I remember telling myself over and over that we had our own story, our own journey, and that was okay. Removing that comparison aspect from my life helped me in more ways than I will ever know.
I am a mom.
I knew deep down that one day we would find our way to a family. Whether it be through IVF, adoption, etc. I knew I would become a parent. Our dreams finally became reality on June 24th, 2018.
It took six (looooong) years.It took time.
It took patience.It was confusing.
It was frustrating.
It was worth it.
Would I do it all over again just to be where I am right now?
A million times, yes.
The last time I wrote about our fertility journey we had just completed our first round of IVF. It wasn't successful. We were crushed and heartbroken. I read through that post often. I can transport my mind exactly back to that point in time.
Writing everything down was healing for me. I hoped that it would help someone in my same situation feel like they were not alone. As I shared my journey, it opened the doors to other women looking for support. I was blessed to be part of the strongest community of women who were all struggling with infertility.
After experiencing the loss we felt after our failed transfer, I was so worried about opening my heart to another round of IVF. I had developed a bond to that little embryo, and I felt like I needed to grieve in my own way. We determined that we would complete another egg retrieval prior to scheduling another embryo transfer.
We only had one viable embryo left after our last retrieval, and I felt that there would be so much pressure on that little guy to stick. I didn't want to get my hopes all tied into this next round working, having it be unsuccessful, and then feel like I was starting over.
We completed another egg retrieval in the Spring.
Scheduled our second embryo transfer for the middle of Summer.
Waited and prayed that our two little boys would implant.
Received the heart-wrenching news that our transfer was not successful.
Picked ourselves back up and determined we were not giving up.
This is the part where I need to say a million thank yous to our fertility doctor, Dr. Conway. When she received the news that our second transfer wasn't successful, she contacted us directly and scheduled us to come in and chat with her the next day.
We went in completely crushed and left that appointment with so much hope. She had informed us that there was either 'an issue with the seed (embryo) or the soil (uterus)'. Since our embryos had been genetically screened, we knew we were implanting healthy babes. She had done some research and suggested we try an Endometrial Receptivity Assay. This would determine the 'prime time' to implant our embryos for optimal success.
We started another round of IVF medication.
Completed two endometrial biopsies. (Ouch.)
Received the greatest news.
Based on the biopsy, my body was considered 'early receptive'—which meant that my body was responding to the medications earlier than the scheduled transfer time. These results were answers to prayers. Our doctor was able to review the results and let us know a time range and date that our embryo would need to be transferred in order for my body to be ready to accept it.
This would be our fourth round of IVF.
Our forth embryo.
Everything felt so right.
We were extremely quiet about our next transfer, only telling our parents. It felt like our little secret, and we were so hopeful it would be a success, we wanted to surprise our family with positive news.
On November 5th, 2018 I received the greatest news.
The happiest phone call.
Our transfer was a success.
A little baby girl defied all the odds.
We were going to be parents.
Looking back at the road to our family, there were four key life lessons that made our journey with IVF and infertility as positive as possible.
1. Protect your heart
There are going to be times where you feel like life is unfair. I remember looking through Instagram and feeling like every post was a picture of a baby, a pregnancy announcement or beautiful mama holding a sweet babe on her hip.
I was envious.
I was sad.
I was frustrated.
Did these other women even understand how hard it was for me?
Did they know that their joy caused me so much pain?
And you know what?
They don't have to.
It became my responsibility to surround myself with positivity and happiness. I needed to protect my heart, my happiness, and find the joy in my life outside of our current life situation. I took a break from the online world, refocused on what was really important, and decided to savor the good in my life. This is what I needed for myself. It wasn't something that was suggested to me by anyone, it just felt right. You are in charge of your happiness. You have to do what is best for you and your tender heart.
2. Have empathetic joy
During the peak of our infertility journey, I received an invite to a baby shower. This was a common occurrence. Family and friends are going to have babies even if you can't. I knew this, but I struggled with the thought of attending.
As I sat back, I realized how this day was going to be so exciting and happy for this person. They were going to have a baby! At this point, I knew the right thing to do would be to attend and be truly happy for them….and you know what? It was wonderful.
The mama-to-be was glowing and happy. She unwrapped little shoes, baby toys, tiny outfits, and squealed at the excitement of knowing her baby would be arriving soon. As I watched her, all I could feel was pure joy for her. She was elated.
Her joy didn't mean that I couldn't be sad that I wasn't able to be in her shoes, but it made me hopeful for my own future, and brought me so much happiness watching her excitement.
3. Understand that every body is different
Infertility is not a 'one-size fits all' situation. Neither is IVF. I remember believing that once we completed one round of IVF we would have a baby. My naïve self didn't realize that it is common for IVF to take a few rounds to be successful.
I compared my body to others who had my same issues and determined in my mind that our outcome would be just like those who were in our same situation.
True.…and it is okay!
Most people I had come in contact with that went through IVF had success on their first attempt. With each failed transfer, I would momentarily slip back into the darkest thoughts of comparison. I felt sadness that I had never experienced before. It was foreign to me and I didn't know how to move past these feelings.
It all clicked for me when my doctor told me that every body is different... even if other women had the same issue I did, it didn't mean our outcomes would be the same. I remember telling myself over and over that we had our own story, our own journey, and that was okay. Removing that comparison aspect from my life helped me in more ways than I will ever know.
Your body is special.
Your body is incredible.
You are perfect just the way you are.
4. Support is key
As I previously mentioned, I was able to connect with some amazing women once I opened up about our struggles. I suddenly had this group that I could talk to who understood what I was going through.
We could joke about how crazy Clomid made us feel. We could talk about how we felt about Progesterone in Oil injections. We would send pictures of our transfer calendars to see how our schedules lined up. The list goes on and on.
I remember friend after friend leaving this 'infertility club' as I watched their hopes and dreams of a family come to life. I was stagnant. I wasn't moving forward. I just kept scheduling more appointments and pinning calendars to my wall. Until, it was finally my turn to 'graduate' to motherhood.
Once we were informed we were having a baby, I felt all the joy in the world start to dwindle as an immense about of guilt sank in. My world of support and love during my infertility journey buoyed me up, and led me to my dreams becoming a reality. But, what about those women who were still struggling?
There was a lot of fear.
Fear of hurting someone who was still on their journey to their family.
Fear that those paths would diverge and that I would lose support and friendships.
Fear that sharing my joy would remind others of what they were still working for.
I felt like I was that person that couldn't share our news. I knew the other side. I knew how it felt to see that ultrasound photo posted online. I knew how it felt watching a gender reveal video. I never wanted to hurt someone's feelings. But, I wanted those around me that shared in our story to know that good things can happen. Miracles are out there, and they are coming to those waiting.
Infertility is not fair. It is heartbreaking. It is difficult.
But, there can be joy on your journey.
Know that you are loved.
You are supported.
You are not alone.
There is always hope.
This page of your life doesn't need to be your story. You can do this. Your dream is just around the corner.
As I've turned a page in our book, I can't help but look back and reflect on what we have been through. We did it. We are so lucky. So loved. Our little girl is incredible. She has the most special soul. She is pure joy and love. I have said it a million times, but I would do it all again just to have her here with us.
Originally posted on Elle Tilby.