How did you first know you were dealing with infertility?
We got pregnant almost right away when we started trying for a family, but unfortunately that ended in a miscarriage. After the miscarriage, we tried and tried but couldn’t get pregnant again. It was somewhere between 9 months to a year after the miscarriage that we started working with fertility specialists.
What happened once this was determined?
So began a long and difficult journey. We got a bunch of testing done, spoke with multiple Reproductive Endocrinologists and went right to IVF, as I was diagnosed with low ovarian reserve. Our 2 IVF cycles didn’t work and left me gutted. We picked up the pieces as best we could, consulted with a couple more clinics and decided on a clinic closer to home. We attempted 2 more IVF cycles but didn’t get the medications right and they both ended up quickly turning into IUIs. We then decided to try some more IUIs because I seemed to respond well to them. I lost count, but we tried maybe 7 or 8 IUIs until I finally got pregnant, about 4 long years after my miscarriage.
What was the medical process like for you?
It was all-consuming – it felt like we were on this rollercoaster ride and just had to hang on for dear life-throughout all the highs and then the inevitable lows of each cycle. It was tough to keep pushing along through everything: the shots, the medications, the research, the conversations with doctors and nurses, the emotional ups and downs, and to not lose ourselves in the process.
Did you try anything beyond medical interventions?
I tried acupuncture and herbs, which I enjoyed. I tried a lot of things – baby aspirin, DHEA, COQ-10, royal jelly, guaifenesin. You name it I probably tried it.
What was most helpful?
The acupuncture helped, I think. I also went to see a therapist, which REALLY helped me work through and process some of the grief, and helped me to let go and loosen my grip. I was trying so hard to will this to happen and to control the present and my future, which is of course impossible. It helped me to see that there are many ways to be a mom and have a family.
It was also really helpful to talk to people, get on message boards, read stories and hear from others going through this process. It can feel so isolating with so many people suffering in silence, but remembering that you are not alone and, for me, reading others’ stories and talking about it when I felt comfortable did help.
What was the most helpful/supportive thing someone said to you or did for you?
I think just being there to support me – there isn’t really anything anyone could SAY that would make it better, but just having a friend to lean on and someone who could bear witness to your struggle. To be there to talk, cry, not talk, take a walk or watch a movie, etc.
What advice would you give to someone about to begin the process of infertility interventions (medical or otherwise)?
I think the most important thing is to do your research and be your own advocate. I was told 3 times that I should use donor eggs, and ended up conceiving with my own eggs on a clomid-only IUI cycle (the lowest ‘intervention’ type of cycle I did). Also, in one cycle, the doctor looked at the size of my follicles (via ultrasound, before ovulation) and wanted me to do the trigger shot that night. At this point I had some experience with follicle size, and I told him I thought we needed to wait one more day so they could get a little bigger/mature a little more. We ended up waiting, and I finally got pregnant with my son on that cycle. The whole field of assisted reproduction is evolving, and is as much art as it is science, so you will find lots of differing opinions and lots of ways to do things. Do the research and talk to as many people and doctors as you can and be your own advocate through this. When you are first starting out, they really don’t know how your body will respond, so they give it their best guess and then tweak from there. Taking notes and being involved in the process is really important!