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Personal Story: Infertility Is Not Failure

By Holly Gregg
Published in Resolve for the journey and beyond, Winter 2012

If I try really hard, I can remember what it was like before the reality of infertility changed my life. I remember when I still believed that getting pregnant was just going to happen when I was ready. One day I would realize I was "late" and pee on a stick and plan some sneaky cute way to surprise my husband with the good news that he was going to be a daddy. The "how I found out" story among new moms is a lot like the "how he proposed" story among new brides, and I always feel a little stab of sadness and jealousy when those stories are being swapped, especially when it's my turn and my story is met with  obvious discomfort. I always thought my story would be a simple one, but the months came and went and no good news ever came with them. We did everything we could for nearly three years until finally, we were faced with the reality that IVF was our only hope.

That day was devastating. We cried and mourned the loss of conceiving a child the way we always dreamed we would. It's often hard for most people to understand, but there is such loss there and I still feel it with every "naturally" conceived pregnancy announcement. It was crushing to know that my body couldn't do something I had always just assumed it would. I felt betrayed by my body, like less of a woman for being unable to do what it was designed to do. And I couldn't believe I was really here, really in this place. We were at the end of the line in options to having a biological child.

Ultimately, we decided that IVF was the right choice for us. And as soon as the decision was made and the process began, I felt relief.  Sure, there were blood draws, ultrasounds and needles… lots and lots of needles. It certainly wasn't easy. But it felt like we were finally doing something other than wandering blindly hoping for success. There were tangible progressions, follicle counts and hormone levels to hold on to. I still had a long journey ahead of me, but I finally felt that I knew where I was going, and all roads led to motherhood.

I was one of the lucky ones it worked for, and I am blessed to have my precious daughter through the wonders of frozen embryo transfer. It wasn't an easy road, but it was a worthwhile one. Not only did the technology of IVF and FET make my dream of motherhood come true, it forced me to grow, to expand. I know so much more about the way my body works. And I have met some of the most incredible people along the way. I will still always be a little wistful that I ever had to go through that growth, to learn everything I did. Ignorance is bliss in so many ways, and I am still a bit jealous of women who don't even know what a luteal phase is, let alone how long theirs is. But now that I do know, I couldn't dream of turning back. As challenging as this road has been, and although it will always be more demanding and emotional, I am forever grateful for how it has changed me and what it has given me.

There is an implication that IVF is a last resort to becoming a parent, as if you have failed if this is where you end up. I have seen it on people's faces and heard it in their voices. It is evident in their carefully chosen words about having to do something "like that." There is too much negativity, too much stigma and assumption about what leads people to here. There is too much fear and shame. I'd love to make infertility vanish so that no one ever has to know the pain and anguish of not being able to have a child, but as much as I wish it, I can't eradicate infertility. I can, however, speak up. I am proud of my experiences, I am grateful for what I endured. Even if I could go back and change it, I probably wouldn't. After all, it is thanks to IVF/FET that I am a mother today. I am not ashamed of how my daughter was conceived, and I will always make sure that she and the rest of the world knows it.

Holly Gregg began her blog, “Ready to be a Mom” in order to work through the pain and difficulties of her journey toward motherhood, and in doing so found an incredible community of support and advocacy to which she is honored to contribute. She continues to blog on issues facing the infertility community as well as her own personal experiences with parenting after infertility. Holly is the recipient of the RESOLVE 2012 Hope Award for Best Blog. Formerly working in the field of victim's rights, she is currently preparing for a Master's degree in the field of sociology in hopes to expand research, education and advocacy on the issues of involuntary childlessness and infertility. Gregg, her husband Chad, and their daughter Eliana live in Orange County, California.