Monday, January 20, 2014

What Infertility Looks Like

With the new year, one of my goals is to be more open about our struggle with infertility.  (Our story is here).  Since opening up about our struggle it has become easier for me to share my feelings, the positive and the negative.  If nothing else, besides my own therapy, it is my hope that when I share my story that it can bring encouragement, hope, or comfort to someone else who may be struggling.

I know that every woman who desires to conceive, whether there are complications or not, whether she is deemed infertile (or as I like to call it “fertility challenged”), has a story that is all her own.  With each unique journey to conception or a family (conventional or not) there can be a struggle if the process does not go according to our plan, the way we expect it to go, or how society teaches us it “should” go.  Not only is infertility different from woman to woman, but it's also different from month to month (or hour to hour) within the same woman, and I can only explain my own experiences.  So today I just want to give you a peak into what our house looked like while we were trying to conceive for the past few years; what things brought comfort or knowledge for us.  I also want to acknowledge that this is our story, and no two stories are alike.DSC_0476DSC_0464Prenatal vitamins- Even though research does not suggest that prenatal vitamins improve the chances of conception, on the off chance (or my deepened last bits of hope), I always wanted to be ready just in case a miracle occurred.  I have taken these for quite a long time, and if nothing else my hair and nails enjoyed it.

Infertility and ChartingCharting- Yep, it totally sucks.  Anyone who tells you differently is a liar.  Counting days for hormones and injections, getting up at the same time everyday for your basal temperature, timing blood work down to the minute, checking for ovulation, timing intercourse……yeah it totally burns the romance right out of family planning.  On the plus side, it does help to track my body’s patterns (or lack there of), so that I have everything documented with times and temperatures for my doctors.

Ovulation sticks- This also kind of goes along with the charting from above, but this was my life for almost 3 years… peeing on sticks.  It started as just once a day but with all of our issues it moved to multiple times a day at specific times that changed some months, and trying to do this around work and classes was very interesting sometimes.  This was also something that I should buy stock in.  I feel like I’ve tried every single kind on the market!  I wish I didn’t have ovulation pee stick favorites, but I do.

Infertility and HormonesHormones- Oh yes these “little” emotional rollercoasters in pill form.  I have a love-hate relationship with these little boogers.  Yes, they helped my body to regulate my hormones (sometimes, arggggg), but boy did they sure convince me to buy stock in Kleenex.  I remember watching the movie Best in Show for the first time (which if you haven't seen it, is supposed to be a comedy), and crying my eyes out the entire movie.  I also cried at the half-time show at a soccer game in Houston.  These did make me praise the Lord for my husband’s unending patience with the nut-job that moved into my body.  Seriously though, I praise the Lord for using these teeny little pieces of science to fulfill His plan.  These hormones were nothing more than fulfilling the will of God.

DSC_0479Bills- Oh yes, if I didn’t mention these I wouldn’t be very authentic with you about our journey through infertility.  There are a lot of appointments with various doctors some of which are covered by insurance and some that are not.  The piles of these bills that came through our house made me continually question if this was really what God wanted us to do.  We continually had to ask for His financial provisions and for peace that if this was the way He wanted it that He would make it happen.  Promotions and raises always came at just the last minute and in the most perfect ways that only He could have provided.  These little signs built our faith in this path He chose for us.

DSC_0499Books- While we were trying to conceive, the books I read changed through the years.  I started with What to Expect Before You’re Expecting, naively thinking that conception would go exactly as the book described.  However, I will say that this was a great book for an introduction into how to prepare yourself physically, psychologically, & financially for increasing your family.  After our loss and the beginnings of my battles with depression, I started reading Disappointment with God by Yancy, and Empty Womb, Aching Heart by Schalesky.  Yancy’s book Disappointment with God is a great book for anyone in any circumstances dealing with disappointment; this is not strictly an infertility book, but is helpful with loss, grief, bitterness, anger, lost hope, and crushed expectations.  I always recommend Empty Womb, Aching Heart to those I know struggling with fertility; I think I’ve even referred to it around here as “Chicken Soup for the Infertile Soul”, because it’s such a great book that offers so many different kinds of stories on infertility.  What I really liked about this book and why it provided me comfort was that these stories were real, nothing was sugar coated, raw emotions were shared, and not everyone ended up with a baby.  To me this book was comforting because it was more realistic, and not just stories with fairy tale endings.  I also started reading many books on foster care and adoption, just because I wanted to be open to any avenue that God might lead us down: Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family, and Wait No More.

DSC_0502Infertility and JournalingCounseling & Journaling- I should also mention, that during this season of our lives, my husband gently recommended that I start going to counseling to help me sort out my emotions and deal with my bitterness, grief, and depression.  I love that my husband knew that this was something that I needed and brought it up at a time when it would be well received and supported me in this process by not only asking me about it, but even helping me find a counselor that would tend to me while respecting my background in science and relationship with Christ (which in the science world is VERY hard to find).   The quote above is on the back of my counselor’s card and I still have this as a reminder that God has a purpose for everything. She encouraged me to start journaling and even as a neuroscientist with training in psychology and counseling, I knew intellectually that this could be helpful, and I don’t know why I didn’t start this sooner.  This was so helpful for me because for the longest time I would just push my feelings down and not acknowledge them.  Journaling made me admit that I had feelings, and I had to do this before any improvement could occur.  I still use this journal and write down 3 feelings I have everyday; I keep the journal on my desk so I wont “forget” to acknowledge my feelings.

Infertility and Letters to Baby
Letters to Little Peep- To be totally honest, I started writing letters to our baby over 4 years ago, before I ever knew that infertility was about to smack us in the face.  I have to say that writing letters to the baby about what was happening, our prayers for him or her, and our journey to grow our family was the best part of infertility.  It always helped me to focus on what the goal was, and that was growing our family, either with a baby, foster care, or adoption.  I have prayed over this baby and wrote it all down (and still do), and I hope that one day I can give this book to him/her and that they know just how precious, desired, and loved they really are to us.
xoxo Darby


Pamela Graves said...

Praying right now that your struggles will soon be over and you will have a wonderful pregnancy and all your dreams come true. I think the letter writing to the baby is such a sweet sweet idea. Blessings!

Heather said...

I think it's so important to share everything you've been through. You never know who might come across your story right at the moment they need support or encouragement. You're so strong!

ari @ whatarisaid said...

Aw hun I'm sorry that it was such a struggle for you but I'm so glad it's all worked out in the end. Meanwhile, we need to get together sometime - I wanna see the bump in person!

Emily said...


Myra said...

I am so happy that you and Mr. have Little Peep on the way! I am always keeping y'all in my prayers and wishing you the healthiest pregnancy, friend. You guys are so strong for what y'all have been through and I am so glad God worked through you to put you on His exact plan!

Rachelle @ Inner Loop Adventures said...

What an open, honest and cathartic post. I couldn't even imagine going through all these processes for the duration that you did. I can only imagine how the scheduling of everything would be a total love buzzkill! Plus, that's a lot of data to know about yourself! Email me I have something else to discuss with you :)

Savanah said...

Thank you for this. Thank you!!
And PS - what ovulation sticks are your favorite??

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