Coming out of the infertility closet #Becoming Parents#fertility treatments#infertility#ivf#starred#trying to conceive May 3 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatbride Last week I received this video from a reader: The subject really touched me, because I struggled with infertility for five years before conceiving my son … and a big part of the challenge was the fact that it was a secret. Keiko's brave video inspired me, and so maybe it's time to tell my story. You should know, this is a long, long story. Heading in for surgery, 2007 The babycrack (aka irrational, drug-like longing for a baby) began in 2000. My mother was born in 1950, had me in 1975, and some how I'd just always assumed that of course I would have a kid of my own in 2000. It made nice numeric sense in that weird OCD way. When in 2000, I looked around and found myself blissfully happy living in a rad hippie house with a partner I knew I'd be with for the long haul, I shrugged and assumed a happy accident would come along soon. I'm an accident! Dre's an accident! Virtually all my friends are accidents! Virtually all my friend's KIDS are accidents. I assumed at some point Dre and I would have our own happy accident and the cycle would continue. We were still using birth control at that point, but were prone to slip-ups that I assumed would result in our own happy accident eventually. Years passed, but no happy accident. Dre and I got married in 2004, and few months later I had an oddly long cycle. This was weird for me — my cycle is like clockwork, which is part of why Fertility Awareness had worked so well for us. At the 10 days late point, I took a pregnancy test. It was negative and I got my period a couple days later — but Dre and I realized we were both disappointed. We had lots of conversations and decided we would stop trying not to get pregnant and see what happened. We no longer were going to have an accident. We were going to plan to have a child. Novel! Early 2005 was lots of fun. But, after several months of not-NOT trying, I started to wonder a little bit. After years of Fertility Awareness, I knew my body really well. It's not like the whole ovulation thing was a big mystery to me. I shrugged and guessed it was time to start charting a bit more thoughtfully, just to see what I could learn. Related Post Self-care during fertility treatments If you're doing fertility treatments, chances are pretty good that you're stressing the fuck out. Not only do you have the logistics of appointments and... Read more This is, of course, about the time when the "you're married, so it's time for kids!" questions and statements started. Of course these questions came from friends and family, but the whole internet was clearly over-ready for kids. I mentioned getting dizzy once on my blog, so many people IMMEDIATELY assumed I was pregnant that I ultimately deleted the post. (Never mind that I was 2 days into my period: the internet insisted I was obviously pregnant.) When people would ask me directly, we'd just smile and say we were working on it and ha ha everyone thinks that's funny coming from the newlyweds. I started charting my cycle in more detail in mid-2005, and we started Officially Trying. Every month I would make contingency plans — ooh, if I got pregnant this month, then the baby would be born the month before the book was released! Oh, ok if we get pregnant THIS month it'll be right after the book comes out. Ah: if I get pregnant THIS month I'll be doing a pregnant book tour. There were temperatures taken every morning at the exact same time. There were nice charts that looked just the way they should. I was the A+ student in my own science class! There was impeccably timed, incredibly boring procreative intercourse! And every month, there was my period! Around this point, I mentioned to my OBGYN that we were trying, and she smiled and told me we needed to take a vacation together. Gosh, I WAS working an awful lot, what with the overtime at movies.com and writing my book evenings and weekends… Coming from a midwifery family and having lots of friends who are body workers and healers of various kinds, I started getting a lot of thoughtful advice. I needed to relax. I needed a baby altar. I needed abdominal massage. I needed to stop stressing about it so much. This always happens to Type-As. It would happen when it was meant to happen. Ok. I stopped making contingency plans and stopped avoiding alcohol two weeks out of the month. I needed to stop obsessing. I just needed to relax! My doctor and my friends and family all agree: If I could just relax things would be fine. I switched jobs at that point to a boring but less stressful gig that paid better, because I needed to stop stressing and obviously I was going to get pregnant soon and I wanted to save money. All my friends who'd started trying around the same time we had were starting to have their babies. Obviously I'd have one soon too, right? Dre and I put off getting a dog because I'll be pregnant next month and it'll be easier to introduce a dog after the baby's born. We'd wait. So, now we're in 2006. I'm charting like crazy, saving up money like crazy, not stressing and going to dance classes and hanging out with friends every Friday. La la la! I'm not obsessing about it! I'm not thinking about it! I'm relaxed! Borrowing a friend's baby in 2006, hoping the baby might be contagious At the advice of my mother and holistic medicine friends, I started doing fertility acupuncture and Maya abdominal massage. I tried focusing more energy (manifest manifest manifest) on getting pregnant. Then less energy (don't think about it! let it just happen!). I tried hanging out with friend's babies hoping their baby-ness would rub off on me. None of these things have resulted in me getting pregnant. All through 2006, the weight of the trying and failing got heavier and heavier. After a year of trying to conceive, it's not so much fun. It's depressing. It starts to mess with your head. I started feeling like a core part of my body had become an untrustworthy stranger. A breech of trust with your own body is emotionally brutal. Right around this time, I fainted for the first time in my life for no explicable reason. I'm convinced it was just my body and my brain having a serious argument with shouts of trust and expectation and "how could yous!" and doors slamming. It didn't help that I kept my infertility to myself. It wasn't a secret, I told myself. It was just PRIVATE. But as a married woman of child-bearing age, people wanted to talk to me non-stop about how we were probably having a baby any day, weren't we? It got the point where hardly a week could go by without someone inadvertently saying something that would cut me to the bone. All these comments were well-intentioned of course — part of the reason why I kept my pain to myself — but they starting to hurt like hell. Everyone seemed to assume I was always about pregnant, or if I wasn't, that they knew the secret solution to my getting pregnant. At the beginning of 2007, depressed as hell, I went back to the doctor and said, "Dude, it's still not working." Her "ha ha! you need a vacation!" comment from the year prior became "Oh, huh, you're right. At 31, this shouldn't take so long." If it was clear to me that holistic methods weren't working for me, I was equally dubious of western fertility methods. Half the time doctors don't even know what's causing the infertility, and I'd glanced at enough infertility blogs to see how bat-shit insane fertility treatments can make some people. It's a land of crazy abbreviations and people talking about their "embys" and using terms like "baby dancing." People mortgage their homes trying to pay for just one more cycle, just one more chance. It made me sad and terrified. The worst case scenario was clear: sliding down the path to ever-more invasive, expensive, ineffective Western fertility treatment. Despite my slippery slope fears that one test would suddenly lead me into a forest of abbreviations and neurotic horrors, we decided to start the process. The doctor ran the easy tests first: Dre was just fine. My blood work and hormone levels were all just fine. Everything seemed to be just fine. Then began the more invasive tests, which ultimately revealed things were NOT just fine. I'll spare you the gory details of the test and say that in Spring 2007 I learned that my right fallopian tube was basically broken. Thanks to some scar tissue from my 1986 appendectomy, I had what was known as a hydrosalpinx: a blocked and totally bloated fallopian tube. There was much gnashing of teeth at this point. Lots of freaking the fuck out. I was officially broken. I was officially dealing with INFERTILITY. I felt like I'd exhausted a lot of the holistic women's health care options I knew about … the massage, the acupuncture, the herbs, the dietary changes, the prayer and manifesting. These were the tools I'd grown up with and none of them were working. Ultimately, a chunk of my reproductive bits were broken. This was around the time I burst into tears and told Andreas I just needed a small warm therapy dog. Yay for puppeh therapy. She remains my best medicine. Sassafras worked. Her nickname the first few months was just "Sponge." This was also about the time I started outing myself to a larger (although still very very small) circle of friends. When people made joking references to me getting knocked up any day, I gave them a bleak response that actually things weren't going as planned. Close friends stepped up to offer support, and anyone else got the idea to stop fucking prodding at me about it. The doctor recommended removing the blocked fallopian tube, since hydrosalpinges are known for dripping nasty goo into the uterus, making it hard for implantation to occur. The theory was take the bad one out so the good one can do its job. So in August of 2007, I went in for a salpingectomy to have the bad tube removed. Then it was back to trying naturally. It sort of felt like we'd reset the clock a bit. Hope sprang a-new! There was optimism! Six months later, the optimism was dried up. Friends who'd started trying to conceive when we first did were now giving birth to their second children. The advice sometimes felt more insistent, although most of that was just my own delicacy. Try this! Try that! Eat less this! Eat more that! Take more time for yourself! You're thinking about it too much! It seems like no matter what I did, I wasn't doing something quite right, and this was clearly my fault. Early 2008, and I was working part-time at Microsoft. In passing, a coworker mentioned that the company offered infertility benefits. Infertility benefits?! Whaaa? Really? No one offers infertility benefits, and I'd spent a couple years feeling sad for people who mortgaged their homes trying to make babies via invasive western fertility treatments that don't even work half the time. Remember? "Worst case scenario!" …But with insurance paying, I wouldn't have to deal with the guilt of feeling like the selfish yuppie who put tons of money into overpopulating the planet instead of adopting a child in need. (I don't actually believe that's true, but it's the fear that lived in my head.) We could at least try? And so, mid-2008, we headed to a local fertility clinic. Our first doctor diagnosed us with "unexplained infertility," which only confirmed my doubts about Western fertility methods. She suggested doing three rounds of Intra-uterine Insemination to see if that would work, and then going on to IVF — which was pretty much the worst worst case scenario. And so last year we did three rounds of IUI aka "Medical Turkey Baster." None of them worked, although one of the fertility drugs I was on was so intense that it gave me acid-like tracers when I woke up in the morning. At that point, I decided to switch to one of the different doctors at the clinic. My first doc had been abrupt and never especially friendly. I liked this other doc the few times she'd been on-call when I'd had an appointment, and before we marched toward our worst worst case scenario treatment, I wanted to work with a doc I liked a bit better. Within five minutes of meeting with Andreas and I, this second doc said, "Oh, I wouldn't say you've got unexplained infertility — this seems like a pretty clear case of tubal factor." Her theory was that even though my left tube wasn't totally broken, it may have been damaged enough by the inflammation of the other one that it could not be functioning very well or much at all. "It's no wonder the IUI hasn't been working," she said. "I don't think that left tube is getting any eggs to anywhere. With your young age, this makes IVF a perfect solution. We'll skip the tubes completely." Interesting. We took home a huge packet of information about IVF and figured we'd make an appointment at some point to start the process. In January 2009, there were layoffs at Microsoft. My first thought was "Oh my god, if I lost my job I'd lose those infertility benefits — we need to use those benefits IMMEDIATELY. If I get laid off before I have the chance to use them, I am going to be so fucking pissed." (Smart thinking: I was ultimately laid off during the third round of layoffs 10 months later.) And so, in late January we made the call: we would begin our worst worst case scenario. My insurance would cover exactly ONE try at IVF. We would dive into one of the most invasive, expensive fertility treatments around … the one that led to Octomom. The one that led to many bankrupt infertility bloggers. The one that was pretty much diametrically opposed to everything I'd been raised with. Remember, I'm the one who was the result of conception so spontaneous and magical and natural that it became my middle name. Conceived in a meadow! My parents couldn't even get inside a tent it was so natural! And yet, here I was: staring down the barrel of the quintessentially opposite conception experience. Where my own conception involved alpine lakes and wildflowers and summer breezes on naked hippies, my process of conceiving would involve four shots a day for months, several doctors, a lab full of embryologists, $4000 worth of medication, and lots and lots of needles. Needless to say, this was not the conception I had envisioned for a child. My mother was a midwife for godsake! Dedicated to natural, non-invasive women's healthcare! And here's her broken daughter, pursuing something at the exact other end of the spectrum of medicine. "It's pretty much our last option, Mom." I explained to her over the phone. "Well, there's always another option," she said. "Which is allowing it to either happen or not happen on its own." This was when I decided I needed to ask my mother very explicitly for her support. We had a big long talk where I was basically like, "Look, I realize this is not your modality. I realize this is probably not what you would choose if you were me. But I need you fully on-board with me on this process. It's going to be challenging and emotionally draining, and I really need your support through it." As these things often go with my mom, all I had to do was ask. She was there to sit with me and go through the insanely complex calendar of medications. She was there to make me food after the light surgery when they retrieved the eggs. She was fully on-board. Although when it came to on-board, it was hard to compare to Andreas. I made the decision early on in the process that I needed to go with the flow as much as possible. I would not document every day with crazy abbreviations. I would not obsess over my medications. I asked Dre to be in charge of everything involving medicine: procuring, understanding doses, and giving me all those bazillions of shots. Shots in the belly. Shots in the ass. Shots from little needles. Shots from huge needles. Shots from medical "pens." Dre gave me shots morning and night. He patted my head when the hormonal psychosis got to me. He rubbed my butt after giving me the intramuscular shots from the really huge needles. He went to every appointment and made every phone call. He drove me to and from the nearly-daily blood draws and ultrasounds. He made his humiliating "deposits" (yes, that's what they call it) at the fertility clinic. All I had to do was be a patient patient and pin cushion. Dre did all the thinking and doing. For someone like me who spends so much of my time up in my brain, it was amazing to just step back and not think at all. After two months of pin cushioning and crazy science/magic involving photos of embryos and decisions about whether to risk having twins … we found out it had worked. After almost five years of infertility, I was finally pregnant. The worst worst case scenario had worked. My pregnancy was relatively unremarkable, and my son was born the day before Thanksgiving 2009. My son. I debated not including this photo because I know baby pictures can be triggering … but it felt it needed to be here. Photo by Jenny Jimenez IVF was this terrible awful procedure that I'd invested a lot of fear in. It just didn't fit with my identity — who's heard of offbeat infertility? Offbeat IVF? Pshaw. It was the expensive invasive terror that desperate people indulged themselves in. It was like gambling: this thing that you keep tossing money at hoping that this time you'll win but ultimately the house always wins and you always lose. Of course you lose. It makes you crazy, and worst part? It doesn't even work most of the time. Caveat: I recognize that we were beyond lucky to have insurance that covered the treatment. I have profound respect for people who fund fertility treatments out of pocket, but I'm not sure we could have done it. I also want to recognize that Assisted Reproductive Technology isn't a good solution for everyone, and isn't an option physically or financially for many of us who struggling with infertility. So, the moral of my story here is definitely not YAY IVF! What I want to say is this: I was wrong. I invested years of my life living in fear, seeing something (in this case Western fertility treatments and especially IVF) as the awful boogey man in my hippie closet, the terrible admission of defeat that would forever turn me into a person I hated myself for being. Ultimately, I was wrong. This makes me wonder … what other massive fears of mine are completely unfounded? What other things that I see as the worst WORST case scenario could actually lead me to a place of profound happiness? What other paralyzing grief and fear could I release? To those of you who are wrestling with the grief of infertility, mourning the loss of a child who may never be: so much of my love to you. I know how hard it is, and you are not nearly as alone as you feel. Join our community! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. @offbeatariel @offbeatbride PREVIOUS My dirty little secret NEXT The adventure of parenthood Show/Hide comments [ 130 ] Ariel – bless your heart for sharing this! I was pretty much resigned to using Western Med to get preggo, what with our lack of sperm and all. But what I never bargained for was the two years of emotional roller-coaster that it took to conceive our son. Fertility problems, lack of control over the whole situation, friends all around us getting pregnant so easily while we were crying over yet another negative test, feeling terrible for not really feeling happy for them. It's bloody hard. Thanks for posting this! 1 agrees Reply I just watched the video and cried. i'm currently 36 weeks pregnant with my first, but struggled to get pregnant. i have several friends and close family with infertility problems, and it's such a struggle to be the "pregnant friend" while those you love are hurting. Thank you for reminding all of us Offbeat Mamas that whether we struggled to get pregnant or it just sort of happened, there are plenty of women out there dealing with infertility problems and it's our job to help advocate for them and for all women. 2 agree Reply i adored this video and the story. i was getting teary watching it. thank you for posting this! <3 Reply Thank you for your story! I am expecting our first child thanks to fertility medication. My husband, boyfriend at the time tried for over a year, and with testing i found out i just didnt ovulate… why?? no one can answer that. We were lucky and my OB suggested pills to force my body to release an egg, and it worked! our little girl will be here in September, and I will never regret that choice. Reply I love that you wrote about this! I think more women (and men!) need to see stuff like this, and know that they are not alone, and that there is a WHOLE community of people out there experiencing what they are. POWER to you, sister (and Dre. And Tavi!)! 1 agrees Reply You continue to be this beautiful soul that somehow shines it's way through the tangled www into my home. 9 agree Reply Ariel, I just wanted to say thanks for being so brave. Your story is amazing and I imagine it must have been difficult to open yourself up like this. It just goes to show that you NEVER know what someone else is dealing with internally, regardless of how upbeat and smiley they may seem. My son was a happy accident but I have several close friends who are struggling with infertility, and I truly appreciate the insights you have provided. I'm a long-time reader but not a regular commenter, and was very moved and just wanted to say…thank you. This certainly resonated with me, and your last paragraph makes this a truly universal story. 2 agree Reply thanks for sharing something so personal with all of us… I was blessed with the ability to have children easily… but now, I work in postpartum…& work with some nurses that cannot conceive the easy way…I can't imagine what they feel on a regular basis…when we have 13 year olds giving birth without the means (emotionally, financially, mentally) to really take care of a baby…or a crack positive mom having her 7th child…that CPS will take yet again… I definitely have a lot of respect for these young ladies that are trying to get pregnant, still stay in the our field of employment & are completely professional everyday!!! we definitely need more education! thanks again!!! Reply Both the video and your story are amazing and very appreciated. I'm sure it was hard to share this, but know that you're helping lots of other people! Reply Ariel, congratulations being brave enough to post this story. I know it can't have been easy. Though I was blessed with my own "happy accident" eight years ago, I've watched a few friends go through the emotional minefield of trying to conceive. Major props to you and to your husband (is it all right to consider Andreas a DILF? Because he totally fits into that category, and I say that with all respect). In any case, thanks for having the courage to post this highly personal story. Just another reason why I love this blog. Reply Thank you so much Ariel for not only sharing my video, but for sharing your story. It is never an easy thing to do, and I think you should be so proud of yourself to look back and say, "I did it. I conquered this. And now I have this freakin' awesome blog to share with the world!" Thank you again ~Keiko 2 agree Reply Keiko- I didn't have a chance to watch your video when I'd first read the article! I just went back to watch it and it is amazing, and beautiful and touching and so very brave. Thank you for making it and for telling your story. 1 agrees Reply Thanks for posting Ariel – I'm going through something similar right now, and we're likely going to be headed in the IVF direction soon, which is not something I'm terribly excited about. I'd be interested in hearing who you used (am also in Seattle). 1 agrees Reply We went to Pacific Northwest Fertility, although the doc I liked has since relocated to Colorado. Reply Thank you so much for sharing your story and the video you received. Reply I've got tears running down my cheeks here. I remember you've alluded to your son being 5 years in the making and I wondered. I'm really glad your story had a happy ending. Much aroha coming your way. Reply I'm glad you told the story. Your Mom really sounds amazing. I had the "happy accident" with my first. With my 2nd, I assumed the same would happen. But… I was 35. And also it just simply didn't happen. It took me 9 months and it was a different kind of hell than I ever could imagine. It's just an exquisite type of pain. Ultimately I got off very easy with the 9 months but my close girlfriend (also Microsoft and me too) went the full Black Belt round, in a story much like yours. They have two beautiful boys, and it was about 8 full years I believe for both from beginning to end. Five years for the first. I do wish we could talk about this more. Reply What a great video. And thanks for posting your story Ariel. We concieved real easy (planned) and had a stress free, healthy pregnancy. After meeting a few women at anntenatal classes who had trouble concieving, had hormone treatments and had suffered miscarriages, I couldn't believe how niave I was. It had genuinely never occurred to me that we might not be able to have children and that some people have to face and live with that reality on a daily basis. I feel so, so lucky to have my beautiful, wanted and loved son and feel great sadness for people who are so longing for a child they cannot have. I think these women and men are so brave and this kind of issue needs to be more widely discussed. Tavi is a beautiful child and I wish you all the health and happiness in the world to you and your family. I think you and Andreas are both so brave. Oh, and awesome! Reply Thanks for the inspiration Ariel. I, too, tried to get pregnant for years and then later struggled with "unexplained infertility" and felt the diagnosis wasn't working for me. However, several months of drug therapy didn't lead to a baby… and then my doctor (yes, Western medicine doctor at the Fertility Clinic) suggested that a lot of studies are showing how holistic medicine can assist in reducing side effects of the drugs and in increasing success rates of drug therapy, IUI and IVF. In particular she recommended acupuncture and after several months of treatment, combined with the drugs… I am pregnant!! Fingers crossed that all goes as planned and will never know whether it was the acupuncture, or the Clomid, or the combination that made it work; but really happy to have a doctor that supported me in trying something outside her realm. 1 agrees Reply Wow, way to share!! I'm sure we all feel a little closer to you now after this post! You guys are so fabulous- so happy for you and your little bean Reply Thank you again for sharing your story. Hearing what you had gone through really helped me when I was trying to get pregnant. And when you announced that you were pregnant with Tavi I really felt like there was hope for me. Now my little girl is due any day now and I don't forget for a second how lucky I am that she is coming. Reply I'm so grateful you wrote this, and so grateful Keiko shared her story as well. I hardly know how to phrase this, except that your comments about living with fear are really resonating with me. I have PCOS, which was diagnosed when I was 20. PCOS is supposedly the leading cause of infertility in the country. I guess I'm grateful that I know this about myself before trying to conceive, which is when many women in the same situation are diagnosed. But I always feel like time is slipping away. That the clock is ticking that much more loudly for the fact that I know I'm already broken. I know that my fiance and I aren't ready to start trying. But I'm so afraid that we'll miss our window. I'm thankful that you opened up to us about this, because while it's frightening in some ways, it helps to know that we're not alone. You're an inspiration to me. Truly. And, for what it's worth, I feel thankful that there's a place for me, and other people like me, here on Offbeat Mama. 1 agrees Reply I'm so sorry that you have to cope with PCOS… it is brutal indeed. I wanted to let you know that you're not broken! You're beautiful and fantastic and just as much of a whole woman. Don't let your infertility take away your wholeness. 6 agree Reply Here here!!! Reply Thank you so much for saying that. It's nice to know that you were reading the comments. I appreciate it, and I think your video is wonderful – both in message and execution. Reply Keiko — your video made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing it. My mother and grandmother both have PCOS. My mother in particular was told she was infertile because of it. When she became pregnant with me, I was born preterm — 23 weeks along, less than 1.5 pounds — and was in the NICU for five months. She has never been able to have another child, and now that I am older, I have come to recognize how painful that has been for her. My grandmother, too, I found out also had dealt with miscarriages and losses of pregnancy. (This was in the 50s, however, and you didn't really talk about it.) The clock is ticking for me. I know that I have PCOS despite never having been technically diagnosed — all the signs are there, every symptom my mom ever dealt with — and I am terrified that my BABYCRACK is doomed from the start. I'm only 21 years old, but we're getting married next summer and going to graduate school after that, and I'm so scared that between grad school and jobs and tiny little finances, we're just never going to make it happen. This video and post have left me inspired… and contemplative. Thanks for sharing! 1 agrees Reply I too have been diagnosed with PCOS and told that I'm probably infertile. Needless to say, I got pregnant two months later (cause if I'm infertile, there's no need of protection, right?). My son was born full term and healthy. There's hope. In addition, I did some research about the syndrome since then, and it appears that PCOS is a rather treatable form of infertility. 2 agree Thank you for sharing your story! I'm a first time reader, but I'll be back (my daughter was born a day before your son!). Reply Thanks for sharing, Ariel. We're officially "not-NOT-trying" right now and I can't help but be nervous for every month that goes by… Thanks for your candor, your strength, your humor, and your intelligence. Thanks for letting your readers into the fant-fucking-tastic parts of your life and the sucky parts too. Thanks for OffbeatBride and OffbeatMama. Thanks for all of it. 4 agree Reply I remember reading Offbeat Bride when you posted that you were sick and unable to post that day and the comments were full of "You're Pregnant!" I knew these were well-meaning posts but after watching my sisters go through infertility I found it so annoying. You replied that you were not and touched on your struggle and even then someone said something like "this could be it!" After that I went through my own struggle, with everyone around me predicting pregnancy at every sneeze. I thought back often to your post. The baby fever and misinformation out there can cause a lot of insensitive but well-meant "As soon as you relax and stop trying it will happen" and "plenty of women your age can get pregnant" and "you can always adopt!" Thanks for sharing your story. Reply Shannon, I'd completely forgotten about that particular Offbeat Bride post and the response. Stuff like that happened so frequently that I think I just got the point of blocking it out. Reply I sobbed while watching this video. Next month, my incredible husband of one year and I will go off birth control and officially begin trying for our first child. I'm 36 and have a secret fear that we'll have fertility issues because of my age. I know I'm borrowing trouble, but the fear is there all the same. And I know about the comments – once already I've gotten the "are you pregnant" stampede on Facebook just because I posted I was tired after working out. Blessings on you Ariel, and blessings on Keiko and all those who deal with infertility. 1 agrees Reply I've been reading Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Mama for a while now, but I've never commented before. I felt the need to for this. This post has me in tears. You are so brave for posting this. Thank you. This is pretty much my worst fear for myself. Between my mom's struggles to have children and my own inexplicable lower abdominal pain (the doctor said "I don't know why you're here, there's nothing wrong with you." Seriously.) I've always been afraid I wont be able to have kids. People ask me about kids and I usually reply something along the lines of "Oh, I don't really want kids right now, it's not a good time, blah blah blah…" But it's a lie. I want kids more than anything. I totally get the babycrack irrational longing. 1 agrees Reply Three weeks ago two friends joked on Facebook that I was pregnant. I was, but just barely, and no where near the point of telling people. Three days later I miscarried. Two days after that an acquaintance saw me and congratulated me. I wasn't sure what for. She had to tell me it was because I was pregnant. It was all I could do not to cry as I turned away. I heard someone say that a miscarriage steals some of your innocence. I used to think I'd get pregnant as soon as we started to try. Now I live two weeks of frustration, two weeks of hope, repeat. Reply I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending you strength in your journey. 3 agree Reply Your video brought tears to my eyes. Not for myself, just for you, your sorrow and your courage and hope. Reply *cry* Not a good thing to read on the train to work, but thank you. Reply Thank you so much for sharing thing. I had no idea that appendectomy scars had the potential to lead to infertility. Now it makes me wonder. We've been in the "happy accident" stage for a few years but nothing has come of it. My family too comes from a long line of accidents. Next year we'll enter the officially trying stage. Now I won't feel so scared if we end up going beyond stage 2. Reply Beautifully written post. Reply Thank you so much for sharing your story. I come from a huge family of ridiculousy fertile people, as does my husband. Unfortunately that has not translated into a happy accident for us yet. We will wait and see, but in the mean time posts like yours make me feel better. Reply I know what you mean. Everyone in my family is ridiculously fertile, with both my mom and dad coming from families with 5 and 6 kids. So anytime we bring it up, my sister says something like, "You're next!" And I have to keep reminding her about the PCOS. It's like she doesn't believe me, or just doesn't take it all seriously. Reply Ariel, Thank you for sharing your story. I'm going to share the link to some of my friends who are struggling right now. You're inspiring! Reply For someone who is currently pregnant with a magical accident of her own I can't possibly know how it would be to be infertile. However, that video has me in tears. And thank you Ariel for sharing your story. It takes such a strong person to tell something some personal and emotional with so many people. Reply Thank you. Reply Even as a person who was lucky to have it happen naturally, I really appreciate your story and sharing it with everyone here. My brother and his wife had difficulty conceiving their first child and had to go the fertility doctor route. It's a tough choice on so many levels and I couldn't imagine trying to make that decision. What luck though to have been able to stay with your company as long as you did, even up to just before having Tavi. Reply Wow, thanks for posting this. I'm only in my 3rd month of trying, so I can't begin to comprehend most of the article – but you really have a knack for therapeutically vocalizing every TTC woman's fears. I think that hearing the worst-case scenarios and confronting those fears makes one not only stronger, but also more in-tune with what a miracle a baby is. All righty, Fear. I see your ugly face, and now I recognize a dark corner of my womanhood. Maybe in five years I'll be infertile, or maybe I won't – but now I really recognize the worrying, nagging feeling in the back of my mind. Well, enough gushiness. Time for me to get back to my 2 weeks of waiting in peace 😉 Reply OMG Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I'm beginning to wonder about my own fertility and this helps with my anxiety so much! Reply I thank you so much for sharing your story. We are in our 2nd year of infertility treatments and there were so many things I read in your entry that I thought "EXACTLY!". Especially the guilt over not adopting. It's hard to be hopefull after so many failures but reading about other people's successes helps to renew that hope a little bit. It helps fill up that big empty spot a little at a time. Reply Beautifully done, Ariel. Reply Thank you for taking the courageous step of sharing your story. And thank you for making OffBeat Mama's a safe space for all our experiences towards mothering. Keiko's video moved me, esp. "What if I loose my self along the way". Very wise, sage advice that I will carry with me. Reply This made me quite teary, and infinitely thankful for my own happy accident. I commend you and all women who face this issue for your strength and courage. Reply Thank you so much for sharing Keiko's moving video and your powerful story. My husband and I started not-not trying in the second half of last year and then started trying in earnest at the beginning of this year. Although I'm not aware of any official problems with my fertility, I can relate to the profound sense of disappointment that comes with every period. I got my period today, and I've been feeling anxious and fearful and just plain sad about not being pregnant yet. But I'm inspired by your story, Ariel. Your piece has made me realize that I need to be more open, more courageous and more hopeful during this process. Thank you. Reply Thank you so much for sharing Keiko's moving video and your powerful story. My husband and I started not-not trying in the second half of last year and then started trying in earnest at the beginning of this year. Although I'm not aware of any official problems with my fertility, I can relate to the profound sense of disappointment that comes with every period. I got my period today, and I've been feeling anxious and fearful and just plain sad about not being pregnant yet. But I'm inspired by your story, Ariel. Your piece has made me realize that I need to be more open, more courageous and more hopeful during this process. Thank you. Reply a) This is amazing and so are you. b) This scared the shit out of me and caused me to have a mild panic attack at work. My husband and I are getting ready to start trying next month, and I am pathologically paranoid that I will be infertile for some reason. Nothing specific, I am just a worrier by nature and I think it's weird that in 10 years I've never had so much as a close call with pregnancy. Thanks for sharing your story and for reminding me to take things one day at a time and to stay positive and hopeful. 1 agrees Reply I am exactly the same! There is no reason to think that we would have any trouble (except that I've never accidently gotten pregnant in 10 years) but that doesnt stop me from worrying. 1 agrees Reply Emily, I know exactly what you mean! Granted I'm a little late to the discussion, but I am a worrier too and since we are going to start trying in the next month, I'm worried I might have infertility issues. I haven't had any close call in 9.5 years we've been together and I have horrible periods. I hope everything worked out for you. I am glad I am not alone. Reply Emily, I know exactly what you mean! Granted I'm a little late to the discussion, but I am a worrier too and since we are going to start trying in the next month, I'm worried I might have infertility issues. I haven't had any close calls in 9.5 years we've been together and I have horrible periods. I hope everything worked out for you. I am glad I am not alone. Reply Both the video and the story are so very touching. I always seem to find the comfort and community that I didn't realize I was missing when I come here and am allowed to share these things with the authors who post them. Personally, I was told several years ago that I would never conceive a child of my own without help, so when my husband and I ended up seeing those magic two little lines just six months after we got married, it was truly a miraculous feeling. Our happy accident is due in July and I am so very grateful. Knowing where the road may have lead, only makes me more thankful for my wonderful surprise. Thank you for reminding so many women out there to keep up hope. Reply Thank you so much for sharing this. It's an angle of infertility that I haven't heard before, and I think it's going to help and inspire an awful lot of people. Well done, you. Reply I'm nowhere near being ready to even step a foot on the bridge of beginning to try to conceive, but thank you, Ariel for your story and Keiko for your video. Fertility and human reproduction seems like such a woefully neglected topic in society today and I really wish that sexuality wasn't such a taboo subject for reasons like the immensely difficult emotional drop off infertility creates for people. I think it is ingrained in women and couples that not having a child naturally means they have somehow failed, but that is such a medieval way of thinking that is in discordance with our modern technology, and I think a huge part of the fear is created by the discordance. For women like you who have made your struggles known and informed the other women you touch in your lives to do what you do seriously made me more than a little teary eyed. Kudos to you for being brave enough and strong enough to share your stories with complete strangers. Reply I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. I cried throughout the video and your story, I have always been desperate to have children and at the moment am facing the possibility that i have premature menopause which will stop me concieving, I feel like i needed to read this now while i wait on news, thank you so much. Reply Thank you so much Ariel. I know everyone has commented on this already, but you should know that your posts touch all of us, all the time. I'm in my 3rd month of trying and have been feeling so alone on this crazy emotional rollercoaster. Your post made me feel much better, mostly because I always thought I would never ever try "help" in any form. But now that we are actually trying I feel as if I have gained insight into other people's decisions in a way I never used to. Your story gives me strength to keep trying but most importantly, a sense of relief that it isn't easy for everyone and I am not alone. Reply Thanks so much for this story…it's really comforting to see a story about the struggle to conceive on Offbeatmama. My husband and I have been trying for a year. While the year has been disrupted with swine flu and overseas travel I am conscious of being 35 and my fertility dropping by ten percent each subsequent year. My friends are all having kids, and generally falling pregnant quite easily and then offering well meaning, but unhelpful advice ie "Try this! Try that! Eat less this! Eat more that! Take more time for yourself! You're thinking about it too much!" If I discuss my fears or worries with friends or family they tell me I'm obsessing about falling pregnant. If I cut out coffee, alcohol, do more exercise, take supplements, chart my temps, check my mucous, do everything properly plus not think too much about getting pregnant, then it will happen! This is too much burden for women to have to bear, when the reason may be out of our control. So thanks again for your post. It's brought great relief and a lot of recognition! Reply Your response sounds like my story. Thanks for posting it. I have spent too much time feeling bad or embarassed about myself. I recently made the decision to be open about my experience. It feels liberating to share and to be honest. Conversations with people I care about have become more meaningful and heartfelt, as opposed to the awkward brush-offs like "When the time is right," or "We're working on it," as I quickly tried to change the topic. Reply Thank you so much for sharing your story. I avoided Offbeat Mama for so long after being an avid follower of Offbeat Bride – just because there are so many times where seeing someone else's joy is unspeakably painful. I have the same condition that you did – only they got both of my tubes, not just one. I'm still struggling with the baby question – should I or shouldn't I? I appreciate seeing the video and your side of the story. 2 agree Reply Thank you, Ariel. Thank you for your presence in the Offbeat world and in our lives, and thank you for completely baring your soul here. Reply Ariel and Keiko, Thank you for airing my feelings,and those it appears of many others too. My beloved and i currently in month 14 of trying, going through the UK NHS fertility procedures – They go something along the lines of: "do we have to do something really?" followed by all the it's you who needs to do this, and this, and this….. followed by "okay, if you insist we'll do something" followed by tests and waiting and tests and waiting and tests and more waiting….. but – for the moment at least – it does not cost us anything (the blessings of state health care – UK should be proud!). Keiko's video managed to put how i feel in to words – thank you for that – and thank you for letting us know we are not alone, as it can often feel we are (self imposed i guess.) Ariel, Thank you for showing me that worse case isn't always worst case…. and also showing me it's not a battle we fight alone (that's certainly how it can feel at times). So yeah – thanks – and thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences. It's good to listen to people who understand! Reply Ariel, one of my favorite things about you is your ability to be ambivalent– you're the child of hippies, firmly grounded in natural living, but you're also willing to give things outside of that a chance. i am so glad that IVF worked for you and Dre– thank you for the reminder to be thoughtful around women who may be struggling with infertility. you're incredible, lady. ps (dre? you're also incredible.) Reply Dear Keiko: Blessings to you, courageous lady. Reply This piece completely touched me beyond words can say. I am just now beginning to hit the "babycrack" stage, and with no significant other I feel like life is on hold. I was diagnosed at 16 with PCOS and at 18 I ended up having a surgery that they told me I had severe endometriosis. I am 21 now, and was told by my doctor that by the time I hit 23 I would need another round of surgeries just to try to get pregnant, and with the scarring there would still be no guarantee. As an official mommy-in-training since I was 2 (have to love those little siblings) I felt like many lifelong dreams were being shattered. I dont know how anything will end up. I tend to see my starting a family with adoption and financially that scares my little LMT heart to death. Emotionally, I have no idea how I will ever explain to the man I want to marry that we most likely will never have our own children. I applaud you for taking on IVF! I have looked into it alot and it is the only reason I didnt take my OBGYN up on a hysterectomy last year. It's scary but that little bit of hope is sometimes the best reward. I have a ton of respect for the everything you and Dre worked for. Reply Thank you for sharing this. My sister got married at 40 and had trouble conceiving. She got pregnant only to miscarry a week after sharing the news. It was heartbreaking. Luckily her insurance would pay for three rounds of infertility treatments, but they were pretty awful for her. After the second round they decided to take a break, and got pregnant. Their son was born March 1st, two months after my sister turned 43. I lived abroad during this entire process, so I didn't see first-hand, but I don't doubt that it was hell on both of them. I'm terrified that something like this will happen to me, but your story makes me feel that even if I do struggle to conceive, there's hope. Reply Ariel – Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us! Facing your boogey man to achieve what you really want … so frightening and amazing. My husband and I are also in the "perhaps a happy accident" stage even though I know I have PCOS and it probably won't be that simple for us. Thank you. Reply That really is a wonderful video.This is the third or fourth time I've watched it. The whole Project IF is something I'd recommend for people who are interested/going through it themselves. It's over at Stirrup Queens. Pee Ess: I'd say that some of the blogs you can find over that way are good for offbeat IVF. Julie over at alittlepregnant is amazing, if you read her archives. Reply Really inspiring story. A friend of mine sent me this post because I write custom songs and had recently written one for a couple who had infertility problems due to the wife's cancer treatment which left her unable to bear children. She preserved the eggs and her sister stepped up and is having the baby for her. It was such an inspiring story that the song was no trouble to write. It's over here, in case you're interested: http://ziahassan.bandcamp.com/track/carry-my-love-single Reply This post absolutely worked to raise my own awareness of fertility issues and the impact they have on people dealing with them. When we were in the NICU with our second baby, I realized there was this big world of sick babies and hurting families that I never really thought deeply about before I was in that particular situation, and this post gave me that same feeling. Thanks for offering your personal account as a vehicle for understanding! Reply Thank you for sharing this story with us. I do think more people need to talk about it more openly. As a lesbian, I've had to accept early on that "infertility" treatments have to a part of any attempt at authentic conception for me, since I cannot ever make a baby by "magic" "naturally" with my partner. I will never have the "luxury" of a happy accident. I will have to pay a lot of money for sperm and nothing about it will really be natural. Everyone's journey with infertility is a little different and I would argue that queer conception is pretty offbeat, which is something I was really surprised you didn't mention, since you are usually pretty up with the gays. (That's not a criticism, just a statement, that I was surprised.) Anyway, I think more people need to talk about IVF etc and normalize it more. Because while it might not be "natural" it is the only opiton for lots of people for lots of different reasons. Love the happy ending photo with Tavi. He's a doll! Reply Queer conception is absolutely offbeat — and had I been writing an article about offbeat conception, I absolutely would have included it. But this wasn't that article. This is just my personal story — and as up with the gays as I may be, ultimately I'm partnered to a man. 1 agrees Reply Thank you for sharing this, Ariel. My mother had a miscarriage and multiple foiled attempts before she conceived and had me. Growing up with the knowledge that I could have just as easily not been is sort of eye opening. I also fret now and then that I will have her same conception troubles. It's much too early for me to be concerned about it, but whenever I hear stories like yours I think of my Mother and am so glad that she and my Father tried that one last time. Be well! Reply Thank your both for sharing…and for making infertility REAL! My husband and I are both 40 and are currently awaiting the results of a second opinion regarding male factor infertility. But, as it stands now, our only option for conceiving will be through IVF. As much as I have tried to prepare my family and close friends for that reality, they seem to brush it off and continue with the well-meaning, yet annoying "Just keep practicing!" "Relax, and then it will happen!" "Don't think about it!" responses. The world of babies is swirling all around me…hell, I'm even hosting a baby shower…and all I am reminded of is how that may not be my reality. So, I just suck it up, smile, and nod. My reality will now be in the hands of science. I'm horribly afraid of needles, yet I'm determined to give IVF a try, even when there are no guarantees that we'll have a baby when it is all said and done. Your story and the video has helped me see that what I'm going through is REAL and helped bolster my faith and courage. Thanks again. Reply I read this with tears in my eyes. One of my closest friends struggled with infertility, and after they were finally able to get pregnant, their baby died less than 24 hours after birth due to a doctor's mistake. She would cry to me on the phone when people would ask her when they were going to make a baby or why wasn't she pregnant yet. The whole thing was heart-wrenching. Her story has a wonderful ending, though: they were able to concieve again after 2 years of trying and now have a healthy, beautiful 4 month old daughter. Reply I gasped when I read that the baby died due to a doctor's mistake. I would die if, after all that, a doctor's error took my child away from me. Your friend must be a very strong, amazing person. Kudos to you for helping her through something like that. I can't even IMAGINE. Jesus. 1 agrees Reply When it happened this rage came over me. It took a long time for me to even be able to cry about it. I just wanted to punch things, throw things, and break things. I still get shakey with rage thinking about it. My friend is an amazing woman and she was very involved in her therapy and healing. She's currently trying to get pregnant again. Reply I'm so sorry you went through that heartache and so happy that you now have a beautiful little boy. I wish the best of luck and medical assistance to all of those trying to conceive their own precious child. Reply This post brought tears to my eyes! We are currently in about our 4th month of trying. I never really thought this could happen to me. My husband and I come from big families and I have always known I would be a mother. We got pregnant our first try! I have never been so happy in my life. I felt like everything was perfect. Unfortunately, we miscarried early on. Then, I felt that it would never get better. Now I am in a constant state of worry that I won't get pregnant and if I do, something will happen. It helps to know that people out there are like me, as much as I wish that no one ever had to go through this. Thank you and all the posters for making me feel like I'm not alone in this. The video was outstanding! Reply Your story sounds very similar to my own. I also watched family and friends have baby after baby. Cousins having multiple babies before being old enough to buy a beer, or even vote. One of my friends came to me in a panic at 2am in the morning because she thought she was pregnant since a condom broke, knowing I would love to be in her position, and asked me to help her get Plan B. For different reasons both of my tubes are completely blocked, and have been since I as 19 (I'm 29 now, and we started IVF when I was 28 and he was 26). My fiance's insurance covered most of the IVF. He did all the shots and went to all the appointments and cuddled me when the hormones made me angry or upset. It took three cycles of trying. Our six-month-old daughter is sleeping next to me right now. Unlike you, I've never been private about this. I've believed, and still believe, that it's not something someone should feel has to be kept hidden. There's already enough of a sense of being broken without being made to feel that we should be ashamed of our "brokeness." Unfortunately the comments are not always kind. We're "selfish" if we resort to fertility treatments. We're "overpopulating the world" by trying to have babies. Maybe we're "meant to be foster parents." (Um, no, not everyone has it in them to basically be "loaned" a child to love and then have to give back.) We should "just adopt." Cruelly, these comments seem to come most from those who have biological children, and were able to conceive them naturally. That hurt. I won't ever shut up about IVF. I won't stop putting a face to it. It's impossible to know me without knowing I had IVF. Strangers have come forward through my blogs to learn more. My fiance has been open at work, and as such, is the go-to guy about anything regarding reproductive organs. We, like you, are part of the estimated 12.5%+ of couples with reproductive issues, and we should NOT be made to feel alone or like we have to hide our issues. We should NOT be made to feel ashamed. Others who are infertile need support and compassion. The deep longing for a child and not having one is a profound sense of something wrong, heart-clenching, of aloneness. Those of us with the courage to speak out need to speak out to help others realize they're not alone and to find their own courage to say, "This is who I am, I'm okay, and I'm not alone. My worth isn't measured by my reproductive abilities. I'm infertile, but I'm not broken!" Reply I've read and re-read this story I cannot tell you how many times, and it has been such a source of renewed hope. I glance through hoards of pictures of mamas and the 'babycrack' sets in. I got married alittle over a year ago, although we have been together for 7 years. I never considered why we never had a happy accident before I always just assumed we took the right precautions and it would be really easy once we started really trying. We made the decision to start a family and then 6 months passed, I was told that was the average for people our age to be successful. Then 6 more months passed. Every month it seems to get harder and every month another friend is announcing their 'happy accident' Its become very hard to feign happiness for my friends who I don't feel like have worked hard enough to 'earn it' yet. Which is silly but I guess sometimes those kinds of emotions just get the best of us. I've been blessed with a wonderful man who is as supportive as anyone could wish for. And even with all that support knowing that my hay-wire innards are preventing us from starting a family is kind of a bummer (putting it lightly.) I think my biggest issue is that I'm only 23 and every time I attempt to talk to some one (ANYONE) about it all I get are the "It will happen when its time" or the "Your too young to be worrying about that" Its truly is like daggers. Its almost makes me feel like I really am too young. Too young and crazy to be attempting to bring a child into the world. I really just wanted to thank you for letting me have some hope back. This is my journey and no one can dictate it other than me and the man, and that there are others out there dealing with similar things. First dose of Clomid starts next month. *fingers crossed* Reply An additional twist to those daggers is that these comments almost always come from people who have the kids they want, or who don't want kids. Annoying as all hell is hearing "You're too young" from people who had kids younger and think they were old enough. About 10% of women in the US have trouble conceiving, and about the same number of men. Fertility needs to stop being something we're expected to keep to ourselves like a shameful, lonely secret. Reply Thank you for sharing your story so openly. I haven't started trying to have kids yet & probably won't for at least another year, but I've known people who have dealt with infertility & know there's a possibility I may face it w/my fiance. I remember how my friends all had to deal with multiple people suggesting there was a simple fix & feeling that there was something wrong with them. It's so helpful & encouraging to read your real story & all of the supportive messages here. Reply As a childfree gal, I really appreciated this chance to see how it feels for women who really want to have kids, but have so many things blocking them. Thank you for sharing your story – I found myself tearing up as I read, simply moved by how powerful your emotions were and still are. We need mommies like you. 1 agrees Reply Thank you. Just, thank you. Reply I second what you say Lilac. While I am not necessarily "child-free", my husband and I have always said if we have infertility problems we will just not have kids. Neither of us have a huge emotional need to have kids. We want one, but I don't have that thing where I was meant to be a mom. However, I was super lucky I read Ariel's story and watched Keiko's video when I did. The same month it was posted I had a friend call me up and ask me to donate eggs to her because she was told this would be the only way to get pregnant. I don't know if I would have been as compassionate as I was not because I am a naturally rude person or anything lol, but because I just didn't "get it" until I read this story. I think I would have said a lot of the wrong things in my attempt to be supportive. Because I read the story I was able to listen to her fertility problems and instead of offering her piece of advice after piece of advice, I was able to just say, "You know what, that absolutely sucks. You don't deserve to have to be going through this and I am sorry that you are" Reply Thank you for sharing this. Between your post and the video, I'm sitting on the sofa, in tears, with a very confused boy at the other end! My mum had seven miscarriages between my brother and myself due to a translocated chromosone in both her and my dad. I have the same translocation and since the genetic counselling at 16 (yes, seriously!), it's sat like a black cloud over my head waiting for the first strike. (I am incredibly lucky to be covered by the NHS should I need it.) At the beginning of this year, I had my first miscarriage- it would have been a happy accident had it come to fruition. I couldn't tell my mum as I dreaded how low it would make her- even now with two adult children, everytime she hears about a miscarriage, I can still see that hollow pain behind her eyes that I remember as a little girl. That was incredibly difficult as she is my closest confidante apart from P. It doesn't help that the urge is starting to kick in (similar to yours, Ariel- my mum had me at 28, my nan had her at 28… I have four months til that birthday!) and that I'm getting that nag from friends and family- why put the inevitable off? We're not trying at the moment and in fact, I'm terrified of starting to think about it as what if it carries on in the way it commenced? As one of the children in my class remarked today, "It's all a bit pants, isn't it?" 'Spose I've always got them! Enjoy every minute of your families, everyone. In whatever shape they come in. Reply Thank you for posting this Ariel. I had a bad miscarriage about three years ago (two months in)- It was bad enough to almost kill me…which has led to…well… we are trying every now and then but- it's been about as successful as trying to hold onto a wet soap bar while being oiled up with flying monkeys attacking. But with this I feel…more informed. Maybe better better but because now I know that there are more people who hurt a hurt that can't be easily healed I feel… sadder? But also I feel horrible because I never wanted children until now, and now it seems more and more like I can't. But hearing others stories, and successes against the odds- it puts a ray of hope in there. Thank you. Reply i continually hope that as women, we grow in our awareness of the multitude of pregnancy-related issues we may have. so that we may be sensitive to the "baby nag" around one another. "why aren't you guys having kids yet?!" is incredibly painful for someone to hear, if they've secretly had a recent miscarriage or are going through a period of infertility. Reply Ariel, this post got me quite emotional. In the tradition of women in my family, I became pregnant accidentally at the ripe age of 20. At 27 however, after watching a relative follow a a path of trying to conveice- first natural, then herbal/chinese medicine, then assisted insemination and finally very reluctantly IVF, several times with no success, all with the clock ticking loudly, I offered my eggs up for use. Thankfully, after a couple of tries this was a success and she now has a 2 year old 'apple of her eye'. I cannot relate personally to the babycrack you speak of- my experience was so opposite to yearning and trying and planning, more like freaking out and feeling completely unprepared, but I am glad that I was able to help someone at their worst case scenario, as it ended in their best case scenario eventually. Reply Going to hug my son extra tight when he gets up from his nap. I took a different final route to motherhood(adoption instead of IVF) but the rest of my story runs close to yours Ariel. So glad our paths finally lead to babies, regardless of how we got there. Reply Thank you thank you thank you! I've spent an agonising two years going through all these moments that you and Keiko have shared with us. My husband and I have unexplained infertility and when things finally worked (after much acupuncture and a hysterosalpingogram) we lost a baby conceived naturally just a few months ago. I've started up a blog about infertility for Welsh speakers as I feel we're missing a platform to discuss these things in our language, but in the meantime, places like Offbeat Mama are a great help. This is such a private thing, as you say, but then again, I'm struggling with it having to be "secret" as well. I'm sending lots of strength to everyone who identifies with what's being discussed here. Helen x Reply I first commented on this post in May, now after a series of tests we've just discovered that my husbands sperm count is too low to conceive naturally and the urologist and even my fertility naturopath (who's book contains lots of success stories about increasing sperm count through diet, herbs and vitamin supplements) have recommended IVF. So I've returned to your blog post and now facing this big, scary, medical procedure your post has brought me comfort once again. Thankyou! Would love to read more IVF entries by normal offbeat people and not by people who can't speak without crazy abbreviations! 2 agree Reply I too have just returned to read this, as i find myself still waiting, and waiting and waiting on NHS (UK) fertility treatment. I have been diagnosed with PCOS, and blocked tubes, and i'm overweight so must loose some before i'll be entitled to treatment. no pressure……. Struggling to stay positive at the moment, and everyone seems to know better than me about what i need to do…. This article and the comments provide support and positivity. Thank you. Any guides to conception support groups who aren't insane, would be most welcomed! Reply Jen, while we're doing IVF too, I'd love to hear more about increasing sperm count… currently my husband is on Clomid, but anything would help. Can you point me toward your naturopath's book? Reply Thanks so much for sharing your story. I know this must have been tough for you. I am getting married in a few short weeks and we plan on officially "trying" in March. I have been freaking out about infertility for some time now. I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis when I was 22 and have had 5 surgeries already. I turned 30 this year and the thought of infertility has me crying everyday. So again thank you for sharing. I feel like I know you already through all the posts from offbeat bride and knowing someone else out there has gone through it all and came out with a beautiful child makes me feel better. Reply I cried for almost an hour after watching that video. I've been trying to get pregnant for over 2 years now and starting to lose hope. Reply I'm so sorry, Krista. Love to you. Reply Thank you for sharing your story! I too struggled with some fertility issues. I was fortunate to not have to go so far as IVF, but the time trying to conceive was a difficult and lonely time. You described this so perfectly and at times felt like I was reading my own words. Reply I'm crying hysterically siting in my living room with my best friend at quarter to midnight on a Sunday night. My brand new husband is upstairs about to go to bed and I'm a wreck down here reading your story and ultimately terrified for my next doctor's visit. I have had cervical cancer and am severely compromised as far as my paper this cervix goes. I have endometriosis and just got finished terrifying myself with all of those horror stories from other sites. I haven't gone in for the laproscopy yet, that's what the next appointment is for. I have always dreamed of having lots of babies, and in ALL family lines, I'm in genealogical order to have TRIPLETS! Nothing could make me happier or more upset. Endometriosis can cause infertility, or at the least problems, and obviously so can cervical cancer. I want babies so badly and I want to have them naturally. I strongly believe in having a natural childbirth with no pain medicine. I want to do it REAL in my opinion. But reading all this is really reminding me that it probably won't happen at all, let alone real. Ariel, thank you so much for our story. I just want to know how in the world you mentally got from one place to another to allow you to say "okay" to IVF. I'm not to that point yet, but Lord help me if I ever have to face that. As much of a wreck as I am now, I can only imagine what I'd be then. Reply Since it looks like people are still reading this post, I've got some resources that I hope will be helpful. It took a while to gather then, so I'm happy to save others the trouble I don't feel comfortable posting our entire story here, but from the types of books I'm going to suggest, I'm sure you can figure it out. If you want someone to talk to, Ariel knows how to find me. I am happy to talk to anyone. I know how hard it can be to deal with this stuff in private or try to find someone in your same situation to talk through next steps. This is really tough stuff. I too have been a pin cushion and we are making some difficult decisions, but so far, coming out just fine. The best thing we can do for ourselves, when we're ready, is be open and talk about it — it's the only way to normalize the situation and bring our confidence back up. Here are some resources that I hope will help: This Kiwi man, Ken Daniels, is the leading researcher on donor insemination families in the world. His book is fabulous: "Building a Family With Donor Insemination" http://www.amazon.com/Building-Family-Assistance-Donor-Insemination/dp/0864694717/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284556631&sr=8-1 Donor Conception Network: http://www.donor-conception-network.org/ Also, on the Donor Conception Network, there are resources for talking to children that you can download for free. They are called "Telling and Talking" http://www.donor-conception-network.org/telltalkpubs.htm Another Book "Helping The Stork": http://www.amazon.com/Helping-Stork-Choices-Challenges-Insemination/dp/002861917X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284557276&sr=1-1 Resolve.org is a great organization and you can probably find a local support group for free, though lots of times they are very female infertility focused b/c women seem to talk about it more. This link is to their resources on talking to friends and family: http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/ Reply Thanks Dana x Reply Such a great website, sharing of life experiences and most of all the video that resonates so much with me. There are days when it can feel like you are the only one in the world who is affected by this – women are just not honest enough in talking openly about this subject, it's almost as if we feel we have failed ourselves, when it's not the case at all. Very inpiring and comforting at the same time Reply You did good, Ariel; you really did. You kept going, and you guys kept your relationship strong. It'll be five years in February since our daughter was born. She was conceived through IUI with donor sperm–both my husband and I were labeled "sub-fertile," and the emotional pain of that was intense. I know exactly what you mean when you say you felt betrayed by your body. It hurts like crazy to feel like you simply can't do the one thing you should be so good at. Things like news stories about abused children tear you apart, friends inadvertently cut you deeply, and every day something happens to make you feel a little bit less human. It's a terrible struggle, and the best thing any of us can do to keep it from hurting someone else is to bring our stories out into the open. If we socially normalize the infertility struggle, we'll help others understand it and accept their own problems. 1 agrees Reply My fiance and I have basically resigned ourselves to IVF- multiple cancer treatments seem to have left him infertile, but fortunately he was able to bank samples before his treatments began. My deepest fear is that something will be wrong with me too, and we'll have another strike against us. Thank you for sharing Ariel, that was very powerful. Reply Thank you Ariel for posting this. I often feel I have to out myself. I"m choosy due to the comments all here have mentioned. But ladies let me give you a little hope. I'm 45. Got married in an off beat wedding in Aug. And I"m now 5.4 weeks pregnant for the 3rd time. No official births yet. I do call my miscarriages births as to me they are my children. Penelope and Cassidy. My girls. And this is hard as I don't get "Happy Mothers day!" My hubby and I celebrate each other on those days. I've done the IUI about a year ago with no go. We got pg the 2nd time just after the honeymoon. Ok maybe the relaxing can help. But no go. And now I wait to see if this one will take. Finally found a dr who said "well at least you can get pregnant!" instead of being brushed aside because of my age. He really helped by saying that. So I've done ALOT of research (loved the video!), had some outside tests done and I"m borderline for all sorts of things. Not enough to do much about. But the doc I liked is sending me to a reproductive endocrinologist who is giving me the things he can to help. I want to let folks know that don't have any physical things to deal with, to check for immunological issues. I recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Your-Body-Baby-Friendly-Unexplained-Infertility/dp/0978507800/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292229265&sr=1-1 It really gave me hope. We can not afford IVF or adoption. So ah-natural is all we can hope for. I feel like I'm rambling, my story is full, but I want to offer hope for those it might help and I want to reach out to my "sisters" dealing with this . I agree with Keiko, how do we not sole define ourselves by this. It is part of our histories that need to be held, respected and integrated. Much love to you all and thank you for writing and filming your stories! Andrea (pregnant and hopeful at 45!) Reply Thank you for this…my struggle didn't end as happily (I got the link thru OBB) but its nice to know that many people go through it and survive….with or without children. Reply Thank you so much for sharing this. I just found out yesterday that after having surgery similar to yours (there is a mass growing on my right fallopian tube, and they may need to remove the tube–possibly on both sides), there is a good chance that I will not be able to have children. Not for sure, but still…I'm only 23 years old, and I'm getting married in August. It's a tough thing to hear so long before I intend to have kids. And I also really do not believe in having IVF, but if it's the only option besides adopting…and it's what my fiance wants…anyway, I'm not really there yet, but it's nice to hear from someone else with similar beliefs in a similar situation, so thank you so much for sharing! Reply Thank you for sharing. Keiko's movie got me a bit misty-eyed. We've never tried to have kids, so IDK our status [here via OBB], but definitely have friends who have faced this struggle. One couple did IVF and have a lovely child. One lady I shared this link with, had this struggle 25-30 years ago, and got her one miracle child after letting go of destructive tendencies, and accepting that they may not have kids. [But of course that's tough to hear if you've tried all that!] She also mentioned how there were no support groups back then. Thank goodness for the interwebs, eh? ;p Reply Thanks so much for sharing this. I have received similar shocking news about my physiology that have shaken me. I was diagnosed with a unicornuate uterus about a month ago. I have just one fallopian tube and only 1/2 of a uterus. We tried our first IUI last week…so I am just beginning. I have heard about the Microsoft infertility benefit. I wish more employers would consider adding this to their coverage. I don't have infertility benefits, but I thankfully have a good job so I can pay for the stuff I have done so far. As far as paying for IVF, I have no idea how we would pay for that if that is where we need to go. Thanks for sharing the video. Reply Ariel, this was a fantastic piece of writing. Just wanted to say that, and thank you for writing it. Reply So I'm not trying to get pregnant, but I know a friend of mine who is. She has been trying for years, but she simply doesn't ovulate. They had her on those crazy fertility meds, but they made her -insane-. She would have fantasies about kidnapping other peoples children in the grocery store, and even blacked out once and tried to push her husband down the stairs. When she went off of them, they just tried to relax and go with the flow like you did, and it finally worked a few months ago. But. She miscarried the baby. Reading your article and talking to her, I feel so much for anyone who has had trouble with infertility. Best of luck to everyone. My aunt and uncle also had issue with infertility, but once they took my sister and I in, she became pregnant less than two months later. Maybe for some people kids are infectious. Reply Gah! Man did I need this read. Someone recommended your write up and it is one of the best of it's kind I have read to date! I am 2 years into the infertility process and feeling like crap warmed over. I am also in desperate need of a therapy dog, but we resist the urge because we are not home often enough. Ugh. Saving up money for the dreaded IVF, dealing with a nosey and critical MIL, dealing with an indifferent mother who thinks I shouldn't have a baby cause she doesn't like kids, dealing with a husband who is anti-adoption, and my own body who just won't cooperate. Thanks for this share. Really, I needed this. 1 agrees Reply Ariel It took me a while to read this post, but finally devoted the time to do so as my husband and I now know that IVF is the only option if we want to get pregnant. We are dealing with unexplained male infertility factor and were blessed with a progressive doctor who suggested we run all the tests after only 6 months of trying. We're now on month 10, after 2 cycles of IUI and I have my first appointment at the IVF clinic next Monday. I never expected the heartbreak I've endured during this process and try so hard not to feel envy when I see pregnant women, newborns and toddlers. But I'm also reminding myself that I don't know their story. I hope that this post encourages others to talk about their journey, and that people start wising up about asking married couples "no kids yet?"and that infertility isn't such a hush hush subject in the years to come. Can I ask how/what you decided about the dual embryo thing? Reply Beautifully written!!! I am 31 and newly pregnant (10 wks) with my first baby through my first round of IVF, after dealing with infertility for 3 yrs. We couldn't be happier, never imagined it could happen, and it did!! Nobody can imagine what a struggle infertility is, until you are smack dab in the middle of it! Thank you Reply Watching this video, it resonates with me, and many of the questions asked are ones which I have asked myself previously. Even though we are only six months into our conceiving journey, I am starting to feel increasingly unsure whether we will ever be able to have children. This video has helped me write on my blog and share it with some of my friends to let them know what I'm going through. Reply My husband and I have been trying for about 18 months now and we still have no baby. I don't want to do IVF or anything like that. I'd like to stay natural if I can. Does anyone one know how you can increase your fertility or chances of conceiving? Reply Fertility is a complex beast, and the internet is NOT your friend when it comes to getting reliable advice about it — you'll find a lot of misinformation. I'd suggest you talk with a naturopath. Reply It's funny, back when I first read this in 2010 I still had hope and we (my husband and I) were only a few months into trying to conceive. Now…. in 2012…. it seems more likely that… we may not be able to as we seem to not be able to conceive "naturally" or "accidentally" some friends and family. But I don't think that I can go through IVF…. I don't have that sort of strength. Even if I desperately wanted to. I still hope in the back of my mind but I think everyone knows by now that it's a slim chance. My mom stops getting excited when I call and has stopped asking about grandchildren. We are slowly delving into other methods, speaking in hushed tones to our doctors, and deeply deeply wishing that it was easier- it's a hard road to be walking. Sadly it's also one that feels like it offers so little in the way of support. It's difficult to realize and reaching out to let people know you hurt is nearly impossible with something that feels so private. I come back to this post every now and then to read it and the other stories here. It sort of re-sparks some of that hope- and I wanted to say thank you for having ever posted it. It seems silly but it's actually one of the things that has kept me hoping this long. Fingers Crossed. T. 1 agrees Reply Thank you for posting this. I come from a family of women who have a history of trouble conceiving, and I'm terrified I will face the same trouble. I've watched friends go through infertility and it's heartbreaking. I'm getting married in just over a month and I've been wanting to try for the past couple of months but my partner wants to wait until we're insured again in case it happens. I've read this post twice, and both times it's made me weep. Thank you for sharing so we can see we're not alone in this. xo Reply Wow, thank you so much for posting this. I struggled with infertility for 5 years and you just reiterated exactly the way I felt. It killed me every time I heard about someone else getting pregnant. I'm convinced I was clinicly depressed. My life revolved around trying to have a baby. I couldn't even handle going to church one Mothers day b/c of all the new moms cooing over their new babies and people asking me when was it going to be my turn. I would always be vague when I was asked and say we weren't ready. Inside I wanted to punch them in the face for being so insensitive! I like your comment though and wish I just came out and said it's just not going as planned. At least it would have shut them up. Like it's been years, do you think if I could, I would have by now?? I finally got to the point where I was ready for IVF. I'm happy to say it worked (I was completely shocked!) and I have a beautiful boy who is now 19 months. There are lots of people out there going through this and its so good to see the honesty here in your post about how people really feel when they are in the middle of it. I wish I found this a few years ago. Thanks again. Reply Read more comments 1 2 › Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Participate in this conversation via email No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.