Friday, September 21, 2012

My Infertility Diagnosis


I've been meaning to write a post about the baby situation for a long time now.
So many people can relate and have struggled with this same issue and the silence that surrounds it can make the sorrow of infertility hurt even more....
So here's my story:


Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to be a mom.
Baby dolls went everywhere with me.
I didn't want a new bike for Christmas.
I wanted a new stroller and crib, for the baby doll that made real crying noises.
When I was 7 years old, I finally got a baby sister.
And another when I was 8.
I spent the next 12 years playing a huge part in raising them because both of my parents worked full time.
------------------------------
Then I got married.
Baby fever kicked into high gear. I had done everything right.
I waited to have sex, I was responsible.
I was married. My husband had a great job.
I had a decent job and was a full time college student on the way to graduating.
We were financially stable, had the best health insurance you could ask for, good dental insurance too. I had spent my whole life preparing for this future. I spent my whole life taking care of other people's kids; practicing. Dreaming about having my own one day.
-------------------------------
A few months of not preventing went by.
I felt like something was wrong.
Sometimes, we just know when something isn't right.
That awful feeling in the pit of our stomachs warns us.
I started to worry.
 It definitely should have happened already, right?
Everybody I knew got pregnant quickly after trying.
In a matter of days or weeks.
In fact, a lot of people get pregnant on accident without trying at all!
It happens everyday.

I wasn't that girl.
I wanted a baby. I was prepared for a baby. I could financially and emotionally take care of a baby.
So why weren't we celebrating our own pregnancy?
------------------------------
Six months went by.
Then I got a phone call.
My then sister-in-law was pregnant.
On accident.
A baby wasn't in the immediate future she had planned or thought about.
And yet there was a baby coming, without even trying or wanting or praying for it.
------------------------------
Something was wrong with me.
I should have conceived by now considering the circumstances.
I fell into a miserable trap of desperate hopelessness. 
I cried for a long time.
Weeks turned into months and we still didn't get pregnant. 
I cried to my husband.
I cried to my sister.
I cried to my best friend.
I cried alone.
I felt alone.
I felt the same bitter, solitude whenever I found out another person I knew was pregnant.
 Nobody listened. Everybody wanted to comfort me. To give me reasons, examples, give me faith.
I didn't want it. I wanted answers.
..............................
After a year of not getting pregnant the marriage dissolved.
I wanted somebody who was ready to plan and have a future with me.
Somebody who was done growing up.
 Because I wasn't that girl. I'm domestic. I like pajama pants, baking, and babies.
He wasn't that person.
I planned to move back home, stay in college, focus on me, stay single. 
I didn't need to be in love.
I didn't need to focus on a baby.
............................
Then I met the guy I would call my significant other for the next two years.
They always say you find it when you aren't looking.
I definitely hadn't been looking.
He wasn't in my plan.
And then, there he was.
And shortly after we fell in love, he wanted to get married and have kids.
A man who loved me and wanted to have a family with me?
It was everything I had wanted.
And it wasn't just the things he wanted, it was him.
We were good together. Happy.
People like to pretend that moving on is complicated. But when you meet the right person, it isn't. The past stops mattering and you just move on. You don't dwell on the past, you focus on the present and look forward to the future.
I had finally found that.
So we tried.
To have a baby.
We lived together.
He had a great job.
The military has amazing provisions for family members of active duty service members.
I got a great job I enjoyed as well. I was still working my way through college.
We made it through a military deployment.
We were together for a really long time.
............................
After a year and a half, we still hadn't gotten pregnant.
Not just a year and a half of not preventing, but of actively trying.
So I went to the doctors.
It was time to find answers.
............................
The next 3 months of my life were beyond emotional.
I was finally going to figure out what was wrong, that way we could fix it.
We would have a baby eventually.
We were meant to. We loved each other. We were ready.
The doctors would figure it out and fix it.
But it doesn't always work out that way.
............................
I had 9 viles of blood taken on 2 different days of the first month.
Monitoring my hormone levels. 
Different rules before each test day.
(Don't eat for 24 hours, come on the 3rd day of your cycle, don't drink for 12 hours, etc)
I was put back on the prenatal vitamins that made me feel nauseated. I had stopped taking them after a year of trying to conceive because what was the point? We obviously weren't getting pregnant.
Though may that be a testament to how ready I was.
I did not drink. I did not smoke. I ate well. I slept well. I was on prenatal vitamins.
For several years I lived like this.
 I was ready to be pregnant. I was prepared. No woman could have better prepared her body to be better fit for a baby before pregnancy.
 Blood tests came back within normal levels. That's strange. That was the number one suspect. 
But no, my hormones were okay.
............................
After the first month of medical testing, I got devastating news.
My baby sister was diagnosed with bicornuate uterus.
At 14 years old, she found out that she may never carry a baby to full term. She may never be a mother. She may miscarry every future baby she has. I could not imagine my world crashing down so young. Before she could even dream of being a mother, her dreams were being interrupted with a thousand statistics and a condition we had never heard of before.
She told me the day she found out.
She didn't want to talk about it.
She didn't want reassurance that she would one day have a healthy pregnancy and a baby.
She was too young to have to consider all of these things.
But she wanted me to know. It's a genetic uterine abnormality.
Immediately I felt a sense of relief. My heart broke for my baby sister.
But she wasn't going through this alone. 
We were going to go through it together.
I called my doctor that week and told her the news.
We scheduled two ultrasounds to confirm that I had the condition as well.
......................
Walking back into the ultrasound room, my nerves were getting the best of me.
I was led into the room by a lovely woman my age.
After the first ultrasound (non-invasive, on my tummy) she asked why I was there.
I told her what was going on.
She prepared me for the vaginal ultrasound. 
"Oh, that's cold! Wow, I was not prepared for that."
I laughed nervously.
She asked me more questions.
"So, you keep miscarrying or you've never gotten pregnant?"
"I can't seem to get pregnant."
"Hmm, that's the strangest thing. You are sure you've never been pregnant?"
"Never in my life. Can you just tell me? I already know. I've been preparing myself for this, for years. Literally. I've known for a long time something wasn't right. I won't freak out if you tell me.
I am ready to hear it." 
"I'm sorry sweetheart, I'm not actually allowed to make any conclusions from the x-rays.
I'm just the technician. I forward them to the doctor and she will look at them and try to figure out whats going on."
"Okay, I understand. Thanks...for ya know, sticking that up my vagina and stuff."
Luckily, she laughed at my nervous sense of humor.
............................
 I called my doctor twice in the following four days.
I needed to know.
I couldn't sleep.
I was on edge.
I wanted to be able to comfort my sister and say "It's okay baby, we'll get through this together."
I wanted to know what was wrong.
...........................
I immediately found out as much as I could about the developmental disorder (which occurs while you're a fetus yourself.) Bicornuate Uterus is when you have a heart shaped uterus, or essentially two small uteri connected instead of one large one. Not only can this cause fertility problems, but it carries worrisome statistics about pregnancies. More than a 60% chance that you will miscarry every pregnancy or not be able to carry to term. Because you have two uteri, the uterus the baby plants in isn't able to grow to the size the baby needs. And when the uterus can't get any larger to accommodate the growing fetus, you go into early labor. This often happens around or under the 25 week mark. Giving the baby little chance to survive even with the help of amazing NICU's. Another problem with the disorder is that because you have two uteri, you can conceive at two different times. For example, you can be 16 weeks pregnant in one uterus and find out that you have conceived and are 5 weeks pregnant in the other. Forcing you to chose which pregnancy to abort because neither your body nor either fetus can handle the confinement.
.............................
Finally, at the end of the week, my doctor called me and said she had good news. 
I did not have the disorder.
I was floored.
Completely shocked and unprepared.
And I felt like a failure.
I was leaving my sister entirely alone on this journey. I may have trouble getting pregnant but I can't comfort her in the sense of knowing we are going through the same thing.
I was devastated all over again.
I cried a lot that night.
I think my significant other understood that I didn't want to let down my sister. My sisters were most important to me. Even if it meant having troubles with us having a baby, I didn't want to leave my sister in this alone. Even if I was fighting through something else along side her.
I was glad to have somebody who understood how my heart broke for NOT having it.
Most people didn't understand that.
I was also upset because if I didn't have that, what was wrong?
I needed to know so I could fix it.
So we could have a family in the future.
........................
The doctor had more to say....
The x-ray tech was shocked that I have never been pregnant because everything looks great in there. I should be popping out babies like the old lady who lived in a shoe.
So, on to month three.
They wanted to do an HSG (Hysterosalpingogram.)
One of my dear friends had this done because her and her husband couldn't conceive.
Its an invasive procedure where they use a catheter and needle to shoot dye into your cervix. The dye helps highlight your Fallopian tubes which are then caught on video camera via another x-ray machine.
I was terrified.
My anxiety for the few weeks leading up to the procedure was intense.
...........................
Again, sleep evaded me as the date approached.
Luckily, one of my girlfriends took work off for the day to go with me.
I didn't want to go alone.
Being the significant other of somebody in the military often meant that they could not be there for important things like this. They miss birthdays, holidays, doctors appointments, the births of their babies.
Being the significant other of a military member is no easy feat.
It is not for the faint of heart.
It is not for the weak of mind.
It is not for the wandering of eyes.
It takes a lot of loyalty, love and dedication. A lot of trust, communication and understanding.
I was glad to not be going alone, even if the person who I needed most couldn't come.
..................................
The procedure hurt.
When they insert the catheter, needle, and dye into your cervix, you start to have cramps that mimic contractions. At least that was my experience.
The doctors didn't have much to say.
They said that they needed for me to make a follow up appointment to discuss the findings of the procedure.
At the follow up appointment, my doctor and I ruled out the male contribution being the problem in conception.
Nope, we knew he was fertile. 
The problem was with me, and she couldn't find it.
She next suggested another invasive procedure where they cut a hold next to my belly button and insert a camera to poke around and check for things the ultrasound and HSG wouldn't have picked up.
I was so upset.
Now we were talking about real surgery.
The beginning of endless invasive, painful tests;
which would leave them coming back saying they still didn't know what was wrong.

I was diagnosed with "UNEXPLAINED FEMALE INFERTILITY."

I have all the right parts.
They were working regularly.
I had plenty of eggs in prime condition.
My cycle was regular and I was ovulating as I should.
By all means I should have had a baby by now.
But I couldn't.
And we didn't know why.

We weren't going to find out why.
It was unexplained.
I couldn't have a baby.
We couldn't have a baby.
And we didn't know why.
There was no problem to be fixed.
No pill was needed to make hormones I didn't previously have.
No condition that needed surgery or correction.
No answer.
No fix.
-------------------------------------------------
 I am broken.
I have never been pregnant in my life.
The children I've been dreaming of my whole life, aren't part of my reality now.
I felt like a failure all over again. I couldn't give him the family he deserved. Not only could I not have what I wanted so deeply, but I was robbing him of his chance at having a family.
I truly felt that way in my heart.
I was inadequate.
For whatever reason, I didn't deserve to have children of my own.
He tried to tell me it would be okay but I knew it wouldn't.
It couldn't.
Not when I was broken in a way that there was no fixing.
I became emotionally distant and held it all in.
I had been crying for years.
I didn't want pity.
I didn't want "sorry."
I wanted a baby.
I lost my faith.
How could there be a God? How could any God rob me of the biggest blessing in life and yet allow children to be born into undeserving, unfit homes with mothers who aren't grown up themselves, fathers who abuse them, drugs, and/or no emotional/mental/financial stability?
.............................
I lost my faith and I lost him.
Losing him changed me in a lot of ways.
I knew that not everything happened for a reason now.
Good things happened to bad people all the time. 
And even worse... bad things happened to the best of people all the time.
I was sick of hearing things like "It was just bad timing" or "it wasn't meant to be."
REALLY?
And you think it was meant to be for the woman who was raped? 
You think it was the right timing for the 13 year old girl who didn't have any self respect?
You think there's a reason for everything?!
THERE ISN'T.
As simple as I can say it...
There is no reason.
It is not fair.
 Unless you are a doctor, do not tell me it will happen eventually, 
when the time is right, or when its meant to be.
That's not how the real world works and I know that.
I don't want false hope. I don't want people telling me lies to try and make me feel better.
How will telling me that I will have what I want most 
make me feel any better when it cannot physically happen? 
The only blessing I could find in this situation was that I didn't lose a baby.
I couldn't even begin to imagine that pain.
But I lost every hope I had ever have of the family I wanted.
The names we had picked out.
The memories we had imaged.
The family we planned.
 Gone.
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I was diagnosed a year ago this month. 
This time of the year is hard for me.
I had unprotected sex for 4 years and never got pregnant. 
I would like to clarify this to people who may not have known the situation.
I was not reckless. I was not irresponsible.
I was in serious, monogamous relationship with each of the two people I was with during those 4 years.
 It was a mutual commitment and effort during the time of non-prevention.

I still get upset when I see that "unfit" people are expecting.
I do not tell them "Congratulations."
I feel that babies deserve parents who are financially and emotionally able to give them everything they need and deserve. And I think children deserve a hell of a lot.
I do believe that you should have health insurance, dental insurance, an adequate home and reliable mode of transportation before you bring a child into this world. 
And that's in addition to the financial and emotional stability you should have.
I do believe that you should not be relying on the government for any type of assistance when you bring a child into this world. If you cannot adequately provide for yourself, you have no business bringing a child into your situation. They deserve better.

For those people who do deserve to be parents, 
I feel so happy for them when they start or add to their families.
They are blessed in more ways than they often realize.
For those people who despite circumstances become great parents in the toughest of unplanned situations, I am grateful that they grow up and become what their kids deserve.
And for those people like me, I understand.
I understand the pain. The agony. The disappointment. The anger. The resentment.
I am not going to tell you it gets easier.
Every day I acknowledge my situation.
Every day, I wish it were different.

I plan to adopt children when I'm 30 if I am still single then.
Hopefully sooner if I find the lifelong commitment I hope to.
And if I do find a man who is dedicated to me and we decide on that future together, 
I do plan to try fertility treatments and medically assisted conception.
I will become a mother one day.
There is a great beauty in foster care and adoption, I know this.
I see the beauty in it.
But I do know that I am missing out on a life changing experience
 if my diagnosis keeps me from ever conceiving.

A year after my heartbreaking diagnosis, I am happy. 
Some days are harder than others, but I'm learning to be happy despite my diagnosis.

28 comments:

  1. Hey ... you are stronger than most women I know. Keep that head high. God has a purpose for you. I pray that you'll find your purpose soon and you'll be able to look past this.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement Carly.

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  2. Wow. Your post really impacted me. I'm sorry for your pain and sorrow. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment so that I could find yours. I'm glad to hear that you are happy despite everything you've been through.

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    1. Thank you Jessah. I hope everything goes good with your treatments =] Meeting new people and having a community of people who struggle with similar situations is very humbling and comforting.

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  3. I have been entranced by your powerful post. Possibly the most powerful post I have ever read in the history of all my blog reading. Thank you for opening up your heart and your pain to us. I feel so connected to life and the human experience by reading your words.

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    1. Thank you for your words of kindness, Catherine.

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  4. This was touching. I am in the beginning stages of tests and treatments to figure out why we are not pregnant. It's been a year and a half of trying, and it is scary to see how similar some of our thoughts are - almost to the word. Thanks for having the courage to share your story. It comforts me to know I'm not alone in having thoughts like these. And maybe I'll be able to put my thoughts together to share them soon. Thank you!!

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    1. I am so glad you found my story and found comfort in it, Lynnette. Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm sending lots of happy thoughts your way for hopeful test results. I pray you find your answer and hope you continue to share your journey with me!

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  5. Wow... I know that at this point "sorry" never really says enough... but I am sorry. That is just something that no one should ever have to endure. You truly are a very strong person. I admire your strength and your honesty. You are amazing. I have a very different issue but so far with the same end result. I'm "normal" according to all tests, but so far I've had 3 pregnancies/ 3 miscarriages, still no babies. Anyway, I hope for the best for you. You deserve to not just be happy, but to somehow have all of the pieces put back together again. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It means so much :) I'm so sorry for your loss (which as you said doesn't even begin to touch the amount of pain you've endured.) I hope and pray your story ends differently soon :) We both deserve that little buddle of happiness.

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  6. Laura,
    Thank you for your post. Sadly, I find comfort in you post for knowing I'm not alone in this 'unexplained' nonsense. It is so refreshing to hear someone with the same feelings and views on this roller coaster of a journey infertility is. The emotions that go along with infertility are unexplainable, but you seem to put my thoughts into words :)
    In the small town South Dakota town I live in, it seems a taboo subject that no one takes serious, so thank you for sharing with the online community so people like me can connect.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I often think of you and all my 'infertility sisters' out there fighting the daily battles. Sending good thoughts and positive vibes your way.

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    1. We all find comfort in the comunity, especially when we find others who can help be uplifting. It's such a source of contentment to have the support and encouragement of ladies who are going through similar trials.

      I'm sorry to hear that it's a taboo subject where you live. I had similar problems with people trying to downplay my condition with words like "Its just not the right time" or "youll have children eventually." It can be discouraging when others refuse to address the seriousness of what we are dealing with.

      I'm so glad you stumbled across my blog and I hope you follow along this journey with me! Thank you so much for reading and for your good thoughts. Sending twice as many your way!
      xoxo

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  7. This was so moving. It is so hard to understand when a giving, responsible person isn't able to have a child but the irresponsible just pop them out like it's nothing. I hope you find the family you want, in whatever way that family comes to you.
    Laurel R

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  8. Hi Laura,
    I share in all your feelings. I have been married 7 going on 8 years with the love of my life with no luck. The only difference is, we aren't interested in finding out what's going on. But your post has totally touched my heart in ways I didn't know a total stranger's words would. So thank you so very much!

    Growing up, I always wanted to be a Mom too but not in the traditional way... I always wanted to adopt. I grew up in the Philippines and have seen a lot of poverty and strife, while I lived lavishly... spoiled by my parents and Grandma. I don't know if this was what I was meant to do in the very first place or whether I am going to have my own one day... but my husband and I decided to do it.

    We are on our way to adopting a little girl and we couldn't be happier. And I pray that one day you, too, you will meet the right person and build a family together, traditionally or otherwise. God moves in the most mysterious ways. I love your post! Thanks again!

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    1. I'm sorry about your trouble concieving, but congratulations on your future baby girl! That's terrific news for you guys :) Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your story. I hope I'm able to adopt one day too :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing your journey!

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    1. It's amazing, the opportunities that are presented when you do share. Suddenly the ability to touch other people's lives is opened up to you XD

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  10. Hi Laura.
    I have the same issue. I don't talk about it apart from to my husband as everyone has a story where actually it all worked out in the end. I want to be positive in life but it's difficult to hear those stories when actually I just want to feel justified in having these feelings of annoyance and jealously and dispare. My husband and I are happy regardless and I feel truly lucky and blessed with that. I'm 36 next month and is live to have answers but I feel it may continue to be a long time before I get answers - if I ever do. With everything crossed for you in your journey x

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    1. Rebecca, thank you so much for reading :) I completely understand just wanting to feel justified in the ugly feelings that accompany some of the steps on the IF journey. When I am my most upset (which, luckily, happens very rarely now days) I just want a friend to hold me and say "You're right, it totally sucks." I am so glad that you have found happiness throughout your journey, even without answers. I, like you, often think I will always remain without answers and without children. But I'm learning how to live a full life despite that :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting, God bless!

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  11. When I read your story, it hit close to home. I had a lot of the same feelings. It wasn't fair that other women, especially irresponsible ones, who were getting pregnant and not me. Unlike you I knew what was wrong but couldn't fix it and on top of that had to deal with painful cramps. I really hope you find the happiness you're looking for some day. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Cathie! If you read more recent posts tagged with "infertility" you'll find that I have changed my perspective and found a lot of happiness despite my infertility :D

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  12. When I read your story it was like certain pages from my own had come to life. My husband and I have been happily married for six years and we have been TTC for 2 years and 1 month now. My husband was cleared of infertility problems but like you I was given the "unexplained infertility" diagnosis. All my life I have wanted to be a mother and watching my siblings raise their children was amazing and only made me long to be a mother that much more. My husband is a doctor and I am a nurse. Both of us are very healthy and struggle everyday at the thought of possibly not being able to have our own children. I am glad to know my thoughts, fears, anger, and feelings are shared among other women with this problem. I found your blog via your mother, Rhonda. I worked with her in Virginia. She is a lovely women and excellent mother. I wish you all the best in the future. Thanks for finding the courage to share your story.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Brianna! Rhonda told me she sent you my way and I was so excited to hear from you :) I love connecting with other women in the IF community. Our community really is made of the most amazing, strong and kind women. I wish you all the luck in the world on your journey! And if you're ever looking for encouragement, hope or positive vibes, feel free to check out my other infertility posts. I've been TTC for 5 years now. Since I wrote this post a few years ago, I have found a lot of peace, healing and faith throughout my journey and I try to share that all with others going through the same thing. I still don't have a baby, but I have found so many other wonderful blessings since the beginning of my journey. Prayers and happy thoughts sent your way, Brianna!

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  13. Laura found you via The Spark Lounge and I am finally glad to find someone who is in my position. Not because I want to wish this on anyone, but your feelings and thoughts are the same as mine. I wrote a post on my blog http://www.vashandlolo.com/journey-baby-collins/ about my fertility problems if you want to take a look I don't want to leave a really long comment on your blog. But I thank you for writing this. Sometimes the people closest to you don't understand at all. Is it bad that I kind of dislike all these pregnant people a little. I even banned myself from going to baby showers. It was like 27 baby showers instead of dresses.

    Vash

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  14. This post has me in tears. I don't know what to say. My immediate thought and genuine belief is that you'll conceive someday. They somehow you've just been super unlucky. 'Cause why shouldn't you conceive and have a normal, lovely pregnancy? As you said: No answer, no fix.

    And my immediate response to a story like this would be to comfort and assure you that it's GONNA HAPPEN. Even though I can't say that for sure. I want it so bad for you. And for anyone else who wants and 'deserves' a pregnancy and a baby.

    I feel like it's all I have to offer you. I can't make it better. :(

    A close friend of mine has reached an age where she's given up on having kids. She doesn't have a partner and she struggles with other personal things that make it seem so unlikely. And I don't know what to tell her either.

    I want to read more, educate myself, and I encourage you to update this blog post, like you mentioned on Facebook. You write so well and your honesty is tremendous.

    I feel lousy for only being able to offer the words: I'm sorry. I feel for you and I believe in you. Whatever's in store for you at the end of this long and winding road, it'll be huge and you'll be alright.

    Much love, Nina.

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    1. You're so kind, Nina. It's the thought that counts <3

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  15. I found this post via Pinterest, and I am just floored by how similar your story is to my own. I also married young, at 20, and we started trying (at first just not preventing, as you put it so well) after two years of marriage. Now almost six years later, we are still trying. I have done all of the same tests that you spoke of, and every time the results came back perfectly "peachy-keen" and those should have been moments of relief but proved to be exactly the opposite the further we went. I was diagnosed in November 2013 with Unexplained Female Infertility - my doctors told me that I ought to have gotten pregnant right away with no issues. But I have never been pregnant, my period has only EVER been late once - when I was on fertility drugs during our IUI attempt just over a year ago. Since that time we have been trying to build up our savings enough for an IVF attempt. Life has gotten in the way over and over in increasingly devastating ways, putting us (financially at least) right back where we started. It has been an immensely difficult waiting period, especially since it is in pursuit of something that may never actually come to pass.

    I appreciate so much that you shared your story, I wish I could express it as openly and honestly to my family as you have done here. I hope that you are granted the wishes of your heart, and I hope that this coming year brings more good days than bad ones. One day at a time, I remind myself often.

    Best Wishes,

    Larissa C.

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Hello gorgeous, I love reading your comments!