Today’s post is a guest post from Courtney. I decided to share it because I know that a lot of you struggle with whether or not you should pursue IVF. I think that’s a very valid struggle (and IVF is not for everyone). I thought it might be helpful and encouraging to any of you in the same situation.
My name is Courtney and my husband is JJ. We are parents to a 6-month-old named Noah who we conceived via IVF after almost two years of infertility. We were married in 2013 and started trying to conceive about nine months later.
After a year of not getting pregnant, I went to my doctor and he agreed something was wrong. He ran some tests on both my husband and I, and started me on Clomid. My lab work came back extremely abnormal, I had some issues on Clomid, and shortly after we were referred to a local reproductive endocrinologist. We tried five total medicated cycles with both oral and injectable medications and a medicated IUI before our RE sat us down and told us our only option was IVF.
We had always talked about the possibility of doing IVF but I never thought it would actually come to that. We had been somewhat private about our struggles with infertility and had spent too much time looking for support in the wrong places and validation in choosing infertility treatment from people who didn’t understand it. Before making a decision about what to do, we prayed and talked about it with some of our best friends. Doors we thought were previously closed opened and we decided to proceed.
In February 2016, I had 33 eggs retrieved, most of which fertilized, and three survived to Day 5 embryos. We did a fresh transfer and found out two weeks later we were pregnant. Noah was born in October 2016.
Infertility was the darkest and most isolating road I have ever walked. I was in such a bad and dissociative state of mind I can barely remember parts of our journey except how much they hurt. My husband is seven years older than me and most of our friends had kids. I’m a pediatric nurse and we were the only couple at the time at our church without kids. At the time, I knew very few people who had gone through it and couldn’t relate well to anyone. Our infertility was solely female factor and I had (and sometimes still have) a very hard time with that and the shame and guilt was all consuming.
My lowest of lows came when our last medicated cycle failed. Everything had looked perfect and I had been so sure it had worked, I was such a mess I could barely get out the door and go to work. I called someone to talk about it and the conversation made them so uncomfortable they basically hung up on me.
Over a year later and I am very open about our struggle through infertility and IVF. It took a long time to get to the point of sharing our story but it has been a wonderful blessing for us. I have met and been connected to some incredible people who have been down the same road and have been a resource for people who are just beginning their journey. I know now that taking a leap of faith and pursuing IVF was part of God’s plan for us to be Noah’s parents.
Many thanks to Courtney for sharing her IVF story. Please leave her a comment to let her know you appreciate her!
One of my favorite things to do is share stories of people who have experienced infertility. I love hearing how other people cope and find meaning in struggle. Today I’m excited to share Kristen and Ryan’s story with you today. I hope you find hope and encouragement in their story!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello everyone! My name is Kristen Bergeron and I’m married to a wonderful man named Ryan. We have a spunky little girl named Hadley who’s about to turn two. Together, Ryan and I own and operate an online store called The Wood Reserve where we sell unique wood products and gifts. I also work as a freelance writer and run my own blog, The Natural Verve. Ryan works for a great company called JMX Brands as a portfolio marketing manager.
We’re Sunshine State natives that enjoy family time, getting outside, traveling, and a great bottle of wine!
Q. How long were you trying to conceive and what issues were you facing?
Our infertility stemmed from two different sources. For starters, back in 2008 my husband was paralyzed in a water skiing accident. His paralysis affected him from the waist down and made having children more difficult.
While we thought this would be the only issue we’d have to work through, we quickly learned that I was suffering with undiagnosed PCOS which would make getting pregnant more of a challenge for me.
All in all, our infertility journey lasted around two years. While we faced over a year of general testing at different facilities to figure out how Ryan’s accident had affected his fertility, and then surgery for me to remove a uterine polyp, by the time it came down to our IVF cycle we were one of the lucky couples to find success after just one try.
Q. Which books, quotes, websites, verses, movies, songs, etc. were an encouragement to you during your journey?
Early on in our IVF journey, I joined an IUI/IVF Support Group on the website BabyCenter. I found this sisterhood of women so comforting throughout our infertility journey. Every time I recognized someone else’s thoughts and emotions as ones I’d experienced myself I felt a little less lonely about this journey. Though a sad reality to face, there’s so much solace to be found in the fact that you are not alone in your experiences.
I found the following quote to be quite uplifting after Ryan’s accident and found myself coming back to it during the lowest points in our quest to have a baby: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.” It reminded me to find strength, no matter how impossible a situation may seem. It helped give me the drive I needed to endure and overcome.
Q. Did you and your spouse cope with infertility in the same way or did you handle it differently?
I’m a researcher by nature, so when faced with the issue of infertility, I threw myself into learning as much as possible. Reading articles, facts, and statistics helped to keep me calm and allowed me to channel my negative emotions into something productive. On the other hand, though, I would also let myself cry when necessary.
Ryan, on the other hand, is a bottler. He’s never been the type to openly speak about his emotions and prefers to deal with them individually.
At the beginning of our process, however, we made an agreement to openly communicate about our experience the whole way through if one of us felt it was necessary. We’d seen first-hand how couples struggling with infertility could be pulled apart by not talking about the situation or avoiding their problems. Our decision to remain open with each other about our circumstance provided each of us with a sounding board and kept us both sane throughout our IVF cycle.
Q. How did you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles?
Throughout my cycle, I relied heavily on acupuncture, meditation, and old wives’ tales to get me through! If there was a food to eat or a beverage to drink that might improve my lining or help with implantation, I was a wiling participant.
We also found that taking long walks was the perfect exercise to keep my body moving and help clear our minds throughout the process.
Q. What was your lowest point and how did you survive it?
I can still remember the day I received my PCOS diagnosis like a movie playing out in front of me. I’ve always dealt with irregular periods and had gone in for some testing to try and figure out the cause. While sitting at work one day, a nurse called with my results.
In the most insensitive tone possible, she told me I had PCOS and asked me if I knew what that meant. When I told her I’d never heard of the disease, she explained that it meant I would never be able to get pregnant, and even if I did, my body would not support the baby and I would lose it.
I was understandably devastated. All of the effort we’d already put into understanding our situation and trying to have a child seemed pointless. I remember sitting on the phone, biting back tears until it was acceptable for me to hang up. I sobbed for I don’t know how long after that.
Thankfully, however, I’m a researcher. With the help of my good friend, Google, I ransacked every site I could find about PCOS and its effects. That’s where I learned that there was hope. Many, many women had received the same diagnosis as me and went on to have beautiful families of their own. I also made an appointment with my gynecologist who reaffirmed the idea that there was nothing stopping me from becoming a mother.
She said it could be more difficult, but that with help and perseverance there was still such a good chance I’d be able to carry and deliver my own biological child.
Q. Were you been able to find a “silver lining” in your infertility?
When we first started trying to have a baby, I held a lot of resentment. What I wouldn’t have given to just get pregnant the old-fashioned way. Looking back, I am so grateful of our experience. Had it not been for infertility, for Ryan’s accident, for IVF – we might not have our little girl.
Sure, we may have had another child at some point, but it wouldn’t be her. For that, I will forever be thankful for our unique journey.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
To any man and woman struggling with this disease, please know that we are with you. No matter what your situation or story, this battle is one we fight together. I can’t help but feel a sort of kindred connection to anyone I meet or speak to that’s on a similar path.
Whether we know each other personally or we’re merely a connection made through this screen, know that we are rooting for you. Best wishes and baby dust to all of you that are still waiting for your miracle.
Many thanks for Kristen and Ryan for sharing their story! Please leave them a comment to let them know you appreciate them!
One of the biggest decisions a couple who is struggling with infertility can make is deciding to start infertility treatment. It will affect everything from your finances to your time to your health. You’ll probably have a lot of long conversations. And that’s a good thing! Here are three conversations you don’t want to forget to have before you start infertility treatment.
Who Will We Tell?
Having a supportive and loving community to support you during treatment is essential. However, I suggest you and your spouse plan in advance who you will tell and when you’ll tell them. I think it’s very common for one spouse to be more private about infertility than the other one. It’s possible that you may not be not the same page about who you want to tell. Deciding in advance will save you stressful disagreements during your treatment.
I’ve written before about some of the ethical questions I had to confront before starting IVF. But even if you’re not doing IVF, you need to know your limits for medicated cycles and IUIs, too. Unmonitored medicated cycles and IUIs can lead to higher incidence of multiples. Many doctors will advise you to reduce multiple pregnancies so you need to know what your response would be in that situation.
It’s also a good idea to have an idea of your financial limits. Are you willing to take out loans or go into debt in order to pay for your treatment? How many rounds of treatment will you try before considering other options? You may change your mind, of course. But it’s wise to at least talk about these questions with your spouse before your start.
It’s frighteningly easy to let infertility treatment consume your life. Take some time to come up with strategies on how you can keep your marriage your first priority. If your treatments fail, you’ll need a strong relationship as you decide what’s next. And if you’re successful, you’ll want to be in a healthy place during during those exhausting first days of parenthood. Having a child is a good thing, but don’t let your marriage take second place.
Talking can be hard.
These are not easy conversations and you may find it hard to agree with each other. It might be tempting to just ignore it and hope that starting treatment will magically make you agree. But that will actually probably make it even worse. So I encourage you to seek help from a counselor or trusted clergy if you need help
Have you had these conversations with your spouse? What other things do you think it’s important to talk about before you start infertility treatment? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.