For Patients

6 Things Infertility Taught Me

By Brianna Steele

6 Things Infertility Taught Me

There is no question, my journey to parenthood was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with.  My entire life I dreamed of becoming a mother and the thought of this dream not happening was heartbreaking. I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone but I do believe that infertility taught me six things that changed my life for the better.

Patience

I’ve always been a Type A, go-getter.  I was working in my dream job by age 21, I had my Master’s degree by age 22, I married my high school sweetheart at 23… I really thought I could plan for everything that I wanted in life but this journey taught me not everything is in my control and I needed to be patient.  The never-ending waiting for your next doctor’s appointment, waiting for your medicine to arrive, or waiting for the next cycle was extremely hard and it seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel was far, far away. What gave me patience and hope was the many options that were available: IUI’s, IVF, surrogacy, and adoption. There were so many options and I knew one of these options would help me become a mom. Every day I kept telling myself that I was one day closer to becoming a mom and that kept me going.

Strength

There were times that I didn’t want to face the outside world and didn’t want to get on social media because I knew I’d probably see a baby announcement.  Though I was always happy for others, I was also incredibly sad for myself. That being said, through the sadness and fear, I kept reminding myself that I was made to be a mother and I needed to be strong and fight like one. Sometimes you have to go through really hard struggles to realize how strong you are.Empathy

In this world, we are so quick to judge.  Infertility taught me that you don’t always know what someone is going through.  Everyone is going through some tough battle that you might not have any idea about.  I wish everyone would look deeper into a person before they make any assumptions. Wouldn’t this world be more beautiful if we all did this?

Gratefulness

One of the best pieces of advice I can give someone who is struggling with infertility is to treat yourself when something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to.  Whenever a treatment failed for us, we booked a trip to cheer us up because traveling makes our hearts happy. Due to a lot of failed treatments we were able to travel to several different countries. I’m thankful for these trips because it opened my eyes (and my husbands) to so many different cultures, provided me so much joy during this hard time, and most importantly, it taught me to be grateful for what I do have.  I know trips aren’t always feasible but do something that makes you happy and brings you joy after a failed treatment, whether that be a pedicure, a trip, spend the day with a loved one, or even just a night out. You deserve it and it’s always nice to be reminded to be grateful for what you do have.

The TTC Community and TTC Sisterhood is a Real Thing

The TTC Community on Instagram was so supportive and non-judgmental during my journey. We’d pray for each other, cry for each other, and were always there during the good times and the bad.  They also “understood” what you were going through. This community made me feel not alone. There are a lot of good people in this world, you just have to find them. If you’re going through infertility, please find us on Instagram (my username is MyTwinMomAdventures). We are a VERY welcoming group and would love to have you.

It Made Me a Better Mother

This will sound very cliché, but I truly believe this struggle made me a better parent. I’m sure I would’ve been a good mom even if I hadn’t struggled with infertility but infertility made me realize what miracles my children are.  It made me a more understanding, patient, and grateful mother. I thank God, every single day that I get to be their mom. I will never take being a mom for granted.

When going through infertility, you can easily get caught up in how horrible, unfair, and sad everything is. Or you can take what’s happening and learn from it. I was often consumed in anger and sadness but I did learn these important lessons and I truly believe that I am a better person because of the journey I went through.

BRIANNA IS A MOM TO BOY/GIRL TWINS, CAMDEN AND ELLA! SHE AND HER HUSBAND STRUGGLED WITH INFERTILITY FOR YEARS. AFTER THREE ROUNDS OF IVF (IN VITRO FERTILIZATION), THEY WERE BLESSED WITH THEIR MIRACLE TWINS. WHEN SHE’S NOT WITH HER FAMILY, SHE’S PURSUING ONE OF HER PASSIONS: TRAVELING (40 COUNTRIES AND COUNTING!), WORKING OUT, ORGANIZING, DECORATING, COOKING, BLOGGING, OR WATCHING REALITY TV!

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Flip the Script

By Chelsea Ritchie

This week marks an important week in the world of infertility as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week where people unite, help educate others about infertility and open up conversations to all that it all entails. I am so grateful for the infertility community and RESOLVE as we work to educate others on what it’s like to wear these shoes.

Let’s talk about the facts here. Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8. That’s tragic. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate – it touches men and women. Black and white. Rich and poor. Young and old. You are all in once you get the diagnosis. Your heart becomes invested, your body becomes tormented and your faith is tested. You learn to deal with grief daily, wishing things were different, coping with the loss of dreams, and navigating your way through anger, jealousy, sadness and brokenness.

This year, RESOLVE has set the theme for NIAW by spreading the message to “Flip the Script”. There are so many ways to branch out on this topic, but today I want to touch on helping those around us flip the script on what they say once they hear about our infertility.

We’ve all been there. Aunt Marge asks “When are you and Jimmy going to have a baby?! You aren’t getting any younger!” You feel the sting and quickly reply with a tense grin “We are trying, it’s not always that easy.” “Of course it is!” she barks back, “Just lay with your legs up a little longer. Or go on vacation and relax! This family is fertile.”

I know you understand.

After you spend 10 minutes in the bathroom pulling yourself together and wiping dry the blood caused from the lip you had to bite to keep from screaming, you walk out and pretend like you aren’t hurting. I’ve been there, I know you have too.

Let’s flip the script. Let’s start EDUCATING people on what not to say when we share our hardships. Can you imagine if someone told you they had cancer, and you replied that they just need to relax a little, get drunk on vacation, and try drinking Robitussin? Let’s be honest, that would never happen. We need to do our part to continue to educate others, to help others show sympathy when they hear of our diagnosis’s, and teach them what to say and what not to say. I hope this list helps you in that direction today! Please, feel free to share this to get the conversations going!

What Not To Say: “Ohhh, you just need to relax.” Or “You’re trying too hard!” or “Don’t think too much about it”

What to Say Instead: “I am so sorry you are going through this.”

 What Not to Say:  “You should just adopt.” or the infamous “I know someone who tried for a long time and as soon as they adopted, they got pregnant.”

What to Say Instead: “I am so sorry, this must be so difficult. What can I do for you?”

 What Not to Say: “It’s okay, there must be a reason.”

What to Say Instead: “I am here for you whenever you want to talk.”

 What Not To Say:  “Well, you are sooooo young, you have time.”

What to Say Instead:  “I cannot imagine how hard it must be to want to start your family and be unable to. I am here for you and will be praying for you.”

What Not to Say: “Oh, I wish I had that problem! I just look at my husband and BOOM! We are pregnant.”

What to Say Instead: “It must be so hard to see so many pregnant women all the time. You are stronger than you will ever realize.”

What Not to Say: “The cost of all of these doctors’ appointments will be so worth it when you are holding your child.”

What to Say Instead: “All of those doctor’s appointment sand medications must add up. If you ever want me to bring over dinner and a movie and hang out at home, please let me know.”

 What Not to Say: “You want a child? Ha! Here, take mine!”

What to Say Instead: “I care and I am so sorry you are experiencing this kind of pain. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make this burden easier.”

Bottom line – In order to flip the script, in order to stop creating more pain and start creating more empathy, we all have to be willing to be vulnerable and enter into someone else’s intimate sorrow. And we have to be willing to speak up when someone says something insensitive and hurtful, as hard as that is. It’s okay if not everyone identifies with the struggle, but sensitivity can go a long way.

Connect with Chelsea more, and follow her at her blog Trials Bring Joy, on Instagram at @chels819, and on Facebook at Trials Bring Joy.

Chelsea is a Midwestern girl who loves connecting with fellow women and bloggers about the topic of infertility, living authentically, and motherhood. She’s been married to Josh for almost 13 years and now celebrates life as a twin mom to Kirsten and Logan, born after nearly a decade of infertility. Chelsea loves a good cup of coffee, a cozy bookshop and mindless reality TV. She values engaging her faith and embracing difficult seasons with joy. She also co-authored the devotional In the Wait, which you can find on Amazon.

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