My journey with infertility

Infertility. I never knew that one word could have such an impact on my life and even now I experience a wide array of emotions when discussing my journey. Early on I was much more closed off about what we were going through – but as the days, weeks and months wore on I became much more open about our struggle to start our family.  As I opened up about our infertility I was able to find comfort in knowing that we were not alone.

Now that we are the parents of a sweet, healthy, vivacious and strong-willed one-year-old it’s hard to imagine life without her. But for a long time she was just a dream for us. We were lucky to have a strong support team to share our journey with, as well as a very close friend who was going through the exact same thing. It’s a topic that is difficult (and sometimes taboo) to talk about. Infertility is something that people can’t truly understand or grasp unless they’ve been in those shoes. In the shoes of someone who so desperately wants a baby with the person he/she loves while watching what seems like (thanks to Facebook) every person around them becoming pregnant.

Looking back, things could have been a lot tougher. But at the time it seemed like more than I could handle. We lived on a calendar, counting cycle days, taking concoctions of various medications combined with injections, more blood-work than I can even describe, having ultra sound after ultra sound, IUI after IUI, followed by false hope and ending with extreme and utter disappointment. At the end of each month I would isolate myself away from the world… I would cry for an entire day while wondering why our love wasn’t enough to make a baby. I would text my mom three words “I’m not pregnant.” Because I knew that hearing her sympathetic voice would make me cry harder. The next day I would regain my composure and start all over with counting the days on the calendar.

The hardest part was hearing expectant mothers complain about morning sickness, fatigue and weight gain. I had to block out when I would hear mothers complaining about their children. I yearned to have a baby and didn’t care if it meant I would be giving up sleep and/or personal freedom. Hearing people tell me not to stress or that everything happens for a reason made me want to scream (seriously – never tell someone who aches for a family that everything happens for a reason… it’s really just mean.) I can’t count the number of people who told me that their co-worker’s – cousin’s – friend’s – sister got pregnant right after they adopted. I learned to just smile and stay outwardly positive.

Each month I felt a huge void, it was as if I was mourning the loss of a child who was still but a dream to me. In November of 2011, after our 5th IUI, our miracle baby was conceived. She was/is/and always will be a dream come true. I had become so numb to what we were experiencing that I didn’t even flinch at the positive pregnancy test. I was convinced it was an error. So convinced that I went to Target and bought three more… just to confirm. After multiple positive pregnancy tests, I believed it. Finally I was crying tears of joy instead of sorrow. Would we have a boy or a girl? What would we name him/her? Would he/she look like my husband or like me? None of it mattered as long as he/she was healthy. From the moment our daughter was born, I have looked at her with such awe. She is the biggest blessing of my life and worth every second, minute and hour of the anguish we experienced during our journey through infertility. Even now, I don’t know how we got so lucky to have such a sweet and healthy baby girl. As we begin our second round of infertility (we are on our 4th round of trying for baby #2, already with a failed IUI), I am faced with the same emotions as the first time around. This time there is added guilt for wanting another child when I already have been greatly blessed. But we got through it once and I know that we will get through it again. The end result, the blessing of a baby is immeasurable.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the process of fertility treatments and to let it completely consume your life. What I learned the first time around is that it’s important to continue to live joyfully, to continue to live your life… to love your life. Don’t give up on your fight to become a mama. Anything worth having is worth fighting for and I promise you – the moment you see your precious baby for the first time you will know that you would do it all over again (a million times over) in a heartbeat.

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Infertility is emotionally, physically and financially draining. I count my blessings every day for having a loving husband who has stood by my side through it all. He loves me even when I feel completely unlovable. He has comforted me when my world has felt shattered. He stays positive for me, for us, for our family. And most of all, together we made our dream come true. If you or someone you know is experiencing infertility, tell them they are not alone. Give them a shoulder to cry on when they are feeling lost or after their 100th negative pregnancy test. Give them an ear when they feel like talking – let them know they are loved and that there is a plan for them. But whatever you do, don’t tell them everything happens for a reason – I promise you that is the last thing they want to hear.

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{All photos courtesy of Angela Sleep Photography}

28 Responses to My journey with infertility

  1. Blessed Little Family August 19, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Our stories sound very similar! I wrote about our story for the Quad City Moms Blog a few years ago. Here is our story: http://www.quadcitymomsblog2.wpengine.com/2011/09/07/one-moms-experience-infertility/

    I also have my own blog where I share more (tried for number two- it didn’t happen- and dealing with that.) Here’s the link to my infertility posts:
    http://blessedlittlefamily.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/be-at-rest-once-more/

    http://blessedlittlefamily.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/letting-go-of-our-maybe-baby/

    Infertility is SUCH a hard road to travel. I’m so glad we both have our miracle babies!!!

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 19, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing! I actually read your QCMB story almost 2 years ago while we were experiencing the agony of our infertility. You were such an inspiration to me and gave me hope and courage to never give up on starting our family. It’s comforting to be able to find joy and gratitude for the blessings you and I have already have been given. Thank you again for sharing your story and for taking the time to read mine. Your little girl is beautiful!

  2. Linda Tubbs August 19, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    What a beautiful account of your journey. I, of course, have tears in my eyes, and so will many who read it. You have done a service for all those, who like you, are also living this journey. This is a must-read for all parents and for all those who yearn to be parents. I love you and am proud of you for so many reasons. Today I’m feeling immense pride and love for the courage it
    took for you to write this story and for the beautiful way you expressed yourself.

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 19, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      Thanks Mom! It was hard to write and even more difficult to share, but we wouldn’t change the course of time for anything. We would do it all over again (and are…) We are thankful for your love and support – couldn’t get through it without you.

  3. Linda Clark August 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story, Alisa. Your writing is wonderful and your story is so honest and hopeful. We are very proud of you for so many reasons. Wish we were closer to see you and your beautiful family more often!

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      You are so sweet. Wish we were closer, too!!

  4. Amanda August 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Beautifully written. Even though I have read your personal account before, and was “there” for you through your first journey, reading your struggle still brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for your family and will be praying that you are blessed with another little miracle.

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Thanks friend! You are amazing! Miss you!

  5. Tara
    Tara August 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your journey Alisa! Sometimes life and parenting can be exhausting and I forget that feeling of being so incredibly blessed to be a parent that comes with the journey, your post is a wonderful reminder. I can remember some peoples attempts to make us feel better when we were trying to become parents that often strung more. You are 100 percent right, the best thing people did was tell us we were not alone and listen:)

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      You are such an amazing mama Tara! I’m so glad that our girls can grow up to be friends! 🙂

  6. Angela August 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    What a comfort this story will be for so many couples who are going through a similar experience. I admire your courage. You are a wonderful mom who is showing her daughter every day what it means to be strong and have hope!

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Thank you Ang!! Ava sure loves her auntie!! 😉

  7. Tara Sommers August 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Alisa- thank you for opening such a private, emotional, and “raw” part of your soul and journey through infertility. You write with such grace and ease that readers can literally “feel” you with them on whatever journey they may also be on. You have the fortitude and strength that resonate in who you are, day to day. 🙂

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      You are so kind… everyone has a story and while things for us could be so much worse – infertility has been a huge part of our lives the past few years. The more you and I talk about our journeys the more I realize that infertility and adoption have so many parallels. We hope to someday take that route as well and will certainly be soliciting you for lots of advice!

  8. Lindsey August 20, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Thank you for sharing! We also struggled with infertility for 17 months. It was agonizing seeing all of the pregnancy announcements on Facebook and watching close friends get pregnant without even trying. We were just about ready to try IUI when we got a big positive in March after 3 rounds of Clomid and 2 rounds of Letrozole. I’m now 28 weeks pregnant with our little girl and we are so excited. I feel so blessed to be experiencing this and finally being able to welcome a little baby into the world, but I still worry if we will struggle for number 2 when the time comes.
    But thank you again for sharing. There are not many people who will talk about fertility issues. Many who will tell you how quickly they got pregnant, but not many who share the struggles.

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment Lindsey. I am so happy that you have a precious little girl on the way! Such an amazing blessing! We, too, went through the clomid and letrozole and for us letrozole is what ultimately helped us conceive (along with injections and an IUI). Not fun drugs to be on… but so worth it! I hope that your last trimester treats you well – your amazing miracle will be here before you know it!

  9. Karen Voelkel August 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Alisa, I have tears in my eyes also. Yours is such an emotional journey, and I know how hard it must be. Your story will be a source of comfort and inspiration to those who are experiencing the same difficulties. Ava is a wonderful, beautiful baby. I hope you will soon be able to make another happy announcement.

    • Alisa
      Alisa August 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words! We are lucky to have a lot of amazing people surrounding us during our journey. And as you know, my mom is an incredible supporter – we are lucky!

  10. Jill August 21, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    What a heartwarming story about amazing love for your child. I had tears in my eyes just reading this. Thank you for sharing your touching story with us!

  11. Krista September 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Alisa,

    I read your post nearly a month ago and meant to send you a message immediately… Such is the life with a toddler 🙂 It’s so comforting to read the words you yourself aren’t quite able to express. Everything you wrote resonated with me. We struggled for 6 years and ended up conceiving our daughter through IVF using an egg donor. She is our precious miracle and we feel so incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be her parents. I try not to take a single second for granted. I’m constantly in a state of amazement that she is ours and I get to watch her grow. It’s so bittersweet because the likelihood of us having another child is very slim. So, I want to hang on to my baby, but find so much joy in all the new things she does and experiences. Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you all the best in your journey to #2.

    • Alisa
      Alisa September 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Thank you so much for your sweet message. Being a mother is truly the best gift in the whole world. I remember being at the hospital after our daughter was born and just being in a state of awe because I couldn’t believe that she was our baby and that we would be able to be with her for every stage of her life. I’ve truly enjoyed every moment (even the super difficult ones where all I want is for her to go to sleep! 🙂
      As much as I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone, it really does make me not take any part of motherhood for granted and I do feel that we were meant to be Ava’s parents and that’s the reason it took so long. As I’m sure you can totally relate to with your daughter!

  12. Ashley March 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Loved reading your story. My husband and I have been ttc for over a 1.5 years now. We are heading to a fertility clinic soon. We have unexplained infertility. Just out of curiosity is this what you were dealing with too? How long did you guys try before you went to fertility clinic?

    • Alisa
      Alisa March 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

      Hi Ashley,
      My heart goes out to you and your husband – I know how tough this time is for you. My issue was somewhat unexplained, but I had secondary amenorrhea – meaning that I do not ovulate on my own. We were on clomid for about 6 months without success before we went to an actual specialist. After we started with the specialist it was less than 6 months before we conceived through IUI (combined with letrozole). It was a tough time and even those 6 months of seeking care from the specialist felt like forever at the time. But fortunately there are SO many things that doctors can do to help you achieve your pregnancy. Whether it be a simple procedure, certain medications, IUI, IVF, etc. The testing and ruling things out was the hardest for me, since it felt pretty invasive and wasn’t giving us answers… but it turns out that it was all necessary and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
      Best of luck to you – I know how hard this time is in your life. But one thing my husband said to me during our journey that put things in perspective was ‘the only way we wouldn’t conceive is if we are both sterile… which we are not…’ They can do some pretty amazing things to help get that big fat positive! 🙂

  13. Stacey April 24, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    Thanks for sharing your story. It brings back a flood of emotions and memories for me. Our first daughter (now 6 1/2 years) was born after 2 rounds of IUI and 3 rounds of IVF. It was the most heart-wrenching, difficult time of my life. My husband was amazingly supportive, especially considering that we didn’t always feel support from his family. My sister-in-law got pregnant while we were in the midst of our fertility treatments and the struggle to deal with that was horrible. It saddens me now that I missed out on some of her baby showers, but I know I couldn’t have handled it at the time. She wasn’t kind, she wasn’t understanding. I’m so grateful that we have been able to move past that and have some sort of unspoken forgiveness of the entire situation. We had one frozen embryo left over from our IVF cycles, so we did a frozen embryo transfer to try for our second child. It failed, so we started to gear up for a fresh cycle of IVF. I went into the fertility clinic and they discovered I was pregnant before we began the cycle. Talk about amazing. Our youngest daughter is now 4 1/2 years old. After all these years, the struggles with infertility are still a very real part of my life — not because we are trying for a third, but because they really helped to shape and define me as a person. Fortunately, they made my relationship with my husband stronger (which is not always the outcome). And they made me stronger as a person and so very grateful for the blessings of my family (even with a morning like today when the end-of-the-week meltdowns were running high)! So, thank you for sharing…I wish you all the best on your journey for #2.

  14. Kayla May 11, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    I cannot even begin to thank you for being so brave and sharing this story. I am in the middle of my own infertility struggle, 2 miscarriages later and still no miracle baby, but when i read stories like these it not only makes me feel like I’m not alone in this battle but that there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. I can only pray that one day i will have a happy ending like yours. God bless you and your beautiful family!

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