I always had a feeling I would struggle with infertility. I don’t know why really, but I remember feeling something like empathy, even though that would have been impossible, when I would hear of a woman struggling to get pregnant. It was as if I could identify with her in some way. Still, I fully expected us to get pregnant the first month we started trying in January 2009.
In April 2009 I was late. Two weeks late. Several at home pregnancy tests and a trip to the doctor confirmed that I was only late, not pregnant. I think it was around this time that I started to panic. My worst fear seemed to be unfolding before me. All I ever wanted was to be a mom—more than anything in the world. Again, I felt like I just knew. We hadn’t even been trying for six months, but I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
At my yearly OBGYN appointment in May 2009 I decided to talk to the doctor about our difficulty getting pregnant and my irregular cycles. I was worried I would be told to wait until we had been trying for a year. I was blessed to meet with the nurse practitioner rather than one of the doctors and I feel that she was much more aggressive than a doctor would have been. The Lord knows me and he knew I needed that. She ordered the full gamut of blood tests to check for any irregularities in my hormones. She then prescribed the lowest dose of Clomid to hopefully help us get pregnant. That resulted in an emergency room visit and complications due to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This was our first attempt to “fix” the problem and it was devastating to discover that it hadn’t resulted in pregnancy. Those complications resolved themselves and we were referred to a fertility specialist.
In September 2009, only nine months after we started trying to get pregnant, we met with a fertility specialist. He did more extensive testing on both of us. Unfortunately, the nurse confused some of the results and told us there was no male factor element to our infertility. We spent nearly a year running around meeting with other specialists trying to fix my hormonal imbalance only to find out in August 2010, when we met with our fertility doctor again, that there is a serious male factor element to our infertility. We were given the options of IUI (artificial insemination) or surgery.
We opted for IUI in September 2010 but when we went in for the treatment they discovered that the male factor issues that were present a year earlier were now much worse and we were no longer good candidates for that treatment. They completed the procedure, but told us it was very unlikely that it would lead to pregnancy. Upon learning that the only treatment we could afford at the time was not an option for us we prayed about pursuing surgery and met with another specialist. The surgery was performed in October 2010, but we would have to wait six months to know whether it was successful or not.
Those months were so difficult. For me, it was hardest because I knew the problem may have been fixed and that every month we COULD be pregnant. It was such a roller coaster of testing for ovulation… then for pregnancy and being let down every month.
In May 2011 we went in for more testing and were told that the surgery did not improve our male factor infertility and that without assistance we have a 3% chance of getting pregnant. The doctor said that we are great candidates for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and that was his recommendation for treatment.
We were getting ready to move across the country for law school and a $10-$20K treatment option just wasn’t a viable option. It broke my heart. I think I had been surviving on hope that the next test would provide insight, or that the next treatment would work. Now our next step was too far out of our financial reach. Our only option was to sit back and wait—possibly the most difficult part of this whole process.
In January 2012 I felt prompted to open up about our infertility. I knew that I wasn’t helping anyone by keeping this to myself. Matt and I discussed this and felt really good about it. If I could help just one person it would all be worth it. We had no idea how much opening up about our infertility would help us. I wrote about our infertility on my Mormon.org profile and wrote a blog post about it on our blog. People were so supportive and loving it was overwhelming. I received emails from women all over the country who were facing the same trial. Some I knew, some I had never met. I developed strong bonds with these women. They were my pen pals—my support group.
One of these women worked with a non-profit organization called Pound the Pavement for Parenthood and urged me to apply to be sponsored. If we were selected for sponsorship they would plan a 5k race for us here in Indiana and help us raise funds to pay for the treatment we need to become parents. I filled out the application, but I didn’t know if anything would come of it.
In July 2012, we found out we would be sponsored by this amazing organization. Our race will be April 27 2013 and the funds will go to help us pay for the treatments we need to become parents. We need $20,000 to pay for in vitro fertilization and while we’ve been saving everything we can, we need help. There is just no way we can come up with $20,000 while Matt is still in school. As family, friends, and strangers have found out about our situation they have gone above and beyond to help in anyway they can. We even had a sweet lady contact us in December to offer to donate most of our IVF meds saving us approximately $1,500. She is the friend of a friend, but a complete stranger to us.
It has been so apparent to me through all of this that the Lord has a plan for us. It may not be His will for us to conceive naturally, but He’ll help us financially to be able to pay for the treatments we need to become parents. A leader in our church, President Spencer W. Kimball, once said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” I have seen Him put people on our path who are willing to help us on this journey.
This trial has been heartbreaking at times and I still have my hard days, but I can now say that I am truly grateful for this trial. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It has given me an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and to recognize His tender mercies. If we had been able to get pregnant the first month we tried we would not have seen the Lord’s hand in the process as much as we have. I know I will appreciate motherhood more than I would have if it had come easily. It has strengthened my relationship with Matt. We are best friends and he has been here beside me through it all. We have had more time just the two of us and I know we are stronger for facing this together—I wouldn’t change that. I appreciate that I now truly have empathy, not just sympathy, for women who face infertility. The friendships I have developed with other women who are facing or have faced infertility are invaluable. That bond is so strong. We aren’t just friends, we are sisters.
If you would like to help us on our journey to parenthood you can make a donation through Pound the Pavement for Parenthood here and/or share our story with family and friends and encourage them to make a donation. Every little bit will help us reach our goal! Please keep us in your prayers.
Matt and Steph
Matt and Steph
if you are interested in participating in this project, please email me at jackienorrisphoto @ gmail.com
To see more of the infertility and pregnancy loss project, click here.