As of March 2015, my husband and I celebrated 12 years of marriage and we are still battling with fertility issues. It’s been a journey BUT everything we have encountered has made our marriage so strong. We have been on MANY vacation trips and because of infertility journey we have a wonderful marriage!
In 2003 when I married the love of my life we were very excited to get started with a family. Yes, we were super young- we started dating in high school and were married almost a year after graduation. My husband joined the United Air Force (USAF) and we were shipped to Seattle, WA. Our first year of marriage we did conceive and had an early miscarriage. Our Dr. couldn’t explain but no one was worried because we were so young and really just started the process of TTC (trying to conceive). Another year past with no results and that’s when things became a bit confusing. I would research all types of ways to increase our chances to conceive with no luck. Month after Month we experienced negative tests. It became heart-breaking. We were referred to a fertility specialist and after several test they couldn’t find any possible diagnosis.
There were some dark moments for us. We started to look at each other trying to figure out what it could possibly be. We started to obsessed over the possible problems until we both decided to STOP trying and just live life for a while. During this time-frame weight began to really creep up on me month after month. When I look back at pictures my face was expanding larger and larger just in a 1 year period. I was internally depressed. I didn’t speak of it much. I felt useless and cursed to not have the precious gift of a child.
These feelings became worst when we moved back to Cleveland, Ohio after my husband completed his 4 year term with the USAF. Cleveland is hometown for both of us and my husband has a very large family. Each year there were so many babies born at every shower I would cry so much when I should have been celebrating. That is when I decided to not attend ANY baby showers for that year. There were several unhappy family members but I mailed gifts.
In 2007 (4 years married) we decided to start the process again with a fertility specialist in Ohio. They performed the same test and still could not find a diagnosis for either of us. This Dr. went ahead and said we had a 2% chance of conceiving each month-wow talk about a “debbie downer”. We were so lost on what to do; we decided to start medicated cycles using Letrozole and Clomid. I honestly forgot the amount of cycles, but we did that for 2 years with no pregnancies. Then we did 1 round of IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)- still nothing. My husband’s family was still growing and at that time we had 41 nieces and nephews. We felt so behind the eight ball, but we knew we couldn’t just have a pity party for ourselves so we took action!
We declared we would start traveling and enjoy our empty nest. Our philosophy was “Hey at least we have the freedom”. We went to Bahamas (2times), TN Cabin Trip (2times), Hawaii, Baltimore, Washington DC, PA, TX, and some many nearby attractions all in 16months. We had so much fun and just placed the infertility issues aside for a while. We still felt the pain and frustrations but we kept moving. We were really enjoying our marriage. We were glowing and just living life.
Then Jan 11, 2009 I encountered a terrible ankle injury resulting in 5 screws and 1 plate – I fell on ONE icy stair. My life shattered before my eyes. I went into major depression from the meds and my weight skyrocket; I gained 25 lbs. (And while that might not sound like a lot, at 5’2” I definitely noticed.) I remember at one point my surgeon telling me it was quite possible I’d never be able to participate in any strenuous activities again for the rest of my life, and how terrifying that was. Although he wasn’t right about that part (I’m a personal trainer now, after all), it did take me almost 8 months to walk again without assistance. I felt terrible about myself. I knew I needed to take control of my life (and weight)...or risk never feeling good about myself again.
One day I just looked in the mirror and saw so much pain, all the years of negative pregnancy tests, all the medicated cycles, and this packed on weight on my body.
I was sick of tired of being sick and tired…I lost over 60lbs in 22 months. But what I gained was even more fabulous: A trust, confidence and love for myself I never even thought possible. I felt like I was on cloud 9. I started my business in 2011 in Health & Wellness and things were looking up. My hubby and I began speaking about our infertility issues more freely. It wasn’t a secret anymore; we shared, we cried on shoulders but it was finally out there that we have been dealing with this pain for almost 10 years. We decided to go for it again and we did conceive. We were going to announce at Our 10 year renewal of vow ceremony but at 8 weeks we experienced another miscarriage. For some reason this didn’t break us so much, we cried and was in pain but we had to continue planning our ceremony.
Since my current employer in 2012 covered IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) we decided to give it a try. We went through this invasive process for 6-8 weeks. It was terrible: the hormones, daily blood work, and anticipation. We had 8 good eggs but they didn’t make it past Day 3 fertilization. This is when we broke down. We just knew this was going to work! It was a 50% chance of conception. Our doctor couldn’t even explain. All we could do at that moment was lean on God for strength.
All of 2014 my husband was deployed with the USAF so this was a time for me to focus on MYSELF and I did! I walked the stage twice for fitness bikini competitions and just enjoyed life. When he returned home this year we did conceive for 3rd time with an early miscarriage. We still do not have answers, but we are still pressing on.
In our journey we have learned to hold on to each other and keep our faith in God. We do not know why we are going through this journey. However, we do know we have each other and we truly enjoy our marriage. At this time we are exploring adoption and hope to bring a baby home in 2017!
Erica Stepteau is a Holistic Wellness Coach & Body Image Mentor who helps her clients put self-care first – because when you feel fabulous, you attract fabulous things. Please visit her website at www.efscoaching.com and check our her Facebook Group (High Achieving Women Shine Bright)