I’m so excited to introduce you to Christine of Infertility Illustrated. Currently working in corporate communications in Chicago, Il., Christine studied illustration in college and is using her talent to share what it’s like to deal with infertility. Drawing true-to-life, funny, and insightful representations of her experiences, anyone that has gone through infertility or is currently going through it will find her work relatable. Head to her Instagram page to find more amazing illustrations: Infertility Illustrated
You started Infertility Illustrated in August 2017. What motivated you to do so?
We'd been trying for a few years and I've been pretty ignorant about the greater fertility community out there. I was sitting at my desk and just thinking about how my husband was once again starting this exciting new chapter professionally and coincidentally I was having another miscarriage. And it was just the two things contrasted with each other that made me draw a quick little sketch and share it on instagram.
You surpassed 1,100 instagram followers in 5 months, what kind of feedback have you gotten regarding your posts?
It seems like a lot of the illustrations are really relatable and that's what I was hoping for! I really wasn't expecting much at all. My goal is to show "a day in the life of infertility" and what it's like to deal with all the stuff we deal with. So, I'm just really glad people are enjoying my pictures!
Is there an illustration that you’ve found resonates the most with people?
I don't know if there is one in particular that resonates with people the most, but overall, I think the illustrations that are the most relatable are the ones showing just those everyday thoughts and feelings where you're just silently praying to yourself that acupuncture will help you or you're just upset because someone's pregnant with their second child and you can't even have one.
In your first post you list your infertility “creds.” What has the medical process been like for you?
It's been really, really long. I'm so tired of it, you know? We're not ready to give up, but it's been really exhausting. The roller coaster really is the best way to put it. I've heard that analogy a lot and it's so true! Your emotions are constantly going up and down with each new cycle. I never would have thought we would have had to take this road as far as IVF and beyond. I guess maybe I was a little naive because even with IVF I was pretty convinced it would work on our first try. I think educating yourself is a slippery slope, or at least it was for me. When I started to read stories of people who had to do multiple rounds of IVF I sort of had that eye-opening, panicked feeling of "oh my gosh, this could potentially go on a lot longer."
Are you trying anything beyond medical interventions?
I've tried acupuncture in the past, but it started to get a little expensive. We have to pay out of pocket for all of our medical costs so it gets hard to afford everything you want to do. I've also incorporated maca powder into my diet and last year I gave up coffee and alcohol for most of the year in the hopes that maybe all those things would help. But this year I'm back on both coffee and alcohol, they help keep me sane!
What has been most helpful as you navigate your path?
It was really great having a doctor that I trusted and knew I could contact (and would get back to me immediately) about anything. I'm in Chicago now, so with a new doctor, but my doctor in Virginia was amazing. She got me through 2 ectopic pregnancies, IUIs, IVF, and FETs and she was the best! Having doctors and nurses who genuinely care about you is so important and makes everything a little bit easier to handle.
What has been hardest for you during this time?
The hardest thing this past year was going through IVF alone. My husband deployed (he was in the Navy) on the day I started IVF and after the IVF coordinator went through all the instructions for everything I just started bawling in her office because I was going to have to do it alone. So I was mixing my medications, administering my shots, and then dealing with the heartbreak of failure on my own and that was really hard. Infertility is a couples' issue and a lot of the time in the past year I was by myself. Granted, I chose to do it by myself, I could have postponed IVF until he came back from deployment, but when you've been at this for so long you don't want to have to keep putting it off.
How is your partner dealing with this process?
He has been really supportive and understanding. He hates that he hasn't been there for me as he should have this past year, it was pretty hard and frustrating for him. He's a guy that likes to "fix things" so when he can't fix this, he'll just go around and look for other things to fix around the house. I think it's his own way of dealing with the stress of all this.
We often field ridiculous things from people we know and love (and sometimes from complete strangers). What is the least helpful thing someone said to you?
Ugh I feel like there have been so many and I can't even pinpoint one now. When I had this last miscarriage, I went to a general OBGYN because I didn't have a doctor in Chicago yet and she said "you know you can stop"...as in you know you can stop doing fertility treatment. At the time I found it incredibly callous because I was literally in the middle of a miscarriage and so sad and here's this doctor telling me I should maybe give up. Not at all helpful.
What is the most helpful/supportive thing someone said to you or did for you?
My friends and family have all been really, crazy supportive so I hate to single any one situation out. When my husband was deployed, my mom drove 8 hours for the weekend to be with me when I had my IVF retrieval and my brother came down and waited on me when I had my first frozen embryo transfer. My amazing neighbor and friend brought me groceries and picked up my medicine when I had OHSS and could barely walk and she took out my trash for me, which was a small thing, but really sweet! My sister bought me a bracelet that says warrior. So, I've had a lot of support and I'm pretty lucky there!
What would you like others to know about your experience thus far?
I don't think there is any one thing I would want people to know about my experience. My biggest thing is to take care of yourself! Infertility sucks so you have to take time to do the things that make you happy!
What advice would you give to someone about to begin the process of infertility interventions (medical or otherwise)?
Brace yourself. It could be easy or it could be a really long road. Try to take everything in stride, one cycle at a time. And again, you do you! Don't let anyone pressure you into anything!