I’m excited to have a guest blogger today to share her own personal struggles with infertility and how she has turned that into a business to help other women in the Chicago area who are struggling as well. I have the honor of being a guest speaker at an upcoming Shine Fertility monthly meeting this week and will continue on as a group moderator starting this Fall. Check it out here. Now, here’s Katie…

Katie O'ConnorI have never been shy about sharing my story about my fertility challenges.

I am classic “type A” – figuring, you plan something, work hard at it, and goal achieved! However, trying to get pregnant doesn’t work that way – sometimes no matter how hard you try, how hard you want something, your body has another plan.

My big issue was amenorrhea – or absence of a period. I was off the pill (after being on it for over 15 years) and nothing happened. My obgyn tried the full range of tests and meds and exhausted all she could do. It was time to see an RE (reproductive endocrinologist), a doctor that specializes in infertility and hormonal dysfunction.

We scheduled our consultation meeting and received the “welcome” packet. It was about 2 inches thick, full of questions about my husband and me – our general health, our history, lifestyle questions, you name it! We met with our doctor, and he explained the protocol, the testing, and our plan. It was all a little overwhelming, but we felt comfortable that we were in good hands.

Fast-forward a year filled with testing, hormones, and other meds, and I finally got my period. NOW we could actually start trying.

We told our doctor we wanted to start slow, so we were able to start with a stimulated cycle. I would be on medications to help support the natural process of getting pregnant and then we would “try” on our own. We had no success, and again my period didn’t come naturally.

Throughout our struggle, I was never able to get my period unassisted, so we decided to move on to intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI is the entry point into the true infertility world. It’s the halfway point between trying on your own and IVF. There are hormones, meds, and a bunch of tests, but it’s not as invasive to your body, or your mind, as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

After 5 months, we had 3 failed IUI’s (either cancelled cycles or false positives) and decided it was now time to pull out the big guns. We were ready to move on to to IVF. After being on some sort of hormone and medication for over a year – and several failed attempts – we were ready.

Looking back, I needed to start slow to prepare for IVF. It is intense, but also very well planned out. I am a planner, like I said, a type-A, overall organized gal, so the structure of IVF actually lent itself to my personality perfectly. And by this time, I was already accustomed to the meds and constant monitoring. It all became part of my routine – sad to say.

We had another consultation with our doctor, and he explained the IVF procedure and what our plan would look like.

There was going to be a LOT more hormones, meds, and monitoring, but I was ready.

I had a lucky shirt for my monitoring appointments; I started to celebrate every little milestone, every little piece of good news. It was hard not to look too far forward, but that would just leave me overwhelmed and not in a good place mentally. I also was lucky to randomly run into an old high school girlfriend one morning in the blood work waiting room. We instantly recognized each other and met up after our appointments. It was fate stepping in and helping us both out! We were an instant support system for each other; our IVF cycles were just 4 days apart! [Later we both learned we were pregnant, and our kids were born 9 days apart].

We had finally made it to the retrieval surgery where the doctor extracts your eggs to be fertilized and grow before the transfer surgery. We decided to do ICSI – where the strongest and “best looking” egg is directly injected with the “perfect” sperm. Embryologists then monitor the eggs’ growth, and you have either a day-3 or day-5 transfer depending on the strength of their growth.

Then after the transfer surgery, you have the dreaded two-week wait!

Literally, you have to wait TWO WHOLE WEEKS to take your official pregnancy test. It could be the worst two weeks of my life. Every minute felt like eternity. Every single thing my body felt I could analyze and research, and torture myself by over-reading every blog and discussion board on the web.

But I remember the day exactly. It was a Tuesday, June 1st, and it was my pregnancy test day. I went in early and then it was waiting time. The two weeks seemed to pass by fast compared to the waiting for the phone call later in the afternoon to learn my results.

It was around 2:45pm, and I had been walking on the lake path for hours. I got a phone call from my doctor. With a cautious broken voice I answered…

Me: Hello!?!
Doc: Why do you sound so nervous?
Me: Because I don’t know what to expect next.
Doc: Well, you should prepare to celebrate. You ARE PREGNANT! Your numbers look strong. CONGRATS!

It was one of the most amazing feelings of my life. All the struggle, all the pain, all the sacrifice – it was worth it!

My daughter is now 3 1/2, and my husband and I talk about our journey to bring her into this world from time to time, and every time we agree that we wouldn’t have changed a thing!

About the Author:
Shine FertilityKatie O’Connor is the founder of Shine: A Light On Fertility, a unique support community to help women overcome infertility. She is a wife, mom, only child, marathon runner, fitness instructor, and infertility advocate! Check out her blog, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and explore her Pinterest boards!

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