We Can’t Give Up: How Infertility Almost Destroyed My Marriage, Then Made It Stronger

How Infertility Almost Destroyed My Marriage

If people were to look at our family and our life today, they would never imagine all the pain and hardship that we went through to get here.  

I have two beautiful, smart nine-year-old twin girls. I (now) have a great relationship with my husband, I am almost 27 weeks pregnant, and we are building our dream home in our favorite little neighborhood in southern California. 

We are beyond grateful for everything we have, but it was not a straight road to this point. My husband and I have a running joke that we have never had anything handed to us, and every time life gets hard we remind ourselves that that’s why we appreciate the good things so much. 

Nick and I met in 2006 and our life, like most living through that phase I presume, was fun! We traveled a lot, we talked about our future, we spent a lot of time with our friends; we were truly enjoying life. We got married in 2009, honeymooning in Europe.

In that entire first year of trying to conceive with IVF, we were living in what seemed like different worlds. He was focused on growing a new business and I was focused on growing our family. Neither of us seemed to care about the other’s commitment. I felt resentment in my heart.

We started Trying to Conceive (TTC) in May of that year. We were excited. I had been on birth control for a while so coming off the little pills felt so exhilarating—we were going to start our family! 

We were healthy and in our mid 20s. Nothing could interfere with our bliss.

Except a big slap in the face a few months later. 

I found out I wasn’t ovulating on my own which meant we needed fertility treatments. This was very hard to face. I was only 26, I didn’t even think people under the age of 40 needed treatments! We faced this alone together, heads down, embarrassed and ashamed that we were those people. 

Thankfully, our first IUI worked, but we ended up with triplets. Unfortunately, the doctor suggested that we get a reduction because I am very small and he was worried for my life and the lives of the babies. Nick and I went through with it but we barely talked about it before or after. We were traumatized to watch the specialist essentially abort one embryo in front of our eyes. We never mentioned it to anyone because we felt so ashamed and worried about judgement. Though I am more open about it now, we rarely discuss it to this day. 

We argued a lot during that pregnancy and after the twins were born. Eliana had to be in the NICU for 11 days while Natalia could come home right away. This caused a lot more strain on our marriage. We were so young, had already been through so much, and clearly didn’t know how to handle the stress of twin newborns let alone the worry of a NICU baby.  

We barely had any time together, as I’m sure most new parents do, but even the time we had together seemed forced. We were exhausted.  We began to see a therapist, who helped us a lot. We finally got back to a closer relationship.

By the time we were on good terms again the twins were six and we wanted to have another baby. We tried naturally for a few months, but once again, we were led to fertility treatments. 

This time we went straight to IVF as it felt like a sure shot to having another baby – we were told we could even pick the gender! Nick wasn’t sure about IVF, but I reassured him that this was how people got pregnant quickly.  We decided to try one round and I was so happy he was on board. 

But, getting pregnant wasn’t as simple as it was when we had done IUI six years earlier. Over the course of several years, we went through four egg retrievals, seven transfers, one miscarriage and a D&C, a pelvic and a head MRI, two fertility clinics and three different doctors before getting pregnant in February 2020.  

When the miscarriage happened, I couldn’t function. But he was totally there for me in the moment, crying with me and holding me up, making sure I didn’t fall off the exam chair.

During this harrowing process, Nick said he felt like I had misled him, but in reality, this hadn’t been the path I had imagined either.  

Our marriage was tested again. We weren’t on the same page. Nick reminded me that “we said we would try one round.” He barely came to my appointments. 

I felt so alone and furious, but I didn’t want to give up. I knew I wanted to fight for this, and deep down I knew he wanted it, too. 

In that entire first year of trying to conceive with IVF, we were living in what seemed like different worlds. He was focused on growing a new business and I was focused on growing our family. Neither of us seemed to care about the other’s commitment. I felt resentment in my heart. 

I didn’t understand why he wasn’t putting our family first like I was, why he was so far removed mentally and emotionally. 

Finally, after that year of trying and failing (and a lot of arguing), he told me we needed a break from IVF.  I fought him so hard on this. To me that meant failure, it meant not being able to have a baby, it meant getting older and having to start all over again.  

But we had been fighting a lot. We disagreed on moving forward with IVF but that had also spilled into every single aspect of our lives. We argued about every little thing. I was so afraid of going back to that place we had been in a few years ago so I finally agreed to a break. And boy was it needed!

He was right, though I rarely admit this to him (ha ha). That break helped us regain sight of who we were as a couple, who we were as a family, and what we wanted to do moving forward.

We started to reconnect again and when our agreed-upon break was over we started to work together. 

We found a new clinic. He was present, he was available, and even vulnerable at times. He expressed how much he wanted another baby, which was very hard for him to admit prior to this moment in our journey.  

We rode the IVF roller coaster together again. We hit a lot of highs but also a new low.  When the miscarriage happened, I couldn’t function. But he was totally there for me in the moment, crying with me and holding me up, making sure I didn’t fall off the exam chair. 

This time around, he stayed positive. Even when I knew he was hurting, even when I knew he wanted to tell me how scared he was to try again, he pushed me to keep going (in a supportive way).  

After that, our bond changed. We began to communicate differently. We had endured so much loss together, so much pain and grieved so many days together that in a strange way it comforted us, it made us realize we were much stronger together. 

I wouldn’t wish this journey upon anyone, nor would I wish a miscarriage on anyone, but for us, it became something that we almost needed to face together. 

It reminded us of who we were as individuals and as a couple, and why we chose each other in the first place.


Erin Bulcao
Contributor

Erin Bulcao

Erin Bulcao grew up in Mexico City and moved to San Diego when she was in fifth grade. Her twins are her world. She is a certified yoga instructor and loves chocolate and cinnamon rolls. She loves traveling with her family more than anything.


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