Infertility Stories: Coming to Terms
Today, myself and The Baby Cubby are more than honored and humbled to feature a lovely woman, Leticia Stucki. I was lucky enough to meet Leticia our freshman year of college. To this day she remains one of the most kind hearted, thoughtful, and bright individuals that I know. However, for over a year and a half her and her husband have been struggling with infertility. I asked her if she would be willing to share her story with all of you and what it has been like so far, in the hopes that her words will be able to bring some comfort to others of who you are struggling. Follow the rest of Leticia's story on her blog, Growing the Stucki's.
What has your journey with infertility been like? What were and are some of the emotions you’ve experienced with infertility?My husband and I tried for 18 months to get pregnant with no success. We tried a lot of different "fertility boosters" which included fertility lubes, ovulation kits, natural progesterone cream, the lift-up-your-pelvis position, fertility smoothies, and an expensive male fertility supplement from Germany. Those 18 months were such an emotional roller coaster. One time I got SO excited because I felt my uterus flutter--small muscle spasms--and what I read online indicated this happens to some people when the egg is implanting. When my husband came home from school that night I was literally jumping up and down telling him, "I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant!" I felt happy, excited, ecstatic. You can contrast that to a couple weeks later when my period started. I was so disappointed and confused. While those disappointing times didn't break me--I still went on working, exercising, serving at church, being a wife, daughter and friend--my perspective on life seemed less hopeful, more unknown, and less according to plan. It was like, "Okay, I guess I won't be a mom for at least another 10 months." After 18 months of actively trying and not getting pregnant, my husband did a semen analysis. What we found out was devastating: There were no sperm. Twice. My husband has a very rare genetic syndrome and there is no treatment for his kind of infertility. There is a 0 percent chance of us conceiving on our own. We may be able to do artificial reproductive technology of the most advanced kind--we're looking at thousands of dollars--but there is no guarantee it will work. Luckily, my husband was out of town when we learned all of this because that night I laid in bed and sobbed for hours until I turned on my favorite music to calm my mind and help me fall asleep. I'm actually grateful for that time alone to just let the emotions wash over me. I pleaded with God. I sought for His comfort. I sought for some understanding in such a seemingly permanent trial. While that was not the only time I've broken down and sobbed about our infertility, that time was the hardest and longest of them. Over the next couple weeks my emotions were all over the place. One day joking about never wanting to experience morning sickness and cracked nipples anyway; the next day sobbing at the thought of never feeling the little kicks in my stomach or getting to have my baby laid on my chest just after birth. Telling my mom was hard. She burst into tears over the phone after I said, "Mom, Bradford and I will never be able to conceive naturally. We will either need to adopt or pursue expensive infertility treatments in order to have children." I'll admit, in that moment, talking to the woman who carried me in her womb, life seemed unfair. I felt bad for myself. And I continue to have ups and down. But I’m learning. I’m learning love and grief are closely related. I’m learning a husband and wife will grieve differently and must learn how to comfort each other—because what is comforting to one person is not comforting to the other. I’m learning to exercise greater faith in God’s plan for me. I’m learning to give up control—something I LOVE to have. I’m learning to cherish my marriage and the sacred relationships I already have. I’m learning to ask, “Why NOT me?” instead of “Why me?” I’m learning I can be sad and hopeful at the same time. This path may not be what I had in mind, but I’m learning to trust in something greater than what I had in mind.
What should people be mindful of when talking to you about infertility?Above all, acknowledge the pain of infertility by saying something like, “Infertility is really hard. It’s okay to be feeling what you are feeling for as long as you feel it.” People dealing with infertility will grieve. With grief comes denial, shock, anger, guilt, and sadness. People newly diagnosed with infertility may experience marital difficulties. Something that helped me and my husband right after we discovered my husband’s infertility problem was our mom giving us $50 “to spend on only something fun as a couple.” I truly believe people only say what they say in an effort to comfort and to encourage. Some things said are more helpful than others. The following are three phrases I personally did not find helpful in the year-and-a-half I was trying to conceive:
- "Oh, you're young. You have PLENTY of time to have children. No rush."Infertility hurts as much when you're "young" as when you’re “old.” When you want a baby and you can offer a loving, stable home, you hurt when you can’t get pregnant—whether you're young or old or somewhere in between.
- "I knew this woman who tried for X months/years to get pregnant and she couldn't. Finally, she gave up and stopped trying. Two months later she was pregnant!" When people told me these stories I knew they were trying to give me hope; however, what I heard was “Maybe you care too much and you’re just trying too hard. As soon as you’re not trying your baby will come. Stop stressing.” As it turns out, this isn’t true for me at all. My husband and I needed to go to a doctor, do tests, and find out what is wrong. We have a physical / genetic / hormonal problem preventing us from getting pregnant.
- “You’re most likely the problem because men are rarely to blame for infertility.” This just isn’t true. Fifty percent of all infertility problems are male factor. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19421675)