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Personal Story: Coming out of the Infertility Closet

By Marie Rausch
Published in Resolve for the journey and beyond, Spring 2014 issue

Ever since I can remember I've wanted to be a mother, and like many little girls, I meticulously played with my baby dolls dreaming of the day that doll would become my actual baby. I had it all planned out. I’d be married by 23 and have two beautiful children with the love of my life by 25. Well, as we all know, life doesn't always go according to plan.

On our first date, my husband and I talked about how important family and children were to us. Throughout the years of dating and when we were excitingly planning our wedding, we always talked about how many children we would have, always going back and forth between two and three. After we got married, we couldn’t wait to start our family and we assumed we would be like most of our family and friends around us and we would get pregnant without any effort. After all, as women we're told our whole lives our bodies are meant to reproduce.

After over a year of trying on our own, we had to face our fears that something was wrong. As every birth announcement, baby shower and arrival we celebrated the lives that others brought into ours, we silently grieved as we continued to only see one pink line. After eight months of doctor appointments, countless tests including what we now know to be a misread HSG, six months of Clomid, a laparoscopy and a hysteroscopy, we found out the reason we weren’t getting pregnant. I was born with only my left ovary which was high in my pelvis and did not descend to my abnormally formed left fallopian tube and my right ovary and fallopian tube sadly never developed. I had all the rights parts for us to have a child that had my husband’s beautiful blue eyes and my pouty lips, but our only option to conceive them would be through IVF. We were devastated, as we knew our insurance did not cover infertility. We didn’t live in a state that mandated any coverage, and the start as well as expansion of our family would now depend on money.

When we first heard about a video contest to win a donated IVF cycle, it marked over three years since we had been trying to bring our little one into our lives, and we thought this could be the answer to our prayers by taking away a large chunk of the financial burden that comes with IVF. We talked about what entering the contest would mean, as up until this point the only people who knew of our struggles were our immediate family and a few close friends. I had struggled with having anyone know for a long time, because I was so embarrassed by what I viewed to be my inadequacy as a woman. But for the last year I had been working on accepting and coping with my anatomy and our diagnosis, and I finally felt like I was in a good place. But were we ready to go so public, not only to our entire family and friends in hopes of them voting for our video, but also to complete strangers? Were we ready for everyone to give us their usually not so helpful opinions and suggestions?

Ultimately, my husband left the decision to me and said we would do whatever I was comfortable with. I’ve always said I would do anything for my child, and this to me has always included bringing them into the world… I decided we were doing it! When I submitted our video, my emotions were all over the board, but nothing compared to the emotions I felt once the voting had officially begun and I posted our “coming out” story on social media with a link to our video.

We didn’t expect what happened next and were honestly blown away with the amount of love and support we received, especially the number of people that not only shared our story for others to vote, but also messaged us privately about their struggles. We tried to be prepared the best we could, but we did also receive some not so helpful comments, suggestions, and opinions. Sometimes I think people just don’t know what to say and instead of saying “I’m sorry you’re going through this, you’re in my thoughts and prayers,” they try to “fix it,” because a friend of a friend of a friend went through the “same” thing. I think we may have heard them all from the most uneducated and ignorant to the most ridiculous:

  • Have you thought about adoption? I bet as soon as you adopt you’d get pregnant!
  • Have you considered foster care? Not only would you be able to help children that need homes, but you would also get paid doing it!
  • The medications with IVF are so unhealthy, are you sure it’s really worth it? You'd be putting yourself and the baby at risk!
  • Have you tried acupuncture and natural supplements? Those worked for us when we didn’t get pregnant after the first month or two.
  • You’re so lucky you’re not pregnant, I’m so sick of _ (fill in the blank) _.
  • I can’t wait to not be pregnant anymore; I don’t see why anyone ever loves being pregnant or you even want to do this, I’m never going through this again.
  • You should just take my kids for a day, that’ll change your mind ever wanting kids!
  • Instead of using a surrogate and still having to pay for IVF, why don’t you just let your husband impregnate a woman and then that would be your baby?

Even though my feelings still get hurt from time to time by others comments, opinions and suggestions I don’t regret us “coming out of the infertility closet” or entering the contest. It’s actually really nice to not have to worry… do they know, if so how much do they know, what if they blindside me with a question, should I lie or tell them the truth?

We unfortunately did not win the donated cycle. And although we were disappointed, I’m one who would have always wondered “what if” we would have entered, if we wouldn’t have. And I would rather put myself out there for the chance of having our miracle in our arms than look back and regret never even trying. This was just a part of our journey to them, and I hope that when the day comes and we're able to show the video to them, they'll see how much their Mommy and Daddy wanted and loved them way before they were born.

What’s helped me most throughout our entire journey is being able to talk with women who understand and have been through it, regardless of where they are in their journey. I am forever grateful that now not only do I have the resources and support of RESOLVE and the Inspire Community, but I also have a list of women who I would have never known about if we never “came out.” Remember, you are never alone!

Marie Rausch lives in Cheney, KS, with her husband Dustin and their golden retriever Koda. Through her infertility journey she has developed a passion to help others in the infertility community. Marie is a new RESOLVE Advocate for the State of Kansas and is looking forward to making a difference. Marie and Dustin are hoping to do their first IVF cycle sometime this year.