Four years ago Jeremy and I started our baby journey. We had been married for almost two years and we were ready to start our family. I never could have imagined the emotional rollercoaster it would become and how hard on our marriage it would be. But the things I have learned along the way have been priceless and truly have helped me to grow personally and most certainly have strengthened my relationship with Jeremy. Along this journey we were told that we would not be able to have kids naturally. I was devastated. We had gone through a ton of testing and years of unsuccessful treatments and procedures and frankly it was exhausting. Jeremy and I felt broken and i felt like for a good two years we were both just going through the motions trying to not let this tear us apart. But we had gone through a lot with other things happening in our life that finally woke us up and realize that this wasn't something that would break us. It made us realize that although things were hard we loved each other and that alone was worth fighting for. We had to stop dwelling on the crappy and start living life again.
This past year we finally came to the conclusion that our last option was to try IVF or we don't have kids. It was a realization that really sucked. And I was frustrated and angry and sad, but the reality of not having kids for both us was not something we were ready to give up on. So we made our decision to go for it and we finally started IVF. We thankfully found success and truly were so lucky to have found the team of doctors at Shady Grove for making our baby dreams come true.
The last four years took its toll on both of us and it was not an easy road. The highs and lows we went through were painful and I want to share some of the things I learned and did a long the way to help us get through this tough time. Below are a few things that kept me moving forward and I hope that anyone out there who has faced or is currently facing this similar struggle can take something away from them. Because you aren't alone.
The hardest part of this struggle was being told we would not have kids naturally. From a young age you always think ok I will find a guy, get married, have a baby, and that was the natural progression of things. Being told something that should come so easily was not possible, well I felt like I was stabbed in the heart. I had to grieve the loss of that idea. It may sound silly, but I truly went through the grieving process and it was hard. I was sad, in denial, furious, felt sorry for myself, the list went on. I think the hardest thing for me was that I feared the intimacy of creating a baby with my husband was gone. That was a tough thing to accept. But I am here to tell you that going through IVF did NOT take that feeling away, it was just a different kind of intimacy. It was such an intense process where you have to rely 100% your spouse for so many things. There was no chance I would have been able to give myself shots in the stomach no matter how badly I wanted a baby, and Jeremy did them for me. He held my hand and comforted me when I was scared to death and reminded me every day that I could do this. We were able to share things that I would never ever trade. My favorite memory was the actual embryo transfer. Together we experienced something so incredibly special and that alone made me forget all about it not happening naturally. Because for us this was our normal and it was more intimate than I could have imagined.
POSITIVITY is key!!! Most of those who know me would hopefully say that I am bubbly and positive! But I certainly can get very pessimistic and anxious, especially when facing the unknown. But I made a decision before we started that I refused no matter how hard, how painful, and how scary things could get that I would NOT let it defeat me. Easier said than done, right? But every single morning when I woke up I washed my face, took 3 deep breaths, and actually said out loud “I can do this. It’s gong to work. You will find your baby.” And as simple as that routine was, it made everything so much more manageable because I was able to wrap my mind around the process. With every blood test I repeated it over and over in my head, and it kept me distracted. It forced me to remove the emotional side of what I was going through and focus on preparing for what was coming next. And it really worked. It kept me focused on each individual step rather than the whole overwhelming process. I really think that is what helped me tolerate every part of the process just a little bit more.
Ignore the noise! There is SOOOOOOO much noise all around you when you’re trying to have a baby. I lost count of how many times I was asked when we were going to have kids. I was so frustrated because I wanted to yell at people and say well I've been trying for 3 years back off and mind your own business. Or when someone who did know we were trying would say oh you should go on vacation or just relax it'll happen. Or you're stress is too high. I wanted to scream. I was so tired of hearing advice from people who had no idea what was really going on because they didn't know our full situation. But I couldn't really fault them, because I think they were just trying to help or make me feel better. I don't think a lot of people understand or know much about infertility struggles or the process unless they have faced it first hand. Until you’re in it you can’t possible relate to what it feels like or how heartbreaking it is when people ask those kinds of questions. Just ignore it. It’s so incredibly hard, I know, but when you start to ignore it, it starts to fade away.
Remember you are NOT alone. At the beginning of all this I felt so scared because no one I knew had gone through this. But I was so wrong. It wasn't until I opened up with friends about our own infertility struggles that I found comfort in that there were so many others who had gone through the same thing. Realizing we weren't alone honestly encouraged us to keep on this fight. I went from feeling alone to being one of nine people I can think of immediately that had gone through IVF. It was insane. There was a whole world of support out there and all I had to do was open up a little and I had people giving me answers to questions I didn't even know I would have. It was amazing and it was encouraging. And all of those people I knew had found success and I knew one day, with time, we would too. Most importantly I learned not to be ashamed or embarrassed of our struggle because it wasn't either of our faults, it just was. And we had to move forward with the hand we got dealt. So talk to people who have gone through it, and if you're shy and not ready that’s ok. There are so many online support groups that are a google search away. The one i followed was the Shady Grove Facebook page. It was full of success stories, articles about treatment process, testing process, etc. Shady grove alone has helped over 40,000 families have babies in the US! And it is proof that you are not alone and don't have to feel alone.
The last thing to remember is don't give up and follow your heart! Don't give up on what you want. Don’t give up on yourself or on you're partner. You are in this together and the best way to get through this is with each other. Lean on one another when you feel like giving up and always remember you are stronger than you realize! Talk to each other and don't hold back what your thinking or feeling because you are in this together. Family and friend support is so important as well but your partner is the one who is going to be in the thick of it with you and they are going to be your biggest support. And don't forget to listen to your heart and follow your instincts. Only you know what is best for you and your body. Listen to that gut instinct and don't ignore if something feels wrong or if you aren't ready for a certain step. IVF is a lot both emotionally and financially and only you know when you are ready or if it could be right for you. We were actually going to start this process a lot sooner, but life dealt us things and it forced us to wait. And to be honest as hard as it had been to wait I would not have tackled things the same way. I don't think I would have been emotionally ready and I think things would have been 100x harder on me and also on my marriage. And remember regardless of where your own infertility journey takes you, listen to your instincts and I promise you will get through this!!