Each week I interview someone who has experienced infertility firsthand. This week, I’m delighted to interview Michelle and Chris Miller. They blog at Stork Parenting and are the authors of the forthcoming book Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility.
Q. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Michelle: I love sunsets, sleep, drive-through safaris, laughing so hard that I snort and long walks with my husband. My idea of a relaxing day is reading a book on a hammock. I could eat candy for dinner.
Most of the above are not conducive to having kids, but I love our children most of all.
Chris: I have a wild imagination. I think being silly is awesome. I feel truly blessed to be alive. I love my family, sunrises, the deep dark sky of the night. And most of all, I love that I believe within every person, animal, place or thing there exists a magical ‘wonder’ that anyone can find if we are only patient enough to search and wait.
Q. How long did you TTC and what issues were you facing?
Michelle: Our infertility roller coaster ride lasted nearly four years from start to finish. We ended up with the “unexplained infertility” label after undergoing every test and procedure under the sun to figure out why we weren’t pregnant yet. We tried three rounds of injectables first, and when that failed, we moved on to in vitro (twice), with an abdominal myomectomy to remove a fibroid in between.
Chris: Sounds like a very long take out order. This process seemed like forever then, and it was too long. But so many couples have had to bear a longer trial than we did. My urologist and his wife went through 10 in vitros before having their baby. 10. I really can’t imagine it. And I can imagine a lot.
Q. You now have three beautiful children. How did you ultimately build your family?
Michelle: Our first-born, Sydney, was conceived through the miracle of IVF. We started trying for a sibling when Sydney turned one and just assumed we’d have to go through the fertility treatment rigmarole again. I’d seen so many negative pregnancy tests that I nearly fainted when this one turned out positive. It was even more of a surprise with Luke, as we weren’t in the “safe zone” of getting pregnant yet (we were supposed to wait a minimum of a year after the c-section and it was only month 10). I told Chris, “There’s no way I can be pregnant!” Yes way.
Chris: Science is amazing. Thinking of all the breakthroughs that helped us. In vitro still boggles my mind. Thankfully, once Michelle’s body knew how to get pregnant, it didn’t need any additional assistance the second and third time around.
Q. How did you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles?
Michelle: From a physical standpoint, I did everything I to try to make my body fertility-friendly. I gave up hot yoga and soccer in case they were too strenuous and replaced them with walking twice a day. I ate healthier foods. I gave up sweets. I did acupuncture regularly.
From an emotional standpoint, Chris was my rock. The one I could count on to be there for me and make me laugh when I was down or comfort me when I needed a hug.
Chris: Not sure if I should ever be called a rock – it’s pretty difficult for me to be quiet or sit still. But I gave up drinking caffeine and alcohol in case it would help my swimmers in any way. Michelle gets most of the credit for changes to our routine to make us healthier. Truly, she read a lot, I read a little, she suggested a lot, I suggested a little, BUT I was with her on everything.
Q. Were you able to find a “silver lining” in infertility?
Michelle: It’s hard to find a silver lining while you’re going through infertility. It’s such a drain on your happiness, your energy and your bank account. Our silver lining is that we have the three wonderful, beautiful children we do, and that we wouldn’t have had them if not for every trial and tribulation we endured.
Chris: We agreed in advance to try three rounds of IVF. If that didn’t work, our silver lining was to quit whatever we were doing and spend six months traveling around Europe. And we figured if Michelle got pregnant, the silver lining was that we’d really, really be ready to be parents!
Q. You blog about parenting, pregnancy, and infertility at your website, StorkParenting.com. What made you decide to blog?
Michelle: We actually started the blog after we wrote our infertility book. We wanted to offer a support network for other couples going through infertility, and have a place to share what we’ve learned as parents.
Chris: I was pretty vocal with my friends about the process we were going through. I discovered some of them were going through it too. When we talked about it, I realized they were hesitant to share, but when they did, they felt better about it. I wanted everyone out there to know they aren’t alone on this crazy ride.
Q. You’ve written a book, Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility. Why did you write a book and what did you learn from the process?
Michelle: We have written a children’s book and it was such a fun experience for the two of us to do together. So once we started down the path of infertility treatments, we said, “We should really be taking notes so other couples know what to expect.” And we finally took all of those notes and turned them into a story we hope will help others.
Chris: From the first fertility doctor appointment, I knew we could be in for a torturous journey. When that happens to me, I find myself analyzing it and wanting to write down my experiences. I just wanted to make it bearable and hopefully funny. For me, writing is like therapy and it helps me to accept whatever I’m going through. And then as we got more into the process and talked to infertility-labeled friends who were as lost as we were, I think we both realized it was something important to do for other couples going through it.
Q. Did your experience with infertility affect how you parent?
Michelle: Ha. I just finished writing a blog article about that. Yes – I think because we tried SO HARD to have a baby that Sydney became the center of the universe. And that’s not always such a good thing for a child.
Chris: Well, I do completely blame ourselves for all of the quirks our children have, and I’m sure some of them have to do with what we went through to have them. You know how the third kid almost always gets ignored, but is so easy going because of it? Well, now you can see why I think our first-born is so high maintenance and our third-born is super chill. Again, all our fault. Hopefully, Sydney will be a happy, well-rounded woman despite our parenting flaws. The day she was born I told her she was perfect, and that I’d do my best.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
Michelle: You mean, besides my plea to pre-order the book? I’m joking. Sort of. But seriously, find a support system to be there for you. Our family and close friends knew about our saga and I do think that helped us get through it.
The most important thing to remember is your love for each other. That no matter what happens, you have one another. For us, that was enough. We saw getting pregnant as a bonus in life, not as a necessity to our happiness. Although we suspected that there’d be a little hole in our hearts where the child we wanted so badly should be.
Chris: We don’t always agree, but here we do completely. You didn’t marry each other to have kids. You married each other to enjoy your lives together. So enjoy each day, and don’t let ANYTHING change that. No matter what.
And if you have any questions or want to share your infertility advice, please feel free to send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Michelle & Chris for sharing their story. Please leave them a comment below to let them know you appreciate them.
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