No News is Not Good News – Fertility Update

I’ve been really hoping I would be able to share with you guys good news this summer regarding my fertility struggles, but it still just hasn’t happened for us. We thought that the surgery I had in April was the answer to our problems, but it’s been five cycles since surgery with no luck.

I told myself that I was going to enjoy the summer and try not to think about getting pregnant too much, but in all honesty I have not done a very good job with that. It’s literally impossible for me to stop thinking about how badly I want another baby and the cloud of infertility is weighing heavier  than ever.

Our official diagnosis is “unexplained secondary infertility” AKA “we have no clue why you can’t get pregnant again.” We’ve been through all the tests and everything comes back normal. The maddening part of this diagnosis is that treatment consists of doing nothing or doing EVERYTHING. There isn’t an effective in-between.

The emotional roller coaster of infertility is exhausting and taxing. Each month starts out with hope (doctor says there’s nothing wrong – this is our month!), then anxiety about whether or not you are timing things “right,” then frustration and worry during the TWW (two wait week) and finally overwhelming sadness, confusion and depression when it doesn’t work. Again.

I want off this roller coaster so desperately.

The hard part about having secondary infertility is that you don’t have the same help open to you if didn’t already have one child. Doctors are very hands off because they just assume you are still fertile because you’ve had one. You don’t get the same emotional support. I tried to join a local infertility support group, but was told it was insensitive for me to be a member since I already had a child. Finally there’s no way to escape the baby scene since you’re already entrenched in the mom life. It seems like all my friends are pregnant or have newborns. I am SO happy for them, but it’s also hard to see pregnant bellies on a daily basis.

I know I shouldn’t complain. Many women have it way worse. I really am so thankful to have Lila. It’s still painful though.

I’m not going to be writing here much about our treatment plan. I have been told by several people that I shouldn’t share that part of this journey because people have very strong opinions about fertility treatment. It makes me sad that there’s still shame and judgement around infertility. This is a medical issue, not a personal failing or a sign of my character. At the end of the day, we need to make decisions based on what’s best for our family and I can’t let myself be swayed by outside opinions.

Speaking of opinions…. If you want to help support me or any other friend/family member going through infertility, the best thing to do is just to check in regularly to see how things are going and offer your love, support and prayers. Let us talk about the details of our cycle or treatment (we don’t have anyone else to talk to usually and our husband’s are tapped out by this point).

Check in on big days (like a doctor’s appointment) to offer support. I have a wonderful friend who brought me flowers last month when I got another negative. She hugged me and cried with me, and she herself is pregnant. That meant the world.

Things NOT to say include:

- Just stop trying and it will happen. (The worst! That’s basically saying because I want a baby so badly I am in fact preventing myself from getting pregnant. Nope.)

- Maybe this is God’s plan for you. You should just pray more. (I pray A LOT about this and I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t want me to just give up and be miserable. I’ve asked him to remove my desire for more children if that’s his plan for me, and that desire is burning stronger than ever.)

- Just be patient and it will happen. (How do you know? Do you read the future? Have I not already been patient? So many questions with this one…)

- Have you tried XYZ? (Yes, I’ve tried it all. There is nothing you could recommend I try that I haven’t already.)

- You want one of mine? My husband literally looks at me and I get pregnant! (Congratulations.)

- Why don’t you just adopt? (There’s no “just” in adopting. It’s a very long and expensive process if you want a healthy infant (avg 2 years and $40k), and it has to be the right thing for each family.)

- Lila really could benefit from having a sibling. There’s going to be so much space between her and a sibling now. (Literally what I cry about at night. Thank you for bringing it up.)

Saying nothing at all. (If you think avoiding the topic with me will protect me, please know that is actually worse. I would rather you say all of the above to me than just pretend it’s not happening. This is consuming for me and it is a huge disconnect when you don’t acknowledge it. And please don’t hide your happy baby news from me. I appreciate you trying to protect me, but it hurts more to realize infertility is now also affecting my relationships.)

If you’ve said one of the above to me, please don’t take this blog as a dig. I know you are just doing your best and it’s hard to know what to say when you haven’t experienced something first hand. See, we’re all growing and learning together! :)

I’m sorry if this post is a bit snarky. It’s not me, it’s the infertility talking, I swear! I’m still holding out hope that soon I will have positive news to share with you and this nightmare will be over.

Until then, I’m doing my best to handle it.

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7 thoughts on “No News is Not Good News – Fertility Update

  1. Pingback: All About Our Good News! | A Batty Life

  2. Liz, I share this in the hopes that it will be an encouragement. (It’s not my intention for it to sound like advice about what you should or shouldn’t do. I have no idea what you should do. Probably exactly what you are doing.)

    For the sake of context, I’ll say off the bat that I am Catholic. My husband and I tried for 30 months to conceive our first, so I understand an awful lot of what your experience has been. Looking back on it, two years doesn’t sound like that long, and in the grand scheme of infertility it isn’t, but we didn’t know it was only going to be two years when we were going through it. It could just as easily have been 10 years, or never. I found the not knowing and the not being in control very difficult.

    We went the NaProTechnology route, and I think that was a great help. I had surgery for endometriosis, we were both on a special diet (gluten-free/dairy-free), and we were both taking a lot of supplements. In particular I was taking myo-inositol and vitex and he was on Maca Root. (My husband also had low sperm count.) I was also on a number of prescription medications–low-dose naltrexone, progesterone and femara. We learned and used the Creighton model for charting during this. None of this was cheap (but I have yet to hear of a fertility treatment that is). Fortunately almost all of it was covered by insurance.

    In addition to the endometriosis, I also had a blocked fallopian tube (fixed during the same surgery), as well as a variety of things not quite right with my hormones. So between the two of us we had four or five different things wrong. For a while it seemed like every time we did a test, it would turn up something else that wasn’t quite right.

    So we were doing all this treatment, and we had a lot of people pray with us, and on paper things were looking better but still, nothing happened, month after month after month. Things were looking good, almost normal, and still nothing was happening. Really, it is hard, particularly when you’re in generally good health and there’s no particular correlation to anything you’ve done or haven’t done. And there’s no correlation to moral goodness either, as you say. People who do not want and cannot handle children can’t stop having them, and those of us who desperately want them and are well-prepared aren’t able to have them. It’s a fundamental injustice of being human, I think.

    Then, in August, I was, once again, but perhaps more so than usual, supremely frustrated at having gotten my period. I shared about this, out of my frustration really, to a group of my friends. There were about six of them. One of them said, “Can we fast for you?” I said yes, and everyone agreed on a day later that week when we would all fast, specifically for the intention that I would not just get pregnant, but that I would get pregnant that month and not get my period. I was blessed by their willingness to sacrifice for me in this way, but I was trying really really hard not to get my hopes up (again).

    It worked. I never got my period.

    I was shocked, and convicted that I hadn’t really believed it would happen. I am now 18 weeks pregnant and all looks well. (And now I understand, much better, the parable of the shepherd rejoicing over his lost sheep, while the 99 have been there all the time. It’s been amazing to me how many people have started crying when we shared with them that I am pregnant after going through all this.)

    The Lord is good and merciful. I’ll be praying for you.

  3. Liz,

    Thank you so much for sharing. You were able to beautifully articulate ALL the feelings I have been going through as I share the same struggle. I wish more women were open about this struggle; its nice not to feel so alone. Best wishes to you and your family.

    Jaclyn

  4. @Tiffany – Thanks for the vote of confidence. It’s never easy to share your heart (break), but I will do my best to keep it up if it helps even one other person going through this. XO

    @Barb – Thank you for thinking and praying for us!

    @Amanda – 3 years wow. My heart aches for you. I’ll keep you in my heart and hope you get your happy ending soon. Thank you for reading!

  5. i want to hand this post out! To everyone I encounter! Thank you for putting my experience to words. We are three years into the waiting game… I’m so deeply grateful to you!!! Good wishes in your child-journey.

  6. I love your openness and honesty, Liz, and your beautiful writing. I have not experienced your sorrow, but I have known sorrow-and I cry for you and hug you from a distance.

  7. SO much love, Liz! I know you know this, but you should *never* feel like any of this is your fault, or like it’s anything to hide or be ashamed of. Anyone who tells you that is living in the dark ages. Fertility treatment exists to give children to parents who desperately want them. Some of the best parents out there aren’t successful getting pregnant on their own and you absolutely deserve the baby your heart and family are missing. I hope you will keep sharing! It’s important for people to realize how much it takes for some people to have the family they [want? desire? I don’t know what word adequately expresses the yearning and desperate hope for a healthy baby.]. This is your path and there’s no failing in it on your part, or Luke’s. It is what it is and it hurts, probably more than anything else in this life. People need to know that. People are insensitive out of their own lack of awareness or understanding, but that doesn’t mean you should feel unable to share about your life to protect someone else from discomfort. They can get over it.

    You’re going through a lot and you will survive it. You will come out with some scars from the pain and heartbreak, but you will still be strong. And I hope you will also have a baby in your arms. In the mean time, please keep sharing. Keep bringing us in so we can support you and love you. ❤️

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