This Mother’s Day is super sweet for me as it is the first time I am a mother. After a long journey, nearly six years, I am pregnant. The words still feel surreal, but when I hear the heartbeat or feel tiny kicks throughout the day, makes it a reality.
Last Mother’s Day, I was one of the many women who was not a mother but wished to be. I know there are so many women who struggle with Mother’s Day for various reasons. This holiday is meant to celebrate the relationship we have with the woman who gave us life or the woman who is the mother figure in our lives (perhaps not always biologically). When you don’t have that relationship, or can’t become that woman, this day is can be devastating.
Before I dive deeper into my journey, I want to first say that everyone’s story is different. Although my experience was frustrating and long, my husband and I did not experience the loss that many families do. We are very lucky to be here today, expecting our first child.
Over the years, infertility has become a word with which I am very well-acquainted. At first, it was a word I did not understand, then it was a word I refused to accept. Today it is a word I identify with completely.
My husband and I began trying to get pregnant after a year of marriage. During the first 4 years, I was in a constant cycle of optimism and longing mixed with frustration and hopelessness. Each negative pregnancy test chipped away at me, leading me down a dark path of feeling broken and less of a woman.
I didn’t know how to cope with my emotions nor did I want to deal with them. I dove headfirst into my business, working non-stop on growing Christina Kober Designs, letting myself become exhausted and stressed out but keeping my infertility in a little box in my mind that I would “deal with later.” I could sense my husband was frustrated with me, seeming to him like I didn’t care. But I did care - only I didn’t know how to proceed or process what was happening.
A new burst of optimism came when I finally decided to change doctors. I had been feeling as though my questions regarding our inability to get pregnant were being brushed aside by my doctor and knew I needed to make a change. My new ob/gyn didn’t waste any time, having both my husband and I immediately take a battery of tests to determine what was causing our infertility.
With no hormonal or physical reasons to be found, my doctor had us try three cycles with medication to assist with ovulation. Those three months passed quickly with no positive pregnancy test. All the feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and brokenness came crashing back with each negative test - but I continued to push it down - I did not have “time” to deal with my emotions nor did I want to.
My doctor said it was time to change to a fertility clinic. This was shocking to me - “if everything medically looks fine with me how can this be infertility?” All I “knew” about fertility clinics were that they are cold, unfeeling, and expensive. I wasn’t sure I wanted conception to be so clinical and, honestly, I never expected we would get to this place.
It took me a few months to get up the nerve to call the fertility clinic; I was so scared and the feelings I had boxed up were finally starting to overflow. I had so many strong emotions of failure and brokenness - I am a woman, I am supposed to bear children, why can’t I just get pregnant? Why is it so easy for some women? What is wrong with me? What if I actually get pregnant and my body won’t sustain a pregnancy? I couldn’t bear thinking about the potential loss. I felt frozen.
But, I have learned when I am afraid of things, many times its mind over matter and if I do the thing that scares me most it won’t be as bad as I imagined. And once I ripped off the metaphoric bandaid, our overall experience at the fertility clinic was much like any other doctor’s office. The time seemed to go by so quickly - with great feelings of hope and many moments of disappointment. The truth is: fertility clinics are clinical, they are overwhelming (I can’t tell you how many times I cried during my office visits), and the process is expensive (and usually not covered by insurance). At times you may feel like a number, but the doctors, nurses, and staff at the clinics are so caring and thoughtful.
We decided to first try IUI, which is a less invasive form of conception that requires medications and shots. The process of our first IUI was so scary, and the fact I had to give myself a shot seemed impossible. But I did it once, then 3 more times. After four failed IUIs, it brought us to our decision to try IVF.
IVF was a huge, life-changing experience. (While I will not get into the nitty-gritty details of IVF, if you are interested in learning more about it - please don’t hesitate to reach out.) Through IVF I learned many great lessons about myself, my husband, and our relationship.
IVF is a hard process - emotionally and physically - and you are intentionally choosing to do these things to your body. Each step of the process is more taxing than the next - hormones flying through the roof - I literally felt like an angsty teenager, crying at the smallest things. At the start, I was giving myself shots 3 times a day and while it felt very overwhelming, it only lasted a few weeks. Eventually, I began receiving shots every day by my husband or friends, who graciously filled in when my husband was unavailable. It was the largest needle I have ever seen, and with their help and support, I was able to overcome some of my fears. The daily injections lasted for 12 weeks into my pregnancy and was probably the most difficult time for me mentally.
Through this process, I learned that I am stronger than I even realized. I also learned that I need to take a break from work; I cannot continue to live life and work at the rate I have been for the past 6 years. I want to enjoy my life, my pregnancy, and my baby. My work/life balance had gotten so off-kilter that it started to affect me physically, which I had never realized until I started to step back during this process.
The last thing was how much I opened myself up to my husband and shared more of what was going on with me - physically, mentally and emotionally. One thing that’s common among many of the fertility options is that it affects the male much less than the female (or the partner who will be carrying the baby). I had never been that open with him and I think it has made us so much stronger as a couple.
Overall, we were very lucky with our IVF story as not everyone’s experience is successful. While I am over the moon to be pregnant and celebrating my first Mother’s Day, it’s bittersweet because I know so many other women are still struggling.
The photo featured at the top of this article is a custom 14k gold treasured ring I made for myself to give me strength during my IVF journey.