Chances are pretty high that you or someone you know is currently dealing with infertility.
According to the CDC, “About 6% of married women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). Also, about 12% of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term (impaired fecundity).”
And now, we add the stresses of living through a pandemic on top of all that. For a while, non-essential medical procedures, like elective surgeries and fertility treatments, were shut down!
I can’t imagine having fertility treatments planned and then canceled with no timeline for restarting. So many women felt the devastating effects of the COVID pandemic on their ability to have the family they always wanted.
My Journey to Starting a Family
But for me, my journey dealing with infertility began years ago.
You know those people who have three planners, show up 20 minutes ahead of every scheduled meeting, have organized compartments for their organized compartments, and finish deadlines a week in advance?
That is me. I am that person.
My “type A” personality makes me a planner. I plan everything from knowing I would be a veterinarian when I was 3 years old to planning on getting engaged in my late 20s. I dreamed and planned on opening my own animal hospital in my early 30s and buying a home when I turned 35 years old. And I planned on starting a family once I grew my veterinary business to 1,000 patients.
My life was going just as I planned. And then, when it was time to start a family, my perfectly organized and planned out schedule failed.
My body had other plans.
My Struggle with Infertility
As with so many women, I experienced challenges with infertility.
After going to multiple consultations and having many diagnostic tests performed, I was told I had undiagnosed infertility.
What does that even mean?!
Well, simply, it means everything was normal and they were not able to tell me why I was not getting pregnant.
That answer was not acceptable to me and very difficult to swallow. I wanted answers. I wanted to understand what was preventing me from having children. Most importantly, I needed to know so I could fix the problem and move forward with my life plan.
But with no problem to “fix,” what was I to do?
Then Comes the Stigma
Infertility is not uncommon, and unfortunately, many families suffer in silence.
Infertility has become such a stigma topic – something women are often embarrassed to talk about.
And I was no different. I felt embarrassed – like I was a failure.
Looking back now, I can see that these feelings were irrational. But going through it all, it was extremely difficult to rationalize these emotions.
I watched everyone around me having children and starting families, and it made it even more difficult to understand and harder to cope with the struggles of not being able to get pregnant.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
I am very fortunate. After multiple rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and one miscarriage, I was able to have three beautiful, healthy babies (just not on my pre-scheduled timeframe).
My kids are healthy, happy, wild, free, and have completed our family in a way I was never prepared for.
Message for Disappointment when Dealing with Infertility
I am so grateful. And now looking back, I feel empowered and can be a bit more rational (fertility hormones can wreak havoc on your emotional wellbeing) by offering advice to women and men experiencing infertility.
I feel passionate about making the topic less of a stigma. It should be something we can talk about freely and be able to easily seek out support, guidance, and love.
With the average age of women starting families becoming older, infertility seems to be more common than ever. This is a topic that needs to be discussed and spoken about more openly.
And I hope my experience can help free others from the stigma of dealing with infertility.
Here are a few tips that helped me cope. I hope they can help you too!
- Remember that creating life is not a to do list!
- Be sympathetic to others’ stories. Too often we ask couples when they plan on having children or when they plan to have more. With infertility on the rise, be cautious and careful when talking with people about starting families.
- Embrace the spontaneity and chaos. My own pregnancy journey and my children taught me this lesson!
- Have patience. As much as we want everything to happen on our own schedule, life often has other plans. Try and enjoy the journey.
- Take pride and gain strength from your own experiences. I feel stronger and proud after going through fertility treatments and then having my amazing children. Whether you get pregnant naturally or with help, be proud of your body and what we do to create life.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with Infertility
My body and my children had different plans than I did. And that’s okay!
My kiddos will continue marching to the beat of their own drums, living their own lives, and throwing us curve balls along the way. We are here to guide them with honesty and give them good core values. But it is up to them to pave their own roads.
Looking back, it is kind of ironic how my children decided to change my perfectly organized plan of life. After having my three children, spontaneity, last minute changes in plans, and chaos have become part of my daily routine.
I have learned to embrace the chaos and laugh at the craziness. I have learned so much going through my journey to become pregnant with my children, and they continue to teach me as I care, love, and raise them on their own schedules.
Katie and I both had struggles starting our families, and we discussed our separate but similar journeys on Lifetime’s Access Health. Check out the segment, and please reach out with any questions you have dealing with infertility or miscarriage.