My name is Rene, and I’m a mom of a sweet 2 year old girl after a difficult infertility journey.
In the fall of 2015, my husband Bryan and I were buying our very first house after being married for 2.5 years. I was settling into my first year in my nursing career working inpatient at a hospital, Bryan was just finishing his masters in business and advancing his career, and we were about to own our first home. We had been waiting for the right time to start a family (there is never a perfect time!), and thought this was it - it was time. We closed on our house and booked a trip to Rome to celebrate. We felt on top of the world, everything was going just as we planned.
It was about 6 months into our journey of trying to start a family that I started to feel that something wasn’t right. By the time we hit 1 year of trying, the questions and statements from people got harder - “When are you going to have kids?”… “Come on Rene, it’s your turn!”… “Are you pregnant yet?”
One by one, so many people around us were announcing their big exciting news that they were pregnant. Friends would call us to share their news before announcing it to the bigger world, the calls and messages became so frequent. I was so incredibly happy for all of my loved ones… but I became the girl who would stay strong in the moment and find myself crying on the bathroom floor later that night. Every negative pregnancy test got harder and harder. Every announcement got harder. Every baby shower I attended got more emotionally draining. Bryan was an amazing partner through it all, but I felt so incredibly isolated.
At 13 months in, we made our first appointment to discuss with our doctors. I quickly found out from basic work-up that I had a complete septate uterus, and would need to start with surgery to remove it. At that time I made the big decision to leave inpatient nursing and started a nursing job working from home for a medical management company. I will backtrack a moment and note that I have a long history of difficulties with pain, difficult cycles, etc, and knew in my gut this was going to be more than just one easy surgery. I wanted to make sure that I was ready for what was to come.
Over that next several months going into a new year and new job, I had two surgeries to fix the septate uterus, multiple cycles of medications, and no luck. That fall we made the decision to go to a reproductive clinic. We sat down with our new fertility doctor, and it was as if all of our emotions came tumbling out. After long discussion she quickly realized I most likely had endometriosis.
Two years into it all, I had my 3rd hysteroscopy and a laparoscopy just before Christmas. My husband had to travel for work so my mom stayed by my side that day. I will never forget waking up from anesthesia that night to being told that I most definitely had endometriosis, and even worse, it had completely blocked my fallopian tubes. It was at that moment that I came to terms with the fact that I could never conceive a child naturally. I remember crying and feeling angry because I felt so broken.
I became so frustrated and angry with my body, frustrated that it didn’t work properly. I started to question whether I was meant to be a mom. However, I slowly started to realize that I had to change my mentality - I wasn’t broken, and this didn’t mean I wasn’t meant to be a mom. It just meant I got to show how strong I could be. I will admit it took some time, and I still have moments where I get frustrated. Slowly opening up about my struggles to others became so helpful as I realized I was definitely not alone.
Shortly after I recovered, we met with the reproductive clinic coordinators and made our plan to start IVF. It was quite the process, to say the least. Our family and friends were so amazingly supportive. Care packages were sent throughout the process, love notes, etc. and it made it so much easier. We ultimately came out of the process with 2 embryos., and in March 2018 we finally made it to our embryo transfer day. With only 2 embryos, we were quite nervous. Family and friends left packages to keep us distracted during the wait and the two days of bedrest.
A few nerve wracking weeks later I had my first blood test. I will never forget going back to work, distracted and anxiously logging in to my chart to see if my labs posted before a nurse even called me. I stared at my HCG level and thought “No way, that can’t be…” I took a couple pregnancy tests and sobbed. My heart and my body had been through so much, and it suddenly all became so worth it.
Fast forward to today, and we are chasing a beautiful wild two year old around. There was a long moment in my life where I worked to accept the possibility of never being a mother, and now here we are. The moment I got to hold her in my arms for the first time was like finally taking a big deep breath.
I want to acknowledge that I fully consider us to be quite lucky - to be able to do IVF, and to have it work on the first transfer is a beautiful miracle. Fertility treatment can be costly, and emotionally and physically draining, but I want people to know it is possible.
With all of that being said, I want to share bits of hope and encouragement for my fellow infertility community:
1. First - you are not broken. 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. Chances are someone you know may be struggling with this. One of the things that helped me most was reaching out and talking to others that were going through it or had been through it. It is so important to know you are not alone and there is hope.
2. Always trust your instincts - speak with your doctor about any concerns you have, there is a lot of help out there! If it does come down to needing fertility treatment, please know that there are financial coordinators and programs there to help you work out a plan to make it possible for you.
3. Protect your mental health - One thing I learned along the way is that it is OK to take a step back and protect your heart. Can’t possibly go to another event that is going to be too difficult? Don’t! Those who love you will truly understand.
4. Infertility does not mean you weren’t meant to be a parent! Life is messy and some of us have to walk a different path to get there - it doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to be. It just means we get to show how strong we can be and that can be so beautiful.
5. You are strong!
For anyone else experiencing infertility, please know I am here - If you need help with figuring out what to do next, need emotional support, need to vent - I am here for you. Feel free to reach out!
Here are a few websites below that have a wealth of information and resources regarding infertility and endometriosis: