Every story counts … and this is Lori & Sean’s
My name is Lori and I’ve been married to my husband Sean, my anchor, for just over 16 years, and we have unexplained infertility. I wanted to share our story for a couple of reasons. First, because there is still seems to be a stigma that discourages people from being able to freely share this painful part of life, but I believe that there is power in sharing and it takes away the isolation people can feel in this journey. Second, my story isn’t the typical infertility story, we ruled out the typical options like IVF and adoption, and 13 years later we still don’t feel ready to move to child-free as a choice, we’re still hoping for a miracle. Because we didn’t choose one path, I feel like my story can resonate with the broader infertility tribe, and my desire is that the hope I’ve found on the journey inspires others when they are feeling hopeless.
In 2005, when my first precious niece was born, I knew I could not wait the 2.5 years we agreed on to start trying for my own little one. I always loved children but there was something about holding flesh and blood, a bond so tight I just about suffocated in its beautiful grip. While I was an eager mother wanna be, my husband was a somewhat reluctant father, so we compromised and started off slow, but I was happy at least we had started. We didn’t immediately assume something was wrong when we didn’t get pregnant in the first 18 months, however it wasn’t until 2008 when we were finally tested. However, going to a specialist got us nowhere. On top of outdated information, it was just more negative results after all the negative pregnancy tests we’d already been through. No one wants to be ‘tested positive for’ when it comes to medical issues, but anything seemed better than unexplained infertility. By the end of that year I began to realize things would not be normal for our family building, and we began what I now call our pregnant pause. It turned my world upside down, because all I’d ever wanted was to be a mother.
With no diagnosis and concrete treatment path, as well as our value of avoiding debt, our story became about what it’s like to live with no answers and few options. In 2010, after a little over 4 years of trying unsuccessfully, and a few early pregnancy losses, I broke. With no obvious path to follow, none of what was in our control was working, I just couldn’t take the monthly heartbreak anymore. Once a buoyant optimist, I was weighed down by anxiety and grief-fueled depression, and barely recognized myself anymore. What started as a journey towards a bundle of joy ended up the most heartbreaking road I’d ever walked. The negativity had become all consuming, and I had to stop the spread before it consumed me. I became determined joy had to come in other shapes than a baby, even though that was all I’d ever believed for myself. I had faced infertility losses and now identity loss, and I was on the verge of losing all hope too, so for the next 2 years I put a purposeful hold on our TTC. After all I’d lost, I decided I was not going to lose joy too. I was not sure I’d ever start trying again, but with the freedom that gave me, I began an intense search for my new purpose, searching for that thing that could bring me joy and fulfillment.
This soul search forced me to look at myself with a new perspective, I could no longer live with tunnel vision, trying to force all my passions and abilities to be fulfilled through the lens of motherhood. I had always loved research and so I dove into personality and gifting assessments, as well as so many books about discovering self. I felt like I was truly getting to know myself for the first time in my life, yet I was not surprised about anything I discovered. With these new revelations, a new dream began to take shape. By 2012, not only I but my husband as well, found ourselves on a new path, we found ourselves volunteering in a program that supported, guided and encouraged other hurting people, which also had a profoundly healing effect on our own hurts, our own marriage, and helped us surround ourselves with a much healthier community than we had prior.
By the end of that year we were also on a new career path, both switching from administrative type roles towards the field of counselling. Life was looking good again. It was in the middle of that when we both came to the place where we really wanted to start trying to have children again and picked up where we left off.
That wasn’t the end of our infertility rollercoaster though, we continued to have early miscarriages, we went through new rounds of testing, and also tried more natural treatment options as well. Between Clomid, essential oils, nutrient supplements, acupuncture, etc., my body went through hormone hell. Finally, in 2016 we finally decided to stop any type of treatment. We have decided to only pursue 100% natural conception, and if it doesn’t happen for us, we’ve made peace with that, but we are still hoping it will happen. Being that I am almost 42 and Sean is 38, we know it gets less likely with every year, so we do a check-in with each other to see if we’re ready to stop trying. So far, the answer is still yes. Those first 4 years of TTC after our break may have been even harder than our first 4 years of trying, but we never sunk to that same low place again. We have learned there is so much more to us than parenthood. Parenthood isn’t a destiny; it is a circumstance. And we have found joy and fulfillment for our lives that can transcend circumstance.
One of the biggest reasons we were able to find more peace and positivity since returning to TTC is because we decided to no longer keep our pregnancy losses or other infertility struggles hidden from others. We came to the point where we’d heard every insensitive comment and felt like we were better equipped to address them honestly, and that it shouldn’t stand in our way of sharing all together. We knew we had healthier people in our lives as well, but from our experiences in helping support other people going through various struggles, we knew there was a power in sharing. When people saw they weren’t alone, when they saw that other people had found a way through the pain before them, it was a light in the darkness. It may have taken us until 2014 to get there, but we knew we wanted to be a light in the dark for other couples struggling with fertility.
While we are still in the pregnant pause, still hoping, we are not wasting the waiting. Since 2014, I have been working to develop a support network and infertility coaching business, to help other women who find them stuck in the negativity of the pause. My dream has expanded beyond nurturing children to encouraging women who are needing hope in the pause, struggling with identity and purpose as a result, and chasing that elusive joy.
My story has been having no answers, no next steps, no idea what is in store for our family, and it could have been about having no hope. But it wasn’t. We are 1 in 6.