Self Talk: My Secret Battle With Infertility

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This post has taken me months to write. For a journey that perpetuated all of 2015, I’ve found it hard to summarize. What you didn’t know is that Matt and I started infertility treatments in January 2015 that eventually led us to begin In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in April. What I didn’t know was how much it would affect my self image.

Many of you probably caught on to my hints here and there that I was going through a personal struggle, but I had a really hard time wanting to broadcast it. I realize there’s no standard for how people deal with their personal issues. Some people are comfortable sharing all the details, some are not. I’m more of the reserved type, but while I knew I could potentially find comfort from others by opening up, I couldn’t seem to bring myself there. I saw this challenge as an imperfection, a flaw, a major shortcoming that no one could relate to. It’s funny how people appear flawless and resilient online (or on social media). And while I knew better than to think like that, everything I was seeing in my blogosphere made me believe pregnancy comes easy for most, and I was the exception. The imperfect one. The only imperfect one.

If you’re already familiar with IVF, then you know it’s a long, emotional process with seemingly endless doctor’s appointments—mostly consisting of ultrasounds, needles and blood draws—that quickly cause you to start feeling like a lab experiment or human pin cushion. None of it feels normal. Most of the time I felt grateful that I even had the option to do IVF, but I didn’t expect to have such a hard time staying positive.

My Self Talk During IVF (Apr – Jun)
  • I thought my insurance would be sympathetic and try to make this easy for me. Do these people have feelings?!
  • Ok, I have to give myself shots, but I can’t keep this schedule straight. Which medicine is which? What if I mess this up?
  • Wait, I have to give myself the shots?! They trust me to do this?
  • Shots. Every. Single. Day. First in the abdomen for several weeks, then deep in the glutes, twice on Tuesdays. I have no choice but to get over my fear of this.
  • I’m so grateful for Matt.
  • What will I do if this doesn’t work?
  • If only I weren’t so flawed.
  • Sobbing. In a bathroom stall at work. Again. Try not to let anyone know.
  • Why don’t I have more faith? What on earth is my life about anyway?

You’ve heard that saying, “Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.” I wanted to cover mine up; pretend they didn’t exist. And one way to do that was to stop sharing my life… on my blog, on Instagram, in personal relationships. So I slowly began to distance myself from just about everyone—going completely MIA online between September and October. I couldn’t look at Instagram for fear that I would continue comparing my weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths. The irony is, IVF worked for us. On July 6 I found out I was pregnant. But my internal struggle was far from over.

My Self Talk During Early Pregnancy (Jul – Oct)
  • I can’t believe I’m pregnant. What if I don’t stay pregnant? I’m afraid I’m going to jinx this.
  • I could share my story, but they’ll just see my imperfections and pass by because they’re not inspired. Perfection is what inspires people. Don’t we all just want to be perfect?
  • How can I be happy and share this news when I know there are people like me still struggling to have a baby? (I know, wasn’t I just saying no one can relate?)
  • I’ve worked hard for this, but I don’t feel deserving. There are women who are much better than I am who deserve this so much more.
  • Some people will never get to experience pregnancy. I feel unworthy. Why me and not them? Life is so unfair.
  • My blog readers don’t want to hear about this. They want to be inspired.
  • I don’t feel like taking pictures. People are going to judge me, my weight gain, my appearance. They don’t know what is really going on.

I was a twisted, emotional wreck. My self talk was berserk—thinking one self-deprecating thought then contradicting it with another. But, the truth is, things work out how they are supposed to work out. Matt and I hadn’t been “trying” for years, but we hadn’t been preventing either (just long enough to know we should probably get some help). I just always figured it would happen naturally when it was supposed to happen. But even when it didn’t happen naturally, my current circumstances were what they needed to be for me to have a chance at pregnancy through IVF. Just like all the right pieces aligned to bring Matt into my life when I least expected him, the right pieces were aligning to bring this little baby into my life. And I’m finally in a peaceful place where I can see the struggle for what it was and accept it.

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m feeling little miracle kicks and movements in my belly. In fact, that was the first thing that started to help me move on to a healthier mindset when I reached 19 weeks. This isn’t just about the struggle, it’s how well I can come out of the struggle. It’s the responsibility of knowing I’m one of two people this little one is going to turn to when they need help with their self talk, their self esteem, their struggles. And I want this experience to have taught me something about being better and stronger than before.

A quote that stuck with me during this journey is, “If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

Maybe I was meant to go through this trial so certain people would come into my life, or so I would become more mindful of the good people already in my life. I met my friend Jenica—whose infertility journey has been far longer and more heartbreaking than mine—because we were both going through IVF. She is a saint. She looks for the good in everything and refuses to focus on the bad. Being around her made me more aware of these same traits in Matt. I often take his positivity for granted and it’s one of my biggest blessings. It’s the good people like them that remind me I can choose my perspective. That the problem isn’t always the problem itself, but the way you choose to look at it.

When I started IVF, I used to play “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten every morning on my iPhone while I mustered the courage to do my shots. I still get teary eyed when I hear it because I think of myself as a girl who can do hard things. Even if just for those few moments a day, it filled my head with positive, fighter-girl self talk.

This past fall when I finally began to find peace, I started listening to “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” by Carrie Underwood. It reminds me that I didn’t realize how much I wanted a baby until I found out what I’d have to go through to get one. And I’m so glad I went through it. I’m so grateful I fought for this. In a way, I’m grateful I had to fight for it because it has forever changed the value I put on the opportunity to be a mom. It has changed the way I look at everything that requires hard work, even when it may come easy for other people. I hope that perspective will always guide me through the hard times to come so I can face each challenge with more courage and less fear. The world needs more of that.

Gender Reveal
We’re so excited to be welcoming a baby BOY to our family in March! I couldn’t be happier to have more Matty in my life.
LittleMissFearless_baby-gender-announcement-2016
Thank you, as always, for reading.
Photos by Ashlee Brooke.
Amanda

Comments

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  1. Bri Rios says:

    Amanda! This post is a roller coaster of emotion. My heart aches for you & all the internal struggle (you’re definitely not alone in this) and such happiness for you & your husband. I’m glad you chose to share this tidbit of your life, it’s inspiring to hear of such strong women overcome trials. Lots of love being sent your way :)

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  2. Sara Ormsby says:

    We are in the middle of the ivf-pin-cushion stage and you can not know how much I needed to hear all of this. Thank you for being brave and sharing your thoughts- I know those feelings of inadequacy, but I have to remember it isn’t true! Thank you.

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  3. Jen says:

    This was so beautiful! My husband and I went through all of this with IVF as well, and now have two gorgeous sons through adoption because IVF wasn’t successful. They are nothing less than a miracle, and there is no doubt they are 100% ours. Each journey is so different, yet so much the same. I remember all those same feelings you expressed. What a battle it was, but the blessings so worth it. I also cannot believe how much more loving, less judgmental, and compassionate it helped me become. I now realize that even though someone may seem happy, smiling, and seem to have it all…that might not be the case at all! They are putting on that smile inspite of their excruciating pain. Bless all those who keep their smile, cry when they must usually behind closed doors (or bathroom stalls), and continue to endure their personalized journey!!! Congrats to you. I can’t wait for you to hold your precious little one. You have beautiful style sense, but even more importantly, you have a very beautiful soul! Xoxoxo

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  4. Wow so inspiring!! Hubs and I have our first doctor’s appointment Wednesday to begin the IVF journey. It can be so so lonely but I have found so many amazing blogs (and now yours!) that have provided so much encouragement. So, thank you! You are going to be such a great mommy and I can’t wait to follow along! Xo

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  5. Wendy says:

    Your perspective is beautiful and my heart is thankful you shared your story. I needed to read this today. xo

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  6. Lokati13 says:

    I’m happy for you. I’m long on instagram and now just read your blog. My husband and I have also started a treatment, particularly ICSI and I understand. much encouragement in the final stage of your pregnancy. many kisses from Spain.

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  7. Cici DeWaal says:

    Amanda, you are a gem. Keep doing you. Little Niño is going to love the fam.

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  8. Darianne says:

    I’m so happy for you! Thank you for sharing this piece of you with us. <3

    Posted Jan. 3, 2016 | Reply
  9. Posted Jan. 4, 2016 | Reply
  10. Cate says:

    I LOVE YOU! You are brave and amazing and this baby is so lucky to get you and Matt as parents. James can’t wait to meet his new buddy!!! Love you!!!

    Posted Jan. 4, 2016 | Reply
  11. Donna says:

    My husband and I dealt with infertility 30 years ago. We were older, 34 and 40. At that time, infertility was mainly about the woman and her doctor (except during the artificial insemination attempts which included the husband–locked in the doctor’s bathroom with a porno magazine:( He hated it. ) After 2+ years and 2 different doctors/strategies, I felt like a neuter, and my husband felt like a third wheel. IVF was just starting to catch on and was ridiculously expensive, so we decided to go the adoption route. Because of our ages it took almost a year to find an agency that would take us. Then, lo and behold, I found out I was pregnant the day before our home study! She’s a beautiful 26 year old today. One of the main things I learned is that babies are truly a gift from God. Considering all that has to happen in the short 3 day “window”, it is a miracle that any are ever conceived. When I see her, it often occurs to me that any other moment of conception would have resulted in a totally different human being, rather than the delightful creature she is. So congratulations! Enjoy every beautiful moment of your pregnancy. And even more so, enjoy every moment of raising this little boy. I know everyone will tell you this, but it really does go by faster than you could ever imagine. The days may drag, but the years fly by. And give yourself some grace! Parenting will offer you a multitude of chances to doubt yourself far more than infertility ever did. But these little bundles of joy come with huge, forgiving hearts and somehow grow up to be amazing adults as long as they know they are loved and receive the discipline that gives them the security they crave. Thanks for your openness. There are so many women who need to know and be encouraged that they’re not alone.
    Blessings…

    Posted Jan. 4, 2016 | Reply
  12. Mr. Matty says:

    Love you!

    Posted Jan. 4, 2016 | Reply
  13. ACB says:

    I love your blog, and am so happy for you! I went through it 20+ years ago, unsuccessfully, and couldn’t bear to talk about it. It was horrible. My best friend at the time got pregnant without trying. It was complete torture. I was so jealous, but had to be polite and happy for her. And, the regimen was so grueling. I was working, and had to take a cab from the subway every morning to the dr to get blood drawn to determine hormone levels, then rush to work. My arms still have so many pinprick holes I can see. It was just before the era of voicemail and cellphones, so I was at the mercy of waiting for a phone message at my office every afternoon, which if I was lucky, I would get in time from a team secretary if I couldn’t be at my desk, (which I had no control over), and then I would have to call back to the dr’s office to find out what dosage of hormones to take that night. It was so stressful. I’ll never forget the day a nurse dropped the vials and the blood smashed to the floor. I’ll also never forget the month that, of course after it didn’t work, and I was at my wit’s end, and my doctor cavalierly said “oh, you can try again next month,” like no biggie. I was furious. We wound up adopting, actually there was a baby so fast my head was spinning, as I was revive tin from a “miscarriage” of the one mini-pregnancy that never even really was. We adopted a beautiful infant boy, and we bonded perfectly. Little boys LOVE their mommies!!! I’d be lying, however, if I said I don’t still wonder what it feels like to have your own biological child. No one says that. I feel guilty saying that, but I sometimes feel like I’m bursting with dying to know how that feels.

    Posted Jan. 4, 2016 | Reply
  14. Natalie Cohee says:

    Amanda,

    Thank you so much for your honesty and heartfelt blog. It does take courage to share something so personal and difficult but I applaud you for doing so. My husband and I struggled to get pregnant for a year and a half, going through 4 failed IUI’s and on the brink of starting IVF, somehow got pregnant (I am almost 12 weeks). I may not have gone as far as you, but any woman battling infertility can relate because we are part of a tribe of survivors. I too listened to the “Fight Song” and it made me tear up reading your reference since it was what helped keep me going. I have been very open about my struggles because all to often many of us hide this battle, leaving so many to feel exactly how you described, alone. Because of your post I hope it evokes the exact opposite. Congratulations on your baby boy and cheers to being strong women! ;)

    Posted Jan. 5, 2016 | Reply
  15. Becky says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I stopped reading your blog for a little while because I was jealous that you were pregnant and I was not, clearly there was some sign that brought be to once again to read your blog today with this being your topic. I have just started with an infertility doctor and it is quite an emotional journey and at times it feels very lonely, even though I have an amazing and supporting husband. Reading your story made me cry but also gave me hope and comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this difficult process and great desire to be pregnant. Once again thank you for sharing, and congrats!!!!

    Posted Jan. 6, 2016 | Reply
  16. Tia G. says:

    Hey there Amanda! I just found your blog while browsing on Bloglovin’. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I look forward to following you in the future! We just had our IVF consultation yesterday and I get it….there were YEARS where I felt so broken and “un-womanly” that I couldn’t drag myself out of the depression. These days…I know it’s going to be an uphill battle, but one I absolutely know will be worth it in the end. Congrats on a baby boy, my dear!

    Posted Jan. 6, 2016 | Reply
  17. Pauline says:

    Thank you for posting with such honesty. I’m sure it’s so difficult to share this, but you are truly helping and inspiring women going through the same journey. Thank you. I’m writing this at 5:20 am and have been awake with my own IVF baby boy. I’m rocking him to sleep in my arms and now crying like s baby myself…as I usually do when hearing any woman’s story about infertility. It makes you appreciate everything that much more I think. Most mothers appreciate motherhood, but the fight to get there makes you not take anything for granted. I hold my baby a little bit tighter this morning after reading your post…thank you from the bottom of heart for sharing. I too have felt most of what you did.

    Posted Jan. 7, 2016 | Reply
  18. Jenny says:

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me… My husband and I had been trying for about a year and a half (5 of those months doing fertility medicine, shots, and IUIs), and now are 16 weeks pregnant. It was so comforting to read your self talk and know I am not alone in everything I have felt and am feeling now. Thank you for sharing, and congrats to you both on the baby boy!

    Posted Jan. 7, 2016 | Reply
  19. Margaret Barlow says:

    Beautifully written Amanda, pulls at my heart strings. Your honesty is so admirable and your little boy, so lucky to have chosen YOU to be his mama. I’m so grateful to have met you and wish you all the joy & love that comes from parenthood! Love, your Dillard’s friend (buyer) Margaret XO

    Posted Jan. 10, 2016 | Reply
  20. […] it feels more slimming and flattering with my shape these days. Given how private I was about IVF and the success of my pregnancy, I guess you could say my style transformation is somewhat fitting—neutral colors are certainly […]

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  25. […] Surviving pregnancy and making it all the way to 41 weeks with Baby Benjamin (my IVF miracle)! […]

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  26. […] with incredible women this way who have become great friends. I met one of my good friends Amanda this way. We were able to talk with each other while we were going through it. It’s always […]

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