When I sit back and reflect on it all, my struggle with infertility has fundamentally changed who I am as a person. It truly made me realize what it meant to struggle.
I grew up with a motto: if you have a goal, work hard and you can achieve anything. With infertility, that sentiment no longer applies
No matter how hard I tried, I ultimately did not have the power to make my goals a reality. And for me, that was incredibly difficult to digest. There were so many dark days, weeks, and even months that I never believed it would be possible to get to where I am today. I never thought I would be able to recover from the pain of infertility. Yet, here I am.
My husband and I face male factor infertility with high DFI. IVF with ICSI was our only option at a ‘chance’ at having biological children. Vince and I embarked on the IVF journey together, yet alone. We had no one in our lives that understood the true grief that comes with infertility.
This journey truly took a toll on me, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I experienced many moments of emotional breakdowns, depression, grief, and resentment. I became an ugly person that I didn’t even recognize. I withdrew myself from those that I loved most, especially my husband.
On our first IVF attempt, we had two embryos make it to day-5 blastocysts. We took a chance and transferred them both, and we conceived our son Mason in 2013. When Mason was one, Vince and I decided we wanted to give him a sibling. Two failed IVF cycles later, we felt defeated and utterly exhausted.
People would say, ‘It’s a blessing you have Mason,’ and while that’s true, no one can truly understand the anguish of succumbing to the notion that I will never experience another ‘first’ and that my son will grow up without a sibling. It’s difficult to even articulate the emotions behind that realization.
However, today after years of a lot of hard work, I sit in awe of my family
I gaze into my son’s eyes and focus on taking him in—enjoying every minute, including the tantrums, the witty outbursts, and every single belly-giggle. Most days, the magnitude of the gratitude I feel is too large to fully put into words.
Once Mason was old enough to start asking questions, my husband and I started thinking about how common our journey was, and how few resources there are out there to help parents figure out how, or even if, to share that journey with their kids. Many couples experience difficulties with trying to conceive and are affected by infertility. Not every pregnancy journey is quick and easy.
As a couple, you may spend years filled with stress and heartache, trying to conceive before welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world. Alternate forms of conception have become increasingly more prevalent and make it tricky for parents to explain to their children how they came into this world.
So, we decided to write a story―using simple, light-hearted language and imagery appropriate for young children―that sticks as close to the truth as possible, rather than falling back on storks or other conception myths. It’s called Auston The Magical Egg , and we hope it helps families communicate about a sometimes-sensitive subject, and help children like Mason understand not only how common this journey has become, but more importantly, how special they are.
My struggle with infertility has changed me, no doubt
It has taught me to be mindful, appreciate the simple things in life that give me pleasure, and be grateful for those around me. Ultimately, it has also helped me understand grief a great deal. This has allowed me to give back to others, by being an outlet for someone, which sometimes means sitting in a dark hole with them but also being a ray of hope that the struggle won’t be life-long.
I may not remember every hcG beta number, every follicle count, or medical protocol, but I do remember the extreme pain and isolation that struggling to conceive had on my soul. This perspective allows me to be vulnerable with others, which I believe is a unique and wonderful gift. I’m grateful to have found it and to be able to give back with our children’s book.
I am so passionate about advocating for infertility and helping women who feel isolated, helpless, alone, and defeated find the hope and resilience to keep going. We have the power to overcome it within, and when we do conquer it, we are still worthy and will thrive—with or without a baby.