Guest Post by a member of the 2023 Footsteps for Family Building Walk Committee
The hardest battles are given to the strongest soldiers.
A story I’ve never fully told publicly even to some of our closest family members, started with our wish for a baby.
We thought it would be easy! Women are hardwired to have children, right?
Apparently not me. I couldn’t do it.
My husband and I tried what everyone always referred to at the time as “the fun way” to have a baby, for a year. After months and months of timing our intimacy, tracking my cycles, and even skipping some special life events if I was ovulating, “fun” was no longer being had by either one of us.
It was when we hit the 1-year mark of trying with no luck that we reluctantly went to our first fertility clinic.
After having exploratory routine testing done, we were told that there was nothing “wrong” with me, but that my FSH and AMH levels were so poor that we should skip IUI and go straight to IVF immediately if we had any chance of conceiving.
We had never considered that we might need to use some form of artificial insemination or undergo any sort of fertility intervention, even though my sister had needed the help of an egg donor in order to conceive. Her doctor told her that her low ovarian reserve wasn’t genetic or hereditary, so it never crossed my mind that I might be faced with a similar situation.
Okay, so you do IVF and have a baby, no problem. I can do that. I always thought it was that simple. It wasn’t.
First of all, no one who hasn’t experienced it can fully understand both the physical and mental toll even just one round of IVF can take on an individual, and also on a couple. Not to mention the financial strain for anyone living in a state where insurance covers very little.
**We are incredibly lucky to live in MA where a large portion of our infertility expenses were covered, but think in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range for those undergoing what we went through, living elsewhere.**
All of the ups and downs. From doctors appointments every other day with blood draws, metal tools, and ultrasound wands. To thousands of shots (literally at this point, thousands) with different protocols of medicines that burn when injected, and bruises that you can never fully cover up.
Feeling like a science experiment, and never getting any definitive answers or reassurance. Days, months, and years of disappointments, losses, depression, and grinning and bearing it through baby showers and births of friends’ children wondering if we’d ever get to have a family.
It’s not that you’re not happy for your loved ones when their families grow because of course you are, but it’s the constant grief and empty hole of not knowing if you’ll ever be able to have a family of your own.
It’s not jealousy or resentment. It’s longing, and a deep sadness. Again, one that I’ll never be able to fully explain to someone who hasn’t been there, but truthfully and sadly one that so many do understand.
It’s a trauma that may never go away that I may carry with me forever. But this is my story. I’ve learned more about myself in the past 5 years than I’ve ever wanted to learn, but all the lessons brought me here.
IVF is NOT a sure thing, that much I now know.
We have been through 8 full rounds of IVF since 2018, with a few early losses of children that we will never get to hold, many many other trials and tribulations, and both sadness and happiness to last a lifetime.
We were blessed with our first child in 2018 through some miracle (and lots of medical help!) using one of my own eggs, and we have recently been blessed with our second miracle baby via donor conception. We feel so lucky.
But, truth be told it wasn’t luck. It was a lot of hard work, resilience, and the deepest pain and most immense perseverance I didn’t know I had in me.
I’m beyond thankful and forever grateful to have an incredibly supportive husband who has been through it all alongside me, and friends and family who were always there even if they didn’t always understand.
I will also forever be eternally grateful to the Resolve New England communities where I found so many who did understand me, and who walked right beside me throughout so much of my journey as they walked their own paths.
Please know that if you’re still waiting for your miracle, it will come in some form or another. My path to motherhood didn’t look at all how I thought it would, but I got there. And I hope your journey, while also likely not linear, will bring you peace and great joy too.
So, that is why I have gladly joined this year’s Footsteps For Family Building Walk Committee, and why I will be walking this year. To honor those who have walked on their fertility journeys before me, to support those who walked on their fertility journeys alongside me, and to encourage those who are still walking their journeys today. That is why I walk.