HHL Infertility Awareness
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By Allyn Ann Simpson, RN, MSN
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner-BC
Families are built in many different ways and look differently from one person to the next.
One way people build a family is through IVF. I am a proud IVF mama to a spunky, healthy and beautiful 5 1/2 year old daughter. My story of starting a family started over a decade ago in 2007.
I was tired (literally) of working night shift at the hospital (as an RN) and so I took the only day shift job I could find in the field of women’s health, at the local IVF clinic. I started working there in 2007 and soon realized I was experiencing some of the symptoms of my patients. I was quickly diagnosed with PCOS. I knew this meant I would probably need fertility treatment but I wasn't ready to jump into that world yet. In 2008, I had surgery due to pain and was diagnosed with endometriosis. Now I knew I definitely wanted to become pregnant and start treatment soon. Being in my mid twenties, I thought I would just need a little clomid and I would be pregnant in no time. Fast forward a few years and I had done 10 medication cycles, 5 IUI (intrauterine insemination) cycles and had just failed my first IVF cycle at the age of 27. I was angry, depressed, hopeless and childless.
It took me 6 months and lots of guts to try IVF one more time. This time I conceived my daughter. It was a tough pregnancy but she came into this world healthy and active and hasn’t slowed down since! I knew I didn't have any extra embryos to use in the future but I did believe that since IVF worked once, it would definitely work again.
Since her birth, we have been through 3 more IVF egg retrievals, PGS testing, 2 frozen embryo transfers and one fresh embryo transfer all to say- we were not successful with any of those cycles. We have now done more treatment since the birth of our child than we did to get her.
To say I am sad would be an understatement. So many people look at my family and say things like, “at least you have one” and “you could always try again” but those comments are not helpful. Women who have a desire to have more than one child (whether they had their first through fertility or not), still feel a void in their heart. I think the desires to have a second child can be even more deeply rooted because they have one child and truly know how wonderful these little people can be!
I also feel women will tell themselves- my body has done it once- why can’t it do it again? They feel like their bodies are broken and just want to be able to do what so many others achieve so easily.
For me, I am still hopeful for a miracle pregnancy. My husband and I feel like we probably won’t try IVF again. This is a very personal decision but 5 IVF cycles and 116 eggs later- we feel peaceful about it. Secondary infertility is a different experience than my first IVF journey, but it is still challenging. I have friends who have handled pregnancy announcements to me carelessly, I still don’t attend very many baby showers and I sometimes linger in the baby section of Target dreaming of a day that I would have a reason to shop there once again.
Mamas with secondary infertility don’t take their first child(ren) for granted- but just want to multiply the joy that a new addition can bring. A mother’s heart can burst with joy while simultaneously being shattered into a million pieces. They are strong for the family they have here now while, often silently, aching for what never was or ever will be. Every woman’s story ends at a different place, with a different number of children, but all will forever be affected by their journey. Yes, they can call themselves a mom but they also carry a scar forever from the battle of infertility.
I will never stop wanting a second child, but I will continue to start each day with gratitude for what I do have and cherish every day with my incredible miracle.