I was married at 26, started TTC at 28, and, was at the fertility clinic with a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” at 29. From there, my dear husband and I went through two IUIs and one round of IVF, trying to get pregnant. Sadly, we lost our first pregnancy at only 5 weeks, after IVF. Today, we are parenting our incredible daughter, who we adopted in December of 2012.
My journey through infertility was heart breaking, challenging beyond words, and completely exhausting. I’m not one who’s “always wanted to be a mom,” but learning that it would be a struggle was a staggering disappointment, and it changed my life.
One of the few things that helped me through these trying times was blogging. On this blog, which had been anonymous until now, I shared my infertility story. The diagnosis, the treatments, the decisions, the disappointments and devastations. I now understand that there is power in sharing my story openly. I know that writing these words helped me, and others, survive and heal.
I’m no longer blogging here. I will always be infertile, but life has taken other turns, and I want to leave this blog as it is. I hope this chronicle of my infertility story will continue to serve a purpose by helping those who are still “in the trenches.” You are not alone.
PS. The posts are in reverse chronological order; that’s just how blogs work. So, use the Archive to get to the beginning of my story, or to pick a post to read. Enjoy!
Last night I found out that a friend, a dear friend, has had another miscarriage. Devastating. This news, of course, makes me have all of the feelings. First of all, FUCK. Haven’t we all been through enough? Why does this keep happening? My heart aches for her.
And then, again of course, I feel sad for myself. I am now in the phase of my infertility where people are having their second children. (Or at least attempting to.) I’ve lost count of how many have welcomed #2, or are trying, or are pregnant again. I’m not saying I’m not happy for them, or that it’s not a bit easier for me this time around, or that these second pregnancies weren’t hard-won. I’m just saying “what the fuck, this feels so unfair. Again.”
I still feel broken. Deeply, fundamentally broken. I think it’s worse now than when we were in the thick of it, going through treatments. Then I had hope that I could be fixed. It’s been a year and a half since we did IVF, and I still hope that I can be fixed, and am constantly reminded that I cannot be.
My diagnosis has barely budged from “unexplained” to “assumed endometriosis.” For a year after our IVF and miscarriage we had sex and didn’t use protection. There were no surprise pregnancies. Now I’ve been on birth control for nearly a year. For the first few months I was completely delusional and thought that maybe I’d be some miracle infertile who was “fixed” by birth control and it actually helped me get pregnant. I’d gone ‘round the bend. Now, I do feel the relief and freedom that comes from not worrying or hoping or wondering. I am blissfully free from thinking about my own reproduction most days. (This is helped greatly by being on NuvaRing, rather than pills. No daily reminders.)
I still wish I could go off the birth control and be magically better and have one of those lovely little “omfg I never imagined” pregnancies. But, my docs all agree that birth control until we’re ready to TRY - meaning surgery and treatments - is the best plan. And I agree. It spares me the constant discomfort of my stupid wacked-out hormones every month. At least rational-me agrees. Hopeful-delusional-me still wants them to say “here’s a secret way for you to get pregnant without any of that. Ta da!”
I hate that I can still end up here in the place, this “I’m so sad and broken” place. Why me? Why am I the one who’s so broken that she can’t even be a little bit pregnant? How is this possible? Even others who struggle and struggle have one or two after 3.5 years. I’ve none. What’s wrong with me?
The guilt. The shame. The anger. The tears. Mulling it all over in my head, again.
I wish I had some uplifting thing to say at the end of this post, but right now it’s pity party time. I still feel broken sometimes, and it freakin’ hurts.
I know what you’ve been thinking. “Gee, it’s great that Jen is moving on, but I really wonder what’s going on with her lady bits these days.” Well, you’re in luck! This is a vagina update!
This month my V got to meet two new friends. First, we met the Diva Cup, a menstrual cup that had been recommended to me by an IRL friend, and enthusiastically endorsed by many a Tweep. After a couple of fumble-y moments, I got the hang of inserting and removing the cup, and I was smitten. It’s super comfortably, and since there’s no string hanging out, it feels like I don’t even have AF. I didn’t have any leakage, thankfully. I’m also psyched that it’s reusable, and I’ve eliminated another regular budget item. Score! I wish that more women knew about this option, so check it out if you’ve never learned about the Diva Cup! (My Gyn, in classic western doc fashion, was surprised that I liked it, and warned me not to forget about it. Got it!)
And, yesterday, we met Nuva Ring. My BCP hasn’t really been working out - perhaps partially due to my inability to take the damn pill at the same time each day. Anyways, I want to be on birth control to reduce (eliminate!) my crazy PMS symptoms, and protect my ovaries from endo and cysts. But, I’ve been having pretty much the same symptoms even on the pill. My Gyn recommended trying the Ring, and I said “Why not!” Yesterday I stopped by her office to pick up some samples (free!) and when I peaked in the bag, I didn’t see any instructions. Um, yeah. This thing is going in my vagina. A diagram might be nice? So, I ask the receptionist if there are instructions for the Ring. She asks a nurse and comes back and was like “I guess there’s no instructions, but, you know, it’s like a tampon (UH NO IT’S NOT), you just fold it in half and wiggle it up there.” Me, “Yeah, I’ll look on the website.” Both of us: laugh uncomfortably. So, in an office full of medical professionals, the receptionist is demonstrating how to “wiggle it up there” while we’re standing in the waiting room, in full view of all the preggos. Delightful! But, I got home, checked their website, found some diagrams, and, essentially, wiggled it up there. I had to remove and re-place it once, I think it was bumping my cervix a little too much. But, since then, it’s felt like… well, I can’t feel it at all. So far so good! DH and I have yet to give it a “test drive,” but I’ll keep you posted.
So, many adventures in vagina-land these days. I’m really hoping these two new-to-V items will help me feel a bit more “back to normal” with my body. Fingers, and labia, crossed! (Not really, ouch.)
NOTE: I am NOT endorsing either of these products. Just sharing my experiences with them. Ask your Gyn if you think these might be good options for you!
Today is my thirty-second birthday. It sure doesn’t feel like a birthday, and frankly I’m not at all interested in having a birthday right now.
This is the fourth birthday that I’ve been waiting for my family. I honestly don’t feel a bit of joy over this “special day.” I feel that emptiness; the hole that cannot be filled. That infertile feeling.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was going to have my kids by 30. And, for sure I would have at least one now and be working on the second. Just like everyone else.
Birthdays are sucky reminders of everything that was supposed to be. And everything that hasn’t been. This birthday is just another step in the long, long wait to meeting our child.
Is our baby here yet? Oh. Nope. I guess I’ll eat more cake.
Infertility has changed me in ways I could have never imagined. It’s taught me many things. (I am not the silver-lining type, but I can’t ignore this one…) I started this journey feeling the depth of my pain, it was intensely personal. In ways I’d never really experienced before. (Hence, @thisispersonal.) My personal experiences led me to reach out to other women who were experiencing their own journeys with infertility, through blogging and Twitter. Then I got involved with organizations who support these women, namely Resolve.org. My personal journey also coincided with the political shit-storm of attempts to repress women’s rights and take away essential health care services like birth control and pregnancy termination. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t not get involved. Over the past year, I’ve been educating myself and volunteering when I can. I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of learning, and I’m so excited to be on this new journey! I wanted to share one inspiring experience with all of you. This was truly an awakening for me, and helped shape my development as an activist.
Nearly a year ago, I signed up for the NYC Planned Parenthood Activist Council Training. This is an amazing program run by my local Planned Parenthood - you attend four weekly trainings on various topics about reproductive rights advocacy. After completing the trainings you can join the Activist Council, and one of the many committees that work to support Planned Parenthood NYC.
The third workshop of the series was about political activism, focusing on the slew of state legislation that’s come out over the past year attempting to limit and deny women’s access to legal, safe abortion services. This is exactly why I was there. Not only I am dedicatedly pro-choice, but I have become passionate about how the issues that surround abortion rights intersect with the infertility world. (More on that in another post!) In the past three years, I have become deeply involved with a community that is faced with these serious, devastating medical issues, while watching the politics surrounding women’s bodies spin seemingly out of control. This workshop spoke directly to me, to my experience, to my motivation.
At the end of the session, I waited to introduce myself to the speaker, and share my perspective and desire to get involved.
As I started telling her my story, the tears came. I couldn’t stop them. I was talking about how much I want to help, and how important it is for the infertility community to support these issues and fight for reproductive rights. And then, I started apologizing for my tears. I was humiliated. Here I am trying on a new professional identity, and I was crying like a girl. Damn it.
And this wonderful activist looked at me and said “No need to apologize. The personal is political, right? That’s why we’re all here.”
This morning I had a meeting with my Rabbi to discuss how the synagogue can support those in our community who are struggling with infertility. Starting last fall, around the high holidays, we told our Rabbis that we had been diagnosed, had done IVF, and had a loss. I was struggling. We usually participate in the High Holidays services, but I wasn’t feeling up to it (and had actually skipped services the year before). They were incredibly supportive, and have been in touch with us regularly since then. (One of my Rabbis helped me with the mikvah ceremony I did recently.) They also reassured us that others in the community had been talking to them about their own journeys with infertility and adoption. Since then, the synagogue has been committed to finding a way to support this part of the community. I am thrilled to be a part of these discussions, and I also hope it will help me reconnect to my faith.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a way to reconcile my participation in religious services with my infertility. For me, it was just too damn painful to be in that space. Our synagogue has an incredible community, but it’s very family-oriented. For me, it was just to hard to see that community, knowing that I couldn’t be a part of it (yet). There was one Saturday morning when I walked into the lobby of the building, saw all the strollers, and had a full-on panic attack. I left the building and I didn’t go back. At one point, I tried reaching out to one of the Rabbi’s about what I was dealing with early in the process, and while he was kind, it just didn’t feel like he “got it.” Now it’s been more than two years since I’ve gone to services regularly. I’m starting to feel ready to reconnect with my spirituality, but it’s still hard, and I know I need to be careful about those “trigger” situations. (Even this morning I was overwhelmed by all the kids attending day camp at the synagogue. WOAH.) Looking back, I know that I was protecting myself from inevitable pain that I didn’t know how to manage, but I also lost a lot by removing myself from that community. I’m so glad to know that we might be creating a way for people to stay connected and find support and comfort during such a difficult time.
So, my question for you all - what do you wish your faith community would do to support you in your infertility journey? (Yes, I’m Jewish, but I want to hear from EVERYONE on this!) Please leave a comment or tweet me!
Tomorrow night I’m going to the mikvah. (What’s a mikvah? you ask. Here’s a pretty good description.) I’ve gone to the mikvah twice before - once for my conversion, and once before my wedding. This time, I’m going to symbolize moving on from my life of “TTC” and prepare myself for the next phase of life and our adoption journey.
I need to write out my intentions for this ceremony. Which I’ve been avoiding for quite a while… I don’t feel completely *ready* for this, but I think it’s the right time. Ya know? I’m hoping that this will help me sort out some of the emotions I’ve been having about this transition, and life in general.
- I want to honor my infertility.
- I want to honor my intentions to create life and have a child.
- I want to honor the life that we lost.
- I want to honor the pain we’ve survived.
- I want to honor my husband for his strength and support.
- I want to honor my body, and respect it.
- I want to heal my body, which has been broken and abused.
- I want to heal my spirit, which has been lost and disconnected.
- I want to heal my heart, which has been shattered again and again.
- I want to move past some of the loses and grieving I’ve done.
- I want to prepare myself for the journey ahead of me - adoption.
- I want to accept myself and my life.
- I want to recommit myself to my marriage.
- I want to recommit to myself, and finding the strength to live a life of joy and fulfillment.
- I want to feel whole again.
My new gynecologist sent me for another round of testing to see what’s going on with my wacky reproductive system. I was on month three of spotting (which has never happened before), and on month two of BCP. Part of me still wants answers. Part of me still wants to ignore all of this. She sent me to an endocrinologist (not the reproductive type), and to a radiologist for an ultrasound. Good news - the second type of BCP is working well! I don’t feel crazy, and my PMS seems totally normal again. Thank the good lord. More good news - there is nothing wrong with my thyroid. Completely normal. Not even border line a little bit. (Annoyingly, the endocrinologist spent a lot of time telling me that I should come back for more testing when I’m pregnant, and after giving birth. Did you listen to anything I said, dude?) I guess I should be happy that my thyroid isn’t causing my infertility or wacky cycles, but I’m just not. I’d prefer an answer. Preferably one with a solution.
The not so good news: the u/s confirmed that there’s something officially weird on my right ovary. This is not news to me; it’s been there in every single u/s I’ve ever had. Sneaky little bugger. But, now the gyno wants me to get an MRI to check it out further. UGH. I was really not expecting this at all, and it hit me hard. I consulted Dr. Google, which I never do, and I really don’t think it’s ovarian cancer. But, the word “benign” has been used, which causes immediate concern in my world. Ugh to the max. The up side is that I was going to ask for an MRI, as they can be used to diagnose certain types of endometriosis, according to my u/s technician. So, hopefully we can do a two-for-one deal.
To add to this delightful scenario, I apparently have a deductible for this type of procedure and will have to shell out about $1500-2000 for the MRI. And that’s for in-network. Eff that.
So, although I’m no longer trying to involve my body in family building, it’s still dragging me along - test after test. I must say, I’m goddamn over this.
I can’t believe it’s taken me a week to write this post, but I am still so excited and proud to announce that our NIAW team #hope fundraiser was a fantastic success!!
Drum roll, please…..
- 16 people bought #hope tees, donating $5 each: $80
- I matched each of those $5 donations: $80
- Friends and family donated $635 directly to Resolve!
- I matched $5 of each of their donations: $60
Total amount raised for Resolve.org during National Infertility Awareness Week through our team #hope fundraiser: $855
I know how much I love this community, and how much Resolve.org has helped my husband and I throughout our journey. I am so thankful for all that they do for the infertility community - from information resources to support groups to political advocacy. Incredible. I am so so thankful to everyone who contributed to the fundraiser. Thank you. I can’t wait to see you all wear your #hope tees with pride!
A dear tweep of mine, Rachel (from www.rachelsgettingthere.blogspot.com), participated in Advocacy Day 2012 by making phone calls to her elected representatives today, showing her support for the Family Act and the Adoption Tax Credit. Being in the offices today showed me how important it is that others were calling in to reinforce our message. Every phone call, visit and email makes our message stronger. I was so excited to hear about Rachel’s experience that I wanted to share her story on my blog. She’s an inspiration and I’m so thankful for her great work today! HIGH FIVE, Rachel!!
Today I made my first phone call to someone on Capital Hill. I made three calls actually, one to Senator Saxby Chambliss, one to Senator Johnny Isaacson, and one to Representative Lynn Westmoreland. I don’t know why, but I was really nervous about it. I called to express my desire to see the Family Act passed and to see the Adoption Tax Credit extended. I was sent to a voicemail by Senator Chambliss’ office but I was able to speak to actual people from Senator Isaacson’s and Representative Westmoreland’s offices.
I shared with both of the men that I spoke to that my husband and I were one of the many couples that wanted desperately to have a family but do not have coverage for infertility through our insurance company and, like most couples of child bearing age, we aren’t rich. I expressed how much these tax credits would mean to families like mine in that they would make our dream of having children a little bit closer in reach.
The man that I spoke to from Senator Isaacson’s office had just gotten out of a meeting with Resolve when I called. I didn’t get a definite answer on whether or not I could count on the Senator to support the Family Act (he said they wanted to look at the nuts and bolts of the bill before making a decision) but he did sound very positive towards it.
The man that I spoke to from Representative Westmoreland’s office said that they supported both the Family Act and the Adoption Tax Credit. He told me that not only would these bills help build families, but they would also help stimulate the economy. If I have a baby I go to Babies’R’Us and buy products, I take my child to the doctor, and pay for child care. All of these things are good for the economy. I was so thrilled to hear this argument for the tax credits. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s a darn good argument.
I felt so empowered after making those calls. Standing up for myself, my husband, and people like us felt amazing. We need to be our own advocates. We are many, and if we stand together we CAN make things happen. This is meaningful to me because infertility has made me feel so out of control of my life and my own body. It felt good to take even a little of that power back.