Navigating Infertility

Today’s post is from a long time reader of APW. She’s a past wedding graduate and very involved in the community. She’s a strong iconoclast, and someone I deeply respect. Today, she’s writing anonymously about her marriage and their struggles with infertility. But her story isn’t just about infertility. It’s about how we continue to chart a course together when life becomes hard to bear. It’s about how marriage is not easy, but how, like all really hard things, it can be rich and deep and worth it.

We were naïve enough when we got married to think sex was how you made babies. I know people who knew going in to marriage that getting pregnant was going to be an issue, and they were ready to deal with it. But we didn’t figure we were those people. I mean, we’re both healthy. I have clock-work regular cycles. How hard could this be?

It can be real hard. And our marriage is different for it.

We’ve lost a lot because of our infertility.

We’ve lost our innocence. We know having a baby requires a lot more than just fertilizing an egg. Sometimes it requires pills and shots and tests. My big fear is we will go through all of this, get pregnant, and then have a miscarriage and not be able to take our baby home with us. I don’t know that I will be able to relax the whole time I’m pregnant when/if that actually happens.

We’ve lost the intimacy of the process. When you’re going to the doctor this frequently, and they poke something into you every time—trans-vaginal ultrasounds, needles, speculum—making a baby isn’t that romantic and intimate any more. It will still be my husband and me making the baby, but we’ll be doing it with outside help rather than in the intimacy of our home.

We’ve lost the beautiful surprise that can be finding out you are pregnant in the early morning hours before you’ve done your hair and while you are still waking up fully, but you decide to use a home pregnancy test because of a hunch you just might be pregnant. I’ve known people who have kept the results a secret from their husband until they could put together a special dinner to tell him he’s going to be a daddy. We’re both so aware of my cycle at this point that he pretty much knows exactly what day will be the day we find out if it worked or if we need to try again. No secrets there. Now we’ll get a phone call from a nurse with the results of a blood test. It’s very possible we won’t even be the first to know we’re expecting.

However, we’ve gained a lot as well. Our infertility has become a fertile ground for growth in our marriage.We talk. A lot. And regularly. We ask questions about what we do next, about what we fear, about what we don’t understand. And those talks always end up being about the rest of our lives, as well: work, school, family, vacations, dreams and hopes. We’ve always been good with communication. But through this we’ve really cemented how important it is to always talk, and listen, about everything.

We do things for each other in our marriage, so there is no doubt our fertility does not determine our love for each other, nor does it determine who we are. He makes sure I do not feel like any less of a woman because I cannot get pregnant and I make sure he does not feel like any less of a man. A lot of this is based on communication, regularly talking about all the other aspects of each other we love, everything else we’ve got going for us in our lives, and all the reasons we got together and got married in the first place. Our love and life are not based on our fertility.

We’ve strengthened our support of each other. When I tell him the hormones are making me emotional he tells me he’ll be my solid support, and he is. I’ve wet more than one of his shirts with my tears and snot when I just can’t keep it all in any more and just have to let it all out on his shoulder. When I’m dizzy and nauseous from the extra hormones being pumped through my system he lets me sleep on the couch while he makes dinner. This process is difficult for both of us in different ways, but we make sure we are there for each other when we need it.

Our support system has grown to include close family and friends we’ve told. Opening up about our struggles has allowed them to open up about theirs. Each couple’s journey through infertility is unique. But we have similar fears and desires. It truly is incredible how many people around us suffer through infertility in isolation. Infertility is one of the last great taboos.

We’ve gained an understanding of how others have their own troubles, nobody can judge the troubles of another, and the world could do with a little more sensitivity to others. Jokes about pregnancy are no longer funny to me, and I’m realizing that a lot of the things we say in jest might be an unsuspecting knife to the heart of someone else. That’s not to say we stop joking, just that we try to do so with more understanding and sensitivity.

And we’ve gained laughter, even more than we had before. Sex itself is funny to begin with. But throw in the needles, probes, speculum, specimen cups, stirrups, catheters, and a bit of a character for a doctor—making a baby just gets funnier still.

I have never felt more vulnerable than I do right now, wanting something so badly and being almost completely helpless to control what happens. But I know he is laughing, and crying, with me through it all. This trial has strengthened and molded our relationship in a way few other things could. As he put it, every couple has trials, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a net negative. This trial for us is truly turning out to be a net positive (even if I occasionally need a bag of chocolate and a good cry before I remember that again).

Photo By: Leah and Mark

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  • Thanks for writing this post and for sharing this. So so much. You can’t imagine how much I needed this today (after crying like crazy again last night). I was also naive to think making babies is easy, that it was just a switch you could turn on. That it was just a matter of being well informed, of understanding physiology (I have a degree in biology and I am a vet after all), but even if knowledge does not help, and we can not control this we are in this together and we will grow because of it, like you explain so well: “But I know he is laughing, and crying, with me through it all. ”
    Good luck. Know that you are not the only one, and that I am sending you all the best wishes and energy, and hugs to you both.

    • Post Author

      Sometimes I wonder if maybe I didn’t know so much and conception was a huge mystery it wouldn’t feel so hard. Hugs right back at you.

    • ellobie

      RIGHT? I never realized there was so much to *know. And knowing how much there is to know, I kind of wish I’d never started learning all this because then I wouldn’t *know how far away we are from this goal.

  • An awesomely honest post. Although we’re not at the point in our marriage that we’re ready for a baby, we already know we’re going to have difficulty conceiving given our history. Posts like this remind me that it’s tough but that lots of good can come out of the bad. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Thank you for the part about sensitivity and joking. The reason I fly into a rage when a virtual stranger harasses me about when I’m going to have a baby isn’t because I actually don’t want one, it’s because they don’t know me. And what if I DID want one, and what if we were trying really hard to have one, and it wasn’t working- what kind of huge gaping wound would they have just prodded. Having a child is such a deep and personal decision, and the insensitivity of strangers (and family, ha) just baffles me.

    Anyway. Rant over. Sending you hugs and strength during this process. xo

    • Post Author

      At the beginning of all this I once mentioned on FB that I was not feeling well one day and a bunch of people made jokes about me possibly being pregnant. Later that week a friend came up to me and said “Congratulations!” and I had to ask what for. She was congratulating me on being pregnant. And I was two days into a new cycle and dealing with incredible cramps at that point. It took all my strength not to turn around and leave in tears.

      Its like the jokes people made about being single when I wanted to get married. There are some things you can only control so much of, and joking about the rest doesn’t make it go away.

      Life can definitely be so hard you need to joke some times. But some times the jokes go too far.

    • ellobie

      And again, RIGHT?! A couple months ago, friends were all sitting enjoying dinner on a patio and someone laughingly made a comment about how my husband and I need to get on the ball and make a baby. Yeah, they learned a lot more about my misfiring cycles and the vaginal ultrasound I’d had that very morning than they ever wanted to know.

  • I haven’t been through what you’ve been, but almost all my friends have. I just wanted to send you a hug and my best wishes.May you find your baby soon, and may you all be happy together.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, exactly, exactly.

    This time last year, we were in the final weeks of preparation for our September wedding. This year? I’ve got four shots a day in my belly, and early wakeups for ultrasounds and blood tests. Not really what we expected. (Although I think I’m handling the stress of IVF much better than I handled the stress of wedding planning, which says something about our improvements in communicating and supporting each other over this first year of marriage.)

    • Post Author

      That’s a great comparison! And isn’t it wonderful how life has a way of showing us how far we’ve come.

  • Emily Elizabeth

    Thank you for sharing your story. Last night, my husband and I were having this conversation – we’ve had it a few times before. I brought up the conversation last night after reading this story recently, about IVF from a male perspective. We are not trying to have children yet, but I am already wondering how it will be for us. Even before we were married, family and friends were putting on the gentle baby pressure – even our friend’s 6 year old son asked us why we don’t have our own kids (as in, stop babysitting me, bring my parents back and go get your own kids).
    Growing up, when talking with my mom about marriages and having children someday, she told me that the strongest marriages she’s seen are the ones where the couple had trouble conceiving for years, and I saw that it was – and is still – true. My great-aunt and uncle are one of the most caring and affectionate couples I’ve ever seen, in large part because they went through struggles with infertility together.
    I wish you and your husband all the best, and will remember to turn back to this post, when the time comes for us to start trying to have children.

    • I just read that piece. Wow.

    • Post Author

      I have funny socks I wear too. Thanks for the tears. Some times I need to do that.

  • A very brave post, and it IS hard. Sometimes throwing away the condoms and breathing isn’t all it takes. Trying to conceive can be a murky isolating swamp of awkward consumerism (there is nothing more hilarious that awkwardly named fertility related products, and it’s such a shame that because of the taboo there’s no one to share the joke with), awkward conversations, and disappointed hopes. You surly are not alone. Our struggle is different, for us conception is easy breezy- but sustaining pregnancies is repeatedly proving to be a bit more difficult- I’m guessing that the struggle to conceive feels about the same, or at lesast is equally as hard to deal with. I remain hopeful though, for you, for me, for all of us.

    • Post Author

      Oh hugs for you. I have friends who have had miscarriage after miscarriage. And being told “at least you know you can get pregnant” doesn’t help in that situation.

      • Hannah

        I’ve had that, shortly after my one miscarriage, and it was all I could do not to turn around and slap them. I can only imagine how I would be after more than one miscarriage. I know that I was lucky, in a sense, because I was only five weeks along and there are far worse ways it could have gone . . . but it doesn’t give me comfort, knowing that other people have suffered more than me.

        I know that as far as our family history goes, my mother-in-law had trouble conceiving (unspecified reasons) and my own mother had a son who was stillborn due to complications. What complications exactly, I’m not sure, but because of these complications she had IVF and we came along.

        We are triplets, although socially we are twins, because our younger brother passed away the day after we were born. We were three months premature and at the time, the doctors weren’t sure if any of us would make it, let alone two. I can only imagine what my mother went through and I don’t feel like I can talk to her about it without a good reason . . . like when I’m planning to start trying and want to know whether these complications with my elder brother could be something hereditary . . . because I don’t want to risk opening a wound just out of curiosity.

        • Post Author

          Thank you for pointing out that the one-upping people can get in to doesn’t help. It can help to know others hurt too and you aren’t the only one. But one-upping can just seem like they are trying to minimize your pain and make it seem like it isn’t worth anything. Pain is pain. And we each feel it differently.

          There is certainly a time and a place for every conversation. Hugs to you and your mom.

    • Megan

      I am in the same boat – easy to conceive, hard to sustain a pregnancy. Getting ready to try again after two miscarriages. It’s good to know we are not alone in this! Best wishes to you, Lauren.

  • Thank you for writing this brave post. I think about this a lot. Even though my partner and I are nowhere near ready to have a child, I’m already sad about the unlikelihood of a “beautiful surprise”. Given how common fertitlity struggles are, even among couples with the “right parts”, I guess it’s just another one of those romcom fantasies we have to let go of (like the magical extravagant proposal).

    I wish you peace, comfort, and a beautiful (if not surprise) pregnancy.

  • Sigh. Don’t have anything to say, but here’s a link to Paul Ford’s account of going through this process:

  • This post definitely hit home for me, as my husband and I also naively thought that having a baby would be easy for us… there didn’t seem to be any reason why it wouldn’t be. Nothing is harder than watching everyone around you have babies – most of them by accident when you and your spouse are trying so hard for a baby of your own. We went through the poking and prodding, and testing and I have to take extra hormones. Infertility is a tricky situation as it really takes a lot away from your marriage IF you let it. We realized we (I) was becoming obsessed with having a baby and finally we decided to shift our focus. It was important that our relationship be strong and that we have fun in all things again, and we just found out we are indeed expecting. Those worries are definitely there, though… but the great thing about a marriage is that you have an unfailing support system. We can lean on each other should the worst happen.

    I wish you the best of luck in your infertility struggles! Definitely try and look at the funny side of things, and take advantage of the journey – I’m a firm believer that there is a reason for everything.

  • SeptBride

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and for writing honestly about this heart-wrenching topic. My husband and I aren’t quite the intervention stage yet, but we are at the stage where you stop and say, hmmm. This sure as h*ll isn’t what we 8th grade health teacher promised.

    I am really not sure I am the get-pregnant-at-all-costs, hormone therapy, IVF type. Only time will tell. But one thing that has really helped *me* navigate these slooooowwww months (because, really, is there anything that makes time pass more slowly than trying to conceive?) is trying to imagine – for the first time in my 30 years – a child-free life. What would it look like? What would I do to add fulfillment to my life? How would I nurture my desire for family and how would I nurture my marriage? I now have a child-free plan that I am very happy with, just in case, and that keeps me going – knowing that all will not be lost, that I will not become less of a person even if being child-free will always leave me with a hole in my heart.

    • Shotgun Shirley

      I’m sure you’ve already considered adoption, as well? With so many children in need, no none *has* to be child-free.

      I know adoption does not work for everyone. I’m just sayin’ …I wish it was considered more often. From a purely economic (please forgive me, I’m an engineer) viewpoint, the $$$ spent on fertility treatment is often << than the cost of adoption.

      • Shotgun, I totally agree with you, difficulty in conceiving is not a sentence to not be parents. Adoption is beautiful as well.

        (Note: I don’t say this to condem/be insensitve to/belittle the troubles of those who are going through difficulties in having children. I speak it from the heart as an adopted kid. If this is something hurtful that I shouldn’t say, please let me know.)

  • Thank you so much for sharing this achingly brave post with us. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through- yet- but as half of a married lesbian couple who want children, I know that our journey to parenthood will also involve doctors and possibly needles and anonymous third party donors. I can only hope that we will navigate the difficult path with as much grace and dignity as you and your husband obviously are.

  • Rachael

    What a timely post. I was just told by my doctor that my husband and I will have difficulty getting pregnant, if we will be able to at all. It is unbelievably hard. I’ve spent so much of our relationship taking measures to make sure we don’t get pregnant, and now I find out we probably can’t anyway? It seems like a really cruel joke the universe is playing on us.

    The worst part is dealing with the nosy people who ask when you are going to have kids. I don’t feel like disclosing my medical status to everyone I know, but sometimes its tempting just to get them to shut up. But then I’d have to deal with “the look,” the one where they feel sorry for you but judge you a little bit at the same time. Like its my fault I can’t complete their idea of a woman’s destiny and make babies.

  • This post is absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous, really. I am so glad that your husband has been able to be your rock as you two go through this struggle together.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you.

  • Jessie

    Thank you so much for sharing this. As someone who has known since a young age that getting pregnant will be hard for me, this was difficult but encouraging to read. Again, thank you.

  • liz

    this is brave and beautiful. i struggle with how to care for my friends who face this, and i constantly worry about being that “unsuspecting knife.” continuing this conversation is so necessary.

    • Post Author

      Offer an ear. Ask questions. Refrain from offering advice (they’ve probably already thought of whatever idea you’re going to suggest). Just being aware is often enough. Some times I just need someone to talk to.

      • Kim

        Thanks for the advice, and for the great post. I’m so glad we’re talking about this. I’m having the same struggle in trying to find ways to support my friends…

        One friend is signalling that she wants space. She hasn’t told me, which at first hurt me because we’ve been best friends for decades. But by the time I realized how hard this must be for her, and how draining it must be for her and her husband to constantly worry, or how tricky it must be to navigate conversations about babies and newborns with friends and family, or suddenly hard work around little ones, I was so glad I didn’t intrude. She’ll come to me if she needs me. I’m also notorious for trying to help, and maybe she doesn’t want my help. Which is ok.

        Instead of talking about it, we’ll be going out for a girls night on the town this weekend. Hopefully something to unwind and let loose will be good for her.

        Any other ideas? I’m all ears…

  • “It truly is incredible how many people around us suffer through infertility in isolation.”-Thank you for this. Just as opening up your support group has helped you, your words here will help so many others. Beautiful and brave post, wishing you and your husband continued strength-what a blessing (I don’t use that word often, but I mean it here) for you to have each other in this.

  • Sarah M.

    My husband and I aren’t quite to this stage yet, but it is certainly something we’ve talked about (both whether to have kids and what if we can’t). I am wondering if anyone out there has chosen or discussed the adoption route. I am lucky to have so many stellar role models of successful relationships in my life– couples that conceived; couples that had to take the fertility treatment route; couples that were unable to have children but built a fulfilling, family-filled life anyway; and couples that adopted (whether or not because they had trouble conceiving, I don’t know)– and I wonder how my husband and I will handle it if it were to happen to us.

    Thank you for sharing your story; there is a comfort knowing that couples of all stripes deal with these issues. All the best in building your baby family.

    • Post Author

      We have talked adoption. I have several dear friends who have adopted, and others who are looking into it. But that is not a step we are ready to take yet. We are not psychologically at a point where we can do that yet. But who knows what the future will bring.

  • We actually actively trying right now… And although we have no known fertility issues, I had a 1st trimester miscarriage earlier this year. And now… it just about kills me every time someone pesters me about babies. It’s only been 3 months now and I realize that is a very short time to be actively trying… but still… I feel like we’ve experienced… to a much lesser degree… many of things you mention. For us, the biggest loss is that… I’m never going to be happy to see a positive pregnancy test again. It’s just going to be scary. And the biggest gain for me at least… was how our mutual grief over the pregnancy loss brought us so much closer together. So… Thank you for sharing your story. I think society sort of culturally white washes the difficulties of conception… and it’s really really easy to feel completely alone but once you start sharing your story (whether it be miscarriage or infertility) you realize how many other women that are out there (in real life and online) going through the exact same thing.

    • Anon

      I miscarried very early and was surprised after I started tell people that it’s *such* a common story. And that all of the people that I talked to had gone on to have kids, which is hopeful.

      Your comment about the whitewashing of conception really rings true for me. I can’t be the only person who found babymaking sex to be the least fun sex ever. All the timing and pressure and rigid demands were pretty awful. As soon as I’d ovulate, sex would become fun again, but then the waiting and hoping stage begins, and that one is just as gruling.

      Much like to many other things in life (like, hmm, weddings), it’s so much more complicated on the inside than society tells us It Should Be.

      • Exactly… I was totally blown away when I started telling people what happened… that many women that I personally know… in real life… had gone through the exact same thing. And I just don’t understand… why is this such a big secret? 1st trimester losses are incredibly common and it was so painful when I was going through it because I felt like it was just happening to me alone. But in reality… many women go through this and it would have been so helpful for me to know as I was going through it… that I wasn’t alone. That I hadn’t done something terribly wrong. That it wasn’t my fault or my body’s fault. That conception is complicated. Creating a little human is complicated. And that losses are inevitably part of the process.

        Oh and I just wanted to add… yeah… baby making sex is the least fun of all. It’s so cold and calculated. And required. I kind of enjoy the week prior to ovulation and after ovulation… even though I’m not fertile… at least the sex is just for fun again!

        • meg

          The statistical chance of miscarriage in the first trimester is typically quoted at 25%. I think a lot of people don’t talk about it because they don’t want to make it super public…. Talking about miscarriage with Aunt Mona maybe is not so fun, and having Aunt Mona think you’re “trying but having problems” and bringing that up at Thanksgiving dinner? Well, anyway, I think that’s one of the reasons it’s kept quiet, often.

          But you’re so so so not alone.

          • Post Author

            They are super common. And the numbers are misleading because a lot of early miscarriages can happen before you even really know you are pregnant.

            White washing the difficulties takes a lot away from the miracle that all of our lives are. Considering how many millions upon millions of things can go wrong, it’s a miracle any baby is ever born.

    • Miscarriage, for me as well, was a galvanizing force in my marriage.

  • I have tears in my eyes. Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing this with us, especially when you’re feeling so vulnerable and still in the middle of this struggle and not yet on the other side of it. (And yes, you and your husband and your future babies WILL reach the other side.)

    Thank you for sharing not only your journey but also sharing a gentle and important reminder that everyone has their own troubles. You’re right: “the world could do with a little more sensitivity to others.”

  • Man, APW, I love you so much! So many hard-hitting, beautifully-written, and profound posts lately.

    Good luck, poster, I am wishing you and your husband the best.

  • Dear Anonymous, I have tears in my eyes from reading your brave, honest words. Wishing you and yours much love and light in this time. Thank you so much for sharing with us so openly.

    • Yes. Sharon says it better than I could.

  • ElfPuddle

    “I have never felt more vulnerable than I do right now, wanting something so badly and being almost completely helpless to control what happens. But I know he is laughing, and crying, with me through it all. This trial has strengthened and molded our relationship in a way few other things could. As he put it, every couple has trials, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a net negative. This trial for us is truly turning out to be a net positive (even if I occasionally need a bag of chocolate and a good cry before I remember that again).”

    This is exactly what we’re going through with our annulment, unemployment, and too old to easily conceive, not to mention the stress of step-parenting and certifiably crazy people raising the step-children.

    Thank you. For your strength and for your writing. Good luck to the two of you.

  • Thank you for this. Lots and lots of hugs.

    I too thought having a baby would be easy before we started trying. And it was easy until I had a first trimester miscarriage. And now, well, I’m just hoping that doesn’t happen again. Right after the miscarriage it felt like this giant emptiness. I had to do this major readjustment in my mind from being pregnant and anticipating the baby to just hoping I made it through fine. It was so sad when my body went back to being normal (and of course good but there are mixed emotions here). And it seemed like every party I went to, every conversation I’d hear, would somehow be about babies or about birth. And I couldn’t seem to get away. So I can completely relate to the jokes and the comments that really don’t mean much but somehow hurt.

    I know that my experience is certainly different from yours but it still comforts me to know all the other women out there going through this stage. The stage between deciding to have a baby and actually having one. The stage I too thought would be so straightforward. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone in having to choose again to have the child we want and choose what seems the harder route (giving up sounds really easy but so not what we want).

    Best wishes to you!

    • Amy

      Once again, thank you APW (and anonymous of course) for raising these types of conversations. I feel like there just isn’t much cultural dialogue about the stage between deciding to have a baby and actually having one. People don’t really talk about how (for many of us anyway) its not as easy as ‘throw away the condoms and have lots of sex!’. And its really not terribly romantic to chart your body temperature, mucus levels, ovulation dates, etc. It felt very scare-mongering when slightly older women I knew would talk about how it was harder than they expected to get pregnant/stay pregnant/etc. but at the same time I think its hard to accept that having a baby doesn’t always just take one magical night and boom! you’re pregnant!
      And of course, good luck to the author.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Marj, I’m also years away from TTC, but I’ve watched friends and family go through it all my life. My mother is an OB/GYN who talks lots about work, so I have lots of perspective. You describe millions of women’s experiences. We just don’t talk about it lots.

  • carrie

    These are my favorite kinds of posts on APW. Not at all because of the pain and difficulty our APW friends go through, but because through the pain and difficulty, you find strength in yourselves, in each other, and in marriage. I think after all, that’s what it’s all about.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, so beautifully. Add more hugs and strength sent out to you from my corner of our APW family.

  • Shotgun Shirley

    Beautiful post; thank you for sharing. It’s great that you are able to grow closer during this tough time. However you find your baby, s/he will be blessed to have you two as parents.

  • Moz

    I’m always amazed by the incredible generosity of APW readers in sharing stories that are so private and so difficult. Thank you so much for your honesty. I wish you guys the best and hope there’s a happy ending in it.

  • Jade

    It scares me the idea of not being able to conceive, but more so the idea of not being able to keep a pregnancy. My FH and I are not yet at that point, we haven’t started trying and probably won’t for a few years yet, but my family history tells me that it will be difficult. That we know of, my maternal grandmother was pregnant 8 times. My mother is an only child and the result of the last pregnancy. My mother was able to conceive and carry without intervention, but had more miscarriages than live births.

    My FH and I joke that if I can’t conceive that we will be mad that we spent all this energy on BC (I don’t do well with anything hormone based) but only after some serious discussions about what life would look like.

    Even though it scares me, I rather know up front that this is a possibility than have it spring on me at the exact time that I would be most vulnerable. I truly feel that my mother did her absolute best to protect us by talking about her miscarriages and her mothers instead of keeping quiet. There, I think that is the point. We need to talk to our daughters (and sons) about the reality of conception and pregnancy. The whitewash over the process isn’t anyone’s fault but ours. Discussions like this need to happen more often and in our own homes.

    For those of you trying to conceive, I wish you the best.

  • Post Author

    Thank you all so much for your replies. Some day I will be able to be more open about all of this, but I knew that this would be a safe place to start. This is a wonderful community.

  • Eva

    Welcome to one aspect of being gay :( It was one of the first things I grieved as I was coming out — that I wouldn’t be able to have an organic, romantic, intimate, (somewhat) unplanned conception. And that it would cost money.

  • Ashley

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a medical student, planning a career in Ob/Gyn, and currently working in a reproductive endocrinology and infertility clinic. I see patients everyday who are dealing with infertility. Some of them share their feelings, but most of them don’t. I appreciate the glimpse into the part of my patients lives that they have trouble discussing openly. This helps me to be a more understanding and sensitive provider. Thank you.

  • Richelle

    Here is a hug from the other side. We went through invasive extensive fertility treatment and are now 5 days into the lives of my twins. OMG that’s the first time I’ve written those words – my twins. I have goosebumps. Anyways, I delivered on Thursday and I’m here to remind you treatment can work and it will become a memory. Big hug

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Mazel tov!

      • Post Author


    • ellobie

      Oh congrats! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you, thank you. Once it seemed all of our friends were getting married, now it seems all of our friends are having babies. It’s a joyful time as we celebrate sweet, healthy babies & we mourn struggles & losses with fertility. For every baby, there is another story of friends’ miscarriage or failed treatment. My heart breaks every time. Hugs & comfort, may everyone have their happy ending!

  • Hi
    No-one seems to have mentioned this yet (forgive me if I missed it).

    In Brene Brown’s first book (author of shame blasting books and Ted talks that Meg has mentioned several times) ‘I thought it was just me’ (I’ve just read it and it is a fantastic book) she has a section on infertility and the shame of infertility and how to be open about it with others. She (Brene Brown) quotes at length an open letter written by one women going through this challenge, that was made available as a pamphlet to other people trying to conceive. It is a letter designed to give to your friends to describe how you’re feeling, how to communicate with you about infertility, what unhelpful things not to say etc and what kinds of things you need in support. It is an incredibly loving, thoughtful and insightful letter.

    I can’t quote it now or even name the original author of the letter, as my copy of the book is far away – but Meg (or someone), would you consider tracking it down and finding permission to post it or at least link to it? It’s a brilliant resource.

    On a personal level, I have many friends who have miscarried and they all told me in private. It’s not socially known just how many people suffer. It must be horrendously hard and I send peace to all those who have been through these issues.

  • Marchelle

    I wish this wasn’t taboo. Thanks for putting it out there, ladies.

  • I’m also a past wedding grad here and also spent the first first few years of my marriage doing the infertility treatment thing. We have no infertility coverage though our insurance, so we’re currently on an extended break while we figure out finances, regroup, and I start (and maybe finish) nursing school (do deliver babies–go figure).

    It’s an enormously challenging process, but I agree that it can make a marriage stronger (though it can also feel at times that it is tearing it apart as well…).

    Thank you for sharing, and fingers crossed that we all make it to the other side of this journey some day…

  • Kate

    Having tried now for almost 6 years I’ve just been told I’m likely to face an early menopause and have all but zero chance of conceiving. We’ve done IVF’s, IUI’s, a multitude of natural options but all to no avail. We’ve also just finished off all our adoption papers so are now just ‘waiting to be chosen’ but in my country there are very few domestic adoptions (we wanted to do intl originally but as it takes so long we wanted one under our belt first :-) Whilst adoption was something we always discussed and if we’d conceived naturally, it was still something we would have considered, it’s VERY VERY hard to say goodbye to the thought that I’ll never experience carrying my own child. In many ways I’m thankful that the physical part of being pregnant isn’t something I yearn to experience (and a wee part of me is like woohoo, I can get a baby without the (physical) pain!!) The goal is a family at the end of the day, not the actual being pregnant part, but despite knowing that I’m always so sad that I won’t have the joy of peeing on a stick and the euphoria that follows, and then telling my husband… something which in the early days I dreamed up creative ways of doing. I know it’s kinda silly but I feel cheated out of that part… likewise with everyone else being so over the moon for you. I know that these are such small parts of it and once we have a baby we will be just as ecstatic about it all and I won’t think of these things. I stopped discussing it with most close family and friends a long time ago as I got so fed up with hearing ‘just relax’, ‘go on a holiday, it’s bound to happen’, among many other well meaning tidbits of advice. Anyway I feel I’ve just written a novel… but I wish all of you heading down this path all the very best!! (oh and I should say that going through IVF itself wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated… no side effects or problems with it what so ever! I know that’s not the case for everyone but rest assured it’s not always as bad as you hear it can be!)

  • Breezy

    I’m getting married in seven weeks. I’m a stepmother to three boys, have wanted a child of my own for as long as I could remember, and have spent the last eleven years in relationship situations that kept babies in the “perhaps but probably not” box.

    I’m nearly 35, and three weeks ago I finished my first cycle of IVF with five embryos in the freezer. That process wasn’t *precisely* what I imagined the last few months of planning our wedding might look like…

    Our fertility diagnosis still feels painful, when it’s not feeling numb – like a sick joke that after all the waiting for it to be someone else’s “right time” it’s ME that has the crappy, give-up-the-ghost ovaries.

    On the surface I look calm, mostly, but the terror of caring for someone else’s [often hostile] children while not having my own is so powerful that it can crash me to the sand on a millisecond’s notice. My fiance made the mistake a few nights ago of saying something like “Well, we’re through it now and we’re doing okay” and suddenly I was standing on the side of the road, bent at the knees, sobbing. It’s not okay, I’m not “through it”, and it’s not even slightly over.

    Lots of stepfamilies experience infertility – whether because the couple tends to be older, the high rate of failure of vasectomy or tubal ligation procedures, or the social infertility that results when one partner is crippled with guilt or fear of their ex and can’t face rocking the boat by having more kids.

    I hate that I don’t have the option of living child-free if we can’t conceive – living with my stepchildren is so grating on my hopes and fears that it’s like attending one long baby shower/kiddie birthday party.

    I hate that my fiance can seem to take it so much more lightly because he already has children.

    More than anything, I hate that because we are in a stepfamily and therefore “public property”, people blatantly, obtrusively and probingly ask about our plans to have more children and comment on how (in their view) us adding to our family might impact on my fiance’s existing children. The stepfamily/infertility nexus makes for the most excruciatingly insensitive comments I’ve ever imagined.

    I’m yet to find the positives. Hopefully they are out there/in here somewhere.

  • Tiffany

    Thank you for sharing this. It was very helpful to read and I shared it with my husband. We’re going through a similar situation. Unlike you, I worry that this struggle is sometimes doing our marriage more harm than good. Also, it was great to hear that other people struggle with pregnancy jokes. I’ve gotten a lot more sensitive lately.

    I’ll work on the talking & listening, see if we can find more stuff to laugh at while we’re in this quandary. And in the meantime I’ll keep doing yoga, meditating and trying to find other means to calm my mind and soul.

  • ellobie

    Thank you so much for sharing, Anonymous.

    For all those who say they wish this topic wasn’t so taboo – stop keeping it in that category! I jibber jabber all day long about it to my friends. There have been too many times I’ve run into something (positive HPV test; a driving-me-nuts fiance; an ahole mom…) only to find out that other friends have gone through the same thing. If only I’d known! I’ve had at least 3 friends since my fun with HPV thank me for sharing my experience because they later went through the dreaded colposcopy but weren’t nearly as nervous because they’d heard about it and knew what to expect.

    I don’t talk about this much with my family, or at least I hadn’t. I briefly mentioned something to my mom about going through the initial month of monitoring to try and figure out what’s going wrong and she casually mentioned that it took her TWO YEARS of constant trying and a multitude of tests to conceive my brother. Hm, that would have been good to know starting out…

    So now I’m letting loose and talking about it. A lot. Except at work. :S

  • i love this post. my wife and i are going through this process and we’ve found it to be incredibly trying and difficult but also showing us that we CAN get through it. together. and i feel as though, this is only one test of the many that we will be faced with as *hopefully* future parents. we have found that it helps us to talk about the process with our friends and family – to educate, to explain, and to help normalize the process. people can unknowingly say very insensitive things and we’ve found that the more we speak up about it, the more those people learn about what they are assuming… but that’s just us. i like to challenge people and what they consider “normal”… we do respect those who prefer to keep their processes quiet. i wish all couples out there luck and as they say on all those IVF forums, “lots of baby dust” or whatever that means! :)

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