‘We will love you no matter what, even if you decide not to stick around.’ I was scared of losing her. I finally reached my breaking point.’: Gay mom suffers postpartum anxiety after struggling with infertility, ‘I desperately wanted to be understood’

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“Our journey to pregnancy wasn’t easy. Brittany and I always knew we wanted to have kids. After we got married in February 2016, we purchased the last 7 vials of sperm from a sperm bank. We found a local fertility clinic in Florida and made our initial appointment. We were told due to my age and medical history IUI (intrauterine insemination) should work within the first try. I started on Clomid for a few days and went back in to check on the growth of the egg. Instead of finding a nice looking egg, our doctor found a very large cyst and our first cycle was canceled. We were very sad, very confused and didn’t know how to move on from there. At the same time, we found out Brittany was getting transferred to Colorado for work which meant we would have to put our dreams on hold.

Courtesy of Romi S

We moved to Colorado in May 2017 where we once again started our journey to parenthood. Surgery to remove my cyst was scheduled for February 2018. By then we were exhausted and had been trying for what felt like too long even though we had not even completed an actual fertility implantation at that point. Up until then, we were just trying to make it to the trying point.

I don’t think I can explain the excitement we felt after our first IUI. We had my age and medical history on our side, we had it all. I felt pregnant, I didn’t know what being and feeling pregnant was like, but I was one hundred percent sure I was pregnant. The hard reality came two weeks later, and then again a month after that. Two failed medicated IUI cycles. Month after month, our hearts would get broken and meanwhile, all of our friends and family were getting pregnant, having babies. Our hopes kept getting crushed and our bank accounts kept shrinking. We knew our journey would be hard, but we were not prepared for how emotionally draining this process would be, how jealous we would be of other couples announcing their pregnancies. We would tell each other, ‘they don’t even have their life together, but we do! Why are they getting pregnant and we are not?’ This wasn’t us, we felt alone.

Courtesy of Romi S

Soon after we decided to move onto IVF, a procedure that gave us hope. We got an email from our clinic with the breakdown of the pricing for the cycle – we fell over. Close to $26,000. How were we going to afford that? Insurance companies don’t cover fertility treatments, what are we going to do? We were not giving up, we left our bank accounts in 0 but we continued. I was on several different hormones prior to egg retrieval, hormones that turned me into a different person, hormones that were hard not only on me but on my wife and our relationship. The process tested us on each and every single possible way. We made it to transfer day full of hope, but at the same time being realistic, there’s always a chance of it not working. A nurse took us to a room, I changed and took a Valium and a bottle of water, we waited for one hour. The doctor came in with a nurse and shortly after, the embryologist with our baby girl in what looked like an incubator connected to a screen, and on the screen there she was. We could see that tiny little cell dividing and growing. That was our daughter.

From that day on, every morning for the first trimester I would put my hand on my stomach and I would tell her, ‘We will love you no matter what, even if you decide not to stick around.’ We shared the news early. I wasn’t ready to share the news but Brittany was. My heart was still trying to protect itself from the possibility of not carrying the pregnancy to full term. After all, we had fought for her so hard, I was scared of losing her. When I was four and a half months pregnant, my father died. I didn’t cry, but I suffered in silence. The thought of him not meeting our daughter crushed me. The thought of him missing so much crushed me, but I continued because we had so much to look forward to. We finally had our little miracle on the way.

Courtesy of Romi S

The rest of the pregnancy was thankfully very easy. Ava was born after a five-hour-long labor and half-hour pushing. It was more than we could have dreamed of: Brittany got to assist in the delivery and after two nights we went home. Prior to going home, I got the typical ‘it is okay to cry if you need to cry, hormones are going to be crazy the next couple of days.’ But did I cry? I cried over the sun shining bright, I cried because our daughter was too beautiful, I cried because I was happy and I cried for no reason at all. I wasn’t prepared to feel the drop of hormones the way I did, the way all of us new moms do. Ava was the easiest newborn, quickly adapted to the outside world and we got into a little routine. The sleepless night started to take a toll on us, those days are a blur. I struggled with feeling as happy as people online look after having a baby. I remember telling Brittany it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but maybe, just maybe, if I got a night of sleep, I would feel better. But I didn’t. I loved her and all we had accomplished and I was happy, just not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

Courtesy of Romi S
Courtesy of Romi S
Courtesy of Romi S

Six weeks went by before I finally reached my breaking point. Brittany was getting ready to leave town for work, 24 hours and 24 hours only. I had a panic attack and Brittany had to cancel her work trip, and several more times after that. After the first one, I looked for help. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Anxiety, or PPA, and started to take medication, but it was hard. It was hard for Brittany. She didn’t know how to help me and it hurt her to see me struggling, I could see it in her eyes. I would apologize for hurting her and her work, for not being able to control myself. I was embarrassed. I desperately wanted to be understood. I wanted someone to say ‘you’re not alone, it happened to me too.’ For the first time in months, I found myself grieving in a way I hadn’t before. I wanted my dad, I needed my dad. I was a 5-year-old again, who wanted her father. I felt alone, abandoned when I needed it most.

Courtesy of Romi S

Our daughter is now 6 months old. I’ve learned more about myself since she was born than I ever thought possible. I don’t know if anxiety is something I am ever going to beat, but I live a happy, full life. I no longer wonder why I don’t feel the way I thought I would, I no longer feel alone, I can say I am finally okay. I decided to make my journey public in hopes that less people feel the way we did, the way I did. I am sharing my journey because social media paints a pretty picture of it all, but I want to help, inspire and show you real, but mainly because you’re not alone.”

Monet Nolan Photography
Monet Nolan Photography
Monet Nolan Photography
Monet Nolan Photography
Monet Nolan Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Romi S from Colorado. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more touching stories like this:

‘This little baby was created in a tiny dish. She was a perfect product of us.’: After same-sex couple’s harrowing Reciprocal IVF journey, their advice is to ‘stay strong’

‘9 months after our journey began, our baby was made.’ Same-sex couple’s IVF struggle to become parents

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