Infertility Warrior: Rachael




Today on the blog I want to introduce you our infertility warrior Rachael. Rachael is a mom to three beautiful children, two born after six years of secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. She is also an Advocate for infertility and her Instagram highlights the struggles and trauma associated with this journey. 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.
For almost six years I battled secondary infertility with my husband, Brad.. After the miscarriage of our second pregnancy at twelve weeks we were ushered into the heartbreak of this disease with the label “unexplained”. For almost a year after my first miscarriage I was unable to get pregnant again which led us to pursue treatment from a doctor of Reproductive Endocrinology. Many things were considered under his care; low progesterone, low sperm morphology but nothing glaringly obvious was found to suggest the reason we were having such difficulty. After trying naturally unsuccessfully with additional progesterone for months Brad and I decided on InVitro. OHSS, another devastating miscarriage and two chemical pregnancies later we chose to move on to another RE practice. During that second round of IVF we were shocked to find we had gotten pregnant spontaneously. The pregnancy anxiety after infertility and loss that I experienced during that time was a difficult and unexpected burden to bear. After three long years of waiting, our son, Dean, finally arrived in 2016.

One frozen normal embryo had resulted from that second IVF cycle. Since having exhausted our financial means and mental capacity to continue with infertility treatment we knew this would be our last attempt at growing our family with the help of Reproductive Medicine. That frozen embryo transfer in late 2017 was successful and our son, Aden, completed our family in 2018. 
After his birth I suffered life-threatening birth trauma from a placenta accreta. Waking in the ICU I immediately complained of an intense headache. Three days later, tests revealed that the excruciating pain had resulted from a large undiagnosed pituitary tumor which had ruptured from loss of blood during the hemorrhaging accreta event.
 In spite of these years of intense pain and trauma, I am acutely aware of how blessed my journey has been. I have found the family of my dreams and that isn’t everyone’s reality. I am still on the path of healing myself, body and soul. In that way, my journey with infertility continues.



Q: What has been the hardest part?
In one word: Loss
The death of my children is an indescribable pain and by far has been the hardest times in my infertility journey. But, loss also occurs insidious ways. It slowly weaves its web of destruction throughout every aspect of your life; loss of relationships, of financial stability, of a healthy sex life. A loss of faith, loss of mental and physical health. A true loss of self. It doesn’t always happen all at once, but rather takes a piece of things bit by bit.

I will forever mourn the loss of my children but, I’m also still navigating the grief I feel in all the other ways I lost myself and my life along the way.




Q: What has been the best part?
Connection. Infertility changes you. How can it not? During that long and winding road I lost - people, faith, myself. And yet, I discovered connections of love that have changed my life; the incredible infertility sisters and brothers of the TTC Community, a deeper love for my family and friends that stood by me, my husband. For God and  for myself. So many gifts along the way that I wouldn't change for anything.

Q: What is one thing people kept/keep saying or asking during your journey you wish they wouldn’t have?


    Saying “At least you have a child”
Having a child does not lessen infertility. Though I acknowledge that secondary infertility presents different challenges than primary, the fact is infertility hurts everyone going through it no matter the circumstance. Devaluing someone’s feelings going through infertility is wrong. The raw and broken emotions you feel in the death of your unborn children, in the negative pregnancy tests month after month, in the face of your partner when you tell them the treatment failed, in the physical and emotional tolls of InVitro. Having my feelings of grief, loss and pain devalued because of my having a child only caused a greater chasm in my quest to maintain mental health during the battle.
Bottom line-
Stop saying at least in any form to those going through infertility. It hurts.

Q: Where are you now on this journey?
I am in the thick of motherhood after infertility. Though I am no longer trying to conceive, my journey with infertility is still very much a part of my life in the form of healing. I wish the truth was you have a child and the scars of infertility are erased from your heart and mind. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. The scars and fallout from those years of loss and trauma, things that were not properly processed and worked through at the time are now begging to be dealt with. So these days I am mothering not only my three kids but, myself. Through persistent patient love I am committed to healing all of me, body and soul.



Q: Anything you have learned that you would like to pass along?
Support is key. In the first year or so, I battled infertility alone. Stubborn, grieving and ashamed I began to flounder as the stakes of infertility and time only grew. I felt completely alone, as if I were the only person in the world who was going through this. One evening I broke down. I realized I couldn’t do this on my own anymore. It was only when I made the choice to actively take care of myself and let others in that my world finally began to shift. I started seeing a therapist and receiving reiki weekly to care for my mental health. I sought out others going through infertility online and found a community of incredibly brave and inspiring warriors who supported me every step of the way. And I let Jesus back into my heart. I was once so angry, blaming God for the death of my babies that I shut Him out. It was only when I opened my heart again and trusted Him completely with the plans He had for my life that the burden of infertility once too heavy to carry became lighter.

Focusing on caring for myself - mind, body and spirit allowed me the endurance to keep battling far beyond what i ever would have had i not had these life lines of love and support in place. Don’t leave yourself out when waging war with this storm. You’ll need pillars of light supporting you through the darkness. You don’t have to do this alone.

Q: Anyone or anything that has inspired you along your journey?
My daughter, Ella, was a driving force of both inspiration and desperation, and sometimes she was both at once. With secondary infertility, I felt immense guilt for not providing her a sibling. On my best days, Ella provided me with strength I didn't know I had. She woke me up when I was lost in despair, reminding me of the joy and blessings I had right in front of me. At my worst, she was a trigger to the anxiety and fear that threatened to break me. Being a mother while aching for another child filled me with conflict and confusion. I do believe she was sent to me to
I was and continue to be deeply inspired by all the men and women I met both online and in person who are going through their own battles with infertility. To be invited to share in their most intimate family-growing experiences inspires me daily.


Q: Any resources or other accounts you would like to share that you found helpful during or after your journey?

@hopeheals
@ihadamiscarriage
@infertileafcommunity
@notsafeformomgroup

Q: Where can people find out more about you?

My Instagram account, @Motherhood_after_infertility. Here I share my life, all the big and little moments of motherhood, after secondary infertility. My hope is that these little squares offer support, awareness and connection for all mothers who have been touched by infertility, loss and trauma.
There are some incredible supportive projects in the works for 2020. I’m looking forward to unveiling them to you soon!



This story was submitted to The Infertility Chronicles.
Submit your own story, by emailing us at infertilitychronicles@yahoo.com
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- DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS -