Guest Writer Wednesday: Hilary's Infertility Story
Guest writer, Hilary, shares her infertility story rooted in exercise bulimia, food addiction, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She and her husband pursued a variety of fertility treatments over the years, including a holistic approach and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Read Hilary’s honest and raw account of what infertility feels like and to find out more about where her journey has taken her.
Walking through the mud of fertility
By Hilary Maxwell
At the age of 16 when all my other friends were full-fledged into a regular cycle, I was active in my sports and exercise bulimia. My body was not falling into line with having a period and for the next 6 years, I would continue to be on and off birth control to help my body have a period. My OBGYN mentioned I would ‘need some help’ getting pregnant, but that didn’t concern me at the time. I was too young.
At the age of 23, I entered a food addiction recovery program that helped me become healthier with my exercise and eating habits. I no longer struggled with the fluctuations of weight and my obsession with food subsided. My hope was that my period would be normal and when it didn’t, I began to do additional research.
Over the years, I have been diagnosed and undiagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and although I have many similar symptoms, doctors aren’t quite convinced what the issue is with my body.
When I met my now husband, I explained that I don’t have a cycle and may not be able to have biological children. For 14 years, I had prepared myself for this exact conversation and the realities of adoption to grow my family line. We have been ‘trying’ for just about 5 years. I have peed on ovulation sticks for months straight trying to see when I ovulate. Only once did I receive a blinking smiley face staring back at me. Sometimes I feel callous to the emotion of not having a period and unable to get pregnant like (what seems) the majority of my friends.
I’ve had friends and family members who just ‘decide’ one day that they are going to have a baby and wouldn’t you know that next period cycle they are pregnant.
How does that happen?
I wasn’t going to let my negative thoughts get me down. When we have lemons, make lemonade.
We started with an endocrinologist to see if we could get some answers, for months we met with her and tried different medication and approaches to holistic living, no luck. Our next stop was to my OBGYN to get on some of the ‘mild’ fertility medications. We started with Provera to force a period, then Clomid to grow the follicles, an hCG trigger shot to force the ovulation, and estrogen patches to increase my uterine lining. With timed intercourse, our lives became fixated on the mechanics of making a baby. Over the course of 7 months, we tried to become pregnant. The same routine, month after month with higher doses of Clomid.
During that same time, a couple friends announced their pregnancy.
My thoughts became salty and I wanted to get angry at everyone else around me, trying to find someone else to blame. There is no one to blame, this is just the way my body is created. I’m not sure if I did this to myself when I was in my addiction or if this is just the way my body was built, but it doesn’t help me to spit fire at others in their times of celebration.
I went off Facebook for a while. The holidays were extremely painful for me as it seems everyone I knew was posting about how cute their baby was on Santa’s lap or the Christmas gift that is coming in July as they announce their growing family.
GRRR, why not me? What is it going to take for me to become pregnant?
Our OBGYN knew she had done all she could for us, it was time to move onto a reproductive endocrinologist.
With plenty to choose from in Denver, we went with the clinic that is tokened the ‘best in the US’. After additional labs and bloodwork, we began on Letrozol, another follicle producing medication. This time we added progesterone suppositories and the more advanced IUI to get those swimmers nice and close to my dear egg. With more hormones came more emotions. For a body that isn’t used to having these hormones, I felt like a crazy person!
Our routine carried through the next three months and by the time springtime rolled around, I was done. The emotional rollercoaster of having hope and being somewhat excited of what might be was smothered by the cramping feeling of a period starting. I tried not to get my hopes up but how do I balance hope and faith with low expectations?
The ups and downs became wearing on my heart and I just couldn’t do it again.
My RE was also convinced that we could keep doing this same procedure but that it might be best to pull out the big guns. IVF.
During these three months, my sister-in-law (who just married 3 months prior) and my best friend (who I saw on a weekly basis) announced their pregnancies. Both pregnant after their first month of trying. Unbelievable! Actually, completely believable as this seems to be the luck I have. (I know that is a victim mentality but it did feel like all this was happening TO me. It’s not, it’s just life and I am learning how to accept life on life’s terms. This isn’t fair and it’s not what I would wish upon anyone else to experience but this is my lot in life, my cross to bare and I get to decide how I’m going to let it affect me. Today, I choose for this to be all a part of the adventure that is life and although I have hard days of frustration and mourning, I can see that everything I do and every experience I have can help me relate to another person). Everyone else around me gets pregnant when they want to and here we are still waiting… can I even get pregnant? If I get pregnant can I hold the pregnancy for the entire term to make a healthy baby?
I turned 35 within that time period too and I am now officially going to have a geriatric pregnancy. Great, the statistics change for women over 35. Please help me get pregnant before it’s too late!
Add something else to the list of potential negatives.
At the same time, what a miracle it will be to have a healthy baby (or two or three) after the age of 35, defying science! Now that is a positive.
Do we move forward with IVF or turn our eyes toward adoption?
Standing in the airport line waiting to board a flight, I saw a little girl and little boy, the spitting images of their parents. My heart sank. I want that. I want a mini-me and mini-husband. I’m not ready for adoption, yet.
We spent the summer months gathering information on IVF. Interviewing clinics in Prague (CZ), Jerusalem (Israel), Barbados, Spain, New York, North Carolina, Colorado, and Maryland.
Why does IVF have to be SO expensive in the US? That is such a hard pill to swallow when we were getting quotes from international ‘medical tourism’ outfits of single-digit thousands as opposed to in the twenties and thirties thousands in the US, how is that possible?
My yearning for a baby continued to grow as I would see pictures and videos of my friends babies, growing up. I felt left behind. Each month that goes on with their babies growing up, means a larger gap between our commonalities. I saw my friends sailing into the future of children and families, while I was stuck on the side of the river without a means to join them.
My feelings go back and forth. I long and then I believe.
I believe I have the future experience of being a mom on the horizon. I just don’t know if it will be my own bio-babies or adopted.
So here we sit.
We have decided to move forward with IVF at Shady Grove Fertility in Rockville, Maryland. They have a Shared-Risk program that offers 100% money back if we don’t walk out of the hospital with a live baby! That is something we can stand on.
This adventure is not over, not by a longshot, but I know that just as I have grown in myself and my desires over these past 5 years, I will continue to do so in the weeks to come.
My journey is not my own. I share it openly on my website as I know we all have something to learn and give to others. I began writing about my journey in 2015 and will continue to as long as it helps another person know they aren’t alone on this path. If you’d like to continue reading more about the raw emotions of what I have experienced, or the revealing of what’s to come with IVF, please join me at hilarymaxwell.com.
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Bio: Hilary Maxwell, the founder of Kineo Life, is a life transition coach and consultant, licensed counselor, author, and public speaker. She writes on the ups and downs of life including her personal journey of the struggles of growing her own family. Her passion is to help others find their unique talents and purpose while striving towards goals with confidence. A woman of openness and authenticity, Hilary connects with others on a level that is individual and personal, helping others to be seen and accepted. A native to Colorado she enjoys all the outdoors has to offer, embracing the sunshine of life.
Email Hilary at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about her business at: www.kineolife.com
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