Sunday, April 24, 2011

Infertility Awareness Month

April is infertility awareness month so I wanted to blog about it to promote awareness. As many of you probably know, infertility has been a part of my life over the last few years. So, the issue is very personal one.

First of all, Infertility affects more individuals than you think. In the year 2002, 7.3 Million people used infertility treatments to try to have a baby(statistic from the center for disease control). As I went through this process of fertility testing and then fertility treatments to try to get pregnant, I learned that there were many women going throught the same thing and we were all suffering in silence. I met many women through online support groups, but many of them were not telling their families and friends about their struggles. I couldn't imagine going through all of that alone and having to lie to your family and friends. However, I understood it because there is such a stigma attached to infertility.

There are expectations from the world that once you get married, you then start to have babies. I am very familiar with this expectation. My husband, Tim and I married in 2002, but we were not ready to have a family at that point in our lives. We were only 24 years old and just had some many things that we went to accomplish in our careers. Now don't misunderstand me; I do not regret for one second waiting to start a family. I was not ready at 24 emotionally and I know I would not have been able to be a good Mother if I was not ready. Anyways, Tim and I got asked all the time when we were going to have children by family, friends, strangers, the whole world. And I would just tell them that we were not ready yet, maybe when I am about 30. But I finally felt ready emotionally and had accomplished everything I wanted to in my career and also realized that I was never going to have "enough" money to have kids. So, when family and close friends would ask, I was honest and told them that we were working on starting a family. Months and months passed by and I was still not pregnant and more and more of my friends were pregnant and I was getting older. I confided in friends and some family members about our struggles and they encouraged me to go to a fertility doctor. They were all supportive and I could not imagine going through all of the ups and downs of fertility treatments without their support. So, it makes me sad that so many women suffer in silence and don't tell anyone about their struggles.

People should not have to suffer in silence. If you had a disease like diabetes or cancer, you would tell those who you were close to and ask for their support, so why not with infertility. So, I guess what I am saying is that one of your friends or family members may be struggling with this and they do not want to tell you about it because they are scared that these fertility treatments may or may not work. There are no guarantees that you will get your baby. Infertility is an emotional rollercoaster. Majority of the time, doctors have no idea why you and your spouse cannot get pregnant. Most of us fall into the "unexplained infertility" category. The doctors do testing and try to figure out what is wrong, but they are not always able to do so without doing very invasive procedures like surgery.

Tim and I fell into the unexplained category initially because everything appeared to be normal. However, three months into treatments, I had to have surgery because of severe abdominal pain and it was discovered the the cause of our infertility was endometriosis. In understandable english my tubes were blocked with over growth of tissue. It all made sense after the fact. I have had heavy periods and horrible cramps for years and years and it was due to the endometriosis. It was a relief to have a reason why I could not get pregnant. However, at the same time, I felt shame and guilt because my body was the reason that were not getting pregnant. I felt like it was my fault. This is something that many people feel whose body is not working the way that it is supposed to.

And then there is the huge financial burden that infertility treatments put on a couple. Some people's insurance covers infertility, but many of them have a limit to what they will cover. So, if you want to pay for it out of your own pocket, for one treatment of IVF (in vitro fertilization) it is about 15,000 dollars and again there are no guarantees that it is going to work.

Tim and I tried IVF in January of 2011 and everything went perfectly, but I still did not end up pregnant. We were devastated when it did not work because we had gone through a month of shots and doctors appointments. Yes, shots where Tim injected me with hormones everyday and I went to the doctor every two to three days so they could keep a close eye on me. And at the end of the month when it was time to see if it had worked, the pregnancy test was negative. Our fertility benefits are now exhausted and if we do any other treatments in the future, we have to pay out of pocket.

We have taken a break from fertility treatments for now. I have been doing more of a eastern medicinal approach to infertility. What that mean is accupuncture and a healthy lifestyle. It has taken a lot of the pressure off and it is much more natural. I have also given all of my hopes, dreams, and control over my fertility to God. I have faith that he will bring us a baby when the time is right. God has a plan for all of us. It is important when going through infertility to tap into your spirituality because there is so much of it that is out of your control.

So, if you have a friend or family member struggling with infertility, be there for them, support them, listen, and don't judge. And if you are struggling with infertility yourself there is lots of support out there. I am always here to listen. If you want other websites, doctores, information, let me know. I would be happy to help in any way that I can. Thanks for listening and I hope this has brought some awareness to infertility.

5 comments:

  1. Jessica GoldsberryApril 26, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Mary Jo & Tim -

    Until I read this just now, I did not know that you were going through this. I am so very sorry that the fertility treatment did not result in pregnancy. Mark and I waited until we were older to have children as well because I was not ready and I wanted to get my Master's degree. His family was not interested in me getting my Master's degree but indicated they would be proud of me when I had a child. There was a lot of pressure from Mark's family for Mark and me to have a child, and I did not think that was appropriate because it is a decision for Mark and myself. At that time and always we said we wanted children and hoped we were blessed with the ability to have them because you never know. People seem to think that it is easy for everyone. We were very fortunate to have Brady, but until we tried we were uncertain of whether or not there would be difficulties because we know infertility is a big issue today. I was also worried because I am older and have Lupus, and I had a high risk pregnancy. I will be praying for you and Tim. I have not seen you in some time, but I am hoping you are doing well and my thoughts are with you. Jess, Mark & Brady

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  2. Mary Jo, I'm sorry to hear about your struggles. It's great that you can share your story. I do know some people who used acupuncture for infertility and they felt it really made a difference for them. Sending you guys hugs and hoping for your miracle.

    Tori (Jones) Hirner

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  3. Love you Mary and I'm always here and praying for you guys! :)

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  4. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Infertility is difficult, but I am doing okay. I have faith in God and his plan for me and Tim.

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