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February 1, 2013

The struggle.


This post has sat on my desktop for a long time. At first it was just a therapeutic exercise, a way for me to "let it all out," and for awhile I thought that was enough. But now I feel the urge to share it in a blog post in hopes that I'll find a little support through the blog community that I love so much, and maybe even help someone else going through the same thing along the way.

Today marks 13 months and 1 day that we’ve been trying to start a family. In that whole time, a teeny tiny clock in the back of my mind has been mercilessly ticking away. Month after long month, I've been on a never-ending roller coaster ride that begins with feelings of hopefulness and positivity and ends with sadness and negativity. And then it starts all over again. It's exhausting.

At first I wanted to keep this struggle private for many reasons. I can’t talk about it without a lump forming in my throat. Admitting it out loud is admitting there might be a problem. Plus, obviously, it’s personal. Do I really want everyone knowing that we’re trying to have a baby? For almost all of 2012, my very closest girlfriends were the only ones who knew that we were trying to conceive. It wasn’t until the holidays last year that we decided we should tell our parents as well, for support. And now I’ve decided to tell all of you. For only one reason: to ease the shame and isolation that comes with breathing that fearful, dirty little word -- infertility.

Over the past year, it hasn’t been the advice of others that has made me feel better -- relax! just pray and give it up to God! take a vacation! keep those legs in the air, behind your head, for as long as you can stand it! (....) It’s only when I found other bloggers going through the same thing that I finally felt comforted, too, like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Natalie, Emily, Christina, Melanie and Kate. I love and admire all of these women for writing so candidly about their struggles to conceive. Knowing these girls have also suffered and felt the same, ugly feelings of jealousy, frustration, anger and depression has made me feel less alone. And if I can make just one other person feel better by sharing my struggle, the decision to publish this post will be worth it.

I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of the last 13 months. Let’s just say that a lot of those days haven’t been pretty. I’ve worried. I’ve felt so sad. I've Googled "pregnancy symptoms" way more than I'd like to admit. I’ve wanted so badly to stay positive, but I often let the negative thoughts creep into my mind instead. And Natalie said it best, “It always comes.” Those days when “IT” would come have been the worst days -- sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed because I feel so defeated. Betrayed by my own body. Wondering silly thoughts like, are we doing everything right? IT even came when I was at a baby shower last summer (that one was just cruel, universe.) And those nasty feelings I mentioned before -- jealousy, frustration, anger and depression? They still rear their ugly heads from time to time. But, I know they only make me human. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past year is to stay off Facebook as much as possible, and that it’s ok to click “unfollow,” and sometimes, “unfriend.” The comparison factor of Facebook is inevitable, like a form of psychological torture. As much as I may love the friends I have via social media, being bombarded with baby announcements, sonograms and details as mundane as baby’s nap schedule are often too much to handle. (This site has given me hours of comic relief concerning the subject.) And even though it may be slightly irrational, I’ve come to accept it’s really ok to feel a deep pang of jealousy (and ok, let’s be honest -- maybe a little bit of anger, too) when a news headline is all about the newest celebrity knock-up. Cue this face.

Even though sometimes I feel nothing will ever change, I have to believe that it will. Growing up, whenever I was going through something tough, my mother would say, A lot can happen in a year. The tough times will teach you something about yourself. I never wanted to hear any of it when I was feeling down, but I've come to realize that there is so much truth in her words.

Over the years, getting through tough times really has taught me about myself, and almost every less-than-desirable situation has led to something better. As an adult, I look back on a lot of the struggles I faced as a teenager and know most of them probably weren't all that extreme. Of course, at the time, many of them seemed absolutely terrible. Not making the varsity sports team. Feeling awkward and un-pretty. Every boy I was head-over-heels in love with for years always considered me "the friend." Oh, teen angst. However, I look back now and thank my lucky stars -- being a late-bloomer was a major blessing in disguise for so many reasons. Probably the roughest time I've faced in adulthood up until now was losing my job four years ago. But getting laid off gave me the time and motivation I needed to pursue my dream job, and my small business is growing bigger and bigger every day as a result. And after going through years of loneliness and heartbreak, I finally met the wonderful man I am married to today. And you know what? After this past year I’ve never loved him more. He has been so supportive throughout this entire ordeal. He’s never once wavered in strength and never once made me feel anything but completely loved and adored. When I ask, Why us? He always replies, We’ll get there. And then he’ll move mountains to do whatever it is that’ll cheer me up. This past year has certainly made me realize how lucky I am already to have a husband like him. He is a gem.


Even though most days this is very hard for me to do, I have to believe that this struggle will also pay off and result in something much happier in the end. After all, every event in my life, good and bad, has led me to where I am today...and I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out so far. One of my favorite quotes, "A certain darkness is needed to see the stars," speaks loudly to me right now. Maybe this particular struggle will make James and me feel even richer and more appreciative when we finally have all the answers.

So

To any of you that may be going through something similar -- or going through any kind of hardship -- remember my mother's words: a lot can happen in a year. We just gotta believe that.








I'll be taking a break from this space next week while we're in Charleston, (ahem, taking a little of that advice that I mentioned earlier), but I may have an urge to pop in and share a few photos here and there. If not, y'all can find me here and here -- I know I won't be able to bring myself to totally flip off the social media switch while I'm gone. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time with the Mister, reading a few good books and walking on the beach in a sweater. It's going to be a good week. I feel it.

UPDATE 4/1/13: After undergoing a series of tests, procedures and blood work over the last couple of months, it's been determined that James and I fall into the frustrating category of "unexplained infertility." We're continuing to cross our fingers that 2013 brings us the blessing of a little one! Thank you for all of your continued love and support. You have no idea how much it means to us. 



"The Struggle is Part of the Story" image by Whitney English; 
read her beautiful, poignant post about struggle here

30 comments:

  1. Brave, sweet girl. I've had a similar post in draft form for months now myself. Thinking of you, praying for hope and peace.

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    1. Thanks, Kristine! Thinking of you, too. xo

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  2. My words fail me Natalie. Even after struggling over three years with infertility I still don't have the words because what is there to say really? Gah!
    I guess you could say that infertility has really been pissing me off lately so I definitely understand the anger that you mention. In that vein - I'm here for you. I'm thinking about you. I wish you weren't dealing with this at all. Let me know if there's anything I can do. Anything at all.

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    1. Thanks, Christina! The blogosphere has been such a saving grace for me as far as feeling less alone concerning this crappy subject. Thank you for always being so candid on D&OC...your honesty and strength has given me strength, too.

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  3. You're so brave and strong to share your story with the world, Natalie. You guys will be in my thoughts and prayers - for comfort, peace, and better days ahead.

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  4. Love you dearly. Sending you hugs and comfort...

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    1. Love you, too! Feeling the hugs in spirit :)

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  5. Hi Natalie,I don't comment often but read every post...
    Sorry to hear that you are suffering amongst us. Starting on my 4th year now of treatments and as always every month just waiting...
    When someone asks me what day it is without hesitation my response is what cycle day I am on, today is Day 12! I don't know if you're at the point and I hope you don't get there... Wishing you all the best on your trip!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Jess! I wish you the best on your journey as well...we just have to stay positive, even though most days I know that is very hard to do. xo

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  6. This is such a brave and honest post. It has touched me and I am sure it will many others. You and the Mr. are in our hearts and prayers.

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  7. How inspiring you are! Thanks for your honesty and your sweet spirit. I'll be thinking of y'all and praying for you. Enjoy Charleston! Relax and eat lots of yummy food for me.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Natalie! And don't worry, we will enjoy some Chucktown. I don't think we'll have a problem nom-ing on some southern fare for you :)

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  8. My husband and I are going through the same thing. Up until this moment, we haven't told anyone. I never felt like I could tell anyone. This post really touched my heart. Made me want to open up just a little. Made me feel less lonely. I'm so sorry you're going through this! Not too long ago, you were designing our wedding map and I remember telling my Mister that when we got pregnant, I wanted you to be the one to design our announcement. I'm sending you and your husband all my love, Natalie. Thinking of you!

    Haley

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    1. Hang in there, Haley. I'll be thinking of you, too -- we'll get through this! When it's your turn, I will be thrilled to design your baby announcement! Big hugs, friend.

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  9. Hi Natalie. I'm just a blog follower, not a blogger myself. But I felt like I needed to add to the other comments to tell you you are not alone and so brave to put this out for the world to see. My husband and I struggled for two years to conceive. It was finally through the miracle of IVF and Dr. Hasty at ACRM that we got pregnant. I'm only 20 weeks along now and that infertile brain still haunts me with worry. Those years of trying and failing all while keeping on a happy, strong face were so hard--and I know exactly how you feel. Infertility is a terrible sisterhood to be a part of--but there is an amazing of network of support, too. I'll be thinking of you and your husband in your journey to parenthood. And remember, it is a journey- you just might not get there like everyone else.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Bethany! It gives me hope that there is a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel. Congrats on your baby-to-be! Try to enjoy it -- but I can imagine that it's hard sometimes considering all you've been through. Wishing you all the best and a healthy remainder of your pregnancy!

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  10. Thank you for sharing with us....it's brave and heartfelt and honest, and know that you have a ton of people - strangers included! - sending you a huge hug right now.

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    1. I'm feeling all the love today for sure :) Thank you!

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  11. Sarah Farrar2/05/2013 11:22 AM

    Ok, sitting here trying not to cry at work. I could have written this post word for word (except add a few months of trying). This is the absolute worst thing I have ever been through, even worse than two kidney transplants. I'm just over it and over myself. Exhausted. I really feel your pain.

    Sarah Farrar

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    1. I hear you, Sarah. We'll get through this tough journey eventually; it just may not be the way we originally planned. Thinking of you!

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  12. Dear Natalie,

    I'm heartbroken to hear that you too are going through the dreaded journey of infertility. I'm just a blog follower, but I've noticed quite a few posts and pins of baby related items. I've secretly been on bump-watch in any photos you post. I'm so sorry to hear that you too are going "the struggle". I can commiserate that there is nothing more agonizing than the 2 week wait. I've read into every single possible symptom and google has become my worst nemesis.

    My husband and I have been trying for a bambino for 18 months. It is the hardest thing we've ever endured. It too has brought us closer together. If you haven't done so already, I strongly recommend that you begin treatment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. I've found that it's taken a great deal of stress off of us and we're able to leave it in the hands of the professionals. The appointments are aplenty, but it's so much better knowing what exactly is going on with your body. It could be, and I hope it is something as simple as a hormonal imbalance. It could be fixed with a daily pill.


    Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with us and we've been given the diagnosis with "Unexplained Infertility". We've undergone 5 failed rounds of Clomid, 6 failed IUIs. We weren't comfortable with all of the ovarian stimulating meds and forcing my body to do something it's not meant to do (multiple eggs in one cycle) and had our first attempt of Natural Cycle IVF on January 25th. Natural Cycle is basically IVF without the stimulating meds. They retrieve the one egg that your body produces naturally each month. They successfully retrieved the egg on Jan 25th, we combined it with ICSI and it resulted in a beautiful embryo. To better our odds, we added assisted hatching in the mix and had the embryo transfer on Jan 28th. I go for my pregnancy test on Monday, January 11th. IVF was completely painless and something anyone can handle. The scariest part was experienced by my husband when he had to give me and HCG injection in my arse 2 days before the retrieval to prevent premature ovulation. Natural Cycle also eliminates any risks of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. The point of the story, don't give up. There are still options out there for you.

    While IVF can be expensive, Natural Cycle is a lot cheaper because you don't have the added cost of all the injectables. I hope this has been helpful and I am rooting for you. Also, I too hate the sentiment when people tell you to just "relax". I especially hate when people brag about how they get pregnant on their first try. I'm not proud, but it makes me want to punch them in the vagina.

    Keep your chin up, and I'll say a prayer for you.

    Best regards,

    Jenni

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    1. Oh, Jenni, thank you for your note. I'm sorry to hear about your struggle, too. The Natural Cycle information is helpful, and this is the first time I've been told about it. I have started meeting with my doctor, but we're in the early stages of ruling things out. It'll no doubt be a journey. I'm just hoping it's not a really long one.

      Thank you for reaching out to me -- your note made me tear up, then laugh. (There should be some kind of PSA out there telling people to avoid telling infertile people to "RELAX" at all costs. Ugh!) I will be thinking of you and hope so much that your pregnancy test is positive when you go to the doctor on Monday! Sending you a hug through the web, friend. xo

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  13. Your honesty is very refreshing. It must have been very hard to press 'publish'. I have always had that worry in the back of my head and cannot imagine what you are going through. I think that it takes a lot of strength to put your struggle out there. Thank you for sharing. I'm always here if you ever need to chat, grab a drink or just go for a run. I'm so glad to call you a friend. <3

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    1. I'm glad to call you a friend, too! Thanks for being there for me :)

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  14. Your honesty is truly wonderful. I am so so sorry you have been going through this. I know it must have been so hard to publish, but I pray somehow that by doing so--and seeing people support you, you feel some sense of comfort and hope. Hope in the future for what will be. My husband and I just started this journey--and so far...nothing. I try to keep my head in the "right" place and not automatically go to worrying....Prayers for you. For a sweet baby to grace you in 2013. :)

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, friend! I will be hoping that 2013 is the lucky year for us both :)

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  15. Natalie- I know I'm a little late in sharing, but I just wanted to let you know how touching this post is. In fact, it may be my favorite of all. I am so sorry to hear of the burden you have faced over the last 13 months, but you sharing your story so bravely and candidly is such an inspiration. I'm sending tons of light, love, and joy your way.

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