To help spread awareness of the prevalence of infertility and offer hope to those currently struggling, I interviewed women who overcame the odds and persevered through many challenges to start a family. These are their stories...
When/How did you first realize you were struggling with infertility?
In the beginning of 2010, my husband and I decided to stop using birth control (I was on the pill) and “see what happened.” When nothing did after several months, I did start to worry. At the time, we weren’t in a rush and chose to take a laid back approach, which basically meant doing nothing for quite some time.
What was most challenging about this realization/diagnosis?
By mid-2011 after changing my diet, improving my overall health, and learning a lot more about hormones and reproductive health, I had a renewed sense of optimism about our chances of conceiving on our own. We gave it some more time for those healthy changes to have an impact. As time continued to move forward and I passed the oft-referenced age of 35, I began to become truly concerned that this may not happen for us naturally. My husband was much more laid back about the whole thing – extremely supportive of me and my feelings yet OK to see what happened over time. He has always been open to family building in any way that was ultimately possible for us – fostering children and adoption were always considered and are still something we want to consider for later on. But I have always had a strong urge and drive to have a biological child with my husband as part of the human experience.
What gave you motivation and confidence to move forward?
In 2012, I took more initiative to become proactive about our situation. I went to the doctor and had some initial tests. I prompted my husband to do the same. Those very early tests did not show any obvious problems, and we kind of stalled out in terms of seeking medical help. In the meantime, I explored more holistic options, focusing on diet, lifestyle, and tracking fertility signs with a thermometer and calendar app.
What types of therapy did you pursue?
Eventually, by 2014 I sought out help via a program called Baby Launch Camp run by Bridget Danner This was a great education and means of support. I also started fertility yoga with Angelyn in 2014 and benefited greatly from listening to fertility self-hypnosis tracks from Circle and Bloom. We also started working toward a referral to a fertility clinic but were stymied by all sorts of logistical roadblocks related to our insurance plans.
What factors helped you determine the path you ultimately chose?
Looking back it doesn’t feel like we ever chose any sort of path. Speaking with others I always felt that we weren’t doing enough or being proactive enough. Meanwhile, I was furiously researching and learning all I could about fertility and health in a way that felt helpful to me but was hard to explain to others.
Where did you find hope when the situation seemed most bleak?
I focused on the things that were within my control like diet and lifestyle. Self-hypnosis and yoga were incredibly supportive and helped me feel proactive yet stay relaxed about the process. It’s impossible to say what changed for us allowing us to find out we were pregnant in August 2014, but it was during this time of very deliberate self-care in which I was very focused on our goal of conception yet not stressed out about it. We never made it to the fertility clinic and ultimately conceived on our own.
What is the best piece of advice you received during your journey?
The best piece of advice I received was to take care of myself first and foremost. A happy and healthy mama is prerequisite number one. I learned to not feel guilty about taking the time, energy, and money to participate in activities that made me feel great and energized.
What book(s) or other resources were most helpful?
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you began this journey?
I wish I had known how much support from others in a similar situation can make. It took me a long time to reach out and connect.
What encouragement can you offer someone who is struggling with infertility?
Make sure to offer all the love and care you will someday share with your growing family to those already in your life (your partner, family, friends) and most importantly, to yourself. I found it very tempting to isolate myself within this process but coming out of myself a bit and sharing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with others really helped me “get out of my own head” and move through the process with a lighter heart. I wish you success on your journey, in whatever form that shows up for you. Love is a beautiful thing to share!