some who undergo multiple rounds of treatment, this may be true. Fortunately, I had a friend who underwent IVF, and as she explained, the procedure had only cost $1,000. IUI was even cheaper: $465 a pop and about $10 for a dose of hormones.

Two days after my 34th birthday, I underwent the procedure. The result? Twins! After nine months trying to conceive, it seemed fitting that we would get two for the price of one.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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How to Support an Infertile Friend… When You’re Not

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5 ideas for supporting someone infertile, when you're not

It’s hard to know what to say or do when a couple we love learns that they’re infertile. It’s especially hard for those of us who had no trouble conceiving. It can become suddenly awkward, wondering what we’re doing or saying without even thinking about it to reopen the wound on their hearts. Being supportive without going overboard, especially when I have no real idea what they are going through, is a narrow road to walk.

I’ve been in this position several times now, and I’ve learned a few general lessons about what to do.

  1. Assume nothing. This is the big one. Don’t assume that you know how your infertile friends feel, what they need, or what comes next. Infertility is, by definition, a morass of the unknown. Ask questions instead of making general statements. Find out about your friends’ individual situations.

    Some questions you can (and perhaps should) ask:

    • Who are you telling about your infertility? Should I keep it a secret?
    • How are you feeling?
    • What are your hopes and fears?
    • What do you need from me? What do you want from me?
    • Do you want to spend time with my children? Would you prefer adult-only time with me?
    • Should I keep news about my pregnancy/children to myself?
    • If your friends have been through miscarriage:
      • Do you want to talk about the experience?
      • How do you want me to refer to the baby or babies you’ve lost? By name? As “the baby”? As “the fetus”?
      • Do you want to acknowledge the date of their death?
      • Do you want to acknowledge their due date?

     

  2. Recognize that every infertile couple is different. Knowing what one infertile couple has gone through gives you no understanding about the next couple you encounter. Every journey is different, from the emotions to the process to the eventual outcome.

    One couple may start seeking fertility treatment after 6 months of trying to conceive while another doesn’t think of their situation as infertility until 5 years down the road. One couple may be drawn together by their struggles while another is ripped apart. One wife may want to pour her heart out while another has a stiff upper lip. One husband may resent their inability to conceive while another doesn’t understand why his wife isn’t ready to adopt.

    I have two friends whose first pregnancies ended in miscarriage before they each gave birth to two healthy children. One considers herself the mother of 3, the other a mother of 2.

  3. Be there. Of course, friends are there for each other. It’s not so simple, though, when you’re a mother and your friends are battling infertility. Does it hurt them to have your kids around or hear stories about them? It can feel easier to just back off and let your infertile friends take their journey solo than to have difficult conversations. Do not retreat from your friends. Let them retreat from you if they choose to, but don’t assume that they’re better off without you.

    You don’t need to live nearby to provide support. A letter, card, phone call or text can mean as much or more than a hug or hot meal.

  4. Listen. It can be tempting to try to offer comfort in the form of positivity and advice. Resist that urge and listen to your friends. Let them communicate their pain, frustration, anger, amusement, bemusement, relief or whatever they may be thinking or feeling. Unless your friends are incredibly negative people, they’ve probably told themselves every positive truism in the book already. You can choose to be the friend who listens to them instead of telling them what they should do, should feel, should think.
  5. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Infertility can be devastatingly painful. It’s hard to look it in the face and let it rip at your heart if you have the option to avoid it. But if you really love your friends, you’ll let yourself feel their loss and pain alongside them.

    I’ve cried myself to sleep for my friends’ losses. I’ve felt the burn of anger on hearing news of yet another abandoned child, pondering the lack of justice that my friends, who would be such great parents, haven’t had the chance. And I’ve felt the flush of embarrassment and silly laughter hearing about the shenanigans that go on when the medical community gets involved in my friends’ private parts.

  6. Don’t say, “You can always adopt.” Trust me, they already know that adoption exists. Your friends will consider it when and if it suits them. Yes, we’re all well aware that there are many, many children in the world who need loving homes. But right now, we’re focused on your friends, and they’re focused on trying to conceive. If they choose to adopt, you can support them through that too. But it’s not your place to remind them about the adoption option.

    If they’re unaware of it, and the experience of pregnancy is their focus over genetic relationship to their children, you can mention embryo adoption. But do not say, “There’s always adoption.”

I’ve been in the unique position to offer two other kinds of support.

  1. Couples starting to use assisted reproductive technologies are often very concerned about the risk of conceiving multiples because of they know that there’s an increased risk of complications in a multiple pregnancy. My twin daughters serve to remind my friends that prematurity isn’t a life sentence, and I’m also sure to point out all the full-term multiples I know. Our family also demonstrates that having multiples doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Having several kids all the same age has its own special magic.
  2. I have offered to be a gestational surrogate to 3 couples I’m close to. None of them has taken me up on my offer, but I am fully prepared to host their babies in my womb for 9 months if that would help them achieve their dreams. I take prenatal vitamins regularly. I’ve talked to my doctor about it. My daughters and I have talked about what surrogacy would mean, and they understand that the baby would not be their sibling, that I would be the “belly mom”, standing in for the real mom during the pregnancy only.

If you’ve contended with infertility yourself, please share your story with your friends. Listen, first, but also let them know that they’re not alone. You can support them in ways I never can.

Simple steps to support an infertile friend.

What advice do you have on how to best support couples facing infertility?


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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A Support System to Help You Through Infertility

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(This post was submitted anonymously.)

I heard her mention it in passing, long before we began making plans to start a family. It was an offhanded comment about her infertility, made during a company dinner, something everyone around her seemed to take in stride.

I don’t remember how it struck me at the time. Did I pity her? Did I think it was strange? Uncomfortable?

For whatever reason, that slight comment stuck with me. And then, a year or so later, when we began to realize that infertility was going to be part of our journey, I thought about it a lot.

A support system to help you through infertility

I wondered if I should call her. Would she mind talking to me? Was I ready to open up with where we were?

I found myself traveling with her on a few business calls, the first time the two of us had ever spent any time alone together. Over dinner one night, I told her I wanted to ask her a question.

…see, we’ve been trying for a while now, and things haven’t happened for us yet.”

She was so compassionate, so supportive. She told me all about her experience, and gave me a general sense for what I might be able to expect.

I was very grateful for the opportunity to talk about our situation. Little did I know at the time how deeply she would support our journey.

Following our time together, it was she who initially reached out to me. She lived 2500 miles away, so I very rarely saw her, but she inserted herself into my life on a very regular basis.

Especially as we delved into the more aggressive treatments, she kept track of my every appointment. “Message me with your numbers!” she’d say. If I didn’t call her on my way home from the clinic, she’d call me. “How did it go?” In the depths of shots and prods and pokes, I looked forward to hearing her voice…she was my cheerleader, my confidante.

Of course my husband was supportive, accompanying me to appointments as often as he could, but her having experienced the trials before me provided an entirely different dimension to my support system.

When I look back on that time in my life, particularly with us having made the decision to keep our journey mostly to ourselves, I see her face. I hear her voice. From halfway across the country, she walked that road with me.

I send her a card on Mother’s Day. Not only is she a beautiful mother herself, but I can’t think of my journey to becoming a mother without thinking about her.

I can never repay her for what she did for me, but I can try to pay it forward.

Not talking publicly about our infertility makes it difficult, but I have served as a resource for a former colleague who approached me very sheepishly, asking if we’d had “help” with our girls. By the incredibly respectful way he asked, I knew he had a reason. I was so thankful to be able to cheer him and his wife on as they trekked to appointment after appointment.  And every time I see pictures of his children, I feel a special sense of joy.

women_support_groupsI share this part of my story to underscore the importance of a support system when you’re going through infertility. Whether that support comes from your partner, your friend or family member…or from someone you rarely see or know only online…reach out. You don’t have to travel this journey alone.

And for those of us who’ve been there, may we remember the things that helped us along our way. May we look for opportunities to pay them forward.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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My Story: Taking Our Infertility One Step at a Time

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I got married young, at 23, but the plan was for us to focus on our careers for a while. We worked hard, and we played hard. We loved those first few years of marriage.

As I entered my late 20’s, having been married five years, and having reached a really good place professionally, we started thinking about having a baby. The time was right, and we were ready.

As a Type A person, I had everything planned out. I stopped taking birth control in late 2004. We waited a few months to officially start trying, and in the meantime, I stopped drinking caffeine and started eating by the Food Guide Pyramid. I read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility[although I skipped the chapter on infertility; that didn’t apply to me]. I was charting my cycles, taking my temperature each morning. I wanted to be pregnant by the time I turned 30, in February 2006.

One step

After charting my cycle for a few months, I noticed my cycles were really long…55 to 60 days. I didn’t want to believe anything could be wrong, though. It was just my body adjusting to being off the birth control, right???

The books said that a woman at my age should be pregnant within a year. I vowed to be patient…but after six months, given what I was seeing with my cycles, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN.

He ran some preliminary tests, and my husband had a sperm count done. Everything checked out, so my doctor put me on Clomid. Again, I vowed to be patient, not to stress about it. It would happen, right???

After six rounds of Clomid, my OB/GYN referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist in the nearest metropolitan area, about 75 miles away. I got to know every stretch of that 150-mile round trip all too well.

During my first vaginal ultrasound, I heard the term “string of pearls” said by the technician to the doctor. My heart sank. By that time I’d read the chapter on infertility, and I knew that meant something was wrong. I was diagnosed with PCOS.

My husband also underwent more testing. While his sperm count was normal, an SPA test revealed a low penetration rate. The normal range begins at 5.0, and his was 1.7.

At least we had a diagnosis, though. It was validating to know that it wasn’t just me “not having been able to relax”. (That makes my blood pressure rise just to type it!) Having a diagnosis meant we could move forward, right???

Psychologically, a big part of my coping mechanism was taking things slowly…believing it would happen for us…forcing myself to step back from the calendar, from my biological clock. In stark contrast to my Type A personality, I vowed to be patient, to go with the flow.

Ultimately, we did six rounds of Clomid…then four rounds of Clomid + IUI…followed by three rounds of injectables + IUI…before we considered IVF. I wanted to follow the least-invasive method. We gave it our best shot.

With those options exhausted, we met with our doctor and decided that IVF with ICSI was the next step for our family. It was a huge relief to have made that decision. I felt like we had “paid our dues” through the process (part of the psychological game I played with myself). I felt confident. I felt excited.

We had a couple of setbacks leading up to IVF. A problem was discovered with my thyroid, and then I had an abnormal blood screening. That was my lowest point. We’d taken all the steps, and then made the Big IVF Decision.  I broke down. I went from feeling confident, to feeling defeated. What if this wasn’t in the plans for us???

Although that news delayed our progress for a couple of months, we were able to control my thyroid pretty easily, and the abnormal blood screening turned out to be a fluke. Finally, we were ready to take the plunge in May 2008.

We implanted two embryos, and in January 2009, I gave birth to our twin girls.

It was a long, hard road. Not only has motherhood changed me, of course, but that experience did, too. I never would have asked for that to be our path, but I am a stronger, more compassionate person because of it. That long, winding road brought us to our children, and we are eternally grateful.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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