At times like these when I feel frustrated with infertility (IF), I find it encouraging to think about the people I know who have gone head to head with the IF beast and won the war to have a family.
While each person's specific battle is unique there is a common thread among us. In general they understand when I hurt because they've felt that hurt. They empathize with the frustration because they've had those same frustrations. They have been down this road before me and know the ups, downs, the hard days, the good days, and the struggle to stay hopeful. Reflecting on those stalwart parents who beat IF in one way or another gives me hope as a shining example that there is a happy ending. Some day, some how we can win.
One of my closest IF heroes is my sister in law, Shell, and brother in law Rob.
When Shell was younger she had to have surgery due to ovarian cysts and as a result was left with half an ovary. To complicate matters they also had male factor infertility. They applied for adoption but were denied due to their age (late 30's, early 40's). They explored all their options for having a family, and it came down to their best chance was invitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs and sperm. I was not a part of the family for this portion of their journey but I can imagine the days (weeks even) of heart felt contemplation that went into this final decision.
They scrimped and saved waiting for the time to come when they would move forward with the treatment. The result... my adorable, red headed firecracker of a nephew, Luke.
Since they had frozen embryos left over, when Luke was a year old they went through their second IVF procedure in hopes that they would be able to add to their family. The next big question was how many frozen embryos to transfer? There were many facets of this decision to consider and after much deliberation it was decided that three was the magical number. What a magical number it was too as all three successfully implanted.
34 weeks, and a healthy, fairly unremarkable pregnancy later, the triplets were born; 2 of them weighing in around 5 pounds and the littlest one at just over 3 pounds. They spent a little bit of time in the NICU but they have all done really well and are healthy beautiful babies.
I know that Shell and Rob's course of treatment does not fit everybody. The decision of IF treatment and assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a deeply personal choice that I understand is not for everyone. Never the less, it is amazing to me how after years of struggle, and probably a fair amount of frustration doubting if children would ever come to their family, they have been blessed with a full house. After all the tears and heartache they are now out numbered by children. Their cup, and their joy, is full and probably even over flowing some days. She is an example to me that while there are going to be dark days where it seems the end is nowhere in sight that we can not give up, we must keep going and continue forward. This might not be the path we originally envisioned, and it may not go according to the time frame we want but one day we will be blessed with the family we so deeply desire.