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I’m super-excited to bring you this interview with Abby. She blogs over at Waiting for Our “Baby Mine.” I love her heart for spreading awareness and her photos that show it’s possible to keep a sense of humor during IVF. I know you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did. (Note: Abby mentions her successful IVF cycle and her pregnancy. Please be aware of this if you’re not in a good place to read about that right now).
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Abby. First and foremost, I’m a Christian trying to live my life in pursuit of a heavenly home. I’m a wife to Thomas—a calm, caring fireman who is my absolute best friend and helpmeet. I’m a cat lady- a fur mom to four crazy sister cats. I work in special education and love to write. My family means the world to me, especially my niece and two nephews. I love all things Disney and even married my husband at Disney World!
Q. How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?
My TTC road is complicated because it was a long road that lead to the point of even being able to try to conceive. My journey began when I was 19 years old, when I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis after months of going undiagnosed and being treated with narcotics for the pain. Once I was diagnosed, I had four minimally invasive surgeries within 3 1/2 years to try and keep the endometriosis under control. No matter what I tried, surgery was the only thing that could relieve my pain—and even that only lasted 9-10 months.
After my fourth surgery, three months after I had married Thomas, we were told that we immediately needed to have children or it was time for a hysterectomy. Because we both figured this was coming due to scar tissue build up and because we both have always desired to be parents, we accepted the reality that we were facing and started to try and start our family.
Three months into trying, we knew something wasn’t right. At month four, we called my reproductive endocrinologist and decided together that we needed to be proactive because otherwise, I’d be needing surgery in six months, yet again.
We began fertility treatments in January of 2017. We went through two regularly medicated IUIs, but I had no reaction to Clomid whatsoever. We did two IUIs with injections, and I became pregnant from the fourth attempt, in May 2017. However, four days after finding out I was pregnant, I miscarried our May baby. We took a month off to let my body recover and began the initial tests to see if we were candidates for IVF.
In July 2017, we began IVF. They retrieved 36 eggs, which turned into 16 embryos, but by transfer day, all but two were gone. They transferred one, but it didn’t take. In August 2017, we did our first frozen embryo transfer with our only surviving embryo and found out on August 28th that it worked and we were finally pregnant after 11 months.
Q. Which books, quotes, websites, verses, movies, songs, etc. have been an encouragement to you during your journey?
Hymns really helped me through. I am a very musical person and I connect strongly with hymns. Some of the hymns that helped me through the most were: “Farther Along”, “Praise You in This Storm”, “Does Jesus Care?”, and “Where No One Stands Alone.”
The album “Red Sea Road” by Ellie Holcomb was a lifesaver. Every track on that CD brought tears to my eyes, but also brought healing for me.
Luke 1:6-7 really helped me because it helped to remind me that infertility wasn’t a punishment for my sins. Elizabeth was blameless before the Lord, but was barren. Just because I was barren, didn’t mean that I was being punished.
Q. Do you and your spouse cope with infertility in the same way or do you handle it differently?
My spouse and I coped with infertility very differently. I cried each and every day and had to constantly vent my pain. Thomas bottled his up, so that he could be strong for me. I worried about every little thing and tried to control a lot of things, while he was laid-back and stuck to the principle that it would all work out. I couldn’t handle being around babies, while he wasn’t affected by that. We were pretty much opposites on how we handled it, but that worked out for us because he could carry me—the emotional basketcase—through the roughest days with his strength and faith in God.
Q. What made you decide to blog about your journey?
I decided to blog mainly for awareness— for myself and for others. People act like infertility cannot be discussed because it can be uncomfortable. It is a private issue, but because it affected every single aspect of my life, I felt like I needed to inform others of what I was going through. I am a strong believer in bearing one another’s burdens as we are told to do in Galatians 6:2. I have never felt more burdened than by the weight of the emotion and stress that came with infertility and the miscarriage I experienced. I needed to share because I couldn’t face it alone. I needed the support of an army—an army of love, prayers, and sensitivity. I was so downtrodden that I needed the help of my loved ones to lift me up.
I also began my blog to help bring awareness for others. Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. As I was sitting in worship services on Sunday morning, I looked up at the pew in front and our high school and college aged girls were all sitting together. I counted and saw that there were more than 8 of them and immediately thought, “One of them is going to have to face what we’re facing now.” It made me so sad, but also made me think that if they have to face it, I want to be able to help them through it with support, hope, and love. I wanted to bring awareness to infertility overall, because people say a lot of hurtful things regarding it, not because they’re evil, but because they’re ignorant to the matter. If we don’t talk about it and inform people on what is helpful, they’ll never know how to encourage people in the midst of their journey with infertility.
Q. How have you taken care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles?
During my struggles, I took care of myself by taking control of my infertility…as much as I could. I am not a science person, but I wanted to know what was going on, and to make sure that I was making conscious decisions…not just being taken advantage of by doctors and doing whatever they said. I educated myself—I studied up on my procedures with Thomas, made an organized IVF binder with pretty charts for injections. I took notes at every single appointment and googled questions before going to appointments. I took charge over my treatment and this helped me feel more at ease because I was educated and prepared.
One of the things that brought me the most peace: kayaking. I am not a super active, outdoorsy person. However, right after our miscarriage, we had our first wedding anniversary and we celebrated with a scavenger hunt that took us kayaking. It was so relaxing and peaceful and great quality time together. Thomas and I immediately went out and bought ourselves kayaks. It was a great stress reliever during treatment, and was a great exercise that you could still do in the midst of treatments because it wasn’t strenuous!
Q. What has been your lowest point and how did you survive it?
My lowest point was May 26th, the day I miscarried. I genuinely can’t describe the hurt that I felt and that was the first time that I have ever thought I didn’t want to keep going. I’ve always been a happy and positive person, so I struggle admitting it, but I didn’t want to continue living because the hurt was so overwhelming. Thankfully, that feeling didn’t last very long because of the hope and comfort the Lord gives, and because I was enveloped with love from my dearest loved ones. I survived because I poured my heart out to God in prayer. I don’t remember what I said, but I spent time desperately pleading with our Lord for help.
I also survived because my husband took me for a walk. I know that sounds odd, but the day we found out we lost our baby, he got me out of the house in the fresh air and took me for a walk. He held my hand through it all, let me cry, and made me laugh even in my worst hour. He held me up when I couldn’t hold myself up, and he’s one of the main reasons I survived and came out stronger.
Q. Have you been able to find a “silver lining” in your infertility?
I have been able to find a silver lining in my infertility. It’s easier for me to see it now that I have been given the blessing of a healthy pregnancy, but even in the midst of the journey, I knew that it was making me better. Infertility has made me more sensitive to others’ hurt. Infertility has made me more thankful for my child and more serious about my role as a mother. Infertility has immensely strengthened my marriage because of how much I had to rely on my husband for support. Infertility has bonded me to some of the most beautiful souls. Infertility has strengthened my relationship with my Heavenly Father because I trust His plan now more than I ever did before.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
I don’t know where you’re at in your journey or what God’s plan is for you, but you’ll make it through. You are loved and you are not alone. Even though our infertility journeys may not be identical, we know the hurt of loving a child you may never know and how that breaks your heart into a million pieces. Hang in there and know you’re loved and prayed for.
Many thanks to Abby for sharing her story with us! Please leave her a comment to let her know you appreciate her, and be sure to check out her blog.
P.S. I know you will ask (because I did!) where did Abby get those photo cards for IVF? She said she made them herself, but you can find dozens of similar items on Etsy if you search for IVF Milestone cards or IVF photo cards.