Please share an insight into your experience with infertility, reasons for the same. The emotional & physical turmoil and how you handled the same.
Going through my infertility journey was, by far, one of the hardest experiences I’ve had in my life. But because of all that I had to go through during that journey, I built greater strength and resilience for challenges I’ve faced since and challenges yet to come. Life is filled with obstacles, as well as great beauty, and my infertility journey helped to prepare me for both.
There were times I wavered in my faith and commitment, but he stayed strong. My first round felt incredibly lonely, as I didn’t know many women who had gone through fertility treatments. I didn’t know where to turn. I also felt isolated and guilty — afraid that I had somehow caused my own infertility and ashamed in a way I didn’t even fully understand. I grew up thinking that becoming a mom was something that happened so “naturally,” that when I learned I would never become pregnant without fertility treatment, it was a hard pill to swallow. But I also wanted to become a mother so badly that I knew I would do everything in my power to stay positive, hopeful, and to follow every word of the experts’ advice.
Emotionally, the infertility journey was incredibly difficult. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cause me moments of anxiety and depression. But I have an incredibly supportive husband. Only my husband, my sister, my parents, and a few friends knew about our first 2 IVF cycles. I was very private, as I was afraid what would happen when/if we failed. I didn’t want to have to share that failure with everyone in my world. But, as a result, that time was one of the darkest periods of my life.
“IVF is an emotional roller coaster.”
You are giving yourself shots in the stomach (or booty) for up to weeks or months at a time. Your body is responding physically to the medications. You must go to the fertility clinic in the heart of the IVF cycle, sometimes DAILY for blood draws and ultrasounds to ensure that your body is responding properly. For two of our cycles, my body responded slowly. In fact, one nurse told me, “I’ve never seen someone NOT respond like this.” It made me feel even LESS normal than I already did. But, thankfully, my body just was slow to respond. I had to do injections longer than most, but, in time, to my relief, I responded appropriately.
The emotional toll is real. Will I produce eggs? How many? How many will they be able to retrieve (extract?) How many will then fertilize? How many will continue to grow and be viable embryos to be able to transfer? (Ideal is a 5-day old blastocyst). Will we have any embryos to transfer? Will the transfer work? If it does, will I maintain a healthy pregnancy?
These were the nonstop questions that ran through my mind. And, above all of this, even beyond the physical and emotional stress, IVF is also unimaginably expensive! And many insurances don’t cover the cost of treatments. Mine did not — despite being a nurse practitioner and working for a hospital, the only “coverage” was for very initial consultation for my diagnosis — there was a $500 maximum allotment that was not even sufficient to cover our first fertility appointment.
After our first IVF cycle we ended up with 3 viable embryos. We did a “fresh” transfer of two embryos and waited the almost unendurable 9 long days after transfer to see if it had worked. I waited all day long that day — I hadn’t taken a home pregnancy test, so I was relying on the blood results from the doctor’s office. Finally, in the late afternoon, my doctor called me. “Shannon, I’m so sorry. It didn’t work.” In that moment, I felt hopeless. I truly did not know if I would ever become a mother.
But we had one embryo left. So, we prepared in the upcoming months for a frozen embryo transfer… our third of the 3 embryos. And that is the embryo that is now our beautiful six-year-old daughter Brooklyn.
Within the next 5 years, we did 2 more IVF cycles. IVF Round 2 gave us 3 embryos. We transferred 2 fresh, but only one made it — our son Jameson. Our 3rd embryo was a frozen embryo transfer, who became our son Madden. Our final IVF round, the 3rd of our rounds, resulted in just 2 embryos. We transferred both embryos, and our twins Camden & Chloe were born on November 14, 2019.
We have been incredibly blessed beyond our wildest hopes and imaginings!
To be honest, though, I have a lot of guilt mixed with my pure gratitude when it comes to reflecting upon my journey. Guilt that we could afford the treatments when others cannot. Guilt that we eventually were successful when others are still waiting to bring a baby home in their arms. And my one and only goal in sharing my story is that it gives hope to others who are struggling the same way I once did.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.