Many have experienced the difficulties surrounding infertility. You are not alone! If you need some extra encouragement, this page is for you!
As a “Type A” personality, being told there are things outside of my control is incredibly daunting. I had a lot of obstacles in my way as I struggled with infertility including endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, uterine polyps, and poor egg quality. I refused to accept these as my truth and worked hard to make improvements to my body in any way that I could. I understood that IVF was likely my only path forward in becoming a mother, but refused to believe that I could not play an active role in that process. I researched as much as I could and spent a lot of time with other women facing infertility and going through IVF treatments. The only way to feel “normal” when you are facing infertility is to talk to other women who have walked the path before you.
In the months leading up to my IVF treatments, I made changes to my diet, changed some of the products I was using, started taking more supplements, took time to meditate, was more intentional about exercise, and genuinely focused on taking better care of my body. One large part of my wellness regimen was acupuncture. For me, acupuncture was more than a treatment; it was time of meditation and reflection. While I could not see the impacts acupuncture was having on the inside of my body, I used this time to relax and focus on positive outcomes. After a successful egg retrieval, I decided that I wanted acupuncture to be a part of my embryo transfer as well. My research showed that acupuncture on the day of an embryo transfer has the most positive impact when it is performed on site. With an embryo transfer, there is really very little a patient can do but hope and pray that the embryo sticks! For me, bringing the acupuncturist into the clinic to give treatments before and after my transfer made me feel like I had a little control over the situation. I am happy to report that my transfer was successful and I am expecting twins April 2020!
My biggest advice in facing infertility is to do your homework and ask lots of questions. There are things that you can do to help improve your outcome whether trying to conceive naturally or through fertility treatments. Find someone who has walked this path and share your journey with them. Infertility can be incredibly lonely when you don’t have someone to share it with that has been in your shoes. Keep the faith and take control of your narrative!
When faced with the reality of infertility, I knew there had to be ways I could help my body tolerate fertility treatments. I refused to accept the fact that, at age 28, my body couldn’t support a pregnancy. So, I began to research a holistic approach to medicine that could supplement my fertility treatments. I discovered acupuncture, which helped with my endometriosis and anxiety/stress. I overhauled my nutrition habits, added supplements, and tailored my physical activity to my fertility needs. I slowly replaced the toxic chemicals in my home. I began mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and Pilates.
To say that these holistic practices helped is an understatement. We were blown away by the difference these treatments made in our journey to become pregnant. I fully believe it was this holistic approach that aided our fertility treatments. My physicians and reproductive healthcare providers were supportive every step of the way, which motivated me to remain disciplined throughout the process. The combination of diet and lifestyle changes helped me become a healthier person inside and out. I was better equipped mentally and physically to handle the challenges of infertility, and I believe this approach can work for any patient.
Infertility is the hardest journey I have ever been through. I had always assumed, due to family history, that I would struggle to have a baby; however, I never imagined it to be as difficult, time-consuming, depressing, and stressful as it was. Struggles through infertility can put such a strain on relationships. As soon as you get married, people immediately start asking when you are going to have a baby. Your family constantly reminds you of how they hope to have grandchildren or nieces/nephews. Your friends seem to be delivering babies frequently (seemingly without difficulty, more on that in a bit) whilst you are sitting there, waiting. It can most definitely put a strain on your marriage because your husband is there through every step, hurdle, setback, and negative pregnancy or ovulation test. I’m so thankful for my husband’s support when I would blame myself because it was “my fault” that we couldn’t conceive due to “my issues.” But he constantly reminded me to be patient! Be patient during that two-week wait. Be patient and don’t test early. Be patient, just be patient. My patience was greatly tested!!!
If you are out there waiting, know that there are resources to help you through the journey. I had to accept “me time” and made an appointment for acupuncture and massages to help decrease my stress level. I started to eat better and focus on the “fertility foods” even if that meant eating pineapple core after our embryo transfer.
I remember sitting in the exam rooms and wondering why the person in the next exam room was there. What was her story? As women who struggle with infertility, we often feel guilty, embarrassed, ashamed, or sad when we don’t know what our future looks like. It is so hard to reach out to people. I have always been one to speak up, but not when it came to infertility. It was just myself and my husband until one day at Mississippi Reproductive Medicine (MRM). After attending a meditation class hosted at the clinic, I spoke to a girl in the parking lot trying to find out how we could connect through this struggle. Another girl walked up, and another. Right then, on April 1, 2017 (April’s Fools Day), we became known as “the parking lot girls”. We knew nothing about each other except for the fact that we were all struggling with infertility!! All we needed was that common thread that quickly sewed together an inseparable lifelong bond and friendship. With our collective strength, through all different ways, we have become mothers to 4 beautiful and healthy baby girls.
When you are sitting in that exam room, scared and alone, remember that you are not the only one! After my husband and I started sharing our experiences and our story, we found so many close friends and coworkers and new acquaintances that also experienced infertility (and many who are also patients of MRM). It turns out that many of those couples, that seemingly were getting pregnant without difficulty, were actually quietly struggling with infertility, too. Remember that 1 in 8 women will have issues with infertility! There are resources to help you in your journey. I truly believe that all of the steps I took, in addition to the multitude of prayers, helped me conceive.
One of my favorite inspirational phrases that I read every morning and I reminded myself of over and over: “Maybe it’s not supposed to be easy for you. Maybe you’re one of the rare few who can handle tough times and still choose to be a loving person. Maybe it’s going how it’s going because you’re built for it….Don’t stress a thing. It’s going to work out because you’re not going to stop putting work in.” Give yourself the grace. Reach out for help and support. You’ve got this!
Infertility can be lonely. Even with a supportive partner, family, and friends, you can feel isolated in your worry, grief, and frustration. You don’t talk about it with many, if any, people because most don’t understand. When you do take that chance, they try to comfort, saying a phrase off “the list” that makes you want to scream. Even though you know they are coming from a beautiful place of love, it doesn’t keep it from hurting and furthering your feeling of loneliness.
But are you actually alone? You KNOW there are other women out there going through this. But how do you find them? You just have to figure out where to look. I am so thankful that the staff at MRM set up a seminar on Mindfulness on April 1, 2017. I was so nervous to go. I didn’t want to feel forced to share because I’d been burned too many times. Suddenly, though, I was in this room of women who were just like me, and though we knew nothing about each other, we also knew everything about each other. Everything that really mattered in that moment. Suddenly sharing was safe and supported and freeing. Through this opportunity, I met three other women and we spoke more in the parking lot afterward. We exchanged numbers and decided to meet up later that month to paint pottery. That turned into a lunch the next month and we continued our meetings over the months that followed, (plus a group text message that we utilized often). Having that group of ladies changed EVERYTHING. We had a place to share all our frustration and heartache and were met with true compassion as we all knew exactly how the others felt. I fully believe that having that support system helped us all get pregnant. Your mentality and overall mindset is just as important as the physical aspect of conceiving. The four “parking lot girls” have now each welcomed a baby girl of our own, a second generation of this unlikely group, and it was all thanks to MRM and our willingness to reach out and let each other in.
On another note, I personally focused a lot on my physical health. Not long after meeting that group of friends, I got more serious about my nutrition and physical fitness. Over the course of 5 months, I lost 35 pounds. Taking care of my body helped me learn to treat it with more respect and have a more positive mindset toward what it was actually capable of doing. Though it was an obvious physical change, my brain was also changing right along with it. That coupled with the support of those friends helped set me up for success with the conception and birth of my now 8-month-old baby girl. Just like going to the mindfulness seminar, I was skeptical and unmotivated to start working out and eating better. I knew it would be hard and was way easier (and fun, at the time) to wallow in my self-pity and eat my feelings. Taking that leap forward helped so much and it also had benefits with the actual pregnancy and childbirth.
Take a chance on yourself. Treat your body and your mind with respect and kindness. Find a group of ladies to whom you can relate and share the silly and serious things together. Walking through infertility is no joke and not for the faint of heart. Surround yourself with support and trust in the timing.