This week marks National Infertility Awareness Week. It's not something I can just let pass by without recognizing. Infertility is the hardest thing I've ever faced. Its tested me in ways I had no idea was possible and showed me things about myself I may never have realized otherwise. It showed me how important it is to be a strong advocate for yourself. It's revealed to me my deep tenacity and persistence.
W and I started trying to get pregnant about 8 months after we got married in October of 2009. I wanted to try sooner but there was no convincing him otherwise. We started trying in June and 2 months later we were sitting face-to-face with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). After a diagnosis of PCOS, the loss of my left fallopian tube, a devastating miscarriage at 8 weeks, 2 IUI's, 2 chemical pregnancies, 5 fresh IVF cycles, 19 embryos, 2 RE's, 1 Reproductive Immunologist, and 2 1/2 years of treatments, we finally found out we were pregnant with twins. It's been a crazy ride, but already it all feels worth it. It made me a stronger person and cemented my marriage in ways I thought was only possible after 30 years of marriage.
I'm not Facebook public about our struggles, but I've recently reached out to a few people individually, and that is a huge step for me.
W works with a girl named Meghan who got married a few months before us. She and her husband have been trying to get pregnant since that time. I know she's been pregnant more than once, only to lose those pregnancies. When I was also struggling I hinted towards our struggles to her a few times, but was too afraid to really reach out. Once we started talking about telling our different co-workers about our pregnancy W began worrying about telling her.
One day recently we were walking the dogs and decided to walk a little further to her house to tell her the news. We wanted to tell her individually so that she could process the information without others around her. I know how hard it can be to hear a pregnancy announcement with other people around who don't understand. I really wanted to be sensitive to her feelings because I've been there so many times before.
We also told her that we struggled for a long time and used fertility treatments to get pregnant. I offered my knowledge and anything else to her in case she wanted. She didn't say much at the time but has definitely reached out to W multiple times since then. We are planning to have dinner with them sometime in order to share our story. I know it's not a huge thing, but I would love to help her if possible. I started on this journey feeling so alone and have since felt like I'm in good company. I'd love her to feel that way too.
I also received a congratulatory Facebook message from my cousin this past week. For one of our first trips to see Dr. Br.averman we stayed on her incredibly uncomfortable pull-out couch in NYC. I know her husband had a variocele repair surgery last year and W pointed out the ovulation tests to me that were in her bathroom. She seemed really casual about trying to get pregnant, but I know how easy it is to play it off to others. It's not that casual when you are having surgery to help or using ovulation tests.
I responded to her message and said that we really struggled to get pregnant and finally found an amazing doctor near her. I told her I was happy to share everything if she ever wanted to chat. She responded that she is going to Thailand this summer and they weren't going to worry about things until after that, but would love to pick my brain about things. She said she would probably be calling me soon.
I know these aren't giant steps for others, but they are for me. I'm very personal and really had difficulty sharing my story with others while we were making every effort to get pregnant. I was afraid of the looks of sadness and didn't want other people's sympathy. Maybe I was crazy in feeling this way, but my experience of telling a few people close to me almost always resulted in that reaction. It really scared me off from reaching out and telling others.
I'm opening up and starting to share what we went through with people who aren't super close to me. I really want to help others. I want them to know that they aren't alone. Finding friends who were also struggling with infertility was so huge for me. It's great to still have these people in my life because they best understand pregnancy after infertility. I really don't know what this journey would have been like without them.
Blogging has also been huge for me. There are so many people that I watched struggle and then become parents. It was a huge inspiration for me to know that if it happened for others, it could happen to me. I appreciate and love each and every comment and positive note people leave me on my blog.
My blog started as a way for me to vent and get things off my chest. I never thought I would connect with so many others going through many of the same struggles. I know there are people who haven't reached their goals and I really try to continue to support them as much as I can. I think about them often and hope they are successful.
So, I'm evolving in my thoughts and actions as my journey advances. None of us should have to feel as alone as I did when I first found out pregnancy was going to be so difficult to achieve. I'm trying to connect with others and hoping to make a difference, however small it ends up being. No matter what, infertility will always be a part of who I am.