The journey to motherhood comes in all shapes, sizes and stories. We were recently scrolling through Facebook and came upon a very open and honest post from Julie about her struggles getting pregnant and her new journey through IVF.
When asked if she would be willing to share her story with us there really wasn’t any hesitation. She was sharing her story, not for herself, but for people who are going through very similar circumstances.
A lot of times one thinks that the road to motherhood is an easy one, well, it’s not for some. About 10% of women (just in the U.S) have trouble getting pregnant. Thank goodness for modern medicine and the options people have.
Thank you to Julie for sharing her story. If it helps one person it’s worth it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what’s been going on.
My name is Julie Ray. My husband and I got married in July 2017 and we currently live in southern Indiana. Leading up to our wedding I had been on birth control for a few reasons. 1- the main one, prevent pregnancies (ha, jokes on me!) and 2- I had really bad cramping with my monthly cycle and the pills took a majority of that away for me. My husband wanted me to come off the pill more than a few months before our wedding just so we could be ready and my body was back to a normal cycle by the time the wedding came along. With that, my fear was I don’t want my period on my wedding day! I ended up stopping the pill the day of our wedding rehearsal just to be sure!
I knew becoming a mom was something I always wanted to do. But in college, I had a scare. For about 2 years, I would get excruciating pain around my right ovary. Eventually it got so bad that my mother had to drive up to college and pick me up to rush me to my doctor back home. They found multiple cysts, some up to 10 mm on or around my ovary. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. After the surgery, I was informed that they were not on my ovary (thank heavens!) but on my Fallopian tube. The damage was so bad from the cysts flipping and turning that they had to remove my tube. My heart sunk into my stomach. “Will I be able to have kids?!” was the first thing I asked. The doctors assured me that I would have no problem since I had the other tube.
6 months after getting married, we started to see a fertility doctor. I knew I was going to have a hard time but I wanted to make sure the other tube was not blocked. After some blood tests, ultrasounds, a painful HSG test, the doctor said we are fully functional, well as most as I can be. But… we are going on 1.5 years of trying, timing, calculating, temping, CM watching, lots of negative pregnancy tests, sad nights, emotional weeks, and disappointing days.
January 9 was the start of our next process. We began our IVF journey. My husband, thankfully, has infertility coverage through his insurance so as soon as I was able to get on his, we started our appointments. I am 10 days into my cycle and a lot of shots, ultrasounds, blood work, later, we are coming close to our retrieval day. After the retrieval we plan on doing the PGS testing where we can see if the embryos are genetically normal. This also increases our chances of the embryo sticking when transferred. Anything that we can do to improve our odds, we are doing! By the end of February, we should know if we are pregnant! Fingers crossed. If not, we have elected to freeze any mature embryos for future FETs.
What has made you the most overwhelmed about getting pregnant?
The emotions that go into it. There would be some pretty sad and exhausting days this last year and a half. Why me? How is it so easy for them? Hearing people say “Just relax, it will happen” ” Just keep trying” “Don’t think about it” “Have some wine” “Are you pregnant yet?!” …. that was by far the worst one. Especially since they did not know what we were struggling with.
You feel like you are not adequate to be a mother, not supposed to be one, if it doesn’t happen naturally. You see people getting married after you, and within 2 months, posting that they were pregnant on social media. People who weren’t even trying, used protection or just “look at their husband/significant other” and boop – I’m Pregnant!
There was a time that I had to take myself off social media because I couldn’t emotionally handle seeing anyone else get what I was craving. There was a jealous and hateful feeling that would come over you when you see that. But then you feel selfish for feeling that way because this is something they clearly wanted as well. It was so hard to get over that.
What advice have you gotten about the process (if any)?
See the comments before that you would receive from people that didn’t know you were struggling with infertility…. but after I started talking about it, joined a IVF support group on Facebook, I found more and more people that were also struggling or had gone through it in the past.
That support system is WAY different that the support system of someone not going through it. There are a lot of things out there about IVF to make it work: acupuncture, pineapples, yoga, naps, icing the shot spot before/after, writing journals. But in the end, you just have to do what you feel is best.
What would you tell someone going through the same thing?
There is a stigma about IVF, which I am happy is going away slowly, that if you are going through it that you have failed. That you have to go to someone for help to get pregnant. But people struggle with infertility for so many reasons: PCOS, husband/wife are in the military and not home to conceive naturally, work different schedules and are not home at the same time, low sperm count, missing parts, and so many more.
But people DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.
I know what I struggled with was I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want their pitty, or sympathy. But the hard part was, without talking about it, no one knows what you are going through and may say/do things without knowing that it effects you in a negative way. My advice is if you are comfortable with it, talk about it. Share that you are going through this. You are not alone. My hardest thing to overcome when realizing that this is the journey we would have to take to conceive a child, was that I am not the only person that has to go through this. The biggest thing is to change your mindset. This is an unfortunate thing that you have to go through, and its not an ideal thing, but its here so you have to face it head on. Others get pregnant naturally, this is how you ARE going to get pregnant. And it is okay. It is okay to ask for help, to cry, to share you story with others.
It’s such an emotional and private thing but if you keep it bottled up, it will be something you find only you and your SO are left to deal with and bear. After opening up about it, I have received so much support and love from others – it was overwhelming. As soon as I hit Post, i felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It wasn’t a secret I was hiding anymore, I am not the only one who knows about this. Now that is totally something you have to be comfortable with doing but for me personally, it was a game changer.
How can someone be supportive to a friend/family member going through the same thing?
After sharing my story with a few close friends/family before posting on social media, they were so intrigued. None of them had struggled with it before so they did not know the emotions and process that goes into it. But from the outside in, don’t pry. If the person going through the process is open, they will share what they want. If you are curious about what they are going through, read some articles, do your own research, then ask them questions. The effort you put in to show you are genuinely there to support and take this journey with them will be proven. Don’t feel bad for the person going through this because they didn’t do anything wrong.
There are friends who just put you in their prayers and send love/positive thoughts your way. One of my best friends texts me every night at shot time and just sends words of encouragement. My sister and mother cheer on my follicles to grow every morning after the ultrasound updates. My sister bought me a pineapple necklace for Christmas – and yes i started crying… (symbol for infertility and that you are a strong person on the outside and spikes on your shell to defend off the bad things in life, with a sweet center and crown on your head).
Texting a friend and saying “You got this. This is your month” goes a long way.
Have any of your relationships with mom friends changed because of this?
My sister had my 4th nephew 5 months after we started trying, and I got a negative pregnancy test the day before. I was struggling wanting to go to the hospital to see him because I was jealous.
My brother actually called me selfish for not wanting to go, but then my parents told him what we were struggling with and he came to me crying to hug me and tell me he didn’t know. But like I mentioned earlier, I had to learn to put my own personal feelings aside and be happy for them.
My friends who were finding out they were pregnant, or having kids, or raising kids, I had to at first, separate myself from them because hearing comments about the kids, positive or negative, made me think “I want that” or “I want your sleepless nights”.
But after some time, my mindset changed. A small amount of jealousy remains but my happiness for them that they do not have to struggle with this beyond trumps it.
Anything else you would want to add?
You are not flawed.
You are going to be a mother one way or the other. If that is your goal, you will achieve it. Find a group of people that have gone through/going through this and use them as a support system. They TRULY get what you are going through and can lend a helping hand, offer advice from what they did, or vent about the same things together. You are not less of a woman because you are struggling with infertility. You are STRONG because you have been chosen that you can get through this and I know you can handle it so here- try me! Whether I know you or not, if you need someone to talk this through with or just ask some questions, please let me know and I am happy to help!