When/How did you first realize you were struggling with infertility?
When we made a decision to start trying. I went off birth control and after 10 months I still didn't have a cycle. My doctor recognized I needed to see a specialist. I was only 33 at the time, and we knew something was off.
What was most challenging about this realization/diagnosis?
I have always felt connected to my body, but in that moment I felt very disconnected. It's very unsettling not to know why an otherwise healthy body wouldn't bounce back to a normal rhythm. That feeling of being out of control was upsetting.
What gave you motivation and confidence to move forward?
I would say my relationship with my husband. We kept saying to each other, "It's going to happen, just not in the time frame we expected." We supported each other, and he gave me pep talks. He was able to maintain a positive outlook.
Talking with friends who had struggled helped me realize I wasn't alone. When I first realized I was having issues, I felt isolated. It seemed like everyone around me was pregnant or already had kids. So being able to connect with them - having them say, "Look, I'm happy to talk about this with you because it happened to us too." I took them up on it, and that was crucial.
What types of therapies did you pursue?
We pursued medical intervention, but also other things. We worked with a reproductive endocrinologist who started us on medication, then moved to IUI, which we did twice before changing clinics. We did one IUI with the second clinic and became pregnant.
Along with the medical approach, I kept up my yoga practice. I have been practicing yoga for 10-15 years, and it was very, very helpful when I felt disconnected from my body. I also participated in the Yoga for Fertility workshop, which was amazing. I think it was my first experience being in a room full of women going through the same thing at that exact time. Outside of that environment I had been talking to friends who had been where I was, but they were past their struggles, and there was still a sense that their situations were different from mine. The workshop was very empowering in that way.
What factors helped you determine the path you ultimately chose?
We didn't have a lot of hesitation about going the medical route. Both my parents and my husband's parents are in the medical profession, so we had trust in the system. Also, I knew my mom had tried for three years and needed assistance to become pregnant with me, so that was helpful. Being able to talk to her about it normalized it.
Where did you find hope when the situation seemed most bleak?
Spirituality had a lot to do with it - believing this is meant to happen for us. Feeling like this is the process we were meant to go through. Accepting that this is our experience. The other part was giving myself permission to grieve for each of the failed attempts - allowing myself to be sad and upset. I also began to recognize a pattern after a few months of treatment. You start off a cycle with so much hope, and there's an ebb and flow. It was helpful in the sense that I knew it wouldn't last forever, and the hope would come back.
I also had to give myself space. We took a long weekend away between cycles to get away from everything and set the process aside so we didn't feel like it was running our marriage or our lives. The space allowed new hope to come back into our lives.
What was the most helpful thing you heard during your journey?
Hearing from friends that "There is nothing wrong with you - you are doing everything you can, and this is happening on the timeline it is supposed to happen on." That reassurance from family and friends was huge. I also received phone calls and text messages from people who knew where we were in the process after each treatment. They were there when it wasn't successful and when it finally was.
What book(s) or other resources were most helpful?
The book, Fully Fertile, by Pulling Down the Moon, Also, I also looked into the RESOLVE website. I didn't attend any of their support groups, but the information there was helpful.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you began this journey?
Find what you are looking for in a doctor. You are not obligated to stay with one practice if you don't feel it is working for you. It is easy to feel powerless when you are surrounded by medical professionals who you think know everything. When I look back on it now I realize that you know your body the best. You can listen to the doctors' advice and all the knowledge they have, but if you don't feel comfortable, that can contribute to stress, which I believe delayed my body's response.
What encouragement can you offer someone who is struggling with infertility?
Be kind to yourself. Trust that you and your partner know what is best for your body and your unique situation. Do whatever makes you feel like you and will help you feel connected to your body throughout the journey