Infertility affects one in eight couples.
One in eight couples experience problems with fertility. If you are that one, even if it seems like everyone around you is pregnant or raising babies, you are not on this journey alone.
We have such a strong fear of pregnancy instilled in us at a young age, that I always thought once I decided to get pregnant it would happen immediately. I never knew that there are only three to six fertile days and a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month.
I was actually so sure I would be instantly thrown into motherhood that I didn’t even stop taking birth control until I had read two pregnancy books. I wanted to be prepared. As of January, I have been trying to conceive for 22 months, that means almost two years of cycle tracking, planning, and symptom obsessing.
Most couples, about 85%, conceive within the first year of trying, so if you have been trying for over a year, it is recommended that you get everything checked out with your doctor. That is exactly what I did, but even my own OBGYN brushed it off. She told me things like, “You’re still young so there is no need to rush” and “Just relax and stop trying, it will happen on its own.” She also told me that the tests for infertility are expensive and painful, so I should put it off for a little while. Not only did that scare me away from the testing process, but it made me feel like my fears were not valid. Please, do not let this happen to you. If you have a concern about your health and your doctor does not offer assistance, go somewhere else.
Aside from the lack of pregnancy, I struggle with a lot of other cycle related issues, so I decided it was time to get answers and met with a reproductive endocrinologist. What we learned was hard to hear, but to understand it I have to give you a little back story.
When I was eight years old my appendix ruptured. I had emergency surgery and went home the next day. After getting home my scar burst open and infection poured out, which sent me straight back to the hospital. The infection from my appendix had spread all throughout my abdominal cavity and set up abscesses. I spent the next month in the hospital with tubes run out of my back to drain the infection out of my body. My appendectomy scar never healed correctly so about eight years later I had to have a hernia repair with pelvic mesh. You may wonder what any of that has to do with infertility, because so did I.
Apparently, it is common for a ruptured appendix to damage reproductive organs since they are so close together. The scar tissue formed from the infection and all of my surgeries has closed off one, possibly both, of my fallopian tubes. This hydrosalpinx, as it is referred to, also seeps a toxic fluid into my uterus making it uninhabitable. Even if an egg was somehow fertilized, it could never grow. There is a surgery to remove the tubes, which could allow me to try IVF, but I may not be a candidate for the surgery due to the amount of scar tissue I have. There are so many uncertainties right now and tests that still need to be performed, but that is not the point of sharing my story.
I found out that I have a zero percent chance of ever naturally conceiving a child, and that hurt. Initially, I just pushed my emotions down and jokingly said “Oh well, it is what it is. I don’t need kids. I will just have freedom and money instead”, and I didn’t deal with how I was feeling. Then, the thoughts crept in that I may never know what it is like to be pregnant, feel a baby kick, have that special bond, or create a child that is a perfect mix of my husband and myself. I hated my body for all the things that it couldn’t do.
Happiness is a choice.
I knew that wasn’t a healthy way of thinking and if I continued to feel that way I might just dig myself into an inescapable emotional hole. Instead, I gave myself permission to be upset, to feel all of the emotions, to get all the pain and fear out, and confide all of my feelings in my spouse, the most supportive man that I know. I basically had an entire evening of grieving where I could be vulnerable.
The next day I woke up and decided that I would not be broken. I started researching everything I could about my condition and all of the options available. I read other women’s stories and gained this wonderful inspiration of hope. I counted my blessings. I took my frustrations to the yoga mat and appreciated everything my body is capable of doing. I gave thanks for this wonderfully fulfilled life that I have with my husband. I recognized that even though it would be a hard journey, I am meant to be a mother, no matter how that experience comes to me. Then I called my momma and let her know that I was going to be okay.
It’s not easy letting go of all those negative feelings, but I am obsessed with being at peace. That does not mean that I do not have moments of pain but that I can recognize those emotions for what they are and move on. My plan is to keep myself focused on my goals and so full of thanks for the wonderful things in my life that I don’t have time to think about the worries.
So I’m sharing my story for the woman who needs to know she is not alone in the struggle. Take your health and happiness into your own hands. You are worth more than your uterus. Keep your head held high, your heart full, and find comfort in your strength and the love of your significant other.
“Something still grows inside a woman who does not conceive a baby. In her grows character that is consumed with confidence, humility, and desire. A symbolic embryo that is hers to
You can find an update on my infertility journey here.