What I learned from Infertility

While we have been blessed with four beautiful children — what most people don’t know is we struggled with infertility for four years. I realize four years is nothing in comparison to the years of anguish so many other women go through, often without ever being able to resolve the medical reasons of “why.”

1 in 8 couples lives with the pain of infertility, having their dreams crushed month after month. I believe sharing our experiences can help others learn and grow from the pain finding the hope and strength to keep moving forward. Our family’s story has taught us to be grateful even when life seems overwhelming and discouraging.

Ignored Signs

From the time of my first period, I remember feeling extreme pain. The night before I started I lay curled in a ball not understanding what was happening to my body nor the reason behind my pain. Vomiting, cold sweats, and an inability to walk were typical monthly occurrences. It never occurred to either my parents or me that there might be something wrong.

Soon after we were married, my husband found his new bride passed out on the bathroom floor. Even then, I don’t remember expressing a concern to my doctor, but I know subconsciously I was worried.

My worry quickly subsided when we conceived our first child. I wouldn’t consider myself fertile, but we didn’t appear to have any issues.

When our son was about 12 months old, I started having an almost continuous period, spotting in between, but the cramping I had become so accustomed to seemed to have resided.

The Last Straw

When we decided to have another baby, we struggled to figure out what my cycle was. Month after month I thought I was feeling the symptoms of pregnancy. Frequent urination from pressure on my bladder, extreme fatigue, decreased appetite all kept me hopeful each month.

One morning I was laying in bed and remember showing my husband the bump growing above my pelvic bone. In my then concave abdomen, it was apparent that something was growing.

For some reason, my “naive self” didn’t want to go to the doctor. I don’t know if subconsciously I feared the worst or thought if I just ignored it long enough it would work itself out. Either way, I delayed getting medical attention.

Doctors, Tests, Hospitals, and Infertility

It was a whirlwind – a lot to process in a short period. Within three weeks of the first doctor visit, a battery of tests pointed towards endometriosis with an endometrioma the size of a small cantaloupe growing out of my left ovary. Surgery was scheduled, and upon checking into the hospital, I was required to sign a consent form for a radical hysterectomy should the doctors deem it necessary. Cancer would not be ruled out until they had performed a frozen section during surgery.

All I could think about as I went into surgery was my desire to have another baby. I had an unsettled feeling our family was not complete. I knew we had a daughter waiting to join our family; yet, I was terrified I would come out of my operation without the ability to get her here.

The first question out of my mouth was “Do I still have an ovary?” In the throes of vomiting because of my reaction to the anesthesia all I wanted to know was if they had left an ovary.

I learned often a single ovary makes up for the lost one, which was promising. But my endometriosis was bad. I had been suffering for years, and our son was truly a miracle.

We continued to try to conceive, and each month I was disappointed again and again. I questioned why God was doing this to me, to us. Was this a punishment? Were the desires of my heart not in line with His? It all was very hard for me to understand.

What I learned from Infertility 1

More Tests and Tears

More tests, tears, and procedures. Still no pregnancy. The doctors determined I was ovulating every month, but for some reason, the egg was not attaching. My doctor suggested we try a hysterosalpingogram or HSG. This procedure is where they flush iodine through your fallopian tubes and take an x-ray to see if there is a blockage.

My doctor told me that some women just need their tubes flushed to remove possible debris. Because of my endometriosis, he believed there was either debris or scar tissue keeping a fertilized egg from making its way to my uterus.

More pain and tears but that month something was different. I didn’t start my period. I waited in anticipation. Took one pregnancy test and then another. My shock kept me from actually believing we had finally succeeded.

Nine months later our first daughter was born. She was due the same day as her older brother separated by four years and ten days. (He came late, and she was induced early.)

Our Concerns Continued

Our concerns did not end there. The doctors warned that I needed to be vigilant at controlling my endometriosis if I wanted to continue to have children. When we were ready for baby number three, we had another year of monthly disappointment until I had yet another HSG and immediately conceived again.

With three children I was beginning to doubt the importance of continuing treatment of my endometriosis. The medication had made me a very emotional woman to live with. The mood swings were often unbearable, and so a year after the birth of our 3rd baby I went off birth control and figured any more children would simply be a gift.

That gift, the one I didn’t know I needed, came nine months later. She was conceived doing the exact opposite of everything we did to get number two and three here.

Each Story is Unique

My story is unique in that I can relate to both sides of fertility and infertility. It was not until years later that I was able to appreciate what my experience taught me. As friends have confided in me about their struggles, I can put my arm around them and say I truly understand. I can cry real tears with them as I remember what it felt like to want a baby so badly it hurt. Experience has taught me empathy in a way nothing else could.

While our stories may be unique, they also have a common thread. The emotions and love a woman feels for her unborn child are powerful and undeniable. I do not mean to minimize the pain of another because I know there is greater than what I’ve endured, but I also find strength in our common thread. As women we share. It helps us feel that we are not alone, and it gives us hope and courage to keep trying.

I hope that by sharing my story someone, somewhere feels hope. As we listen and learn from each other, we can become more aware of the battle that affects so many couples every day. And awareness is the first step.

Infertility surgery
What I learned from Infertility 2

What I learned from Infertility

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38 thoughts on “What I learned from Infertility”

  1. I’m so sorry you went through so much struggle. Motherhood is a funny thing- it comes so easily to some and not for others. I wish I could take away all that pain and worry. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it can be a very lonely thing to bear. <3 Jamie

  2. viewfromthebeachchair

    This hits close to home. It is not easy to deal with. I am thrilled to have my adopted daughter. I know our family is complete. ##wanderingwednesday

    1. It’s amazing how many couples are affected by infertility. Someone always seems to have a story! I’m grateful you feel your family is complete – it is a wonderful feeling!

  3. Infertility is such a crushing blow that makes you doubt so much. I am in the same position as you in that I have four children after a struggle with infertility. People often assume I am super fertile, but no… #wanderingwednesday

  4. Thanks for sharing Lori! It’s always amazing to recognize how many difficulties others have and are facing without us realizing it! So grateful for your amazing girls!

  5. My mother was not able to have kids, that’s why I was adopted. I hear the stories of how many miscarriages she had, that they didn’t know why she couldn’t have kids, and how much it hurt her when I was able to have a kid without even trying. I couldn’t image the pain you went through. You are so strong!

    1. Thank you, Rachel! I think your mom is a strong woman too! She never gave up and was able to eventually have you. I’m sure you’ve been a wonderful blessing in her life! Thank you for the comment!

  6. Wow. What a story. As I have gotten older, I have become so much more aware of how many people infertility affects. I haven’t dealt with it personally, but I had a miscarriage that brought its own kind of grief. How grateful I am that these types of topics are becoming more openly discussed so we can support each other through the trials of life and parenthood.

    1. I’m sorry about your miscarriage Meg! I don’t think it matters what stage we are in when it comes to getting these little people here – when it doesn’t go as planned it is always painful!

  7. Long term infertility must be so draining. It took us 9months to conceive our twins and even that long I found incredibly stressful! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this issue. It is near and dear to my heart. I have our first IVF consult this week.

  9. Melanie Warnick

    Wow– I had no idea everything you went through, Lori!! (And Michelle!) It is truly comforting to be able to share our struggles with dear friends, especially those who can empathize with us! I love both of you, and am grateful for your listening ears through my own struggles. Hope is a powerful thing… and now, you have helped bring it to the lives of other women!

  10. I can’t thank you enough for sharing these stories. We had infertility issues but with medical intervention, we were able to have our daughter. I’m such an open book when it come to fertility troubles. I want more people to realize it happens and often times, it can be helped. I love sharing our story to help others find hope. We needed some hope when we were struggling. That’s why I started my blog, to share our story. Thank you for sharing this

  11. Michelle Hunsaker

    Lori, thank you for this heartfelt blog. I, too, was diagnosed with endometriosis after years of painful cycles. I just thought that’s what happened to girls during ‘that time of the month.’ I remember many months of waking up to tear and mascara-stained pillowcases from crying when each month would roll around and I’d learn I wasn’t pregnant. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Heather, that a grapefruit-sized fibroid was diagnosed in my uterus. I remember feeling on edge during that entire pregnancy as I was bedridden and so afraid of miscarrying. I have learned a lot from my health issues and yes, you can definitely become pregnant with one ovary…Aubrey is our miracle baby who came four years after Heather after the doctors removed one of my ovaries. I feel for women who experience the adversity of infertility or not being able to conceive very easily. Having a supportive spouse and family makes all the difference and having a caring, insightful and patient specialist when one is going through these kinds of things is key as there are so many questions we need answers to. We are blessed to live in a world where we now have a lot of information we can learn online that we didn’t have at our disposal when you and I were younger. The greatest blessing that gave me strength was having the Lord as my anchor. I realize through the adversity of having a difficult time conceiving, I grew closer to Him and came to trust His plan for me more. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Michelle, My heart cries for you! I had no idea/ or had forgotten that we had so many similarities from our childbearing years. Today’s technology does have so much more to offer than we had over 20 years ago. I’m grateful that you too have found peace in the midst of this trial! Thank you for sharing your story. I know that it will help others to have hope in their future!

  12. It’s wonderful that you have gathered friends together to share your stories. So many women will be able to glean much from your sharing. Perhaps one story will bring hope to another as there are many reasons for infertility. One of my best friends went through this and thankfully has 2 grown children.

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