“My husband and I were together for 10 years before finally getting married. We were best friends in high school, turned into lifelong partners! We were able to travel and do a lot of fun things in those 10 years. We bought our first home and adopted two dogs, who quickly became our babies. My husband was not naive to know I was growing incredibly impatient to get engaged, and everyone in our life was on his case to propose! I waited so long for that ring. I sometimes struggled when my life wasn’t looking exactly how I imagined, but I was happy to wait if that’s what it meant.
When we began trying to start our family, I was deeply hoping this would come easy for us and that it wouldn’t be another thing I’d have to wait for. It wasn’t long after stopping my birth control, I could tell something was ‘off’ with my body. I kept pushing for answers and eventually found my way to my Reproductive Endocrinologist. I’m so glad I trusted my gut and advocated for myself!
Shortly after our referral, I was diagnosed with low ovarian reserve. Essentially my body was acting like I was 38 to 40 years old. Our initial workup consisted of loads of blood work, ultrasounds, a sonohysterogram, a hysterosalpingogram, and a semen analysis. I’ll never forget that day. My doctor came into the consultation room and said, ‘We have a smaller problem and a larger problem.’ Finding out I was the problem was hard to hear. I did not take it well and truthfully cried for days. My whole life, all I ever wanted was to be a mom. Was this ever going to happen for me? Would I ever be able to get pregnant? I was glad everything was essentially good on my husband’s end, but I also felt a little resentful and in turn, felt terrible for feeling that way.
We worked through all of the emotions and were excited to start our first IUI. All my appointments were scheduled but just a day later, our clinic called and said they were closing down due to COVID-19. Cue the mental spiral and tears. I was devastated and knew it would mean more months and cycles flushed down the drain.
When our clinic was cleared to open, we started with a medicated IUI. I went in just before we were supposed to have our IUI following Clomid and I had prematurely ovulated (another thing pointing to my bum ovaries). I was devastated and left the office in tears. Another month passed and we went into my next baseline ultrasound only to find a large cyst on my ovary. So, you guessed it – another IUI canceled. And to add salt to the wound, I had to take birth control for a month to try to get rid of the cyst. I wondered if we were ever going to catch a break.
I had another consult with our RE, and she highly recommended starting IVF. In July 2020, we started to gear up for our first round of IVF! Naturally, we had to have a little bump in the road. The cyst on my ovary had actually grown and did not respond to the birth control. I was not able to start injections because it would be taking up space for healthy eggs! Just a day later, I went to get the cyst aspirated.
It’s truly a whirlwind of appointments, bloodwork, and injections. Balancing all of it with ‘normal life’ proved to be overwhelming at times. To top it off, I was going in alone. No one could come to any of my appointments with me because of COVID-19. My family and friends were amazing support through it all but going in alone made an isolating process even more lonely.
On the day of my egg retrieval, my husband waited in the car as I went under anesthesia and they wheeled me out to him after. We ended up retrieving five eggs and were hoping and praying we could get at least two embryos based on statistics. We were in for a huge shock when we found out 5 days later, we had five good looking embryos. I cried happy tears for what felt like the first time.
After recovering from my egg retrieval, I started preparation for our frozen embryo transfer the following month. We decided to keep the date of our transfer a secret. I felt like I couldn’t answer our friends and family if it didn’t work. I had so many emotions going into our transfer. I was so excited, but also incredibly nervous to get my hopes up.
On the day of our transfer, we drove to the clinic together and my husband waited in the car. Kind of ironically, I was essentially getting pregnant and my husband wasn’t even in the building! We FaceTimed during the transfer and hoped so hard that it worked. You would think I would be used to waiting at this point, but this was definitely the hardest wait yet.
The shock continued when we took a pregnancy test about a week later. I was so certain it did not work, based on symptoms. I was being pretty negative and was already mentally preparing for the next steps. We decided to test at home before our blood work. I wanted to find out together either way and I couldn’t handle waiting for that phone call from the clinic. I took the test and made my husband look first. I had seen far too many negative tests and wanted to protect my heart. He said from the bathroom, ‘There’s two lines!’ I ran to go look and couldn’t even believe I was seeing a positive test. While I was so incredibly excited, I was also terrified. What if this dream that’s now tangible, is taken away?
Infertility truly affected every aspect of my life. My husband and I definitely struggled at times. Infertility forced us to work through hard issues and we had to navigate how to communicate better. We learned to lean on each other during these trying times. He was always incredibly positive throughout our whole journey. Which in hindsight, is what I needed. Some days, I wanted him to be angry and negative too. Overall, it definitely brought us closer, but it didn’t come easily.
Infertility also affected my friendships. Some days, I turned down invites so I wasn’t reminded of what I didn’t have. My friends were so supportive, but a lot of days, I just wanted to be alone. Every pregnancy announcement, I would choke back tears and turn off social media for the day. I would never wish infertility on anyone, but it felt so unfair. I was guilty for mentally comparing timelines of trying to conceive and would constantly wonder, ‘How does this happen so easily for some people?’
Infertility also affected my job. As a NICU nurse, I sometimes struggled to go to work to take care of babies. I think it was hard to see certain situations where babies were unwanted, or mothers used illicit drugs during pregnancy and got pregnant so easily. Meanwhile, I would give anything for a chance to have a baby. It was definitely an internal struggle I had to work through, but I always found joy in my job and continued to always put my heart into my work.
My fertility clinic was around the corner from work, so I would often head into work right after appointments. Some days were easier than others. Some days I would sit in my car and let myself have a good cry before going to work.
The day we found out we probably wouldn’t be getting many eggs from our retrieval, I was having a really hard time. I kept thinking, ‘How can I be doing all of this and there is still a chance it might not work?’ I was finally able to pull it together and headed into work. I made it to the COVID-19 screening to get my temperature checked, and the lady asked, ‘Are you, okay sweetie?’ And I absolutely lost it. Uncontrollable tears and all I could mutter was, ‘No.’ I hurried to get to my floor and texted my friends to meet me when I got there. My friends seriously held me up on some dark days. I’m so grateful for all of the people in my life that listened to me vent and cry so many days.
I would love to tell someone struggling with infertility to continue living life and not to lose hope, but I know that’s so much easier said than done, especially considering most days I did neither. But now, I’m living what I thought some days would never be our story as I am pregnant with our IVF baby. It’s so surreal.
Being a nurse and going through infertility, I have learned the importance of being your own advocate. If you don’t advocate for yourself, then who will? Push for more testing or answers, speak up when something doesn’t feel right, and always remember your voice! Infertility took a lot of things from me, but it also gave me strength I never knew I had!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittany Greenhill from Cleveland, Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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