Flipping Infertility the Bird

Pinnable image that reads “Dealing with Infertility.”

Are they natural?
Did you use fertility treatment?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question, I’d have myself a Mary Poppins to help me care for my three precious terrors, I mean toddlers. In the beginning, I resisted the urge to respond as I’d like to—What’s an unnatural baby? I thought they were reserved for science fiction. and I’ll tell you if we used fertility treatment if you tell me what position you conceived your child in.—and skirted the issue with a vague, “We’ve just been very blessed.” Eventually, I grew bolder and responded with the truth: “We used IVF.”

While most people tend to suspect infertility treatment with multiples, it’s not always a guarantee. We chose not to tell anyone about our struggles because we quite honestly felt it was no one’s business. And while we knew that we’d have plenty of sympathetic family and friends who’d support us, they wouldn’t be able to provide us the true support we needed—empathy. Infertility is a long and isolating road, and unless you’ve walked it yourself, you can only imagine what it’s like.

Every year, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association dedicates one week to specifically and very vocally raising awareness about infertility. I participated in 2015 by sharing on my now defunct blog Not Just a Triplet Mom. Because 12% of women are affected by infertility, I knew at least a handful of women who were walking the road I spent 29 months slogging through and was willing to bet that I had friends who knew someone limping along that same road. I wanted these women to know that, while they might feel so very alone, they are not.

1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility.
Statistic courtesy of RESOLVE.

This Is for the Women Who Struggle to Get Pregnant

This is for the women who are incredibly excited when they decide to start their family earlier than planned.

This is for the women who feel their excitement wane as 1 month passes, then 3 months, then 6, then 9.

This is for the women who watch as their best friends, coworkers, coworkers’ kids, church friends, relatives, social media friends, celebrities, and EVERYONE BUT THEM get pregnant and have kids.

This is for the women who throw and/or attend multiple baby showers with a smile on their face and an ache in their heart.

This is for the women who take their temperature before their feet hit the floor in the mornings, know the consistency of their cervical mucus like the back of their hand, and conduct mini chemistry labs in their bathrooms with OPKs.

This is for the women who feel like the world’s worst friend when they cry on the way home from a get-together in which a friend announces her pregnancy.

This is for the women who intentionally don’t keep in touch with good friends as well as they should because it’s too hard hearing about their kids.

This is for the women who block friends on social media because they just can’t take another pregnancy or baby picture post.

This is for the women who endure repeated comments and questions about when they’ll have kids with a smile and flippant remark while masking the ache in their heart and a desire to punch the Nosy Nellies in the face.

This is for the women who call their gynecologist at the 12-month mark with trembling hands and a pit of dread in their stomach.

Dealing with infertility. Box of medication and supplies for infertility treatment organized in bathroom.
The box of infertility meds and supplies I organized in my bathroom to make administration easier. Several meds are not pictured, as they had to be refrigerated.

This Is for the Women Who Undergo Infertility Treatment

This is for the women who undergo testing that shows no reason for their infertility.

This is for the women who meet with an RE, whose plan of treatment they hear in what feels like an out-of-body experience.

This is for the women who enter into a world that speaks in acronyms like ART, BFN, BFP, CD, DH, DPDT, ER, ET, FET, IUI, IVF, and TWW.

This is for the women who become accustomed to their private parts being not so private.

This is for the women who spend their lunch breaks with an ultrasound wand up their lady parts measuring uterine lining and thickness, follicle number, and follicle size.

This is for the women who lose sight of sex being for more than making babies.

This is for the women who have when to/when not to have sex dictated to them.

This is for the women who tell three different managers about the need for a flexible schedule at certain times of the month and cry every time they do so.

This is for the women who have a love-hate relationship with their phones on hCG test days.

This is for the women who endure the “I’m sorry, my dear …” phone call multiple times.

This is for the women who listen with a sinking stomach as their RE uses the three-letter word that will forever change their lives: IVF.

Protocol of medications for an FET through IVF.
The medication protocol for my last FET.

This Is for the Women Who Undergo IVF

This is for the women who enter into a world of stim phases and cycle days and betas.

This is for the women who join an online support group so they can talk with women who “get it.”

This is for the women who set up a medicine table in their bathroom to hold all their cycle meds and equipment.

This is for the women who spend 15 minutes on their first stim night practicing deep breathing as they work up the courage to inject the first needle.

This is for the women who reward their courage with a large bowl of ice cream and then cry themselves to sleep.

This is for the women who ride the fertility drug roller coaster that makes them want to cry hysterically one minute and kill the person who looks funny at them the next.

This is for the women who give up working out for a few weeks or months because they aren’t allowed to partake in strenuous exercise after a certain point in their stim phase.

This is for the women who adopt an attire of leggings and baggy shirts their entire stim phase to hide the fertility drug bloat.

This is for the women who look at the four needles on their bathroom vanity, turn to their bloated and bruised stomach, and think, Where the @#%$ am I supposed to inject those?

This is for the women who feel their butt cheeks clench automatically when the letters P, I, and O are uttered in succession.

This is for the women who stand outside work for 30 minutes after receiving the we’re-canceling-this-cycle call so their red face and puffy eyes won’t be so noticeable.

This is for the women who have to go through IVF to learn why they might be infertile.

This is for the women who endure multiple ERs.

This is for the women who go to work the day after an ER feeling like their ovaries are on fire.

This is for the women who experience the high of a fertilization report, followed by the low of embryo grading.

This is for the women who agonize over how many embryos to transfer.

This is for the women who schedule their ET with nervousness and anticipation.

This is for the women who cry over the embryo that dies in a cold IVF dish rather than inside their warm womb listening to their loving heartbeat.

This is for the women who spend 48 hours lying very still in bed, praying that just one embryo will stick.

This is for the women who follow a diet of only warm foods and lots of pineapple for two weeks.

This is for the women who try everything they can think of to distract themselves during their TWW.

This is for the women who cry themselves to sleep the night before their first beta because they’ve convinced themselves that they aren’t pregnant.

This is for the women who ask “Are you positive?” three times when the nurse calls with their BFP.

This is for the women who endure another TWW between their third beta and their first ultrasound.

Ultrasound picture of triplets. Sacs labeled A, B, and C.
Count ‘em—one, two, three. Triplets.

This Is for the Women Whose Infertility Ends with Multiples

This is for the women who crap their pants when they learn that someone upstairs heard prayers for three instead of one.

This is for the women who are afraid to complain of pregnancy symptoms for fear that doing so will make them seem ungrateful for their three tiny miracles.

This is for the women who live every day of their pregnancy terrified that everything will go horribly wrong.

This is for the women who look at their perfect babies—tiny, but perfect—through the NICU isolette portholes and think, Poor embryos my @$$.

This is for the TTC Sisterhood

This is for the women whose road to starting or completing their family looks everything and nothing like mine. You are not alone.

About Marcella Hines

Marcella Hines

Marcella wants to live in a world where she can escape to quiet rooms stacked high with books that come bundled with a brownie cookie dough DQ blizzard and cuddly purr monster. When she’s not finding creative ways to play with cars for the eleventy billionth time or shouting, “Undies! Pants! Sit! Pee!” at toddlers who have the attention span of a gnat, you can find her running to the beats of an audiobook/podcast or assisting writers in crafting their work through her editing business, A to Z Editing. Marcella likes talking about the day-to-day experience of raising triplets, like how to navigate toddler time and a park playdate with three toddlers in tow. Follow her running, English weenie-ing, and ice creaming on Instagram: @hineschica.

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