Brittany and Andy challenge the misconception that infertility is the result of waiting too long to start a family. The couple started trying 6 years ago, when Brittany was 24 years old and her husband was 30. They imagined a baby would arrive by Christmas. After being told they had ‘unexplained infertility’, they pursued IVF and took steps to baby that they never imagined. Their Instagram page, Journey to Baby, was a result of this process.
Q: What’s your fertility/infertility story?
In October 2014, Andy and I made the exciting decision to start a family. I remember believing we could be pregnant by Christmas. The journey that actually awaited us was very different from anything we ever could have anticipated. We tried on our own for about 16 months. Temping, charting, endless ovulation tests, and, of course, the never surprising negatives consumed our lives until we finally started seeing a fertility specialist. We were given the diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” and traded in all those over the counter products for invasive tests, pills, and injections.
After a few failed IUIs we had a serious discussion about pursuing adoption or IVF. We knew we wanted both, but chose to concentrate on our adoption first. After months of paperwork, decorating a nursery, and preparing our hearts to bring home a baby, we found out our adoption was closed due to the program being suspended. We couldn’t afford to start over, emotionally or financially. After a few more IUIs with a new clinic we were finally ready for the big leagues: IVF. Thanks to ICSI and PGS testing, a perfect embryo was transferred on June 7, 2018 and a week later we got the call that we were “very pregnant”. We allowed ourselves to fall blindly in love with that baby. There’s no way to describe the pure happiness you feel when hearing that heartbeat for the first time. For almost 11 weeks we got to dream about our lives with that baby and then I walked into a typical OB appointment and my world changed. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to go through to learn the pregnancy wasn’t viable, but I knew it wasn’t where the story of our family ended. After complications following a D&C and a lot of healing we did another full round of IVF and finally had a second transfer on November 20th of 2018. Finding out I was pregnant the second time was very different. Our happiness was muted by fear. Pregnancy after loss brings its own form of PTSD — it’s as if you hold your breath for 9 months. As I write this, I’m watching my miracle rainbow baby giggle and coo. There were many times throughout the years where my mind doubted this would ever happen for us, but my heart always knew it was possible.
Q: What inspired you to share your infertility story online? How has the response been?
I started my account in March 2018. We were beginning IVF after already trying for over 3.5 yrs. It was lonely. I knew IVF would be harder and more isolating so I hoped that documenting our journey and connecting with others would help me mentally. It did so much more. It provided an opportunity to learn from IVF veterans. It saved us during the hardest moments of our lives. It created friendships that I’ll cherish forever. And, it gave me a place to look back on and see how far we’ve come.
The response is greater than I ever could have anticipated. Part of our success is possible because that community gave us hope, love, and support. Watching others succeed is what proved to me it was possible and that hope kept us going. The biggest compliments I receive are from women saying we are paying it forward by giving them the hope that so many others gave us.
Q: What do you think are some of the misconceptions around infertility?
Where to begin.
- Unless they’ve experienced it, people don’t understand what “infertility” actually implies. I’ve noticed that when fertiles hear that word they automatically get uncomfortable – mostly because they don’t know what is means or how to respond. Which leads to the comments like: “Just relax”, “You should adopt”, “Go on vacation, that worked for my friend’s, brother’s, coworker.” This is why breaking the taboo on infertility and bringing awareness to the topic is important.
- That adoption is an infertility “cure”. Huge pet peeve: when people suggest to couples experiencing fertility issues to “just adopt”. Before we ever knew the depths to which we would struggle with fertility, we decided to pursue adoption. Adoption isn’t a consolation prize. It’s a beautiful and different way to grow your family. It DOES NOT cure infertility. If you feel like you have no control when it comes to infertility, it’s just as bad with adoption. Adoption is a wonderful privilege and not a band-aid for infertility.
- The woman is the issue. When we started sharing our experience with friends and family I’ve had the question “what’s wrong with you” directed at me – never at Andy. People were quick to suggest using a surrogate before even trying to understand our situation. The very personal and intimate questions or advice offered from others regarding my body was alarming.
- IVF is a way to create designer babies. I’ve actually had someone ask me if we were able to pick out our baby’s eye color. I’ll just leave it at that!
…not everyone experiencing infertility feels the same. I won’t tell people ‘don’t give up’ because I think there are many paths in life and sometimes we make the decision to walk away from a goal that no longer fits the vision for our future – that doesn’t mean you gave up.
Q: How has your perception changed now that you’ve welcomed your baby Jordan?
I wouldn’t say that my perception of infertility and our journey has changed. Infertility is heartbreaking, frustrating, and something that never leaves you. Just because I have a baby, doesn’t change the fact that I’m infertile and it certainly doesn’t erase my past. However, the joy Jordan brings overwhelms every part of me and pushes that painful past to the back of my mind. I always knew what I was fighting for and truly believed everything we went through would be more than worth it. Now that I have Jordan, I know I was right.
That said, not everyone experiencing infertility feels the same. I won’t tell people “don’t give up” because I think there are many paths in life and sometimes we make the decision to walk away from a goal that no longer fits the vision for our future – that doesn’t mean you gave up. It means you altered your path. So maybe conceiving naturally was an idea you had to walk away from and start the IVF process, or you used donors, adopted, or even stopped TTC altogether, etc. – there is still always something waiting for you.
Don’t delay happiness. When we noticed that this whole baby making business may be harder than anticipated, we made a promise to each other: We would not put our lives on hold.
Q: How has your relationship with Andy evolved through your journey?
Infertility has the most influential impact on our relationship – in the best way. Sounds crazy, but hear me out. Infertility is one of the hardest things that a couple can experience. We didn’t just “make it through”, we battled it together. We proved how strong we could be as a couple. More importantly, we never let infertility or TTC (trying to conceive) get in the way of us living our lives. We embraced it and even had fun with the process. We looked at IVF as an opportunity to bond and through the extremely hard times, we kept each other afloat. This allowed us to grow together and created a deeper appreciation for what we have. We knew if we could conquer this, together we could do anything.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fertility journey? Is there anything else you want to add about the infertility journey as a whole?
I get asked this a lot and I think the most important piece of advice ANYONE can get is: Don’t delay happiness.
When we noticed that this whole baby making business may be harder than anticipated, we made a promise to each other: We would not put our lives on hold. For us that meant traveling. So instead of 2016 being the year that we had a few failed rounds of IUI, it was the year we swam with sea turtles in Hawaii and trekked with elephants through Thailand. Our philosophy was this: we can’t control when we’d become pregnant, but we can choose how we spend our time in between. So we went through a bucket list of travel experiences. .
This should apply in all aspects of life. That expensive wine you’re saving for a “special occasion” – if you want to drink the wine, pop that bottle open and make TODAY that special occasion. If you want to go to the beach this weekend but have a bunch of house chores, put down the dishes and head for the shore. The dishes will still be there for another day. Self care is more important.
|Advice from Brittany and Andy:|
|Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. You can walk a similar path as someone else and still experience things in a very different way.|
|Grief is not linear. You’ll have good days and bad days – it’s normal. And how we experience grief is personal and subjective.|
|You are never out of options. Seek second opinions. Keep an open mind. ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS – that’s what your doctor is there for.|
|You are valued. You are worthy. You are more than infertility. With or without children, your life is full of meaning and purpose.|
Listen to stories, share your own, and get feedback from the community.