With our very first medicated IUI cycle starting this week, I have taken the last few weeks to truly reflect on our struggle so far. Nearly 5 years ago, my husband and I began our road to baby but what we didn’t expect was for the last 5 years to pass without one. The years have been filled with good days and bad, laughter, tears and everything in between. Even though we are about to embark on our assisted fertility journey, we still do not know what our outcome will be.
As I sat with my morning cup of tea a couple of weeks ago, I wrote down a few things I have become grateful for despite our fertility struggle. I know what you’re thinking, how could I possibly be grateful for being infertile? Had you asked me this question one year ago, you would have received a very different response, but a lot has changed over the past year so here is what I’m grateful for.
A strengthened relationship with my husband
Approximately 8 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon in 2011, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. This was a very difficult thing for me to wrap my head around and I knew it would change many aspects of our newlywed lives. From day one my husband stepped up to the plate and has been nothing short of amazing through every flare up, hospital visit, medication trial, gastroenterologist change and anything else you could imagine. It was no surprise that when we were faced with our infertility diagnosis, he would also handle it like a champ.
He has physically picked me up off the floor when I couldn’t move, rubbed my back as I cry myself to sleep after news of another negative pregnancy test, held my hand through every doctor’s appointment, test, follow-up and every other bump in the road. Having the ability to spend the last 5 years being just the two of us has allowed us to really focus on just that, the two of us.
Our most recent adventure, a 3-week trip to Thailand, was our way of celebrating what was coming up next in our journey. We spent those 3 weeks disconnected from our jobs and reality and used that time to reconnect with each other. It was probably the only 3 weeks in the last 5 years that I didn’t think about anything related to baby and it was exactly what we both needed. He truly has been the rock in our marriage when it has come to this battle. I am grateful for my husband and the time we have had to just focus on us.
I love myself again
This statement sounds vain, I know. It’s amazing how many wonderful things our body can do as a woman. But when the one thing you really want it to do fails, you can start to take it personally. In 2014 we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. No male factor and no female factor, just no explanation. Let me tell you how frustrating that is coming from someone who likes to control everything. What do you mean you can’t tell me why? How can I google everything I can do to fix this if you can’t tell me why?! During our second round of fertility testing in 2016, we decided to pay for a blood test to determine my AMH levels (anti-mullerian hormone/ovarian reserve). As it turned out, I have very low AMH levels and this has now caused some concern.
That was probably one of the hardest appointments of this journey to date. I don’t even remember hearing anything else the doctor said because I just cried. From that point on I told myself it was all my fault and that I was the reason we hadn’t conceived. I was mad. Mad at my body, mad at myself for not testing my AMH sooner, mad at everything! It didn’t take long for the anger to turn in to depression. Thankfully, I had already started a mind-body healing fertility group with a lovely group of women at Mount Sinai Hospital and I had a session the same night as we received our results which helped me to get it all out.
Since starting the mind-body healing fertility group, I have incorporated daily meditation and yoga back into my everyday life. Becoming more mindful and present has truly allowed me to view many situations in a more positive light. While I still have my moments of feeling down and broken, I am now more appreciative of the many other gifts my body has given me and have put the brakes on the blame game. I am grateful for the time I’ve had to reconnect with my mind and body and that I am able to love myself again.
The world’s greatest support system
When we first started trying to conceive in 2012, we told people right away. We were excited! We were going to be one of the first couples in our core group of friends that had a baby. Of course, as the months went on and the negative pregnancy tests kept rolling in, we became quieter. When people would ask when we were going to have a baby we would say the time wasn’t right or we wanted to travel more or that we just weren’t trying. Covering up the truth seemed simpler than telling everyone around us what was really going on.
As time went on baby announcements became dreadful, baby showers even more so, and it honestly started to feel like every other woman in the universe was pregnant except me. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been extremely happy for the women in my life who can conceive but sometimes I just also feel extremely sad that we can’t.
I am also very fortunate for the women I’ve chosen to surround myself with. Without them, I don’t know where I would be in all of this. In the summer of 2016, I began to write a blog to document our journey more accurately and to answer all the questions my friends and family had surrounding our experience. It has been a great outlet for me to get it all out and a way for me to keep those closest to me informed after every appointment and through every stage. To those who have followed me from day 1, thank you. You have been right there next to us every step of this journey and we can’t wait for what’s coming next. I am grateful for the many people who have stood by and supported us throughout the years.
The little humans in my life
If you know us, you know there is no shortage of little humans in our lives. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by some of the best friends who have also created some of the best children. You may think it’s overwhelming to be around so many children when it’s the only thing we really want (and sometimes it is) but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not. I am so lucky to have so much involvement with some of these children that some days it’s all I need to feel whole again.
Being an Aunt is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I am also amazed and have so much respect for all my Mom friends. You are truly incredible women and based on what I have learned so far from watching all of you, I think I’ll be okay (or at least have some great shoulders to lean on and ears to listen). I am so very grateful for your children and the role I have been allowed to play in their little lives.
Overall, when I finally sought out the good in this situation, it changed my views on this battle and many other obstacles we were facing. I have started keeping a daily gratitude journal and I realized how big of a role gratitude can play in our everyday lives and I would challenge everyone to try the same.