Our Struggle with Infertility

(I was really nervous to hit publish on today’s blog post because it is incredibly personal. But after thinking about it for months, I feel strongly that I need to share our story. I want any other woman who is struggling with infertility to know that they are not alone. So many couples don’t talk about their struggles and it’s something that is so common. 1 in 10 couples faces infertility. If I can help one person out there to realize that they’re not in this alone, then it’s worth it to share our experience.)

I met my husband when I was 16. After just a few months, we were in deep…so in love and even chatting about how we would someday get married and have lots of kids. We would stay up late on the phone talking about our future children…little blondies, with bright blue eyes, with smarts from their dad, and stubbornness from their mom. Even back then, we knew we wanted to have a family someday.

Fast forward 14 years, and here we are at that “someday.” We’ve lived in 3 states together, we got married, bought a house, did a lot of traveling, and finally looked at one another last year and said, “We’re ready to start that little family of ours.”

Ready to Start a Family

After being on birth control most of my adult life, I got off of it in August and was so excited to start trying to have a baby. We joked about how maybe we would conceive a child on our trip to Italy and how we would then have to give him or her an Italian name. Even though I went off birth control, I never got a period. At first, I thought that maybe I was super lucky and got pregnant right away! But after taking pregnancy tests about every week, I knew that that wasn’t the case.

3 months went by and still no period. I called my ob/gyn and went in for some testing. Blood tests revealed that I wasn’t ovulating, at all. And with no ovulation, it’s impossible to have a baby (without medication to make you ovulate). Before putting me on medication, my doctor wanted to do more tests on both me and Finn. Finn gave a sperm sample and then we waited.

It was the week after Thanksgiving, and I was walking around Target when I got a phone call from my doctor. She told me that Finn’s sperm results were abnormal and that we should see a fertility specialist right away. I remember wandering around Target on the phone with her, not knowing what to say, or ask, or do. I just went to my car, sat in the parking lot, and sobbed.

For the next few days, I was a mess. I couldn’t help but think that Finn and I might not get to be parents. With both of us being reproductively challenged, would it be possible for us to have biological children? It’s crazy how you can spend so much of your life not ready for a baby and not wanting to get pregnant, and then as soon as you want it to happen, your body yearns for it. Every time I see another pregnancy announcement (which is pretty much all the time for me these days…), my body just aches and I have to blink back tears.

I spent hours on the internet each day…googling, researching, and reading through infertility forums. All of it scared the hell out of me. But I couldn’t stop. I needed to figure out how to “fix” us so we could have a baby.

Time for a Fertility Specialist

I researched a bunch of fertility specialists in Chicago and booked an appointment with one that my ob/gyn recommended. We went in to see him and he ordered more tests for us both. He also advised Finn to see a urologist for more testing.

More appointments, more tests, more waiting for results.

This was all happening during the holiday season, when our schedule was packed to the brim with social events and family obligations. I did my best to push our infertility struggles out of my mind and put on a happy face, but deep inside I was hurting and crying…crying nonstop. 

A Fresh Start to 2018

We approached 2018 sooooo ready for a fresh start and to put the last few months behind us. Bridget even bought me a little gold “8” paperweight to signify that 2018 is going to be our year!

That first week of January things got better.

We were finally able to get an appointment at a different fertility clinic in our neighborhood with one of the best doctors in Chicago. We went to see our doctor for the first time and instantly loved her. She really listened to us, heard our concerns, and put us at ease. She reviewed all of our test results (which is a lot after 3 months of testing), and told me I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I had previously asked my ob/gyn if she suspected I had this because one of the biggest symptoms is not ovulating, but she assured me that I probably did not because I don’t have some of the other main symptoms (obesity, acne, random hair growth).

When I found out that I actually do have PCOS, my first feeling was shame. I was mad at my body for betraying me and not working properly. Why couldn’t it just do what a woman’s body is supposed to do? I hated myself and felt a lot of guilt.

After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take control. I armed myself with knowledge, devouring books on PCOS and researching lifestyle changes I could make to improve my symptoms. I also talked to my doctor and she assured me that I could get pregnant with PCOS, we would just need some assistance.

Round #1 of IUI

Our fertility specialist advised us to try IUI (intrauterine insemination), which is less invasive than IVF. However, it still requires continuous trips to the fertility clinic for monitoring, blood work, and ultrasounds.

After you do the insemination, you wait about 2 weeks to find out if you’re pregnant. Those two weeks were torture and Finn and I did our best to keep our mind off things (like having our own mini Olympic game night!). Then, we woke up early on the day we would know if we were pregnant and took a pregnancy test….seeing those little words, “NOT PREGNANT” on the test was heartbreaking. We took 1 day to cry and be sad…and the next day we were in the doctor trying to figure out our next step.

 Round #1 of IVF

Our doctor advised us to move straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization) because after watching our first round of IUI she wasn’t convinced that we would ever have success with it.

And that’s where we are now…knee deep in our first round of IVF.

And I’m not gonna lie…it’s hard. Really really hard. Hard on my body (shots every day), hard on my spirit, and hard on all of my relationships. I plan to open up more about our IVF process (there is so much to discuss), but for now, I just wanted to share where we’re at in our journey.

We’re currently in the middle of our first cycle of IVF and we’re giving it our all, with so much hope that this technology will help us become parents.

Finding Support

We’ve both opened up to our families about what we’re going through and that has been a huge help. I also confided in Bridget and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve called her crying, making no sense at all, just choking out words and she has cried right along with me.

It’s when you go through the shitty moments like these that you realize how awesome the people in your life truly are.

Everyone I’ve talked to about our struggle has asked me how it has affected our marriage and I’m always relieved to tell them that this has brought Finn and me closer together than ever before. We cry together, we hold hands and try to keep hope for the future, and we let each other feel whatever we need to feel. He gives me my shots every night like a champ, makes sure my medications are all ready to go, and keeps my spirits up (which is the toughest job of them all). I am so damn lucky to have him.

Infertility is a test on any marriage, but I think God gave this difficult path to the right people.

What Now?

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know that Finn and I are going to be parents one way or another. We aren’t giving up, we just have too much love to give to just keep it between us two and deep down I know that I am going to be a mom someday.

I was recently talking to a friend about her experience with IVF and she said that the most important thing you can do is remain hopeful. Which sounds easy enough, but I’m at this weird place where I don’t want to get my hopes up in case they’re shot back down again with another loss and 5 steps back. But she recommended this quote to me…

“Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.”

So that’s what I’m trying to do every.single.day. 

And when I do finally get that positive pregnancy test, I’m going to be the happiest girl in the world. Our baby will be so loved, so wanted, and I will be forever grateful when it gets to be ours.

Casey