The Fertility Rollercoaster: Bringing Our Dreams to Fruition

The fertility rollercoaster

By anonymous

My partner and I decided we wanted to have a family a long time ago. By the time we made the decision to get started, we had already been together for over ten years.  I think after you have been together with someone for at least ten years, some of the basic questions of life are pretty much settled. You know each other’s rhythms, moods and energy and, thankfully, we knew we had a pretty strong foundation to the house we built – our relationship. We figured we really needed to start a family because we had way too much love to give. After a while it became hard to walk by a baby, any baby, and not feel our ovaries quiver with longing!

Like many other people, we had several twists and turns. My partner was evaluated initially but ultimately did not try to get pregnant because uterine fibroids would have prevented her from carrying a pregnancy to full term. After several months of agonizing the loss of biological motherhood as a possibility, she had an elective hysterectomy because the fibroids were causing excessive bleeding and anemia.

At that time, I was seven years her younger; I was in my early thirties and definitely NOT ready to carry a child. We were admonished by our doctor who basically told us we were past our prime and that the best age biologically to carry a child was 22! My lord, I thought—that’s babies having babies! At 22 I was out partying, certainly not thinking of having babies.

It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I decided to start the process. I could no longer deny this longing inside of me. I suppressed it thinking that I didn’t deserve such a thing; having come from a very devout and (disapproving) Muslim background- my family had not accepted or acknowledged my sexual identity or my relationship with my partner even though I had come out to them 14 years earlier. Finally something broke inside me, and I realized I deserved happiness. I figured it was Divine Intervention that had allowed me to meet my partner of 14 years so why not? Maybe the universe would allow us a family of our own.

Riding the ‘fertility roller coaster,’ as we called it, was one of the hardest things we have ever done in our relationship.

We spent about three years trying before we actually got pregnant—we had natural cycles, clomid cycles, medicated IUI cycles and finally IVF cycles before we got pregnant. We went through 11 rounds altogether and 4 IVF cycles before success.

Like many others, we took much joy and imbued such hope out of the little successes within each cycle:  the number of follicles grown, the grade of the eggs, the number of embryos fertilized… The list goes on and on.  And with each failed cycle, our hope and disappointment would come crashing down on us. Not getting pregnant at the end of a cycle, or nearly getting pregnant (a chemical pregnancy) or getting pregnant then losing it very early — so many variations, so many ways to feel disappointed! The pain of losing something we never had to begin with was an entirely new and unique feeling while riding the fertility roller coaster. Yet, after each cycle, we would nurse our loss, lick our wounds, muster up hope and gather up the strength to try again.

I came across this quote by Alice Domar that helped me frame my grief after each failed cycle. My heart was so invested in success every time and my mind couldn’t process the failure after I had worked so hard.

“How do we accept that our intentionality, wholeheartedness and hard work matter even when they can’t be counted on to bring our dreams to fruition? ”
—Alice Domar in “Self-nurture: learning to care for yourself as effectively as you care for everyone else”

I think this quote by Ms. Domar  helped me understand what HOPE on the fertility roller coaster truly meant. It was no guarantee, no definite reality, but a possibility — and, in that possibility of imagining a family of my own, I learned it was ok to try again, and again, and again!

With our fourth IVF cycle, we became pregnant with boy/girl twins. It truly was a Divine journey for us. So many ups and downs, and ultimately — two healthy babies. Today, they are nearly 15 months old and sometimes we still look at them and marvel that they are here with us. We hold them tight and thank them for choosing us as their parents.

Comments

  1. As someone who has had the experience of infertility and a successful pregnancies as a result of the wonderful treatment here in the Boston area, I love hearing success stories. However, I must say that women should never take their fertility for granted. I married in my 30’s and tried right away, just in case I had any fertility issues. Ironically, I did need a little extra help. But this story does not move me. One partner knows she is the only one who can bear children due to her partners hysterectomy, yet still waits a few years. She waits a few years after knowing that they both want a family, after being together for 10 years, and already being in her 30’s. Those few years can make all the difference between fertility and infertility.

    • Amy – I am skeptical that you truly experienced infertility. Not just because you said you only needed “a little extra help” to get pregnant but because your comment is extremely insensitive as it places blame on this author for her struggle with infertility. While it’s true that fertility decreases as you age, it is not her fault that she had to fight this battle. She explained why they started trying to get pregnant when they did and the emotional hurdles she had to overcome before she was ready. It’s a very personal decision and can be a difficult one. Your comments placing blame on this author for waiting until she and her partner were ready just fuel the ignorance about and stigma related to the disease of infertility.

      And to the author: Thank you for sharing your story. I am very happy that you and your partner have happy healthy twins.

  2. “ChickinNH” I am not sure what you mean that you are “skeptical that you truly experienced infertility” So you are saying that if a person could not get pregnant for years but ended up lucky by not needing a procedure such as IVF, means they did not experience infertility? That seems very ignorant. I needed drugs, Clomid to be precise. It worked! But it took years of not getting pregnant as well as many invasive tests and watching friends and relatives get pregnant effortlessly. I am sure I fit into the infertility category, after all, I am on the email list of this clinic that I used, twice! Yes, I had to go through infertility treatment for my second child as well. No, it’s nobody’s fault that they experience infertility when they start trying to get pregnant before menopause begins. But trying to get pregnant once you are closer in age to menopause than to puberty, infertility is a reality. I have many friends who claimed that “I get pregnant at the drop of a hat” or, “I never had any trouble getting pregnant” All protecting themselves by removing themselves from the possibility that they could have been in my position had they waited. I was trying to get pregnant for the first time at age 34, when they were all done having children by age 32, a significant factor. Yes, it was painful not being able to get pregnant on my own, and facing the prospect of never being a mother. But I did not meet my spouse until I was 33, after many failed relationships. If I had met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with in my 20’s (and believe me, I tried), I would have started my family much earlier, and would never have known the pain of infertility. It is a risk I took so I could end up raising children with the right person, and not end up being a divorce statistic like so many people I know. Now that the public is informed about age related infertility, people can hopefully make more informed decisions regarding family planning.

  3. Congratulations on your twins! Hopefully this article will remind people that women have a very short window to be a mother. Never take your youth for granted, because it slips away before you know it. There is a difference between age related infertility, and the “disease of infertility” For example, PCOS, scarred fallopian tubes, testicular cancer, etc.. cause infertility. It’s great that our wonderful clinics can help women and men with these conditions. It also gives hope to women who have not found Mr. (or Mrs) right until later in life (or have not found anyone) to experience the joy of being a parent.

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