What is your particular brand of infertility?
Sarah: Balanced translocation that causes miscarriages.
Rebecca: Diminished Ovarian Reserve and uterine fibroids
Holly: Undiagnosed, but long and irregular cycles point to a problem with ovulation.
Aislinn: PCOS and insulin resistance.
Samantha: Hypothyroidism, hyperprolactinemia, abnormal lupus anticoagulant screening, folic acid deficiency, progesterone deficiency in the 1st trimester, and polyps (removed by operative hysteroscopy in March 2014)—some or all of which have contributed to recurrent miscarriage. Possible undiagnosed endometriosis (have yet to agree to laparoscopy to confirm).
What is your pet peeve as an infertile?
Sarah: A pregnancy = a baby.
Rebecca: In order to get pregnant, people telling me to “just get really drunk and relax.” DO I NOT SEEM RELAXED TO YOU?
Holly: People who “just know” they’re pregnant the second they ovulate. (See also: I felt my baby at 8 weeks.)
Aislinn: People thinking that once you are pregnant or have a baby, all of your worries and emotions about infertility disappear.
Samantha: All that was already said, but also that everything is “better” now that I’ve had my take-home baby. He is my everything, but my son has not—and never will—replace the babies I lost.
Have there been any silver linings on the loss/infertility journey?
Sarah: Meeting these scoundrels.
Rebecca: Transforming my bitterness into hope through positive, tangible friendships.
Holly: The friendships for sure. If there is any good to come of this all, it’s definitely the people.
Aislinn: Meeting all of the wonderful men and women that I have. I’ve met women that I’m sure I’ll be friends with for life! I’ve also stepped outside of my comfort zone many times to “school” people on infertility.
Samantha: Without a doubt, the amazing people I’ve befriended along the way. I haven’t been able to meet any of them in person yet, but many friendships have progressed from tweeting back and forth to texting, and others have even progressed to video chat! In the coming years, I honestly hope to really meet many, if not all, of the women I’ve become closest to in the last few years.
How many/what pets (if any) do you have?
Sarah: I have a collie springer cross called Max and two black mogs called Jez and Harley.
Rebecca: We move around a lot so we don’t have any animals—yet. I am waiting to settle down in one area and then will use the girls to beg their dad for an indoor pet.
Holly: I have a zoo! I have 2 dogs, a chocolate lab named Dante and a dopey bloodhound named Annabelle. In addition to the furry beasts, we have: 3 snakes, Chumley, Little Bit, and Jack; 2 tortoises, K.P. short for Kenny Powers (a Sulcata) and HF, don’t ask what that stands for (a rescued Russian); a bearded dragon named Snookie; and a nile monitor named Superman!
Aislinn: I have two cats named Mika and Carbon.
Samantha: Two kitties! My husband’s tabby, Willow, and my tuxedo, Mya.
If you had a time machine, what one thing would you tell your pre-IF self?
Sarah: To eat my greens as I was a small child when I found out.
Rebecca: Travel to Spain and “go find your future husband earlier.”
Holly: Your suspicions are right.. go to the doctor NOW.
Aislinn: Nothing you did in your past caused your PCOS. Also, you probably should have gone to the doctor when your weight gain in college went past the “freshman 15.”
Samantha: Remember to take your damned thyroid meds! It’s important! Oh and also, you’re almost right. You can get pregnant, you just can’t stay that way. Holly said it perfectly: Doctor. NOW.
What are three important things about you?
- Have been a primary (grade) school teacher for almost ten years in some of the more challenging parts of London.
- I lived in France for studying and teaching. Two hour lunch breaks are incredible.
- I eat books for breakfast.
- I used to be an inner city public middle school teacher and it made me a better person.
- I cared for my mother in hospice and it changed me irrevocably.
- I won my high school spelling bee and shocked all the kids in the “smart” classes.
- I’m what my mother calls “crass” and my best friends call an “acquired taste” which basically means you may not like me at first but I promise you’ll never not know where you stand with me.
- I’ve never lived farther than 15 miles from my childhood home. Most of my travelling happens in the form of books.
- I come from a large, very close family. My cousins and I were raised closer than some siblings. Family is more than just being related. Family is an active, living thing.
- I’m an artist. I majored in fibers (think weaving, basket making, book making,) and actually found a job in my field, which many thought I never would.
- I love working with children, but didn’t become a teacher because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough to sculpt the minds of the future.
I’m an introvert and an extrovert. Introverted in the beginning, quiet until you get to know me. Extroverted once we’re good friends—and then you can’t get me to shut the hell up if you tried!Despite my career in publishing and excellence in English language, journalism, and creative writing courses, I still make stupid mistakes. Like failing to realize that ambivert (see Lauren’s #1) means exactly what I was trying to say here. But did I look up this word that I didn’t recognize? Nooooo…of course not…
- I have a (possibly unhealthy) addiction to pretty much anything Joss Whedon. I own BtVS, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly (and Serenity) on DVD. I will watch and rewatch them until I burn holes in the discs. And then I’ll turn to Netflix. HAH!
- When it comes to my emotions, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. Be it love, empathy, passion, excitement, dedication, or grief, sadness, loneliness, anger—it can fill me from head to tail or shut me down completely. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
Sarah was born in North London in the early Eighties but after an easy conception and pregnancy, her mother had recurrent pregnancy loss. This was found to be a result of a balanced translocation in both her mother and father. Sarah inherited one pair of translocations.
After five miscarriages, Sarah and her husband were at the point of starting PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) at a South London hospital, but a few days after receiving a date for their initial consultation, she was found to be pregnant for the sixth time and this time, the baby had a heartbeat. After managing to reach the twelve week scan despite a bleed at nine weeks, a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) was undertaken to check the genetic structure of her developing baby. Two days later, she found out that this pregnancy was deemed genetically normal.
Six months later, after Sarah quit her much loved job as a Primary School art teacher, her daughter arrived. Much loved by her family and spoilt with more clothes and toys than Harper Beckham, her baby girl charms everyone she meets with her laughs and giggles. Truly that rainbow that Sarah had been searching for!
Sarah struggles still with the idea that someone isn’t going to take away her rainbow and still finds scan photos and early announcements hard to cope with. However, she has recently discovered a strange talent for guessing the sex of babies from scans, so she does this to try and normalise something that should be a joyous occasion!
Sarah now lives in South London with a menagerie of animals, all of whom have their own voices, her daughter, and her husband, P. Her favourite things are singing made up songs, dancing stupidly, and drinking a lot of gin. Despite sounding like Mary Poppins, she swears a lot and in different languages but don’t let that put you off.
Read Sarah’s posts here.
Rebecca spent most of her twenties and early thirties being a science and math middle school teacher and dating everyone in Northern California. By the time her soon-to-be husband arrived in the area, she was in her mid-thirties and her eggs weren’t getting any younger. When she was 36, she and her husband suffered a miscarriage on Christmas Eve, 2011. After five failed intrauterine inseminations, 3 surgeries to remove fibroids (2 hysteroscopies, 1 abdominal myomectomy), and one failed in vitro fertilization (IVF), they successfully had twin girls in November 2014 by a frozen embryo transfer from their second IVF.
During the series of intrauterine inseminations, she turned to blogging to write out her fears, anxieties, and hopes in the absence of people in her real life that understood what she was going through. She never expected to find a community of women and men facing the same issues. This would become her most empathetic source of support during the heartbreaking times of this journey—finding her kindred spirits.
When she wasn’t spending all of her sick and vacation days on fertility treatment appointments, she was a pharmacist at a military treatment facility. Rebecca now gives all her time and sanity to her two girls. One day, she hopes to go back to work so that both of her girls may attend college at the same time.
She wishes more than anything that her own mother was around to give unsolicited advice on childrearing. Rebecca lost her mother to ovarian cancer after a six-year battle and was privileged to care for her through many surgeries and during her final days. Not being able to ask her questions about her own childhood or share the beauty of her girls with their grandmother is a daily, quiet ache.
She appreciates that this journey allowed her to look over the peak of her bitterness and find peace on the other side. She started sewing baby blankets for friends in lieu of attending baby showers, and for every three she made for someone else, she made one for her “one day” baby. Her girls now have six blankets to share and while she still doesn’t attend baby showers, the thought of them no longer hurt quite so much anymore.
Read Rebeccas’s posts here.
Holly has lived smack dab in the the middle of the US her entire life. She had an inkling that conceiving may be a struggle when statistically, she should have had at least ONE pregnancy scare by her 25th birthday. It wasn’t until she was married and no longer taking birth control that it was determined that she rarely ovulated on her own. The cause of Holly’s infertility has never been officially diagnosed because she managed to become “that girl” and get pregnant the cycle before starting medicated cycles.
Holly found solace in the IF community on Twitter, even though she found them just before successfully becoming pregnant. She was very worried that she might become ostracized because she hadn’t suffered “enough.” It was quickly realized that this community isn’t one for participating in the suffering Olympics and all are welcome, from those that are newly discovering they may have some issues all the way to those who have decided to discontinue pursuing treatments or other venues to become parents.
When she’s not taking massive amounts of photos of her son in all different angles for Instagram and dreaming of winning the lottery, she works with small businesses building their marketing programs.
Read Holly’s posts here.
Aislinn is a Northern-born, Midwest-raised, 20-something currently living in the south. In April 2012, after going off birth control, her cycles went mysteriously missing. After a few months of no cycles and multiple negative pregnancy tests, she went to her OB/GYN and was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance in September of 2012.
Aislinn and her husband, K, originally decided to wait a year before trying to conceive, but at the urging of her OB, they officially started trying in January 2013. Aislinn eventually conceived on her 3rd round of Clomid in November 2013, just a few weeks before starting IUIs with injectables with their new RE. Little K was born in August of 2014 at 40 weeks, 3 days, at a healthy 9 pounds, 1 ounce.
Aislinn is proud to say she’s “doing something” with her art degree as the gallery director of a small nonprofit art gallery.
Read Aislinn’s posts here.
As the daughter of a woman with endometriosis, Samantha always suspected she’d have trouble getting pregnant. After being put on birth control following a burst ovarian cyst at age 13 in order to regulate her cycles and make them a little more manageable, she once said as a teenager, “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t have kids.”
The trouble turned out to be not with getting pregnant, but staying that way. In January of 2013—almost a year after marrying her husband John—she went off the pill, and got her first positive pregnancy test that April. By the end of May, she had to have a D&E to remove a blighted ovum. Her OB told her 25% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage and to start trying again in July. On Halloween, she got another positive test—followed this time by an ultrasound of a baby with a heartbeat. “Baby Bean” kept on and was still alive at the 9-week ultrasound on Black Friday. But the NT scan on Christmas Eve showed BB’s heart wasn’t beating, and growth had halted sometime shortly after that November ultrasound. BB was taken by D&E two days after Christmas, and a devastated Samantha was referred to an RE the following month.
The RE devised a fertility treatment protocol: Clomid, Ovidrel, and timed intercourse for conception; and aspirin and progesterone supplementation for the 1st trimester. Based on her mother’s diagnosis and her own history of heavy and painful cycles, he said it was possible that Samantha could have endo, but a laparoscopy was the only way to confirm—which Samantha opted out of for the time being, hopeful that she could get and stay pregnant on the protocol her doctor prescribed.
After a dud “too mature single follicle” cycle in April and a cancelled “too many follicles” cycle in May, June’s lower Clomid dosage produced a “just-right” cycle with a few mature follicles. The morning after she ovulated, Samantha and John were in a car accident—their car was totaled, and Samantha fractured her tibial plateau. Despite physical, mental, and emotional trauma from the car accident—including a high risk for clots that required Lovenox injections for weeks and a TSH spike that made everyone nervous—there was a little speck with a heartbeat waiting for Samantha at the 6-week ultrasound, as well as the one at 8 weeks, 10 weeks, and nearly 12 weeks. With exception to a difficult 1st trimester spent on crutches and in constant pain, and the remainder of the pregnancy spent in endless fear and anxiety, she had an uneventful pregnancy with a big baby boy delivered via an uneventful scheduled c-section.
Samantha’s little family lives in a recently-purchased house in a tiny suburban town south of Boston. Though she went on leave for the birth of her son, she is midway through earning her Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College and plans to return in 2016. She is a working mama with one year under her belt in her position as project editor at a nonprofit organization. While she loves her job (and loves that it pays the bills) and editing in general, Samantha hopes to find a home for her creativity and passion for writing, as well. This infertility journey has permanently changed every aspect of her life, and it’s a struggle to make friends and family see that even though she’s got her take-home baby, she still lost two babies before that and the scars from those losses will probably never completely fade. Perhaps the greatest thing Samantha could do, and hopes to do, is turn the pain and anger on its head and make it worth her while—use her writing to share, advocate, and educate on what it’s like to be a parent after loss and/or infertility. In addition to this collaborative blog, Samantha writes on her own blog about life after miscarriage.
Read Samantha’s posts here.