An Open Letter About Infertility
Opening up about my infertility and IVF journey is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It”s taken me 8 months to tell my story. I am very protective of my experience and my pain which made me very selective with who I’ve shared it with. Every IVF journey is different and so is the pain that comes with a failed IVF cycle. I don’t expect someone who has children, who is pregnant or is blessed with no fertility issues to fully understand the pain that is attached to infertility. If you don’t suffer from infertility it can be hard to understand the magnitude of mixed emotions. The more I talk about it the more real it is, which is probably why I avoided doing so up until now.
I decided it was time for me to share my experience because I know there are other women with fertility issues who need to know they are not alone. There are also friends and family members of infertile women who want to try to better understand what their loved one is going through. Whatever end of the spectrum you might be on, I hope you can find something to take away from my story and perspective.
First IVF Attempt
I’ve dealt with painful irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis for most of my adulthood. Last year we found out that a natural pregnancy might not be in the cards for us. After years of trying to get pregnant naturally, without success, me and my husband turned to IVF. We were “perfect candidates” on paper and we were excited to embark on this new journey together. Our days quickly became centered around injections and doctor appointments. My husband and I bonded on a whole new level during our IVF experience. He helped administer injections (and there were A LOT of them), and at night we would lay around talking about baby names and share our visions of a nursery. We were riding this high of becoming parents that it made all the appointments, needles, vials, bloating, and pain seem like no big deal.
The following days after my egg retrieval was the hardest. Pain mixed with anxiety made me extremely uncomfortable and emotional. Our doctor called every day with an update on how our embryos were doing, and none of the updates were positive. Six days later we got the heartbreaking call that none of our embryos survived. A piece of my heart broke that day and I’m not sure if it will ever heal.
I quickly fell into a deep depression. It was a type of pain that I have never experienced before and couldn’t plan for. I felt like something had broken inside of me; like my body had failed me. Women are created with everything we need to conceive children and the fact that my body was not able to conceive made me feel less of a woman. There is no way to prepare for the feeling of inadequacy that I felt. It was a very isolating experience. The following weeks were hard and I shut everyone out. It took over a month for me to pull myself out of the emotional void I was in. My husband has always been my rock, but his strength during my weakest moments helped me find my smile again. The process we went through was something I needed to digest on my own before sharing it with others, and I’m so appreciative of everyone in my life who understood that.
Second IVF Attempt
During our first IVF attempt, we discovered that I have a blockage on one of my Fallopian tubes along with excessive scar tissue. Our doctor attempted to clear the blockage, but was unsuccessful. The blockage combined with existing egg quality issues gives us a 30% chance at a second successful IVF attempt. A 30% chance might not seem like a lot, but it’s enough for us to try one more time. Am I scared? Yes. But, now I know just how strong I truly am. Regardless of what this next IVF outcome is, I know that I am not alone.