Lisa was 31 years old when she and her husband Tom started trying to conceive, a year after their wedding in 2011. She knew little about infertility and went online to find other women going through a similar experience. Her blog, Amateur Nester, came from the desire to connect with people on the infertility journey.
Lisa considers herself a Christian faith-based infertility blogger, frequently sharing scriptures and prayers with her audience. She’s also self-published two e-books: 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility and 31 Days of Scripture During Infertility.
We caught up with Lisa, now expecting her second child (conceived naturally!) about her infertility journey and why she’s committed to talking about it.
What’s your (in)fertility story in a nutshell?
I was 31 years old when my husband and I started trying to conceive. I meticulously charted my cycles and our timing, and after nine months of no success, I realized my luteal phases were short. (Editor’s note: The luteal phase is the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle that occurs after ovulation.)
We made an appointment with a fertility specialist who confirmed my short luteal phase. However, testing also revealed that my husband had slightly sub-par sperm. Our doctor recommended Clomid and IUI, and we were confident that it would work.
Three failed IUI cycles (and one canceled cycle) later, we were still not pregnant. We decided to move onto IVF with ICSI. Our first cycle resulted in a chemical pregnancy, which was absolutely devastating. We followed up with a frozen cycle in which we transferred one embryo, but that was unsuccessful, too. Our second IVF cycle was a complete disaster. Our retrieval and fertilization rates were awesome, but our embryos could barely make it to Day 3. We ended up transferring three, Day 3 embryos and that failed, too. We took eight months off between our second and third cycles. Honestly, the only reason we did the third cycle was because we had already paid for it. We were very pessimistic about it working and had already started the process of becoming certified to foster/adopt through our county.
Surprisingly, our third cycle was completely different from the rest. We ended up with multiple Day-5 embryos. We transferred one beautiful embryo and froze the rest. Our daughter was born 9 months later! She is a happy and healthy two-year old now.
I am currently pregnant with another girl. We had already scheduled a transfer to try for baby #2, but six weeks before that date, we discovered I was shockingly pregnant without any treatment. It was the biggest surprise of my life and to be honest, we had to process through a lot of conflicting emotions. We were elated, of course, but we also experienced a kind of infertility survivor’s guilt.
Infertility already steals so much from us, so I think we need to actively fight against letting it steal joy and gratitude. So identifying a ‘silver lining’ of infertility, no matter how small, is a first step in doing that.What inspired you to start blogging about your experience?
I started my blog after our failed IUI attempts. At the time, I didn’t know anyone else who was dealing with infertility and it allowed me to connect with other women who were going through the same thing. I started off blogging completely anonymously and gradually shared more personal information about myself. Now, we are completely open with who we are (though I don’t share pictures of my daughter’s face for privacy reasons).
You’re a faith-based blogger. How has your faith guided you during this journey?
My faith has always been a core part of my life and who I am, so it’s impossible for me to separate my faith from my struggle to conceive. I believe that God is a loving God who has good plans for our lives, even if we don’t always understand why pain and suffering is allowed. I knew deep down that He was in control and that one day I would see the reason why we were going through this. Of course, there were days when it was much harder to believe this, but I had to hold onto that. I still don’t fully comprehend why God allows some to conceive easy and some to struggle, but I believe that one day it will make sense and we will understand.
On a practical level, my faith provides me with a sense of community and care. Once we began to speak openly about our struggles (even speaking in church twice), my husband and I knew that we had dozens, if not hundreds of people in our church and in the online community praying for us. It’s a very powerful and humbling experience to open up such a private part of your life to people who share the same core beliefs as you do and allow them to pray and serve you. And it is an equally rewarding experience to do the same for other couples with similar stories.
You’ve talked about ‘silver linings’ during the experience of infertility. Why has this been helpful for you and some of your readers?
I think that no matter what a person’s religious beliefs are, most people can eventually see some good that comes from a bad situation. When we recognize that good, it turns into gratitude. The gratitude isn’t necessarily for the crappy situation, but for the good that came from it. And gratitude is one of the best weapons in fighting against bitterness. Bitterness is a natural human reaction, but I don’t think it’s one we should allow to fester and grow. Infertility already steals so much from us, so I think we need to actively fight against letting it steal joy and gratitude. So identifying a “silver lining” of infertility, no matter how small, is a first step in doing that.
What do you think the biggest misconception is about infertility?
That it’s something you can just “get over.” If you read the comments section of any mainstream article on infertility, it’s probably filled with comments like “Just adopt,” “Get a dog,” or “The world is overpopulated anyways.” Many people don’t comprehend the agony of someone who longs to conceive, but can’t. I’ve heard many people say it’s almost a physical, biological ache. For some reason, there is a sentiment that using medical means to conceive is selfish and that only rich people do it. But in my experience, people who are going through the emotional ups-and-downs of infertility are some of the most unselfish people I know. And most of them aren’t rich, but are saving every penny, working an extra job, asking family for help, doing fundraisers, and going into debt all for the chance (not guarantee) to have a child.
Why are you passionate about elevating the conversation of infertility?
Infertility was a life-changing experience for me. Now that I’ve been through it myself and know so many others who have similar stories, I can’t NOT talk about it. It’s so common, but still misunderstood, especially in many faith-based circles.
I received so much support during my own journey that I feel it’s my responsibility and duty now to support others. This goes back to what I said about believing that God allows certain trials in our life for reasons. I do believe that He allowed my husband and I to experience this so that we would turn around and support others. I think He is using my blog (and so many other faith-based blogs) to help bring more awareness and compassion to the issue, especially in churches where family and children are so highly regarded. Women are speaking out about infertility in their churches like never before. They’re starting support groups and conferences and helping to get rid of the shame and taboo that once existed in church. It’s a great thing.
Listen to stories, share your own, and get feedback from the community.