Today I want to speak to you about Infertility.  As defined by Resolve, The National Infertility Association, Infertility is defined as below.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive.  If you are over the age of 35, the time of trying to conceive is reduced to 6 months.  It is important to see a specialist, or a Reproductive Endocrinologist, or in some cases your OB/Gyn or urologist for a complete fertility work-up and diagnosis.

Matt and I have been struggling with Infertility, on and off, for 8 years.  That is 90% of our marriage.  Our Infertility struggle began before we conceived Addie.  You can read the story of that journey here.  Infertility is all consuming to the woman and couple going through it.  The physical aspects of blood tests, ultrasounds, and procedures that force your body to do things it should be able to do on its own are incredibly draining on your energy and your bank account.  As if that weren't enough, the mental and emotional toll that infertility takes is the hardest of all.  There are feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, heartbreak, anger, and despair, just to name a few.  Each passing month that a woman suffering from infertility goes through without that positive pregnancy test that she so desperately desires is like a dagger to her heart.  Infertility is cruel.

After 8 years, Infertility has become a normal part of my life.  I don't know what it feels like to have a "surprise" pregnancy or to decide that I want a child and have it just happen.  What I do know, is the yearning to feel my body changing and growing as my child grows and moves inside my womb.  I know an ache to hold my newborn baby in my arms after ushering them into this world and watching them grow and flourish.  I know heartbreak.  I realize that I am luckier than most in that we were able to conceive eventually, but that in no way diminishes the feelings I have just mentioned, whether you are trying to conceive your first or second.

Matt and I always envisioned a life where our CHILDREN could grow up together, knowing the joys and pains :-p of having siblings.  We both had that and we wanted our family to look like as well.  After what we went through trying to conceive Addie  I knew that it would be unlikely that I would be able to become pregnant on my own.  So when Addie turned one, and we were ready to add to our family I told myself we would try for 6 months and if nothing happened we would go back to our fertility doctor and proceed with an IUI cycle.  It seemed like a normal thing and I had no reason to assume that it wouldn't be successful because it had only taken one IUI cycle to become pregnant with Addie.

When 6 months passed and I still wasn't pregnant, that is what we did.  I sat in my doctor's office and we discussed proceeding with the IUI cycle.  Both of us assumed that it would be successful and I would happily be carrying our next child in no time.  I was certain.  When I was one day away from going in for my blood test to confirm my pregnancy, I got my period.  To say that I was devastated and angry is an understatement.  Why would God do this to us?  Hadn't we been through enough?  We paid our dues, we deserved for this time to be easier.  Before Addie, I was so sad, all of the time.  This time, an anger consumed me like I had never felt before.  I was angry at God, at my body, at any pregnant woman I knew that had ever mentioned they weren't quite ready for a baby or that they hadn't planned to get pregnant.  I didn't understand.

After that devastating moment, I just couldn't go back right away for another cycle.  Aside from the travel and financial burden it put on us, I just couldn't and wouldn't put myself through that again.  I didn't like forcing my body to do something that should come natural and I wasn't ready emotionally for another disappointment.  So we took a few months off until I felt ready again and back we went.  I told myself that since it normally takes about 6 months for a woman to get pregnant it wasn't completely  unreasonable that my first cycle had failed.  The damage was already done, though, I didn't trust myself or my body.  Before Addie, I was certain that we would have a child, and we did.  Before my failed IUI I was certain and I trusted that we would get pregnant again.  After we failed I no longer trusted myself or my body.  It was after two other failed IUI treatments that I couldn't do it anymore.  I started to think that we weren't meant to have another child and the anger at that thought had consumed me.  I was giving up hope.

It wasn't until after our move to Iowa that my mindset started to edge towards the hopeful again.  However, I knew that I did not want to go through an IUI or any other fertility treatments again.  That didn't feel right and I didn't want to put my body through that anymore.  It was then that I began looking for alternatives.  I felt like the answer was to stop just treating the symptoms and finally treat the cause.  It was then that I found Gabriela.  Gabriela is one of Australia's leading natural fertility experts and she built her practice based on the steps she had taken to become pregnant herself.  There was something about her that called to me.  I cautiously participated in her 14 Day Fertility Challenge.  The steps she asks you to take are a huge lifestyle and diet change and since we were living with my parents, it wasn't just Matt, Addie I that would be making adjustments.  It was the day I told my mom I had boxed up all of her chemical cleaners and anything else deemed unsafe that I thought I should probably fill her in on what I was doing.

At the end of the challenge, I felt a renewed sense of hope and truly felt like we were meant to work with Gabriela.  Thankfully Gabriela felt she could help us and we earned a spot in her program.  That was around October of last year.  Since then there have been big changes to our lifestyle and diet, a lot of bloodwork to determine our underlying causes of infertility and a few too many visits with close-minded doctors who looked at Matt and I like we were crazy for taking this approach.  Though we have not yet achieved pregnancy we have identified the areas that have been preventing us from getting pregnant, become much healthier thanks to our diet and lifestyle changes and I have really identified with the emotional aspects that have been holding me back.  I can feel that hope and trust returning through this process.

I don't know if we will grow our family by becoming pregnant, or if we'll decide to adopt or decide that we're happy just as we are as a family but I do know that we're on the right path.  Infertility is an amazingly difficult thing to go through, especially for a woman but it has taught me to be thankful.  I'm so thankful to God for bringing us our Addie and I'm thankful for the strength this struggle has given to me.  Infertility is teaching me to be thankful for the things I do have.  Would I love to be one of those women who could get pregnant with no problem, of course?  But this is the path that God has  laid out for me and I'm trying to make the most of it and to trust in his plan for me and our family.  For better or worse, Infertility is a part of my family's life and we have chosen to work with it instead of trying to futilely fight it.

Are you struggling with Infertility?  What are some of the things you struggle with the most? If you're struggling to have a baby, you may want to visit a fertility clinic. But before you go, you will need to research what you are about to put yourself through, asking yourself questions like "what is IVF" "what is an egg donor" etc. Please know that you are not alone and I would love to hear from you via a comment below, or you can feel free to contact me personally.  Stay Strong and Hope.

Published by Tasha C.