‘At least you’ll stay skinny!’ I sat on the toilet and cried. You never think you might be the ONE.’: Woman documents infertility journey, ‘Don’t be ashamed to talk about it’

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“Conceiving a child may never happen for you.’ The words you so desperately prayed would never be spoken. The words that hit you like a ton of bricks. They say approximately 1 out of every 8 couples struggle with infertility. Yet, you never stop to think you might be that ONE.

I have always wanted to be a mom. Taking care of children always came so naturally to me. I knew, one day, I would become a nurse, get married, and have a baby. Simple right? Unfortunately, not everything in life comes so easily.

2016 – The year I married my best friend. We knew we wanted to wait awhile before having children — we had a lot of things we wanted to accomplish — but I (not so secretly) couldn’t wait! As soon as we were married, I made Steven come with me to my ‘yearly exam.’ I jumped right to the point: ‘How long before trying to get pregnant should I stop my birth control?’ I had been on Depo shots for 8 years by then. I knew from friends and family it could take a while, so I needed to plan ahead. ‘Six months. Plan for 6 months before trying to conceive. In the meantime, however, start taking oral contraceptives to help regulate your period.’ You see, I hadn’t had a period in 8 years, and prior to taking Depo, I would only have a period once every couple of months. That wouldn’t be an issue, though. A lot of people with irregular cycles get pregnant!

Courtesy of Ashley Evans

Six months later, and I was more than ready to start trying. Steven was still a little iffy at the time, but I constantly reminded him, ‘If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll never have kids!’ I immediately downloaded a fertility app on my phone, and I tracked EVERYTHING. Literally… everything. When my period started, when it ended, what I ate that day, what my mood was like, what symptoms I was having (sorted out by anatomical region of course), and so many other factors I won’t bore you with. I bought ovulation sticks I peed on religiously. I started taking prenatal vitamins, as well as other vitamins people recommended to me. I avoided drinking wine or any alcohol. You name it, I tried it. It was exhausting to say the least.

I’ll never forget the first time I got my period after REALLY trying. I sat on the toilet and cried. I couldn’t help it. It was only one month, and I sat on the toilet and cried like a baby. Steven reassured me (per usual), ‘It has only been one month. Don’t get your hopes up after only one month.’ But several months came and went and every time it ended the same… tears. 30 days is a pretty average cycle. My cycle, however, was typically between 45-50 days. That means I had to wait 45-50 days after getting my period to try again.

Here’s how it goes: You get your period, and you instantly record it into your app. From there, it will tell you which days you’re ‘most fertile.’ That’s your window to have as much sex as possible, in hopes one of those little swimmers will stick. In the meantime, though, don’t forget to pee on your ovulation sticks every morning. Once you get that static smiley face, you’re at your peak fertility. Peak fertility marks the two most fertile days of your fertile window — the day prior to ovulation and the day ovulation occurs. In other words, this is your best shot at getting knocked up. In all of the months of trying to conceive, I only got one static smiley face.

Courtesy of Ashley Evans

Pregnancy announcements were everywhere. Except for my own. I swear I had never seen so many pregnancy announcements in my life. Jump on Facebook – BOOM – pregnancy announcement. Get a call or text from a friend or family member – BOOM – another pregnancy announcement. Each time you tell yourself you aren’t going to cry, but who were you kidding? I think I had a meltdown at least once a week. That sounds selfish; I should be so excited for them! That’s the thing people don’t understand. It’s not that you aren’t excited for them, but you’re hurting so much inside. You’re trying to muster up every ounce of happiness you have, while also being consumed by that tight throat feeling you get when you’re trying to hold back tears. You know the feeling I’m talking about. I can literally feel it as I type.

One year (for my age group) is how long they recommend you wait before seeing a specialist. One year seemed like a thousand, but as soon as I could, I made an appointment. I knew I wanted to start by taking the easiest route possible. In my case, it was Clomid every month. This was necessary, as my body doesn’t ovulate without it. I could do up to six cycles before needing to try something different. What you fail to think about, however, is the cost of infertility treatments. As soon as I was diagnosed as ‘infertile,’ my insurance wouldn’t pay a penny. Need an HSG test? That will be $1,035. Want to start Clomid? Don’t worry, that’s affordable, but the blood work every month isn’t covered. Also, don’t forget, each appointment with your provider needs to be paid for out-of-pocket. And don’t even get me started on the cost of IVF or other treatment options. Why does every part of this ‘journey’ have to be a struggle?

Courtesy of Ashley Evans

Sperm testing was next (and Steven’s going to love that I’m openly sharing this with the world). They had planned to test his sperm three separate times. For those of you who know how awkward and stressful this is, three times is a lot! Don’t worry, you can collect the sample at home, but you only have 15 minutes to get it to the lab for the most accurate results. Luckily, we owned some vacant apartments nearby. The first time we took in a sample was uncomfortable, to say the least. They give you a paper to fill out that asks all kinds of questions. My favorite question by far was, ‘What kind of lubrication did you use?’ I’m not lying when I say Steven openly changed my answer from, ‘nothing,’ to ‘spit.’ (insert face palm here).

The second time we collected the sample at home. Steven calculated exactly how long it would take him to drive it to the lab. What he failed to calculate was the wait time once he arrived there. He only had a few minutes to spare, and the line was pretty long. He tried waving someone down to tell them he had an urgent specimen, but they didn’t seem to care. Finally, Steven marched to the front of the line, set his sperm filled cup right on the counter, and told them it was time sensitive, and he couldn’t wait any longer. Two times was all our infertility specialist needed before referring him to a urologist. Low sperm count and low motility were his results. Most men’s sperm count is around 25 million (per our provider). Steven’s sperm count was five million. Five million slow moving swimmers.

Our trip to the urologist was… interesting. For those of you who know Steven, you know he has to joke through any uncomfortable situation — and he did so flawlessly. But putting all jokes aside, this was the day we learned conceiving a child was unlikely to happen. Surgery was the recommendation. Surgery to correct any obstructions in his scrotal veins. Without this surgery, it was unlikely his sperm movement would ever be adequate enough to conceive a child. Surgery was the option; however, there were no guarantees on the effectiveness. How could I ask my husband to have a surgery that wasn’t even a for sure fix? How could we justify spending MORE money on an outcome that wasn’t guaranteed? That’s the thing with infertility treatments, nothing is guaranteed.

Courtesy of Ashley Evans

I know I’ve said this time and time again, but unless someone’s told you you may never carry a child of your own, you don’t know what it feels like. Unless you’ve struggled with infertility, you don’t understand the emotional and physical toll it has on your body. It’s so easy for people to say things such as, ‘You can have one of my kids!’ or, ‘At least you’ll get to stay skinny!’ And as innocent as those statements are meant to be, they leave wounds.

So, I share our story for the couples out there struggling with infertility. You’re not alone. For the woman sitting on her bathroom toilet, month after month, sobbing; I’m here for you. For the couples wondering, ‘When will it be our turn?’ I’ll be praying for you. For the countless women struggling to make it through endless tests, pills, injections, etc; I’ll be rooting for you! Infertility is a disease. Don’t let it define you. Don’t be ashamed to talk about it. Do what’s right for you! For those of you following along on our journey, you know we chose to stop infertility treatments and ended up adopting our son, Abriel. It was the best decision we ever made. I was at my lowest during the three years we tried to conceive, and I let the obsession of wanting to be a mom consume my life. If I said the desire to carry a baby in my belly is gone, I would be lying. But, if that day never comes, at least I have the most precious baby boy to love! One day you will too!”

Courtesy of Ashley Evans

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Evans. You can follow her on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read Ashley’s adoption story here: 

‘The lawyer called, she wanted him back and the papers were already signed. I knew we’d be saying goodbye.’: Couple credits birth mom for saving almost failed adoption, ‘The bond between us made this happen’

Read more brave stories of infertility here: 

‘I met another woman coming out of the office, bawling her eyes out. She, too, was going home to wait for that all too important phone call.’: Couple battles infertility for years, ‘It’s a horrible waiting game’

‘Go home and rest. It appears there is nothing we can do to prevent this.’ I look over at my husband and his face breaks me.’: Mom adopts after infertility battle, ‘He chose us, he set us aside to be parents’

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