During my journey into motherhood, I never thought I would know as much about infertility as I do.
In general, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. According to the Center for Disease Control, women who do not have regular menstrual cycles, or are older than 35 years and have not conceived during a six-month period of trying, should consider making an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist — an infertility specialist.
Infertility is still somewhat of a taboo topic, but it’s certainly not rare. According to the CDC, about 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term — which is almost one out of every eight women/couples.
The first three years were absolutely heartbreaking. Every test that came back negative made me feel like less of a woman.
I remember sitting in the reproductive endocrinologist’s office with my husband for our first appointment. I felt physically ill. I felt like a failure for not being able to do what so many women do effortlessly. I felt alone. I felt broken.
That day was the start of a new era in our life — infertility treatments and all that comes with it. My fertility doctor’s office became my home away from home.
When you struggle with infertility, making a baby is not a private affair anymore; it is a stressful, scientific experience now shared with receptionists, doctors, nurses, drug companies and ultrasound technicians. For years, my life consisted of blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds, speaking with doctors and fighting with our insurance company to see a non-Army doctor.
As much as I wanted to share my stories or feelings, I kept a lot under my hat. It wasn’t until I started sharing my struggle that I realized I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t a failure.
Everything came full circle for me this weekend when I brought my 21-month old twins to meet the doctor that restored my faith and gave me the family other doctors said wasn’t possible.
We were supposed to attend the Baby Reunion for the first time last year, but had to cancel because of a death in my family, so I was super excited to be able to go this year.
I had been meaning to drop into his office, twins in tow, but bringing children to an infertility doctor’s waiting room just felt so wrong to me. I remember sitting in that room, watching new moms bring in their bundles of joy to meet the doctor and it stung. It felt like such a tease.
Walking into this reunion, I didn’t know what to expect. It had been awhile since I last saw anyone from his office, so I was afraid they wouldn’t remember me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as we turned the corner, all the nurses came over and embraced me and clamored over my crew.
Then I looked up into a sea of happy families, many with multiples (there were three sets of triplets in attendance) of their own talking with other families. In total, about 100 families came out for barbecue and baby bliss. My mind was blown that all the kids at the reunion were made possible by the doctor and his team. I was a hot mess when I brought my squad to meet the man who helped make them possible. We struggled for so long and waited for what felt like forever to finally meet a doctor with a plan and a passion to help us attain our goal of having a family. We spent the afternoon sharing stories with other families, going down memory lane when twin newborns joined the celebration and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. There is something so magical about watching your kids run around and laugh.
Struggling with infertility changed us. We do not take life for granted and we do not sweat the small stuff anymore. For those families in the thick of it, you are not alone, so don’t give up.
Vanessa Lynch is an Army spouse, mother and former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald.