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Our Story: A Teacher’s Silent Struggle with Infertility


Last week, my husband and I sat in an all-too-familiar room, our hands knotted tightly together as they had been so many times, waiting for words we had never heard before.  We watched the monitor, uncertain of what we were seeing.  My stomach churned, my eyebrows scrunched, and my chest burned from holding my breath.  SAY SOMETHING!

“Your baby boy is doing great!  He looks healthy and right on track!”  I turned my head to look at my husband and stretched my smile as far as it would go.  He kissed my hand and I could see the fear and stress fall away from his face.   We were finally being given the chance to start growing our family.  We were going to have something new to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!  


Infertility is a hard battle for anyone, but I will say that I found it extremely hard as a teacher.  Working so hard for other people’s children, when you are faced with the possibility of never having your own, is a heartbreaking reality to enter every day.  We give our all to the children that we teach, and it can feel overwhelmingly unfair to be denied the opportunity to give the same love and dedication to your own child.  

This journey has been emotional, draining, stressful, but most of all, it has been lonely!  Like so many couples, my husband and I kept our struggle private.  We didn’t even tell our parents!  With every loss, we grew closer, but distanced ourselves further and further from our friends and family.  Every baby/pregnancy announcement I received made me want to cry.  Every photograph of babies shared on Facebook filled me with an unsettling sense of jealousy, which always led to self-hatred.  What kind of person gets upset with their friends for being happy?  (Answer: Someone dealing with infertility!)



It didn’t stop at social media.  I also stopped going to events where I knew there would be babies or pregnant women.  I could’t make eye contact with pregnant co-workers because I was scared they would see through my forced smile to the deep wounds that would surely tear open if they engaged me in conversation.  I didn’t want them to know how much I envied them.  I didn’t want them to know how much their mere presence hurt.  Worse, I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me.  I didn’t want the personal shame that I already felt to be confirmed!

So we kept quiet.  Through two years, multiple losses, countless tests and surgeries, we kept quiet.  It wasn’t until our most recent loss this past March that the winds began to change their direction, and we were able to start talking.  Until that point, every test had told us that we were a VERY healthy couple with no indications of what could be causing our recurrent loss.  

As a highly logical person (and someone who loves control), the lack of information and answers was one of the most difficult parts of this journey for me.  I felt like if I just knew what was wrong, I would know fix it, or find out what other options were out there.  Having to relinquish control over my family’s future, and being given no indications that things would ever change was tormenting!  As hard as it was to do, we opted to have a D&C with our most recent loss, hoping that additional tests would give us some answers. 



Despite a rough recovery, both emotionally and physically, we got what we asked for!  We finally had a reason for our struggle.  All signs pointed to a chromosomal issue.  We didn’t know quite what that meant, but it finally had a name!  To us that meant that we could get off our circular orbit, and perhaps start moving into uncharted territory.

The doctors recommended using InVitro Fertilization, in combination with a chromosomal screening.  This screening would help identify embryos that could not survive a complete pregnancy, significantly reducing our risk of loss.  SIGN US UP!

My dearest roommates at the Teachers Pay Teachers Vegas Conference helped me fill syringe after syringe and held my hand as I stuck my abdomen full of needles.  Vera and Mary, I am so grateful to you both for all of your strength and support!  As much as I hated those needles, they gave us three viable embryos. (Only 20% of our embryos actually passed the screening- Things were starting to make sense!)

We had one of the embryos transferred in mid-July and then we waited… and waited… and waited.  We got our positive pregnancy test at 4 weeks.  For self-preservation purposes, we did not allow ourselves to get excited.  We heard the first heart beats at 6 weeks.  We were still not ready to get excited.  We got our second round of chromosomal screenings back showing “low risk” at 12 weeks.  We were still not ready to get excited.  When we finally made it to the second trimester milestone, we mustered up enough courage to share the news with our immediate families.  



We shared our joy and our journey, and we were met with hugs, tears, and “I’m sorry you felt that you had to go through that alone.”  Looking back, I am too!  Now that we have finally received a positive 20 week scan, we have started sharing our story with friends and extended family.  It is only by sharing our struggles that I was able to realize how unfortunately common this journey can be.  

Being silent didn’t help me, so as personal as it is, I decided to share our story with all of you.  I hope that by opening up about our struggles, our grief, and our fears, that it may help us heal.  It may give others the courage to talk about their own struggles, or at the least know that they are not alone.  Although I am still filled with fear for what the next 20 weeks will bring (and let’s be real- a lifetime of worry if all goes well,) I am happy to say that the positive thoughts are outweighing the negative these days.  Even though I am getting heavier, I feel a bit lighter every time I share a little piece of our journey.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to feel a lot lighter today!  We truly have so much to be thankful for this year! 


34 comments:

  1. Congratulations! What a huge relief to know that your baby boy is growing and thriving! How exciting!

    I agree, I think this is more common than we talk about. We struggled with getting pregnant as well and went through IVF. I will never forget having to ask my sister to give me my "trigger" shot in my bum on a scrapbooking retreat. She was scared to death of needles. But the things we do to have a family. It's all worth it in the end.

    Congratulations again! And thank you for opening up and sharing about this difficult topic.

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    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for sharing! Stories like yours give me hope! XOXO :) I hope that the more of us that share, the more others will know that they don't have to suffer in silence.

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  2. Jillian!!!! I admire you so much for sharing your story! Way more people struggle with infertility than I ever imagined. Thank you for not staying silent. I am so incredibly happy for you and your family! <3
    Lauren

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    1. It's amazing how many people go through this silently, not knowing that so many others (even those closest to them) are going/have gone through the same thing. Thank you so much for your kind words Lauren! XOXO

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  3. Jillian, this post is so beautifully written! I am thankful you had the courage to share your story, for you are not alone, my friend! Love to you and your growing family!

    Ashley

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    1. Thank you so much Ashely! You and our online teaching community have been such an amazing support, and I am so grateful to know you! <3

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  4. I'm so happy for your happy news! Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you so much Susan! I'm so happy to finally have great news to share :)

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  5. Jill,

    I am sooo happy for you. Thank you for sharing this story, I am sure that many other people have the same struggles that you went through. Congratulations!

    Amy

    Teach! Sparkle! Smile!

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    1. Thank you Amy! I have been overwhelmed by the amount of private messages from people who are going through similar journeys. XOXO

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  6. Thank you for sharing your story, Jillian. Congratulations to you and your husband! ❤️

    Gabby

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    1. Thank you Gabby! I have been so grateful to have our little teacher tribe to keep me afloat and so positive during this journey! Thank you for being part of it :)

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  7. Oh goodness Jillian I admire you for sharing this beautiful yet painful story with all of us!! I'm even more excited for you now!!!! :):) love ya girlie!!!

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    1. Love you right back Ashley! Thank you for all of your love and support!

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  8. Such a beautiful post! The image at the bottom is really beautiful!

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  9. Jillian, thank you for sharing your story with us. So beautiful and honest! I can both relate to your struggle and your future. This is your time for happiness!! Congratulations to you and your husband!

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    1. Elyse, thank you for your kind words! I hope to be hitting you up for lots of parenting advice soon! XOXO

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  10. Congrats on your precious rainbow baby! I'm so sorry you had to go through so much! Wishing you a smooth rest of your pregnancy and a healthy baby and mama!

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    1. Thank you so much Katherine! I hope to share many more positive posts in the future :)

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  11. Jillian, what a beautifully written story. I am beyond happy for you. Showing smiles through pain is so difficult. There are so many that go through this. You are not alone by any means! I feel honored that you shared your journey with us. xoxo Aly

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    1. Thank you Aly! The friends that I have made here in this TpT Community have been my such a ray of sunshine for me through all of this! I am so grateful for you, and have been inspired by strength and honesty through your own journey! XOXO

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  12. Jillian - What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing your story. So excited for you and your husband and I will be thinking of you and praying for a smooth pregnancy!!
    ~Heather :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and positive thoughts :) I hope to have many more happy posts in the future! <3

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  13. Thank you for sharing. It really was so difficult going through infertility as a teacher. I remember parents asking me if I had children of my own. I would politely reply "no, not yet"..... It was so hard to not burst into tears as to why I wasn't a parent yet. God finally blessed me with a baby boy and I am forever grateful for His master plan.

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    1. It is definitely a double-edged sword! On one hand, their positivity and smiles were such a wonderful distraction from the struggles I faced. However, there was always the hard reality that these might be the only children I would have. I am so happy to hear that your journey had a happy ending :) Wishing you all the best!

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  14. That is a beautiful post ! Thank you for being brave and sharing! I know this will help so many women and is one of the most meaningful things you could blog about. As I reached the end of your story, I too exhaled a relieved breath when you told about the good news at your recent sonogram! Congratulations! XO
    Bex
    Bex

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    1. Thank you so much Bex! I was so happy to share our happy news with the New England bloggers at our meet up! All of you are so incredibly supportive and I feel lucky to be a part of such a wonderful teacher tribe! <3

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  15. Congratulations! It is so very brave of you to share this!

    Jamie

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    1. Thank you Jamie :) Our online teacher community has been such a wonderfully supportive group, even if I didn't share what I was going through at the time. You all are amazing and I am very grateful!

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  16. Thank you for sharing your story! I too know the pain of this struggle with infertility mixed with being a kindergarten teacher. Some days the sting is too much to bear, but I have faith that it will all be over soon. Hoping for a continued healthy pregnancy for you, congratulations on your future baby boy!

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    1. You are very welcome Allyson! Although it saddens me to know how many women are going through a similar situation, I am so happy to be connecting with so many of you through this post. Being a teacher and going through infertility can make a painful experience so much harder. Sending you positive thoughts and loads of baby dust! XOXO

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  17. Many hugs! And I hear you. We struggled for over three years and were told it was "unexplained". It was SO HARD. We only lost one baby but after that we were so cautious about any excitement. I hope all is still going really well for you!

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  18. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! You have indeed inspire a lot of people in the same situation. Infertility is a topic that students from how to order custom essays often discuss because a lot of people experienced it.

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