Let's Talk: Infertility

This week is National Infertility Week and after the last few years that Dave & I struggled to get pregnant, I think I'm ready to talk a little more publicly about our story.
From day one, Dave and I have tried to be transparent about our struggles when we talk with people, but I feel this has been one of those weeks I've never really acknowledged publically, not that I don't see it as a great awareness week, but let's be honest- for anyone that's gone through infertility or any type of struggle to get pregnant-

It sucks that when you're in a good place to have kids, when you want that baby so very much, when you've tried and tried to the point where things like sex because a chore, where it seems like every single person around you is having kids & it seems just too easy for everyone else, where you just feel alone no matter how much support & love you are surrounded by...it's just depressing.

Did you know that One in eight American couples will experience infertility, and 1.1 million women will undergo treatment this year. That most won’t talk about it makes it that much more painful: A recent survey of infertility patients reveals that 61 percent hide the struggle to get pregnant from friends and family (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38311820/ns/health-womens_health/t/many-couples-struggle-infertility-silence/#.VyQjO032apo).

It's sad that so, so many of us go through this journey and yet so many of us are silent with our stories.
But really, can you blame us?
Infertility made me feel like something was wrong with me.
I was tired of hearing things like "if you just relax, you'll get pregnant."
I mean, really?
You understand right that someone going through infertility treatments can't "just relax."
We're literally tracking every single moment of our cycle because we need an idea of when to start medications or when we're ovulating.
We're being poked and prodded and nothing is left to the imagination in that doctor's room.
We're going through uncomfortable and painful procedures all to just increase our chance to hopefully one day have a baby.
And the reality is that none of these things we experience is a guarantee.

But this isn't a post to ridicule others.
Honestly, I truly feel most comments came from a really sincere and loving place, but those words were just so hard to hear when all I wanted to do was truly "just relax."
I wanted so bad to wake up one morning to morning sickness or the excitement to think "I might be pregnant" and have a pregnancy test come back positive.

When I first started having a tinge of an idea that something was wrong was within the first year of marriage.
I had stopped taking birth control, not that I was actively trying to have kids at that time, but I just struggled a little bit with the idea of birth control and frankly didn't really like how it made me feel emotionally.
But a year later after stopping birth control, nothing happened.
I didn't really think much of this because I knew not everyone gets automatically pregnant after stopping birth control.
So that next year I started actively tracking my cycles.
I figured it would help me know a little more accurately what was going on, but maybe we could start trying a little more intentionally.
So I decided to see my doctor in Columbus; I just sensed something wasn't right, plus I was experiencing some ovarian cysts and had wondered if that might be some of the cause with not getting pregnant.
In that appointment I was pretty much written off because of my age "you're still young, we'll see what happens in a year."
Then another year went by and another doctor. Same thing.
And another doctor and the same experience.
They were all convinced that I was "still young."
At this point, I was starting to think that something was just wrong with me.
I mean, I was young right?
Why was I struggling so much to get pregnant?
Was I getting too stressed?
Was I over thinking things?
I felt so broken.
And at this point I just gave up.
I started feeling like deep down I would never be able to have a baby.
When people started asking when Dave & I would have kids, I would try to brush it off or make a joke out of it.
Part of me always wanted to break down in tears and tell others just how hard we were trying.
But I didn't want people to see this brokenness.
I didn't want people to feel sorry for us.

When Dave & I moved to South Dakota, my cysts were still pretty bad so I decided to see a doctor again when we moved here.
I remember a lot of prayers at this time asking God for someone to take me seriously...I just wanted to find answers.
So I decided to see a doctor at Sanford.
She said a lot of the same standard things I heard before, that things looked good and that I was young....but then she said, you know you've been off birth control for almost five years now and that concerns me.
So we gave it a month to see what happened and again nothing happened.
She referred us to a specialist.
They started running test and  looking deeper into the issue.
The first thing that the doctor realized was that I had Short Luteal Phase meaning my cycles would last about 23 to 24 days making it hard to know if I was actually ovulating.
So I started Clomid.
That was not fun- I had mood swings, insomnia, and felt like an emotional mess.
On top of that, nothing was changing.
So they switched me to Femara, which was better on me emotionally but it still wasn't doing anything.
After months of attempts, they decided that it was time for us to visit the infertility clinic.
More tests showed there was some borderline issues with Dave and that I had Diminishing Ovarian Reserve which basically meant that my ovaries were like that of a 40-year-old woman.
Pretty much, there wasn't a lot we could do on our own and realized we were going to need a little more assistance to get pregnant.
So we decided to take a more aggressive approach and decided to try an IUI (artificial insemination).
I remember that very first time we went in.
It was the first time in a long time that we really felt hopeful.
And I remember when it failed.
I remember laying in bed bawling.
I remember Dave holding me tight.
I remember how much it hurt.

A couple months later we decided to try a second round.
This time it wasn't as hard when we had a negative, mainly because by this point we felt so numb within the process.

After that last attempt, we were done trying that route and knew from our research that chances were that we were investing a lot of money & the changes of getting pregnant were diminishing.
So finally our doctor approached us about IVF (In vitro fertilization).
I remember how hard it was to hear that this was really our only other option.
IVF wasn't an easy decision to make.
We had so many questions:
Are we playing God by taking this route?
Should we use this money to adopt instead?
Even if we did choose this route, could we even afford it, especially if there's no guarantees that this would work?
IVF would cost us $11,000 just for the procedure. Add on another $2,600 for the first round of medications as well as another $1,800 for follow up medications. On top of that covering every single ultrasound, doctor's appointment, and procedure we had already done on top of what would still lie ahead for us.
Depending on your insurance and the state you're in, insurance may cover very little, if any of the infertility treatments.
In the state of SD, Blue Cross and Blue Shield doesn't cover anything.
Oh, except birth control.
Ironic, isn't it.

So Dave & I started Praying.
We were then denied for a house loan, which took adoption out of the picture as we would need an additional room for a child.
{don't worry, Dave & I still have a heart and desire to one day adopt}
Every single time I prayed about IVF, there was such a peace. And every time I talked with friends & family I trusted, they were so supportive of the process.
Then my grandparents offered for us to take out a private loan with them.
So finally we decided that this was the right next steps for our journey.

Let me tell you, IVF was not easy.
There were lots and lots of shots that had to be done at certain times throughout the day.
Lots of doctors visits and ultrasounds.
When it came time for the extraction process, I actually had to go through surgery & because they extracted so many eggs, it was a pretty painful recovery process.
I tried to go to work the next day, almost threw up & passed out, and decided I just needed to just go home and try to recover.
Thankfully (and sadly for a lot of women this isn't always the case) we had 4 good embryos and a potential for 2 more.
So we set our implantation date.
On Easter Sunday, we went down to Sioux Falls for the procedure.
I remember sitting in that surgery waiting room so anxious, scared, excited.
Dave and I were prepped for surgery, and I was wheeled into the surgery room that had a screen beside the bed.
As they implanted the 2 embryos we decided to use, we were able to watch our little babies as they were implanted.
Deep down we were praying hard that maybe, just maybe we would be able to meet them one day.

[Here's my little Phoenix as an itty bitty embryo.]
& Here was the day we would find out if the procedure worked or not.
We were SO nervous.
Random fact: It was also Food Truck Friday in Sioux Falls, so of course a foodie has to do what a foodie has to do.

& Here was the first time I heard the best words I could ever imagine:

What a crazy, crazy journey these last few years have been.
They were some of the hardest, most difficult years.
So many tears, so many dark moments.
But when I looked into those little blue eyes and I snuggle Phoenix close,
It was all worth it.

Want more information on National Infertility Awareness Week? Visit: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/what-you-can-do.html

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  1. This such a great post and I am so happy that I got to meet Pheonix!

  2. Oh Heidi! I am just now able to take the time to read this. Thank you so much for sharing. I wish I could have spent more time talking about this with you when we were all together. So cool to think that your IVF happened on Easter Sunday last year and the special weekend we all had honoring Nana this past Easter Sunday weekend. Love you all so much! Anne


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