Infertility Warrior: Anne


Today on the blog I want to introduce you our infertility warrior Anne. Anne is embracing a childfree lifestyle after being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure in 2016. Anne lives happily with her husband and is an inspiration to those grappling with the decision to live childfree after infertility. We are thrilled to have her here today to tell her story and answer a few questions.

Q: Tell us a little about your infertility journey.
My husband and I got married in May 2015 and we knew we wanted at least a year before getting pregnant. I assumed, like we all do, that this would be no problem! However, I knew we shouldn’t wait too long because I was already in my mid-30s. I didn’t want to be too much older before having our first child.

I had been on birth control since I was 18. I had horrible cramps all through my teen years — they kept me from school on a regular basis. So, when I started college, my doctor put me on birth control and I stayed on it until my husband and I started trying for a child.

Right away things weren’t going as planned. I thought my period would come back heavier when I went off the pill, but it didn’t. Month after month I was waiting for it to return, but nothing changed. After a few months of trying, my doctor suggested that I track my ovulation. It was then that I started considering there might be a problem. Only once during the several months of tracking was ovulation detected.

In the fall of 2016 I had blood work done to see what was going on. Prior to receiving any results back, my husband and I had a discussion about our next steps. We decided we would be willing to try medicated cycles, if that’s what the doctor suggested. However, we were clear that we didn’t want to go beyond that. For some reason that I still don’t quite understand rationally, I knew deep down that if my body couldn’t make a baby, I needed to trust what my body was telling me.

I honestly never thought I’d have to follow through with this decision.

My doctor called to let me know that all of my blood work looked great except for one thing — low AMH. Very low AMH. Even if we had decided to pursue IVF, I would need an egg donor. I was devastated. A year later I was officially diagnosed with premature ovarian failure.

I’m grateful we made the decisions we did prior to receiving the results. That didn’t make my pain or grief go away. But it did help knowing that my husband and I were on the same page and that we both trusted the choice we made.

Q: What has been the hardest part?
I’m not sure I can identify just one hard part. It’s all hard. Friends and family getting pregnant. Actually, anyone getting pregnant. The loss of the dreams we hoped for. The strain it’s put on our marriage. The doubts about the choices we made. The distance it’s created with family and friends. Feeling left out. Being infertile is hard and is something I can never escape. Even when I’m past the pregnancy announcements of friends, then I’ll start to see them become grandparents.

 
Q: What has been the best part?
The support of my husband. This has not been easy for either of us. I’m very open about my story, while he is not. It’s hard for him when I share so much, but he understands this is how I process and work through the pain. He’s supported me every step of the way. I can’t imagine going through this with anyone else. As hard as it’s been, I think this has brought us closer and more in tune with each other. We know how to have tough conversations and move forward with love and grace. That is such a gift.

Q: Where are you now on this journey?
I’m working every day to live a good, full life in the midst of infertility. I write about my experiences with infertility on my blog and Instagram — sharing the realities of infertility and the hopes of a childfree life after infertility.

I do my best to pay attention to the perks of being childfree. First, I love being an aunt! Having eight nieces and nephews helps fill some of the void for us. I am grateful to be involved in their lives and to provide another adult who they can depend on for the rest of their lives. Additionally, we have two dogs that give me an outlet for caring for and raising other beings. They make me laugh on a daily basis and know when I need extra snuggles. Finally, I have a lot of hobbies that I truly enjoy — quilting, running, writing and photography. I’m grateful for the time I have to pursue each of these passions in a way that wouldn’t be possible right now with children.

Q: What is one thing people kept/keep saying or asking during your journey you wish they wouldn’t have?
Gratefully I haven’t had a lot of experience with negative comments or suggestions. Most of our friends and family were supportive and accepting of our choice not to seek medical treatment for my infertility. However, I’ve had some people say I won’t know true love until I have a child. Some people have said to do whatever I can in order to have a child. I just had to dismiss their comments and move on — I know true love without children of our own. End of story.

Q: Anything you have learned that you would like to pass along?
It is possible to move forward with a good, full life. In the beginning I didn’t know what I’d do with my life if I didn’t have children. I really felt like I lost my purpose, but slowly I realized I can build a good life without children. It takes work — but life is work, no matter what path we follow!

I realized that I had to pay attention to my feelings. I couldn’t dismiss the grief and pain, but had to experience and acknowledge them. Grief will always be a part of my life. So, when I’m going through a hard time, I don’t blame myself or feel bad for what I’m experiencing. I let myself feel it all and know that this is part of it.

For the last year I’ve thought about and started working on a book about my story. Currently I’m struggling with whether to continue writing this book or not. Infertility has taught me that grief comes in waves and sometimes makes moving forward really hard. I’m in the middle of a big wave right now. However, I know it will pass and somehow, someway, I’ll figure out the next steps to take. I think just acknowledging this is hard helps. And, talking with those who understand the journey, like all of you here, helps too.

I tell myself regularly: being human is hard. Be easy on yourself.

Q: Anyone or anything that has inspired you along your journey?
I’m grateful for many accounts including Katy Seppi (@chasing.creation), Brandi Lytle (@notsomommy), Rebekah Mabalot (@rebekahreclaimed), Tia Gendusa (@mstiagendusa) and InfertileAF (@infertileafcommunity). Katy and Brandi both have great blogs that were helpful to me. I felt so alone for so long — finding others who understood my choices and struggles made such a difference.

Q: Where can people find out more about you? (Instagram, Facebook)
I’m on Instagram at @livinginthemidst. I also blog at www.annebrock.com


This story was submitted to The Infertility Chronicles.
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