Infertility Warrior: Natalie


Q: Tell us a little about your infertility journey.
          In June of 2015, my husband and I made the exciting decision to start a family. We were both young, so we never imagined it would be this difficult. At first it was so exciting, but eventually, each failed month was so discouraging. Just over a year into trying to conceive, I felt off. I decided to test, and it came back positive. We were over the moon. We showed up to our first ultrasound, so excited, only to find out that it was more than likely not a viable pregnancy. It was still early – we were about 6 weeks along. We decided to schedule an ultrasound a week later, just to be sure. I had to show up to that ultrasound alone, as my husband had to work. I remember seeing the ultrasound technician’s face and just knowing what the response would be. I was immediately led to a room, where a doctor threw statistics about miscarriage my way. I was diagnosed with a blidghted ovum. He mentioned the oh-so-famous: “Well, at least we know you CAN get pregnant!” So encouraging.. I was then ushered into an office so that I could schedule a D&C with my doctor. I couldn’t afford the D&C at the hospital – it was about $1600 – I mean, who has that lying around? We ended up opting for a D&C at an abortion clinic. On November 19th, 2015, Diego and I went to the abortion clinic for the procedure. I will spare the details, but it is one of the worst days of my life. On February 8th of 2018, my husband and I had our first fertility appointment. It was so scary, but it felt so nice to feel validated and feel like we were actively doing something toward building our family. After a month of tests, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. It was disappointing, as there was nothing to “fix.” We decided to go forward with IVF. In May that year, we had our egg retrieval. I was naïve to the process, yet again. I was young, and expected to come out with several embryos and a successful cycle. We were able to retrieve 10 eggs, of which three became viable embryos. On June 19th that year, we had our first frozen embryo transfer. Again, I was incredibly naïve to the entire process. Being young, I figured it would work on my first try. That transfer did not work out, and I quickly fell into a pretty deep depression. We had been very open to family and friends about the process, and having to share the bad news made it that much harder on me. Immediately after, we went on to do an ERA cycle to ensure that my lining was receptive and had a sufficient amount of progesterone at the time of our next transfer. In a nutshell, you do everything as if you are going to transfer – estrogen patches and progesterone shots. However, on “transfer day,” they take a biopsy of your lining. My lining came back as receptive, meaning there was no reason a to why my transfer would have failed. Yet again, another “unexplained” diagnosis. Soon after, we started our next cycle to transfer our next embryo. This time, my husband and I decided to not focus all our thoughts on it. We went through the motions, but had zero expectations. On October 9th, we transferred our next embryo. And just like that… we were pregnant with our rainbow baby.

Q: What has been the hardest part?
          Darn, it is so hard to decide. I think the hardest part is how isolating infertility is. It is such a taboo topic, so you truly do not know how common it is until you experience it yourself. I felt so alone and misunderstood during those four years of struggling. I felt like my friends and family expected me to move on, but I felt like my life was at a standstill.

 
Q: What has been the best part?
          The best part is the community of friends that I made throughout this journey. When I first started treatment, I realized I had no one to talk to about it. I decided to create an Instagram account to document my journey. Shameless plug - @theroadtostella. Through this page, I was able to make the best of friends who truly understood me. It’s been almost two years of this page, and I have built the kindest and most supportive group of mom and infertility friends. While our friendship was built on heartache, we’ve been able to support one another and celebrate one another’s successes. And, so many of us are moms now! It really makes me so hopeful.

Q: Where are you now on this journey?
          At the moment, I am the mom to a beautiful and healthy 9 month old baby girl, Stella. Motherhood after infertility is so funky. Motherhood is hard, but you feel so guilty complaining and asking for help, when others long and dream of this day. We have one remaining embryo that is currently frozen. I truly do not know what will come of it. Part of me wants to cherish Stella and soak her all in for as long as I can. We would love to revisit giving Stella a sibling when she is around 3 years old. If that embryo does not stick around, we will be fulfilled and happy with Stella as our only child. Part of me is scared of embarking on this next transfer in fear that I cannot cope with another loss. However, I know that I could get through anything life throws our way.

Q: What is one thing people kept/keep saying or asking during your journey you wish they wouldn’t have?
          I could go on forever. The most popular one was, “You are young. You have time.” It was so discouraging. I felt like my journey was continuously invalidated because of my age.

Q: Anything you have learned that you would like to pass along?
          If there is anything I can say I learned, it is to be gracious with myself. Throughout my infertility journey, I really just wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. However, for a long time, I did not let myself do that. I showed up and pretended to be happy for my friends and family. Once I started infertility treatment, I realized I needed to be the best version of myself. I was truly honest with my friends and family about my headspace. I only went to events that I truly wanted to go to.  I really found my tribe during this time. I also really learned to lean on my husband. He was my rock throughout all of this. He was the only one that truly knew and felt my pain, and I took solace in knowing that.

Q: Anyone or anything that has inspired you along your journey?
          The infertility community is sadly so darn large. It’s sad that it had to be infertility and loss that brought us together, but I have made some amazing friends along the way. I did not know if I could keep going after each disappointment and injection, but seeing them go on, in spite of it all, kept me going.


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

          Wow, I have so many Instagram warriors that I would love to share with you. I will highlight accounts that truly helped me through IVF treatment. There are so many more, but these did such a beautiful job at sharing the process – the good and the ugly.
          @ardenmcartrette
          @journey.2.baby
          @ttc.baby.e
          @lenaridley

Q: Where can people find out more about you? (Instagram, Facebook)
          You can find my day-to-day mom life on Instagram at @natidoesntgohere. You can find me sharing snippets of my mom life and my IVF journey on my infertility account over at @theroadtostella. I occasionally blog about marriage, infertility, therapy, and motherhood over at https://theinfertilemillennial.home.blog/




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