Keeping the Infertility Conversation Going {Infertility Awareness}

To the people reading this post because they saw the word – infertility – and thought they were going to find the magic answer in my blog post, I’m sorry. I’m sorry because there is no magic answer, and no right way. No right decision. No perfect solution. I’m also sorry because my bout in the world of infertility is secondary, and it measures as a mere blip on the scale that others have navigated.  I have two children, less than 27 months apart, I don’t really belong in a series on infertility. I know this, and I know I’m lucky, and I thank the heavens daily for what I have. But I’m still sorry, and I can say sorry to you in a way other than the I-don’t-know-how-to-handle-you-so-I’m-saying-sorry type of way.  I felt the pain, the loneliness, the jealousy, wanting, yearning, needing, the stinging tears, the awkward conversations, embarrassment, and the feelings of pure womanly failure. I love you, I might not know you, but I promise I’m loving you – with tears pricking the back of my eyes as I type. I love you, and I’m so sorry, and I don’t want you to be alone. And this SUCKS.

So, here it goes… HMB sure has me over sharing these days! I got pregnant with my daughter in December 2010 very easily, and then “accidentally” {part time pumping/loose charting are not actually effective birth control} got pregnant again when she was around 8 months old.   Now, I’m air quoting accidentally because we were ready for another baby but had “planned” on waiting a few more months, so this was a little surprising, but not actually life altering accidentally. Two pregnancies. Two first “tries”. Schnure_20 cropI was lucky, and I knew it. I remember having a conversation with my cousin that it was okay that we got lucky with this fertility thing because we had lost our Mothers. Lesson to Sarah :: Don’t taunt the Universe with trade-offs. Fast forward to July 2012 and my 14 week OB appointment. My little world stopped itself in its tracks. No heartbeat, Trisomy, D&C, no more pregnancy. EVERYONE – those capital letters are not in any means an exaggeration – in my world was pregnant. In hindsight, everyone is just always pregnant in this season of our lives, but I couldn’t see it through the haze. I tried so very hard to be strong, so hard to keep my heart open and my mind clear and y’all…it’s really, really hard. I was cleared to try again somewhere around September and assured that this WOULD NEVER happen to me again, my 1 in 5000.

Let’s fast forward again – 2 chemical pregnancies later – like as in – if you weren’t charting and obsessing and taking tests early you’d just think you were late that month. I was underwhelmed with how my OB had handled my miscarriage but made an appointment anyways and had to beg for them to run a repeated pregnancy loss panel, which came back with no glaring outliers. They deemed this was just a fluke, ignored my charts and temps, my worries and questions, and sent me on my way with the “keep trying – we know you can get pregnant” school of thought. I couldn’t accept that. I became empowered. I engulfed every single blog and message board thread on anything I could get my hands on related to pregnancy after miscarriage, multiple miscarriages, and secondary infertility. I had probably hundreds of conversations and texts with dear friends who knew the ropes. Another chemical pregnancy. My employer provides amazing Employee Counseling and Work Life Services, and with the gentle persuading of my husband, I took advantage. A new baby, losing my Mother, a late miscarriage, and 3 chemical pregnancies within a 16 month span is a lot, and it was so hard to admit I needed some help.

It was January 2012, my original due date was looming, a date I was dreading with ever fiber of my being. I know myself – I needed to be in complete control {in control of something uncontrollable}, and my research was no longer keeping me fueled. I needed action! jacknewbornerinWith a good friend’s urging, I started acupuncture {it doesn’t hurt at all!} and found a reproductive endocrinologist {RE}. I can’t even type RE without smiling because this man, this doctor, is the most caring, patient, amazing doctor I’ve ever met in my entire life. Appointment #1 was so scary. I braced myself for all the scary infertility words/acronyms and to hear how I was broken. I told him my story, pulled out my manila folder full of charts I had printed off Fertility Friend, and he not only studied them – but he asked to make copies! {Which of course I already had ready for him.} I knew I was in the right place in that moment. I knew that I had taken as much control as possible of the situation, and it felt good, real good. He drew blood, scheduled another blood draw for 7 days after ovulation, and told me he didn’t think I would be his patient for long. That cycle I had another chemical pregnancy. He wasn’t surprised – my progesterone level came back at 4, a number he wanted to be at least 10 and more appropriately 15+ to maintain a pregnancy. He gave me clomid to try and jump start my progesterone production as well as a progesterone supplements to take as soon as I ovulated. I was pregnant with Jack that cycle.

I felt almost normal for the first time in months, and with every ultrasound my obsessions and compulsions about getting and staying pregnant started to go away. {Pregnancy after miscarriage is a whole other blog post!} I delivered a beautiful baby boy in November {with a new OB}, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain the feelings exchanged between my husband and I in that recovery room. If you’ve lived it – in any sense – you know it. The feelings were amazing when my daughter was born, but the high was even higher this time. The appreciation and gratitude for that moment are inexplicable and will never be lost upon us.

Looking back, this time in my life feels like eternity, but as I sit here and write, I am realizing it was mere months. 6 months. The same nearly 6 months that have flown by since my son was born, and I couldn’t tell you where a second of that time went. I’m not a fan of using the word literally outside of sarcasm because its so often used very incorrectly. But I LITERALLY do not know how the infertility warriors do it. I know you just do it because there is no other choice. You have to keep moving, that’s what life is. I know it such a lonely taboo journey. I know the feelings that it stirs inside of you are ugly and scary. I lived for a moment the deep darkness, and I commend you for staying the course. But, I hope you know that you are not alone. I hope you have someone listening, who understands. I hope that no matter what has put you in this journey – age, money, miscarriage, genetics, bad luck, whatever – I hope that you know it sucks. And it’s perfectly okay to say that out loud. I also hope if you haven’t been put in this journey, you take the care and consideration of those that you hold dear that have. They need you to just listen. ASK THEM how they are doing, and then just listen. And remember them in your choice of words, or actions, or jokes. Inadvertently kicking the dog when he is down, is still kicking the dog. Lift them up! However you do this – Hallmark! Payers! Just-thinking-of-YOU texts! Starbucks Treats! Or just send them a pizza – it’s amazing what a little Dominos can do for a person!

Again, I know my toes barely dipped into the label of infertility, but I did learn a lot about myself during this time. I look at things different. I’m more careful with relationships and better at setting my own expectations with people. I know that nonchalant statements can ruin someone’s day. I learned you have to advocate for yourself – this journey is about you and what you want. It’s not going to just fall into your lap. feetIf something doesn’t feel right or sound right, or no one is listening, go find someone else to talk to. There are amazing resources on the Fertility Friend and Baby Center message boards, go and educate yourself. I also can’t stress enough the therapeutic healing that comes with speaking about infertility to those in your life and sharing your story to those that might be encouraged by it. And if you are on the other side of the coin, actively listening to anyone reaching out, it is only going to make this better. Less scary. Less lonely. I can’t tell you the number of friends I have made through email. I’ve never met most of them. We’ve connected because their friend asked me to email them knowing I wasn’t afraid to talk about this. Keep the conversation going my friends, keep on talking! And if you need a great RE rec in Houston or you find yourself alone in this journey, or just need someone to tell your story to, feel free to send me a message! [email protected] {Obvious disclaimer that while I’m in the medical field, it’s only in a financial sense , I hold no medical licenses!}

 In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are dedicated to raising awareness and educating our community about the varying types of infertility and the many options available.  Our hope is that this series will open your eyes and inspire you in a really dynamic way, so please join us as real local moms open up and share their stories all throughout the week.  To read more, please click here.

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2 Responses to Keeping the Infertility Conversation Going {Infertility Awareness}

  1. Avatar
    Shala S. April 23, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    As always, perfectly written Sarah! Absolutely beautiful my friend.

  2. Avatar
    Lesli Westfall April 23, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    A friend of mine sent this blog post to me. I want to “thank you” for sharing your story and for keeping the conversation going about infertility during National Infertility Awareness week. The pain, difficulty fitting in amongst women and the heartache are real. I lead several Chriatian infertility support groups here in Houston and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Your voice lends comfort and acceptance for those who haven’t become ‘Mommy’s’ yet.

    Best,
    Lesli Westfall

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