Throughout my years of trying to conceive, I received lots of cheering, wisdom and support from others who had been on the journey before me. That support made all the difference in the world to me, kept me motivated, and got me through to the other side – where I am joyously busy with my 7-month old twin boys.
It’s really important to me to try to pay that forward. So, if you’re struggling with infertility, I hope my story and my words help in some small way.
My particular journey has all the makings of a juicy novel. It’s full of heartbreak, the patience of Job, lots of money, a will of steel, all the medical science our doctors could conjure up, and a well-crafted plot written by me. Except, the plot kept going off course. And this wasn’t a novel. This was my life.
A little back-history. I had my first two children when I was but a mere babe. Eighteen when I had my daughter Ophelia. Twenty when I had my son Dakota. They’re the bomb diggety. Fast forward 17 years, and I wanted to do it all over again. Yes, my kids were almost grown, I worried about overpopulation, AND I was on the cusp of that dreaded acronym AMA – advanced maternal age. But, I didn’t care about any of that. I felt driven to be a mom again. I knew it was meant to be a part of my story with my beautiful partner Steph.
Steph and I are ill-equipped to have children the natural way. No matter. This is the 21st century, and we quickly found our resources to find out how to go about this business of making a baby, the 21st-century way. I remember that initial meeting with our Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Winslow. I felt confidant in him, the fact that I was 35, and that we had time and resources. I was confidant, centered, focused, and resolved. Good thing I was.
It took us 2 years, 36 eggs harvested, 13 embryos transferred, 2 IUI’s, 3 IVF’s, 3 surgeries, and 2 miscarriages before we would find joy in our twin boys, August and Liam. I would be honored if you would read our full story here. But, in this post, I want to focus on you.
No matter what the particulars are of your story, my wish for you is that you grab hold of hope, and hold it tight. Because as long as you have hope, you can help write your own story. When you let go of it, your thoughts and actions change, and your story is written without your stamp of approval.
If you are struggling with trying to conceive, or have suffered a miscarriage, here’s my best advice.
1. Fertility treatment is a huge undertaking, and you’ll stay focused if you have a long-term plan of what types of treatments you’re willing to do, how long you’re willing to invest, and what you’ll do if a particular type of treatment is unsuccessful. Our plan was simple – we would invest time and money into 3 IVF’s. If those didn’t work, we would move on to donor embryo. If that didn’t work, we would adopt. Come up with a plan with your partner/spouse. Your plan and your limits will be different from mine. Do what in your heart of hearts you think would work for you. And know that your plan can change if it needs to.
2. Plan for the long-haul. Journeys take time – they’re not a one-shot event. Do some people seem to get pregnant as easily as they sneeze? Yes. Do some people have triplets on their first fertility round? Yes. Could it happen to you? Yes. But, chances are, it won’t.
3. Don’t take setbacks as a sign that it’s not meant to be for you. When a setback happens, go back to your master plan, adjust and move on. Even if your success ends in miscarriage – and I truly hope it doesn’t – allow yourself to grieve for as long as you need, and then get back to your plan.
4. Don’t be a victim. It sucks to have to go to so much effort to have a child, when it comes so easily to others. It can be horrible and heartbreaking. But it’s not because you’re not meant to be a parent. It’s not because you’re bad. It’s not because the universe conspired against you. It’s the luck of the draw. You’ve got to find the “good egg”, as I used to call it. That perfect little being that’s meant to be your child.
5. Come up with your own mantra that you go back to again and again. I didn’t set out to have a mantra, but I found myself repeating the same words to myself. My words? “Don’t give up. It will happen. My job is to be unattached about how and when that happens.”
6. Be stubborn. Allow yourself to grieve and feel that it’s “not fair”. Practice patience. If you mess up and break down, gather your shit together, and practice patience again.
7. Allow yourself to have bad days. I may sound all chipper now, but I had many days where I sat outside, just staring out into the yard, wondering how all this would end. I cried lots, and became numb. But, eventually, I would move out of it, and find my resolve again.
8. Give and receive support. I found mine online at BabyCenter.com. Sharing your journey with others is validating. It makes your story real and makes you feel not alone. It also helps with feelings of jealousy, which is a messy, embarrassing thing to feel when you have friends and family who are pregnant, and you can’t feel happy for them.
9. Take a break when you need to. Fertility treatment is grueling. It’s all exhausting on your mind, body, and soul. If you push pause, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It means you’re gathering your strength. You’ll know when the time is right again. Steph and I pushed the pause button after our second miscarriage for 9 months. We healed, had fun, and rested during that time. Come January, we were geared up, and ready to go. Remember, you’re in it for the long-haul.
Your road might be full of disappointment and grief, but if you try your hardest to stay unattached to how you will become a parent, and stay resolved, you will.
It might not be your own egg, it might not be your own uterus, it might be through adoption. You might have to fund-raise, beg, network, or otherwise turn over every rock. But have faith that things will unfold exactly as they’re meant to. Your child(ren) are out there waiting for you on the other side. It might be 9 months from now, or it might be 3 years from now. Your child is out there, routing you on, sweetly and softly. Patiently waiting.
If you’re trying for your first child, this is your first big journey as a parent. Being a parent means being in it for the long-haul. That journey doesn’t being when your child is born – it begins now. I wish you so much love, and wish you lots of grace as you walk your journey. Try to do it with a joyful, but stubborn step.
It will happen for you. Your job is to not be attached to how, or when.
Much love and baby dust. I would love to hear your stories, if you are willing to share. I’m so passionate about this.