Tell us a little bit about you and your infertility journey: I’m an IVF mama to my 16-month old miracle girl after one failed fresh cycle, one cancelled FET and finally our successful FET. I was diagnosed infertile when I was 23, just a few months after my husband and I were married. My infertility diagnosis came following two pelvic surgeries for softball sized endometriomas during which I lost my right ovary and right tube. My left tube was lost when I developed hydrosalpinx (fluid in the tube) while we were in the middle of our first FET. With no tubes and only one ovary it is now impossible for me to conceive without IVF.
What things helped you cope with infertility? . The Instagram IVF community provided much needed support and direction for me as we began treatment. I had been a member of the “TTC” community prior to my diagnosis and was welcome with love and support once I learned I needed IVF. I actually chose Shady Grove Fertility based on the recommendations of others on Insta. Knowing I wasn’t alone and had all my IVF Sisters to turn to when things got hard was so helpful to me. I also was very open about our struggles to our friends and family. I did receive some negative feedback, but overall everyone was happy to pray for and encourage us as we were undergoing treatment. My church organized meals for Jeremy and I after each of my surgeries which was a huge blessing. I listened to empowering songs on repeat; “Fight Song” and “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten and “What Faith can Do” by Kutless are still some of my favorites. Lastly, I saw a Christian therapist. She really helped me to keep my mind and thoughts focused on the positives and I took up adult coloring to help me decompress and not dwell in sadness.
Infertility can often be very expensive, what have you done to help alleviate the costs? I changed jobs after receiving my diagnosis to a company that I knew offered fertility coverage. I currently work for UPMC Pinnacle and we had a life time max of 25k for treatment. We maxed all that out on the three rounds we went through trying to have Haven. Recently, we discovered that our fertility benefits “refreshed” and we still have 25k remaining. We are so excited about this and are planning to begin treatment again in the hopes of adding baby number 2 to our family. Now that Starbucks offers fertility benefits to even part time employees, coverage is starting to become more accessible than ever. Still a long way from being available to everyone, but progress is being made.
Do you think your infertility journey is going to or has shaped the way you parent? Infertility definitely shaped how I parent. When Haven was born I had an incredible amount of anxiety. It took so long to conceive her and I was petrified of something happening to her. We used the Owlet monitor, I wouldn’t leave her with people, I was worried when people held her that she would get dropped, I had nightmares about her dying of SIDS…it was bad. And the underlying thought to all that was the struggle to bring her into the world. It still seemed too good to be true that we were finally successful and she was ours forever. It took me several months to work through these emotions and I’m much better now! I’m able to leave her to go on dates with my husband and enjoy myself. I still haven’t left her overnight and that’s ok with me; I know what I can handle mentally and will get there eventually.
I also want to teach Haven to be strong and advocate for herself. I struggled to get treatment for my infertility even after I received my diagnosis and ended up leaving my OB office and referring myself to Shady Grove. I do not want that for my daughter. So, when she is upset I acknowledge her feelings. I ask her what she wants and then I either tell her why we can’t do what she wants or I happily say “Ok I’m glad you told Mommy, let’s take care of that”. I had so many doctor dismiss and invalidate my concerns and I never want have to feel that way.
Are you going to share your infertility journey with your children? Yes! I already have the “your story” section filled out in her baby book. Endometriosis does have a genetic link so I want her to be aware of my struggles so she can get the treatment she may need. I also want her to be thankful for the doctors, nurses, etc. that helped to make her part of our family.
What is/was the hardest part of this journey for you? The hardest part for me right now is my desire to continue to grow our family. There are so many who are still longing and trying for their first and I feel incredibly guilty for wanting to have a second baby. This is something I’m still working through as we plan to try for baby two in 2018.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers? Don’t give up 🙂 I know that sounds clichéd because everyone says “don’t give up, it will be worth it!”. I remember reading those sentences when we were trying for Haven and thinking “easy for them to say, it worked for them”. You have to remember; you don’t know everyone journey. If I had given up after our fresh cycle or after our first FET we never would have had Haven. It’s hard to see the joy that you are going to experience at the end of this long journey. But I assure you, it really is worth it.
Want to contact Lauren? Instagram: @ivfjourney2babyg