Newport Beach, CA
Give us your quick bio:
I’m 35, have been married for 6 years and started my fertility journey at the age of 30. My husband and I have a beautiful baby girl via a gestational carrier. I wasn’t originally public about my journey. Not out of fear or shame, but I just never thought we would get as far as we did. Now, I wish I had been more open about it as hearing other women's journeys gave me so much hope. So I’m sharing this in an effort to give a little more faith to other women.
What is your personal experience with Infertility?
I’m a very persistent and linear person, and my journey with infertility could be described the same way. I never let myself jump too many steps ahead. I never thought the next treatment wouldn’t work, until it didn’t. I always had the mentality that you could work hard enough or try hard enough and you would eventually succeed. My experience with infertility had flipped that on it’s head.
I started out like many other women – naïve, thinking I would get off birth control, try for a few months and get pregnant. But I didn’t. And after a year, I made an appointment at a fertility clinic and was diagnosed with PCOS. I was put on Letrozole, but after 5 failed rounds, we made the decision to move onto IVF. I had a great retrieval and 8 embryos made it through PGS testing. It was during my first frozen embryo transfer cycle that we realized my uterine lining was extremely thin and I was one of the rare cases that didn’t react to exogenous estrogen. My lining never climbed above 6mm and I had 4 back to back cancelled cycles.
We finally decided to try a transfer with my lining at 6mm and it worked! I was pregnant and we even saw the heartbeat at 6 weeks. But then at 7 weeks, it had weakened substantially and ultimately I miscarried. I was devastated. Over the course of the next 8 months, I continued to push forward. I tried everything to increase my lining - Lovenox injections, another round of stim drugs and IVF, supplements, vitamins, different foods and teas, exercising more, exercising less, taking a leave of absence from work, acupuncture, massage, laying with my legs against the wall, warm socks, castor oil packs, not to mention the two surgical hysteroscopies and even a call with a spiritual healer. In a three-month span, I had a transfer that resulted in a BFN and the second and last transfer that resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. And that was the last straw for me.
I was spent – mentally, physically and most importantly, emotionally. My amazing doctor had reminded me the goal of this was to have a baby, not get pregnant. With that clearly in my mind, we changed course and my husband and I sought out a surrogacy agency to help us find an amazing woman that would carry our baby for us. Our baby girl was born in September 2018.
At your lowest point, how did Infertility impact you?
Looking back at my journey, there were many lows and each one impacted me slightly differently. But my absolute lowest was after my miscarriage and then a subsequent failed transfer. I was devastated. And the stress became so intense that I felt that I had to take something off my plate. So I chose to take a leave of absence from work. My career was very important to me up until this point and this was the first time that let this part of me take a back seat. It was like I was hyper-focused on only one thing for three years of my life and I can honestly say that infertility became all-consuming.
While this journey was full of lows, there were also some incredibly positive things that came out of this. I learned that my husband is truly my rock and we became closer, I found my tribe of friends and family that showed so much support throughout the process and I realized how strong I really was.
What was the turning point in your mindset? What helped you find happiness outside of Infertility?
After my ectopic pregnancy, I realized my body was just done with this journey. I had it through the ringer. And it deserved a break. But I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to stop. My doctor had reminded me the end goal was a child, not pregnancy. With that in mind, my husband and I made the decision to find a gestational carrier to help us realize our dream of becoming a family. Once this decision was made, I felt a giant weight lifted off my shoulders.
What actions did you take to help you heal?
Initially, I felt very alone in this journey and that felt very isolating. Once I began talking about this with others, I started to realize many women had or were going through something similar. I actively sought out a infertility support group, but to me that wasn’t as helpful as talking to family and friends or friends of friends who had been through something similar. I ended up building a tribe of friends and family that helped lift me up and supported me through this journey.
What would you tell other people facing an Infertility diagnosis? (in lieu of the phrase "never give up")
1. Find your tribe – don’t go through this journey alone. Whether it’s friends, family, a support group, etc. Find the people who can grieve with you through the lows and help you celebrate the highs.
2. Continue to live life – While this journey feels paralyzing, do what you can to continue living. Take those vacations, go to the weddings, baby showers, reunions, etc. Try to make those moments enjoyable.
How do you views align with the InfertileAF Mission?
My views are totally aligned with the InfertileAF mission and love that they use personal stories to help break down the stigma and help educate others going through their own infertility journey.