How did you first know you were dealing with infertility?
My infertility story starts with my husband's diagnosis with testicular cancer. It was obviously a difficult time for us, but thankfully he is completely healthy and cancer-free. In meeting with all of his doctors, we told all of them that we wanted more children (we had two girls at the time). We asked if the cancer would affect his fertility and if we needed to bank sperm. We were told that it really shouldn't be an issue and there was no need to do so. Fast forward a year later when we decided we were ready to start trying for baby #3. Because I had no issues getting pregnant the first two times, I started to wonder after a few months of trying what could be wrong. After about 10 months, I went to my OBGYN and she suggested that I see a fertility specialist. The doctor ran the necessary tests on both of us and it turned out that his sperm had been greatly affected as a result of the cancer. The doctor recommended that we go directly to IVF and start as soon as insurance approved our case.
What was the medical process like for you?
The process was a bit overwhelming! After twice conceiving naturally, I never imagined that I would have to go through IVF to have a baby. I really didn't even know much about the process so I was a scared, anxious, sad and also hopeful because now that I had answers, I was happy to know that this could work.
Did you try anything beyond medical interventions?
Not really. While I was trying to get pregnant, I read a lot online about ovulating, when to have sex, and all the wives tales about how to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
What was most/least helpful?
Most helpful was the support from my husband and family, and also from friends that had been through the process. I am so thankful that I had a few close friends that had been through IVF that I could ask questions and that could relate to what I was going through.
What was hardest for you during this time?
I think the hardest part was just learning about the whole process and trying not to get too overwhelmed. I have never liked shots or needles, so getting used to poking myself every day was a challenge. And having two little kids at home, it was intimidating thinking about how I was going to get to all the appointments and ultrasounds.
How did your partner deal with this process?
He was really supportive, caring and helpful. He cleared his schedule for the mornings that I needed to be at the doctor's office, and I truly felt like he was right there with me for the entire journey. He took care of the kids, came to appointments and was always there when I need someone to listen. I do think he felt a little helpless at times, like when I was in pain or having to give myself injections (because he knew I hated it), but I would try to reassure him that I was ok and that sometimes I just needed him to hold my hand or give me a hug.
What was the most/least helpful thing someone said to you or did for you?
The most helpful thing someone said to me was to take the whole IVF process one day at a time. It's so true and I had to remind myself of it often. I'm not sure anyone said anything to me that wasn't very helpful, but I do remember someone asking me if I was sure I really wanted another baby...which when you're in the middle of IVF should be fairly obvious!
What would you like others to know about your experience?
I am so thankful for the science and technology that can help people, like me and my husband-we wouldn't have been able to have another baby without it. We feel very fortunate that this was possible for us and it was worth all of the frustration and efforts. But I would do it all again if I had to.
What advice would you give to someone about to begin the process of infertility interventions?
Even though it seems like the whole process is confusing, lengthy, overwhelming, and time-consuming, if you can talk to others who have been through it, it will really help. Taking things one step and one day at a time is a must.