I 'survived' infertility. But not before it shaped my perspective on everything. (2024)

Amy HanelineUSA TODAY

"One day you will tell your story of how you've overcome what you're going through now, and it will become part of someone else's survival guide." –Brené Brown

I am now, very luckily a mom to two beautiful little girls. And if you ran into my family at a restaurant, you would not look at us and see the painful and rewarding journey that brought us together.

It took nearly 10 years, multiple surgeries, countless tests and procedures, hundreds of shots and so much heartbreak along the way to build our little unit.

Sunday is National Infertility Survival Day, which is purposefully recognized on the Sunday before Mother’s Day – a day that can be painful for those struggling to grow their families. The day is meant to acknowledge those fighting infertility and celebrate their wins, both big and small.

Most people’s battle wounds aren’t visible. We "survived" infertility, but not before it made its mark on us forever.

We are 1 in 100

My family’s struggles with fertility and pregnancy loss began in 2015 when my husband and I decided to start trying for kids. I quickly became pregnant, but unfortunately it ended in miscarriage.

Miscarriages are common, but nonetheless heartbreaking. Miscarriages, defined as the sudden loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week, occur in about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies, according to the Mayo Clinic, but the number is likely higher.

We tried again and I became pregnant again shortly after. In September 2016, we welcomed our silly and smart daughter. She is now 7.

At that point, we didn’t think we would be the roughly 1 in 6 worldwide affected by infertility or the about 1 in 100 pregnant people who have repeat miscarriages.

But waiting in the darkness was an evil monster of infertility: secondary infertility, a term used for someone who is unable to get pregnant or carry a baby term after previously giving birth.

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Trying for baby No. 2

In 2018, we began trying to add another member to our family. Again, I quickly became pregnant, but again, the pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

My OGBYN called it a fluke and we tried again. Another miscarriage.

After that, my doctor recommended a pregnancy loss panel. Through that we discovered I had a couple genetic mutations, MTHFR and Factor V Leiden, both which can impact pregnancies and blood flow. Still, our case was mostly categorized as “unexplained.”

With those test results, we added a few medications into our treatment plan and tried again.

Another pregnancy. Another loss.

At that point, my doctor referred us to a fertility specialist.

A chance with IVF

It was in 2020, amid a global pandemic, that we decided to pursue in-vitro fertilization, the medical procedure that combines eggs and sperm in a lab dish before transferring the fertilized eggs into the uterus. Thanks to fertility insurance offered through my company, we were able to undergo the process. Without insurance, IVF can cost upwards of $25,000, which we not have been able to afford.

We hoped IVF would increase our odds of success, but what we didn’t realize at the time, which later became very clear, is that IVF offers only a chance at pregnancy and a live birth. Nothing was guaranteed.

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Our journey with IVF was a roller coaster of ups and downs. We ended up with four healthy embryos that we froze for later transfers.

Doctors say it can take patients three embryos to equal one live birth. For us it took all four.

Our first transfer resulted in an empty sac pregnancy. Our second transfer worked, but it also ended in miscarriage. We named that baby, a boy, Jack. He made it to a little over 9 weeks and we got to hear his heartbeat a few times before he left us. We miss him.

Our third transfer was a biochemical pregnancy.

The little embryo that could

It all came down to our last little frozen embryo. At that point, we switched doctors and had a “throw everything at it” plan.

In December 2022, we transferred that last embryo. This was it. If it didn’t work, we would end our IVF journey and move on as a perfect family of three.

It worked.

Week by week, we held our breath waiting to hear baby’s heartbeat. My belly started to swell but I still didn’t believe it. I felt her little kicks and then became obsessed with counting them, wondering if she was OK. We never made a pregnancy announcement and we barely set up a nursery. We just held our breath and prayed she would make it.

On August 7, 2023, our fiery, feisty second daughter came into this world. She was really, really here. She is now 9 months old.

You are not alone

Survivors of infertility all look different.

Some are parents, some are not. Some share their stories, while others sneak away into the bathroom for a good cry in private.

There are a lot of us out there. And we don’t have the choice but to survive – and thrive – throughout the process.

I would never wish this evil on anyone, but I am grateful for the perspective I gained from our infertility journey. I have more empathy. I have more patience. I have more faith.

And mostly, I have an experience that can help others.

I "survived" infertility and I am soaking up this beautiful life with my family. But you’ll still find me in the trenches with my fellow warriors, holding their hands, crying, and fighting the unfair battle.

You are not alone. We got this.

Amy Haneline is a trending editor with USA TODAY. You can reach her at amy.haneline@usatoday.com or on Instagram at @amybhaneline.

I 'survived' infertility. But not before it shaped my perspective on everything. (2024)


I 'survived' infertility. But not before it shaped my perspective on everything.? ›

I 'survived' infertility. But not before it shaped my perspective on everything. I am now, very luckily a mom to two beautiful little girls. And if you ran into my family at a restaurant, you would not look at us and see the painful and rewarding journey that brought us together.

Do you ever get over infertility? ›

People experience infertility cycles with both hope and loss. This brings high- highs and low- lows. The unique part of the infertility process is that the losses are compounding. Month after month, cycle after cycle, treatment after treatment, the losses compound and the grief can expand.

How to mentally cope with infertility? ›

Try to keep your stress level down by setting time aside for healthy activities that are enjoyable and relaxing, like meditation, reading, exercising, or taking walks. Leaning on friends, family, partners, therapists, and support groups can also be really helpful when you're struggling with infertility.

Is infertility trauma? ›

The experience of infertility and in vitro fertilization causes reproductive trauma. Infertility has an impact on relationships, emotional wellbeing, and sex life.

What are the emotions of infertility? ›

The inability to reproduce naturally can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life.

How many years is considered infertility? ›

In general, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. Because fertility in women is known to decline steadily with age, some providers evaluate and treat women aged 35 years or older after 6 months of unprotected sex.

Can infertility be reversible? ›

Infertility Reversal in Women and in Men

Surgery can help reverse infertility in women by repairing blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, treating endometriosis, and removing uterine polyps or fibroids. Surgery can treat enlargement of a vein the scrotum, which is a common cause of infertility in men.

How do I stop obsessing over infertility? ›

8 Suggestions for Coping with the Stress of Infertility
  1. Give yourself a mental health check-up. Look for the three “D” s. ...
  2. Focus on the present. ...
  3. Practice self-care. ...
  4. Talk to yourself. ...
  5. Talk to others. ...
  6. Focus on your work. ...
  7. Try cognitive restructuring. ...
  8. Check for Depression.
May 15, 2023

How can I enjoy life with infertility? ›

How to find happiness during your Infertility journey
  1. Don't feel bad for feeling bad. ...
  2. Express yourself. ...
  3. Create a support circle. ...
  4. Find a fertility clinic that supports you. ...
  5. Don't compare your journey with that of other people.

What is the fear of being infertile called? ›

Other namesTocophobia, maieusiophobia, parturiphobia
Frequency~14% of women

Is infertility a punishment? ›

The stories of infertile women in the Bible are lifted to emphasise that God alone is in charge of who can conceive, when and how they can conceive. So it is not related to God's punishment for the husband and wife couple (Susanta 2020).

Is infertility a form of grief? ›

Infertility grief is an emotional response triggered by the inability to conceive or sustain a pregnancy. The grief is mainly focused on the loss of potential future experiences and milestones in parenting and family life. Similar to other types of grief, it involves a range of emotions, such as anger and sadness.

Why am I so angry about infertility? ›

At some time during the infertility evaluation and treatment, couples may feel intense anger. They may argue that life has treated them unfairly and that their infertility is unjust. They may become intensely angry when they see individuals, whom they believe undeserving, achieve a pregnancy with little or no effort.

Is infertility spiritual? ›

Infertility can be the cause for a spiritual crisis among some couples. Those who endure this involuntary childlessness condition frequently experience contradictory feelings and needs.

Why is infertility embarrassing? ›

When a man or woman finds out that they are infertile, shame is a common and normal reaction. Infertile people will often share that they feel broken or defective. Women and some men who experience pregnancy loss – especially repeated losses – have similar reactions.

Why is infertility a life crisis? ›

A couple with infertility often faces heartbreak, multiple decisions, financial and emotional stress and misunderstanding from those persons closest to them. Their heartbreak comes from realizing that they, unlike their peers, are not simply going to make love and end up with a baby within a year or year and a half.

Can infertility be cured permanently? ›

Can infertility be cured? Yes, but it depends on the cause. In 85% to 90% of cases, lifestyle modification, medication, ART or surgery can treat infertility and allow a person to conceive.

Can infertility be overcome? ›

Some causes of infertility can't be corrected. If pregnancy doesn't happen after a year of unprotected sex, couples often can still become pregnant through infertility treatments called assisted reproductive technology. But treatment can involve big financial, physical, emotional and time commitments.

Is infertility permanent? ›

Even if the sem*n test shows low sperm numbers or no sperm, it may not mean you are permanently infertile. It may just show there's a problem with the growth or delivery of sperm. More testing may be needed. Even if no sperm are seen on a sem*n analysis, then treatment may be possible.

Can infertility fix itself? ›

In some cases, the cause of infertility is never found. A combination of several minor factors in both partners could cause unexplained fertility problems. Although it's frustrating to get no specific answer, this problem can correct itself with time. But you shouldn't delay treatment for infertility.


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