Over the past eight years and during the first years of my marriage, I endured three IUIs, seven fresh IVF cycles, five frozen cycles, five miscarriages, one ectopic, two D&Es, two high-risk pregnancies, two C-sections, two maternity special care unit stays, one NICU stay and countless medications, tests, blood work, doctors’ appointments and lots and lots of waiting.
Today, I am very lucky and blessed to have two healthy children. With my first child, I got pregnant on the very last try. I had completed my 6th fresh IVF cycle that insurance would pay for, and I put back the last two frozen embryos that I had from that cycle. My second child was conceived after undergoing one fresh IVF cycle that I was able to freeze three embryos.
I told my husband this would be it. I wouldn’t push for another fresh cycle if these embryos did not lead to a pregnancy. My mind and body had enough, and I felt so incredibly lucky to have my little miracle at home. In my attempt for a second child, I had one miscarriage and then conceived after the second frozen cycle.
During the IVF process, I was depressed and felt so isolated and alone. I dedicated years of my life, body and mind to this disease. My once fit body was destroyed, my mind felt poisoned, some of my relationships changed, and my spirit almost broke. I felt like a monster because of my emotions toward things, such as my anger towards others ‘pregnancy announcements. I often think of those 7-6-5-4 year old children that I could have had; they grew in my body and were mine, even for a brief few weeks. I struggle with PTSD; I often check my children’s bedrooms during naps or at night to make sure they are okay, and I overreact when they are sick or get hurt because my fear of loss is so strong.
I am sharing my story because it helps me heal. I am sharing because I want to help others. I know my story will give others hope and strength. What I have found during IVF is that people do not want to hear about the bad times but rather only the happy endings. People stay silent because they feel uncomfortable; people don’t know what to say and do not want to upset you. People are private and believe you should be, too.
Unfortunately, infertility doesn’t always come with a happy ending and people don’t get to tell us what to say, how to feel or tell us when our grief ends. Sharing our stories is powerful and helps us to learn from one another. What I have learned is to ask for help, tell others what you need, skip the baby shower or Mother’s Day event, be kind to yourself and let yourself feel the emotions without self-judgement. We need to support each other and be able to speak our truth, however we want, without feeling judged or shamed.
Kellie M., Massachusetts