You know those people who have three planners, show up 20 minutes ahead of every scheduled meeting, have organized compartments for their organized compartments, and finish deadlines a week in advance? That is me. I relay this about my personality not in a bragging, proud, or happy kind of way. This type of personality, which people tend to refer to as personality “type A”, has its challenges. My type A personality trait makes me a planner. I plan everything. From the moment I entered this world as a baby, I had a calendar in hand and was setting up my life. I planned on being a veterinarian when I was 3 years old. I planned on getting engaged in my late 20s. I dreamed and planned on opening my own animal hospital in my early 30s. I planned on buying a home when I turned 35 years old. I planned on starting a family when I grew my new veterinary business to 1,000 patients. My life was going just as I planned. Just like my calendar planner where I check off my weekly completed tasks, this was my life. And then, when it was time to execute my plan for having a family, my perfectly organized and planned out schedule failed. My children and my body had other plans.
As with so many women, I experienced challenges with infertility. For me, after going to multiple doctor consultations and having many diagnostic tests performed, I was told I had undiagnosed infertility. This simply means that everything was normal and they were not able to tell me why I was not getting pregnant. Well, being the personality “type A” person that I am, that answer was not acceptable and very difficult to swallow. I wanted an answer. I wanted to understand what was preventing me from having children, but most importantly I needed to know so that I could fix the problem, and move forward with my life plan. My children and my body had other plans.
Like so many people, infertility is very common, and unfortunately most people suffer in silence. Infertility has become such a stigma topic, that women are embarrassed to talk about it. For me, I felt embarrassed, even like I was a failure. Looking back now, it is easy to justify why this may be an irrational way to feel, however when going through it all, it was extremely difficult to rationalize these emotions. As I watched everyone around me having children and starting families, it made it even more difficult to understand and harder to cope with the struggles of not being able to get pregnant. This is what I was meant to do. Women’s bodies are made to carry babies and have families. Why was my body failing me, and why wasn’t I executing my life plan? My children and my body had other plans.
I am very fortunate. After multiple rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and one miscarriage, I was able to have 3 beautiful healthy babies, our 4-year-old Luke, and our 1 1/2-year-old twins, Hayden and Leah (just not on my pre-scheduled time frame). They are healthy, happy, wild, free, and have completed our family in a way that I was never prepared for. Now looking back, I feel empowered and perhaps can be a bit more rational (fertility hormones can reek havoc on your emotional wellbeing) by offering advice to women and men experiencing infertility. I feel passionate about making the topic less of a stigma, and more of something we can talk about freely, and easily seek out support, guidance, and love. With the average age of women starting families becoming older, infertility seems to be more common than ever. This is a topic that needs to be discussed and spoken about more openly.
I hope my experience can help educate others. So, here are my top tips for dealing with fertility treatments:
- Creating life…it is not a to do list!
- Be sympathetic about other peoples’ stories. Too often we ask couples immediately after they were married when they plan on having children, or if they had their first baby, when they are having more children. With infertility on the rise, be cautious and careful when talking with people about starting families.
- Embrace the spontaneity. My pregnancy journey and my children have taught me this.
- Patience. As much as we want everything to happen when we want it to happen, it just doesn’t work out like that. Try and enjoy the journey.
- Pride and strength in what I went through. I feel stronger and more proud after going through fertility treatments and then having these amazing children. Whether you get pregnant naturally or with help, be proud of your body and what we do to create life. It is pretty unbelievable. “I create people…what is your super hero power?”
- My children had a different plan and they will continue to beat to their own drums, live their own lives, and throw us curve balls all the time. We are here to guide them with honest and good core values, and let them pave their own roads. Us parents are here for their ride, not to choose it for them.
Looking back, it is kind of ironic how my children decided to change my perfectly organized plan of life. After having my three children, spontaneity, last minute changes in plans, and chaos has become part of my daily routine, a far cry from my pre-children days. It is fitting that this is what children are all about — freedom, spontaneity, not following a time frame, disorganization, chaos, being carefree, and having lots of fun. I have learned to embrace the chaos and laugh at the craziness. I have learned so much going through my journey to become pregnant with my children, and they continue to teach me as I care, love, and raise them on their own schedules. My children and my body had other plans. Sometimes you just have to put down the calendar and find a way to live in the moment. Without my journey with infertility I don't know if I would have appreciated this lesson. For all those who are experiencing infertility, the process can be painful and unpredictable. Remember to forgive yourself. Lean on each other and try to have faith in the process.