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The Infertility Intervention

Through my own experience with infertility and now, my job working with those struggling to conceive, I am reminded over and over again, hour by hour, how frustrating and endless it all seems. It’s overwhelming and humbling to think how not being able to have a family can destroy so many aspects of your life. Your finances, your friendships, your self-esteem, your marriage, your physical and mental well-being and your sanity all take serious hits. Some of these hits you bounce back from. Some you don’t right away. Others, you never really do. I will never cease to feel compassion and deep empathy for anyone in the thick of it.

I admire those who have positive attitudes and keep it all in perspective. There are some who have always been open about their issues from start to finish (whereas I waited till I was in a better mental state before speaking so openly about it). They have stamina, they see the bright side, they don’t let their fertility issues stand in the way of their happiness and most importantly, these people are few and far between.

And why am I getting in to all of this? I’m glad you asked.

Lately, there have been a few people that have contacted me with serious fertility concerns. There was a woman who gave birth to a still born at 8 months, then had a series of miscarriages and has never seen a reproductive endocrinologist. She contacted me for assistance and I found her a doctor that specializes in recurrent miscarriages. I had an appointment all set for her when emailed me, “I saw my psychic today and she said that I don’t have any fertility issues so I’m just going to keep trying on my own.

Then, a married couple in their early 40’s, where the wife has hormonal issues and irregular periods told me that they’ve been trying to conceive for 8 years. When I found a doctor for them in their area, the husband wrote me back that they are going on vacation and they are hoping they will get pregnant while on their cruise.

Another woman told me that she has done 8 unmonitored cycles using Clomid and when I tried to explain to her that they only recommend 6 and she really needs to break up her OB/GYN and see an RE, she told me how much she loved her doctor and how good he’s been to her. (I do want to note that some people opt to stay with their OB/GYN because of financial reasons but in the case of this woman, she did have fertility coverage with an RE).

The other night, I was lying in bed and my son (who as you know was the product of my third IVF) started to cry. I went to check on him and he looked up at me, smiled and said, “Mum!” I love that he never went the “Mama” route as he seems to love the end of words. For example, he doesn’t say, “Dada”. He said, “Dad!” with the emphasis on the ‘d’ at the end. He also says the word, “Hot!” really hitting the ‘t’ at the end hard. It cracks him for some reason which in turn cracks me up.  Now, if I could get him to say, “Hot Mum!”, I’d really be pleased.

As I held him, I thought of these patients I’ve mentioned and how much I want to go to their house, sit down with them, hold their hand and stage an “infertility intervention”. I want to beg them to fight hard, get a second opinion, or third, or fourth until they hold their child as I’m holding mine now.

I’ve said it before but many go through infertility, end up having a family and putting it all behind them. I respect and even admire that but that’s just not me. I get deeply upset when I feel like someone hasn’t gotten the care or attention they deserve or when I hear a story of a doctor saying someone is fine and just keep trying when there clearly is a problem. I’ve known two different people who kept having miscarriages and their initial doctors were like, “Oh, it happens! You’re just unlucky!” and eventually, one of them found out she had a serious blood clotting disorder and the other had an implantation issue. I’m happy to report that when they ended up in the hands of different doctors, they both went on to have babies.

Who is reading this right now? Are you someone that has been trying to get pregnant for many years? Are you someone who feels like you’re not getting answers? Or are you not liking the answers you’re getting? Have you suffered losses? Or are you someone who is on the other side with a family but either know someone who is still trying to conceive OR perhaps you’re now working on a new problem that you’re looking to resolve.

What I want to say is I don’t think I was ever someone to look on the bright side nor had the best attitude. I mean, I maintained my sense of humor (lord knows) and hung on to my sanity (barely) but I was definitely someone who let matters of my uterus take over my entire life. I know firsthand that it’s easier to hope that things will work out somehow. That maybe next cycle, somehow, I’ll get pregnant if I pray really hard or maybe I’ll get pregnant while I’m in Disney World or maybe I don’t have a problem and I just need to eat more chocolate.

No one wants to have an IVF. No one wants daily blood work or to be regularly intimately involved in vaginal sonograms. It sucks, it’s not fun and it’s not the way you expected it to be. The fact is though that if you’re not getting pregnant, this is my personal urge to you to fight. Fight hard. See another doctor, get another opinion, be your own advocate and don’t waste time avoiding what may be the very thing that can help. For the love of god – get your big boots on and kick infertility’s ass!

Sometimes our happy endings are not the way we planned or expected them to be but that doesn’t make them any less happy. Sometimes, they even exceed our expectations. I don’t know if I could ever say I’m grateful for what I went through even though so much good came out of it. Truly – infertility in certain aspects actually made my life better (and no, I can’t believe I’m saying that but in some ways, it really is accurate). But it still sucked and there are times I can’t help but wish it never happened.

It did though. And the only thing to do now is to try to make it mean something. Not just to me but to perhaps others as well. If I can spare you the regret of saying years from now, “I wish I started treatment sooner.” Or “I should have done more.”, then I really want to.

Whether it’s a personal issue, an infertility issue or what have you, don’t lie down and let it win. I guess that’s my only point here. If you suspect something is wrong, better to find out now than wait.

Get your cheerleader outfit out, play the Rocky Theme in your head or look in the mirror and say, “I’m awesome, I’m doing the best I can and today, I’m going to continue to fight to get what I want!

In the meantime, please know that whether I know you personally or not, I’m in your corner, standing behind you (well, not physically as that may freak you out), cheering you on. No matter the issue – don’t give up. Please. Don’t. Give. Up.

ADDENDUM: My dear friend on Twitter, @Ms_Infertile, pointed out after reading this post that she did not want my readers to think that I was suggesting that if they choose to stop treatment, I considered them as “giving up”. I’m glad she pointed this out as I would NEVER want anyone to think that was my suggestion.

There is a world of difference between acceptance and giving up. As I said above, “Sometimes our happy endings are not the way we planned or expected them to be but that doesn’t make them any less happy.” If you feel that you want to stop treatment, or that it’s taking too much of a toll on you physically, emotionally or otherwise, then that is exactly that – the ending you feel is the best for you. I have huge respect for those who say, “Enough is enough for me.” That isn’t a failure. It takes courage and strength to let go of something and make way for something else.

This post was more about people who are in the “thick of it” who are still looking for options. It also (in my opinion at least) could also be about any goal you are still in the process of pursuing.

Thank you @Ms_Infertile for making sure I made sure my readers know this… and thank all of you for your feedback, comments and for reading!

30 thoughts on “The Infertility Intervention”

  1. Inspiring. It talked to me on so many levels. While in the trenches you do need someone to believe you can do it… because some nights it gets difficult to remember it will ever be bright again. Thank you! Susy_Sama

  2. People should risk cancer to do IVF? What about the loss of life that occurs during the IVF process for Christian patients? I don't think you should encourage such steps in those that value their health or beliefs.

  3. Usually, I wouldn't publish comments as ignorant as the above but it IS a good opportunity to clear up the misconception that IVF causes Cancer… because it doesn't. Since I'm guessing you're a fan of Fox News, here is an article from Fox confirming that it doesn't cause Cancer:

    Also, in terms of Christianity, there are many very religious people who want nothing more than to have a child and who turn to fertility treatment. If you are not the kind of Christian who does that, then that's your business and I completely respect that. I would however think though that as the Christian you are, you'd be familiar with Matthew 7:1-5 (the King James Version( about not judging others. Plus, there are some who believe that God has blessed these doctors and modern medicine to help them "be fruitful and multiply" and that's their business. Not mine or yours. To me, my son, although achieved through IVF, is a miracle and there is no one on this earth to tell me my son isn't a gift from some higher power. In general, the point of this post was to encourage to not give up on achieving their dreams. However they choose to go about it is up to them. Thank you though for giving me a chance to address these issues as they are ones I am passionate about.

  4. Every day I'm thankful for Twitter, the Internet, etc. for getting me through my miscarriages. Honestly, if it weren't for the stories I'd read and people I'd talked to online, I don't think I would have pushed to see an RE so soon. After my second miscarriage, I went to my doctor and said, "I need tests done. Where do I go?" She gave me an RE referral and I met with him, discussed a plan, and now I'm just waiting on my period so I can start the tests. My own doctor said that after two miscarriages at 5 weeks, she'd normally just tell women to try again, it was probably just a fluke. I wasn't accepting that, and I'm moving forward to find out what's wrong and how to fix it. I feel empowered and in control. I never would have had that without the fertility/infertility communities I've found online. So thank you.

  5. I'm sure that giving advice to these people only to have them decide to stick with their doctor or to go on vacation was/is very frustrating. It's like talking to a friend about her crappy boyfriend, telling her to break up with him, only to have her continue to date him. All you can do in these situations is give the person/couple the best advice you can and they have to take it from there. If they want to listen then great, if they don't….well, there is nothing you can do.

    I hope your son says "Hot Mom" soon! 🙂

  6. I like you am cheering them all on. After struggling to get my daughter, also conceived through IVF, I was elated. I'm grateful to have some frozen embryos left to attempt to grow my family. I share my story openly and encourage all those who are seeking treatment to be their own advocate. I encourage those who have been trying to seek assistance ASAP. Better to know sooner than later from my perspective. I didn't want to be "one of those" people who had to "get help" to have a family, but I am. And like you, I'm grateful for it. Not the sucking parts, cos there were quite a few, but for the community and the ultimate end result for me.

  7. GO JAY!!!! Im a Christian with twins via IVF. God's cool with it. Im pretty sure Hes not sweating that meds etc were responsible (vs a few too many glasses of wine on date night). Seriously though, they are the answer to all my prayers and its the best thing that ever happened.

  8. I value my health AND beliefs and still chose to do IVF. It's the only way I could have had my miracle baby. We can certainly debate when life begins – goodness knows that I did that often enough during my waits between transfer and beta. Plenty of naturally-conceived embryos also don't implant and I don't see my Christian friends acknowledging those as losses the same way they would a stillbirth or death of a child – they call it a chemical pregnancy. But imposing your beliefs onto others isn't right either. Jay has every right to feel resentful/ frustrated/how she feels about people who are so obviously hurting but not taking the steps they could to have the baby they so desperately want.

  9. Thank you for writing this. When going through this roller coaster—whether it is infertility, loss or any combination thereof—it is easy get overwhelmed, want to give up, or not question the "authority" of the experts.

    My husband and I learned throughout our experiences that we had to advocate for ourselves. That we had to do the research, ask the questions, dig deeper, push harder. And we kept doing so until we found the right practice who not only heard us, but listened too. And while we're not "on the other side" yet, we're still exploring every avenue to get there.

  10. Great, inspiring post. I find the ignorance about fertility, especially among older women who at 43 are "starting to think about having a baby," staggering. I also have friends who have had multiple miscarriages and refuse to seek out help, just hoping "the next one sticks". There are just so many myths and misconceptions out there; everyone has a "we went on vacation and got pregnant" story, every hairdresser has a friend who had a surprise pregnancy at 45 and went on to have a perfectly healthy baby. The reality can be quite different. Thank you for the work you do helping to pull people out of denial and get them to (hopefully) a healthy baby!

  11. Hi Jay,
    This is a great post. This really resonates with me since I got pregnant with twins with my fourth IVF (after a chemical, an ectopic, and a Trisomy 18 pregnancy),the last cycle with donor eggs at a top clinic. Before that, I had paid not so much attention to clinic success rates and was just hoping against hope that my 38 year old eggs had what it takes. I really feel that many times when I've shared my story with people going through infertility and of course say or write something along the lines of "of course the donor egg route isn't for everyone!" the reaction 95% of the time is "Oh, no, no donor eggs" or "I'm not going there" etc. etc. Again, I don't think it's the route that every 39-45 year old should be steered toward but it's just sad to me (like your stories about the psychic or the cruise knock-up fantasy) that there ARE paths that are more realistic and will result in a healthy take-home baby in your arms, and people just ignore reality. I'm just glad that I woke up and smelled the coffee before my husband and I felt like we were no longer interested in becoming parents because of our age. Thanks again for this post.

  12. I've been reading along for a while. I'm here because my son died when he was 9 days old (11 if you count the days he was kept on life support to be a liver donor) and after following a bunch of blogs I ended up here and I like how you write!

    There are paths to walk in infertility that are uncomfortable and "owning" your infertility is a part of that- it's the first step. The second? Knowing when to seek help.

    So to research and offer people information when they reach out to you, only to have them turn their back on your information because they feel they aren't "like" you… That must be incredibly frustrating.

    No one wants to be infertile (just as they don't *really* want to acknowledge miscarriage/stillbirth/infant loss) because it's a shitty part of the population to be a part of. But ignorance doesn't equate with bliss, and as you mentioned before you know there's a path that can potentially lead to a baby- to have that dismissed because they "aren't infertile" or they hope to be one of the lucky ones who aren't really infertile… Well, they're losing out on time and opportunity and all that jazz.

    All this to say I hear what you're saying and I'm frustrated for you. An intervention on when to seek help rather than sit and wait would be amazing!

  13. Here from ICLW and I love, love, love this post. It is exactly what I needed to read. You are certainly an advocate when you can get an IF oldie like me to feel like I'm ready to get the boxing gloves back on. I do feel that the 'fight' has left me and this felt like an inspirational speech. (although I don't need any pointing in the RE direction-they know me well!) Thanks for this!

  14. Great writing and thanks for saying what many of us needed to hear! I just went through an early miscarriage and now getting back on the proverbial horse – hopefully with my sanity and humor in tact!

  15. You touched on so many things that I feel, too. I would be devastated to have clients do that, because after so long there's just so little chance of having random success. There are women in my community I wish I could sit down with and talk to about their struggles, since I know they must be struggling. But it's not my place. *sigh* (Here from ICLW)

  16. I can totally relate to your post! I am 38 and have an 8-month old boy, conceived through IVF/ICSI. We went for IVF/ICSI right away, due to my husband's poor sperm quality and my age, and we were lucky to be successful at the first try. We are now planning #2, aware that we don't have a lot of time. I have several friends (like me, in their late 30s) that are struggling with fertility issues and I know this is affecting them a lot, but still they do not seem to feel that it is 'urgent' to seek treatment. One friend, who has been trying for many years, was told by her OB-GYN that he does not see the urge for IVF because 'everything is fine' and IVF is normally done 'after 40'. I could not believe my ears! I also want to say that ALL the people I know that went through IVF ended up having a baby – or more than one. I know it is not always like that, that there are people for whom it does not work, but everybody I know or know of managed to get pregnant eventually.

  17. Hi from ICLW! "Sometimes our happy endings are not the way we planned or expected them to be but that doesn’t make them any less happy." Love this! I am still plugging along towards my BFP and happy ending, but I think about that often. When I get my "happy ending" it is not going to be the one I envisioned, but I know that once I have it, it will be the one for me!

  18. This is such a great post, on so many different levels. First, I commend you for your response to the person above questioning you "because IVF causes cancer" and on behalf of Christians. Great answer you had in rebuttal.

    I do wish I had started treatments sooner, but for us it boiled down to lack of finances and ignorance. We now have been pursuing treatments the last 15 months with IUI, IVF, and using even using donor eggs. We have one more shot at it with our two frozen embryos, and after that I would like to say we wouldn't be giving up, but our finances (or lack of) will just not allow us to continue this path.

    I am appalled that the one couple chose not to pursue treatments because her PSYCHIC told her she wasn't infertile. Wow. I can understand how you would hurt for these people when you know so many of them will later regret not going that next step sooner.

  19. After four failed IUI attempts, I'm now in the middle of my first IVF cycle (had my retrieval a few days ago; the transfer scheduled for the day after tomorrow). Though I opted to freeze the embryos, it doesn't look like I'll have enough "left over" to do that.

    I love my RE, and I really hope this works. I don't know, though, that if it doesn't, it's a matter of finding a new RE. What do you think?

  20. Man, I relate. I had three IUI's and my first IVF all with the RE that I truly loved. I also didn't have any embryos left over. For me, when the first IVF failed, I felt it was time to get a second opinion and in the end, I'm very glad I did. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can be extremely helpful. Either it will provide options or insight you wouldn't have otherwise been aware of OR it will just reconfirm that you like your current RE. There's really nothing to lose in my opinion. 🙂

  21. Hi Jay… I have been following your blog for last 3-4 months… I can not express in words how much your writings gave helped me in the moments of when i have felt like I have hit rock bottom… I have been trying for a baby for last 3 years… Had to have one pregnancy terminted at 19 weeks because of rare chromosomal disorder… one more miscarriage at 5 weeks..If two things keep me going, those are my husband's unconditional support and the hope which refuses to die.. Its our fight and we will win it… Please keep writing… Lots of love to you and your son…

  22. Great response. I overhead two woman talking about not doing IUI/IVF because they were "giving it to God" and it was up to him if they got pregnant. They are certainly entitled to their beliefs but for me, if I "gave it up to God" instead of "gave it up to Science and doctors and God" I never would have had my daughter via IVF.

  23. What a great blog, truly inspiring.
    It's so great to see you've gone into detail, and aren't afraid to be honest and open. The IVF process can be a highly emotional one, and does not always have a happy ending, so it's refreshing to see someone speak so openly about it.
    This would be an invaluable resource for anyone looking to take the first step on the IVF journey, and because it's your personal journey, this will really help those people associate, and could convince them to start their own trip down that path.

    Inspiring words.

  24. Great post!

    I get the whole intervention thing. It's frustrating when patients need/could use help but then turn it down because they figured the problem wasn't a huge deal or it would resolve on its own. Especially when they call you freaking out over it in the first place. I worked at an optometrist office and this happened a bit when it came to people's eye health.

    Keep up the good work! I'm sure you've been helping more people than not 🙂

    ICLW #61

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