Our Family’s Fertility Struggles

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Twenty-one months ago, my husband and I decided to add to our family. Had we been successful, our child would be one year old.

We have now been trying to conceive for almost two years. Speaking not for my husband, but only for myself, I regret the process, and am embittered by it. I have gone through invasive and tear-jerking examinations; frequent, inconvenient, expensive ultrasounds; and several unsuccessful fertility treatments. I have missed work, driven thousands of miles, and spent countless hours sitting in the doctor’s lobby beside excited, heavily pregnant women. I have had blood drawn, taken pills, and given myself shots. I have suffered unpleasant side effects from months of hormone therapy, which included extreme fatigue, nausea, headaches, and weight gain; ironically, the “next-step” doctor told me I have gained so much weight I am no longer eligible for his fertility treatments.

I have experienced physical discomfort, but, worse, emotional pain far more cutting than I ever anticipated. Baby showers and birth announcements regularly fill my mailbox and my email inbox and my social media feeds. My nephew’s wife had a child in June. My brother’s wife is due in January. Two weeks ago my local newspaper, which serves a community of approximately one thousand, featured a picture on its front page: lined up together on a couch were ten newborns that were born in seven weeks to families living in town.

On Friday, I told my husband and my doctor that I just had to take a month off. With school starting, I’m under so much stress right now that any treatments probably would be unsuccessful. Looming over my head is the constant reminder that our insurance only pays for six months’ worth of treatments and we’ve already used the first two, which were the most likely to be successful but failed.

The first time we had a procedure done, I was certain it would work. I never even entertained the possibility that it would be unsuccessful. I began planning what decorations I would buy for the nursery. Josh told me not to get my hopes up, but I had not consciously made the decision to do so — I’m an optimist, so I acted according to my nature. I was so let down by the result that my pain manifested as palpable symptoms: my chest felt heavy and tight, like I was suffocating, like my heart was breaking. My husband comforted me, held me, told me, “We’ll try again.”

When the test came up negative after the second procedure, I was inconsolable. That’s when I gave up. I gave up the hope of becoming pregnant. I gave up the image of squealing with joy at two pink lines. I gave up the idea of feeling a baby squirming around in my belly. I gave up the future of wondering if Baby would have my stubby fingers or Josh’s high intelligence.

And we turned down a new avenue. We, just today, began filling out the forms to start the adoption process. It is going to be expensive, and I don’t know exactly how we are going to pay for it, but I believe God will help us through it.

We are still embracing the excitement of finding out, someday, that we will be growing our family. We are still wondering if we will first be buying pink or blue mittens. We are still prepared to walk the floors at night with a sick child. We are still ready to cover the driveway in sidewalk chalk. We are still excited to leave cookies for Santa. We are still going to cheer the loudest at t-ball games. We are still looking forward to reading stories before bed. We are still going to cry (sob) at kindergarten graduations and high school graduations. We are still going to pull guilt trips by saying things like, “I wish you would call more” and, “I know you’re busy, so just come when you can.”

We are still praying to be parents. Our children don’t have to have my smile or Josh’s eyes. They don’t have to be ours, genetically, to be our kids. Love doesn’t have silly limits.

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Peace and love.

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46 responses »

  1. Renee-
    I consider you a dear cherished friend. As I sat here reading your post I could not stop sobbing. I can’t decide if it is the guilt from posting my own grienances with my children that I should be grateful to have, the guilt of us being upset because we couldn’t have “more”, or the guilt for not knowing your struggle and not being able to help in any way possible!! I love you guys and when God blesses you with your children whether biological or not, you are going to be the most amazing parents!!! And some of the best parents don’t share DNA, just ask my Dad! 😉 Please let me know if there is ever anything I can help with (cleaning or chores if you are not feeling well, a shoulder to cry on, a needed night out to relax, ANYTHING!!). Love you both! ~Tasha

    • Oh, Tasha — no worries! I LOVE hearing about your kids as they grow! You will be the first person I call when something comes up and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! 🙂 Love you!

  2. Josh & Renee, Thank you so much for sharing your story. Please know I will be praying for you and Josh!!!! After 1 of my miscarriages, I found a piece of partially burned up mail that the wind blew up by our house lawn while I was mowing that gave me much hope. I hope it brings you and Josh peace, perseverance and hope as well. Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due time, you shall reap your harvest if you do not give up”.

  3. Infertility is an ugly beast. I was born and raised in Napoleon. My husband and I tried for a year with no luck and went under the invasive infertility testing to be told we had unexplained infertility. Our Doc tried Clomid and it worked on the first try only to be told at the first appointment our child may have something wrong with them. At 15 weeks we received the devastating news our baby girl had anencephaly…a condition incapable with life. We carried her and had her for 15 hours before God called her home. Some would’ve gave up but we tried again. We had twin girls 18 months after burying our first born. All of the pain and heartache were suddenly worth it. That was three years ago. My brother and sister in law went 6 years of infertility treatments. They just adopted a baby girl this past March. She had completed their journey to parenthood. Nearly 7 years of hoping and praying for a child and she’s now a 5 month old beautiful blessing. Keep your fm faith through the struggles. I’ve only heard great things of Josh as a teacher and people speak highly of you both. Your beautiful child is coming. God bless.

  4. Sorry to see so much disappointment and struggles. I was blessed with one Bio child 43 yrs ago (a son), then 2 step children and two step grand children, then two of my very own grandchildren……I had 7 children and only one (the first one) lived. Years passed by and I grew another family with more step children and finally, now at 65 I am blessed with three foster daughters……from about 1999 until this past winter (2015), I missed that mothering thing so bad, I decided to try it all over again. Adoption is still in our plans, since our foster girls are 16,17 and 18. You can be parents at any age, ask my hubby, he was 56 this past winter when he became a DAD for the first time. Good luck on your future adoption plans, you will both make great parents!

  5. I don’t know you and just stumbled upon this. And it’s so beautiful. I’m so thrilled you are starting this journey. It is something we are thinking about as well, though we are yet to start IVF. But I hope and pray you will have an addition to your family soon.

  6. I have just come across your post and I must say, I could totally feel you so much and relate to you.
    You know there are some things in life we don’t understand and that is mega mega painful but on the days you hit rock bottom, know there is a greater plan for your pain and also draw on the strength from your husband.
    I too am blogging about my infertility journey but some days are much more painful then others!
    AQFMTM xxx

  7. Love this post. Thank you for sharing. There are so many children out there who need the loveand care that you and your husband haveto give. I am excited and praying for that lucky child!

  8. – Amazing and moving post. I’m really sorry that you are experiencing this. Before my Baby Girl was born my wife had a miscarriage. So, somehow I can relate to the desire and dreams of wanting to have a baby and complete your family. I’ll be praying for you.

    Best Regards,
    NBRIJAY

  9. I really appreciated your honesty and vulnerability. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about two years as well but unfortunately, I have met few people who know the pain and frustration. Your post was refreshing. My heart aches for you.

    • Thank you — and I’m sorry you are going through the struggle, too. It’s true that most people don’t understand what it is like, and they give well-meaning advice such as “You just need to relax” or “It’ll happen!”. I feel so good about our decision to adopt, other than how long and arduous the process is!

  10. It took 2 and a half years for our little boy to join our family. When I came off contraception I just assumed the next month I’d see that double line. It was heart wrenching. We were lucky to eventually be blessed with our son. My family have also been foster carers and my aunt adopted one of the foster children a few years ago. She is just as much my cousin as my ‘genetic’ relations. Family is not who you’re born into-it’s who loves you. Very best of luck 🙂

  11. Pingback: This Thanksgiving Season | rfornelli

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I am going through PGD and one of the hardest things is social media for me. Tag your favourite mummy posts, what makes me a proud mummy etc. I doubt anyone does it with intent to upset but hurts. Hope your adoption is successful. Praying for you.

  13. My heart and prayers go out to you both ❤
    I understand some of what you are going through.
    It is a hard, bitter, emotional, sad journey… but remember, God has Plans for us that our Bigger then what we have for ourselves. ❤
    I don't know if you still deal with hormones, weight gain, headaches, ect, but I know something that can help. If you would like to know I would be happy to chat with you.
    Hugs!! Blood isn't just family.
    Family is the people you choose to love and to let into your heart.
    Love Always Endures.

  14. This really choked me up. Absolutely beautiful to look at it the way everyone should look at it. I’m sorry you are unable to birth a child. But you will be “mom” and your husband will be “dad” and you’re family will be beautiful!

  15. That’s so beautifully honest! I’m working on a piece about family at the moment and it’s good to get some inspiration from other blogs. It’s lovely and I really enjoy reading your work! Happy holidays, that 2017 may bring you many good 🙂

  16. Since 2014 my husband and I had been trying. I have stage 4 endometriosis which makes it even more of a hurdle to conceive. I’ll be happy for others but also feel longing and the occasional bitterness when life decides to rub what I can’t have in my face TOO much. I was afraid to try IVF but out of exasperation, I’m just going to give it a go and if it doesn’t work, I’ll move forward to other options. I tried to tell myself that if I don’t have a child, then so be it; whatever happens will happen. But that longing to become a mother just keeps growing…

    • I completely relate to how you feel and I hope that you will be able to have a family some day, whether it’s through natural means or through fostering/adoption. Deciding to adopt has taken a lot of pressure off me because I just KNOW there is a baby out there somewhere who needs our love, and if we happen to get pregnant sometime in the future, that would be awesome, too. I’m just feeling so much more relaxed about our decision to adopt because it seems more “sure” than trying to get pregnant did.

  17. You’ve made me well up. I understand so completely; I’ve always been jokingly told that you lose your dignity the day you give birth, but I waved goodbye to mine the day I told my gp I’d not ovulated in 4 cycles and had my first internal examination. If I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel I could cope better. His Lordship doesn’t understand and gets so frustrated when I try to talk about what happens if the IUI and the IVF don’t work.
    Best of luck with all your endeavors x

  18. Pingback: Our Family’s Fertility Struggles: Part Two | rfornelli

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