IVF After Parenthood {Infertility Awareness}

It has been over six years since we first started our In-vitro Fertilization {IVF} journey. We have been blessed with three children – one tenacious 4 year old and exuberant 16-month-old boy/girl twins. At least once everyday I look at them and think to myself how lucky we are.

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From the outside, I am sure we seem like any other busy household juggling a preschooler and toddlers, but if you ask me about my kids, I will almost always end up telling you about how they came to be here.

That’s the tricky thing about infertility. Even if you have been successful in starting a family, it is hard to separate memory of the struggle from the joy of the success. I will forever identify myself with our infertility journey. Dealing with infertility changes you.

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Much to the dismay of my Type A Personality, no amount of planning, trying, charting, “relaxing,” or sheer will was going to make us parents. IVF was our only option, so in the Spring of 2009 we leaped into the unknown and ultimately ended up pregnant with a baby girl. While we were thrilled, we also knew somewhere in the back of our minds that if we wanted her to have siblings, we were going to have to go through the IVF process all over again.

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When our daughter was nearly two, I went for a mom’s night out with mothers from her playgroup. Even though it had been nearly 3 years since we did our first round of IVF, the process seemed so fresh to me. Partly because I talked about it often, but mostly because we were on the verge of starting a new cycle. It was becoming increasingly clear that we were not going to be one of the lucky few that spontaneously got pregnant after IVF. That very morning I had faced facts and called to make an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist {RE} in Houston. It felt like admitting defeat.

I was dreading this cycle of IVF. Unlike our first round, I knew what we were getting into. There would be dozens of painful shots, endless scans, and a rollercoaster of emotions. At each stage as we would pray for a good response to the follicle stimulating hormones, for a successful egg retrieval, for high quality eggs, two good embryos to transfer, and ultimately to be pregnant again.

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While all these worries and fears swirled in my head, it also felt like I was surrounded by pregnancy that I could not obtain.

On the way to dinner, one of the other moms picked me up and told me she was pregnant. I appreciated her telling me in private and giving me a bit of time to process it.

Once at dinner, another mom announced that she too was pregnant and one more stayed home because of morning sickness.

I quickly scanned the table. I was surrounded.

In addition to the new announcements, there were three more VERY pregnant women there and one who just had her second baby. I started to panic and tear up.

In that moment, I felt very alone and very misunderstood. I almost excused myself, but then I heard one of the moms start to give a toast “Amanda, you’re going to be next!!!!”

At that moment, I burst into tears.

While all of them had known about our struggles with infertility, it can be hard for people who have not faced it themselves to understand the complex emotions involved. At times you simply feel inadequate and like a failure, even if you are already a parent. Something that comes so naturally to others, does not come easy for you. As much as I longed to be “next,” I knew that was not going to happen without a significant amount of work and help from our doctors.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy for each and every one of them and their exciting news. However, it’s also painful to want something so bad, but know you are powerless to make it happen. Perhaps my husband put it best when he once said, “More good news for other people.”

To their credit, all of the mothers were very supportive and compassionate following my breakdown at dinner. They were my biggest cheerleaders during our second round of IVF, which blessed us with our twins. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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For my part, I talk about our infertility struggles fairly openly. I am email pen-pals with friends and friends-of-friends who are going through their own IVF journeys. I try to help them know they are not alone and that all of their feelings are normal. I pray for them and the families they are trying to start. I cry with them if a cycle doesn’t work. I also realize that while we did have to do IVF to have our children, we are incredibly fortunate that the cycles we did were successful. We know many, many people who have dealt with repeated disappointment.

According to the CDC, nearly 11% of all women deal with some sort of infertility. It is more common than anyone really speaks about. If you are one of these families, I hope sharing a bit of our story gives you hope. This process is hard, but it is also very worth it.

For the remaining 89% of you reading this during, I hope that next time you see your coworker in her thirties who has been married for five years with no kids, that you don’t bug her about starting a family. Or your friend who has a four year-old, but seems pretty silent about having “more.” They may be struggling with a battle you aren’t aware of. Keep an open mind and always show compassion.

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are dedicated to raising awareness and educating our community about the varying types of infertility and the many options available.  Our hope is that this series will open your eyes and inspire you in a really dynamic way, so please join us as real local moms open up and share their stories all throughout the week.  To read more, please click here.

[hr] Amanda BioAbout Amanda S.

She and her husband moved to Houston from California five years ago and are now raising three freshly minted Texans. When she is not chasing around her preschooler and toddler twins, Amanda freelances as a publicist. She loves good food, a nice glass of wine, and the sound of silence. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KismetSorena where you can expect to find an obscene amount of pictures of her children.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Amanda!!! Love all your honesty in this. The emotions you expressed were exactly mine. So happy for other friends but wanting so desperately for it to be “that easy” for us. Thrilled that your journey worked out – while continuing to remember those who struggle silently. Thank you for giving them a voice!

    • Thanks Meagan! By talking about our journey, so many people have come forward in our lives and shared their stories with us. I remember feeling so alone in our IVF journey and I now know that is far, far from the truth! Happy to get to know you more through this blog and through IG! Love seeing pictures of your cuties!

  2. Amanda once again your honesty speaks to me in ways I can’t explain. I love this article and feel exactly as you described. Thank for sharing your journeys!

  3. Hi Amanda,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I just read this article 3x after finding it. My husband and I are about to embark on our 2nd IVF cycle this month and it is also our only option to get pregnant after finding out I can’t get pregnant naturally due to having several abdominal surgeries as a child. I feel like everyone else around me is pregnant and I am the only one out of my friends to have to do IVF so far. I have shared my IVF journey so far with my close friends but not all of them. Your story really helped me and I am so glad you have three beautiful children! It’s very inspiring! 🙂

    Emily

    • Emily,

      Thank you for your kind words! You are far from alone! I’ll be thinking of you and your upcoming cycle.

      Best,
      Amanda

  4. Amanda, I shared this last year this week and I am sharing it again. It is like a page out of my personal diary. Your description is so on-point. Unfortunately, I had a family public pregnancy announcement made and was blind-sided. It stuck with me. Took years to forgive. And now that I gave 4 healthy children, it appears I am cured. These infertility scars, 7 years of hormones and procedures, never leave me. I will share with anyone who will listen and live to give hope to those who need it. Probably not as eloquently as your post does, but I hope.

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