Sunday, July 10, 2016
Love, Marriage, Infertility?
Hi, my name is Annmarie. I'm 23 years old, married to an amazing man, and we are having problems with infertility.
Without suffering with infertility, one can never grasp how painful and scary it is to just type the sentence above. As someone who is very open and honest about their life, I was not prepared for the shame, fear, and isolation that comes from finding out that you can't just "go and get pregnant."
When I started dating Brad and things were getting serious, I pictured my life with him. We planned on getting married, waiting a few years for me to graduate college and get some work experience, and then we would have children. This plan seemed reasonable, and while I definitely started to get "baby fever" earlier than I had hoped, we still followed our original game plan. We were doing things the right way. First comes love, then marriage, then the baby carriage, right? And although I was prepared for it to take us a few months, I was not prepared for what was actually in store for us.
Instead of everything going in accordance to my precise planning, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is an endocrine disorder that causes my estrogen and progesterone to be out of balance. It's a very complicated disorder, leading to a plethora of symptoms. One of these symptoms is not being able to ovulate regularly, if at all. This makes it almost impossible to get pregnant naturally.
My heart broke when I learned that my dream of being a mother is not going to happen the way that I had always planned. Instead of designing our nursery and shopping for cribs, I started the journey of researching what might increase our odds of conceiving. I tried prayers, holistic approaches, acupuncture, oral medication, mindfulness, and stress reduction. I watched many loved ones announce their own pregnancies. Baby pictures and baby commercials seemed to be everywhere while I tried to implement another intervention to increase our odds.
Studies show that women with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as do women with cancer, heart disease, and a HIV+ status, and I can see why. When you yearn for something so badly, but have very little control on if and when it happens, it can drive you into a dark place. The pain, tears, worry, and anger can easily envelop you. The multitude of Dr's appointments and medications, including their side effects, can make your head spin.
The few things that have given me inklings of hope were my prayers to God, and discovering other couples who are going through this as well. It is estimated that at least 1 in 10 couples face infertility, yet it seems that very few of them ever "come out of the infertility closet." And for awhile, I didn't want to either. I talked to a few close friends, as well as coworkers to explain my increasing absences for appointments, but have otherwise buried it with shame. Yet almost every time I did open up to someone about our fertility struggles, that person would share that they or someone they knew dealt with infertility.
So after many prayers, I am coming forward with our fertility journey for a few reasons.
1) I want to increase the amount of prayer warriors lifting their hearts for us and our journey to grow our family. I'm asking for prayers that we conceive, prayers of wisdom and discernment as to what steps to take medically, and prayers for guidance as to when to change course in our journey to grow our family.
2) I need to free myself from the shame and lies. So many times I've felt that I had to make up why I am going to the Dr. so much, why I have hot flashes and nausea from medications, and why Brad and I don't have any children yet. I am physically and emotionally exhausted and ready to tell people the authentic truth.
3) I want escape the isolation of this journey and hopefully connect with others going through this as well.
I am not sure how much of our journey I will share, or in how much detail. But I do know that I am sick and tired of hiding one of the hardest journeys that Brad and I have ever faced. Yes, we are currently using fertility medication and other interventions in hopes to expand our family. No, this is not at all how I pictured my life would be. But one way or another, Brad and I will be parents. We just will need some help to do so. And there is no reason to feel shame or guilt because of that.
I send all of my love to anyone wrestling with the grief of infertility. You are not alone. And never hesitate to reach out to me.
Love and Blessings,