February 26, 2013

Infertility: My Story

I believe that within every woman’s heart there is a desire, which gives way to hope, to someday become a mother. Call that faithful yearning what you may; I call it an innate gift from God that has illuminated my soul and burned like a flame deep within my heart for as long as I can remember.
Never did I imagine that my pathway to motherhood would be such a struggle. Never did I anticipate the number of tears I would shed along the way. Never did I realize the amount of times my heart would break—dimming my flame of hope. Never did I suppose that someday my name would accompany that throng of women silently struggling with the emotionally-shattering disease called infertility.
Every story is written differently; yet, there is a common thread of unspoken hope connecting each. This is my story.
When I first met Parker and daydreamed about the prospect of marriage, there was one thing I knew for certain—he would be the absolute best father someday. Among other things, this daydream sparked an emotion within me which grew into love and, eventually, made him mine forever.

We both had our hearts set on a sizable brood; so, with our thirties impending, it wasn’t long before we threw caution to the wind and waited for fate to run its course. However, as the months passed and we unsuccessfully hit the standard “one-year mark” of trying, we began to ask questions and to investigate. I turned to a friend who had been struggling with infertility for a couple of years to ask her advice. She lent me a book, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility,” which gave me an in-depth understanding of the female body and the way it functions, as well as tips and methods to increase the chances of conception.
I spent the next several months charting my Basal Body Temperature and experimenting with a myriad of other methods and recommendations. It was a tedious process filled with a continual rollercoaster of heightened anticipation and deep disappointment.
The recurrent void of success we were experiencing led me to my OB/GYN who recommended the Clomid route and handed me a prescription for 6 cycles at 100 mg. Blindly confident and bursting with optimism, I began the medication—mentally convincing myself with each slight alteration in my physical health that success was a mere pregnancy test away.
After 6 months of failed attempts with the Clomid, my OB/GYN sent me on my way to a fertility specialist. I met with the specialist who examined me, diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and prescribed the standard preliminary diagnostic testing for Parker and me. I felt excited to finally see a way forward with the process. However, my optimistic anticipation was dashed when I was introduced to the billing specialist who reminded me that my insurance did not cover any infertility treatments beyond my initial diagnostic testing, and then proceeded to present me with the clinic’s pricing information. I gasped in shock. My heart sunk in despair. I returned home feeling discouraged—searching for solutions, but coming up empty.
Since preliminary diagnostic testing was covered by my insurance, we quickly got that out of the way. Overall our tests came back with favorable results—minus my low prolactin levels which ushered me off to an endocrinologist for a brain MRI. The MRI revealed a prolactinoma (a non-cancerous tumor) on the pituitary gland in my brain, resulting in low prolactin levels and, most likely, contributing to the infertility.
Though concerned about this new discovery, I was hopeful that pinpointing the problem would also mean determining a solution, for which I desperately prayed. The endocrinologist medicated me in an effort to shrink the tumor. The results were prompt and encouraging—finally regulating my cycle. However, this positive change did nothing to reverse our failed attempts at conception in the many ensuing months.
With few available options, I decided to try a more holistic approach. I adopted a few dietary modifications to increase my intake of natural antioxidants by eating blackberries, blueberries, and lots of fruits and vegetables every day. In conjunction with that, I was taking an herbal fertility supplement 3 times per day.
Time marched on. I grew increasingly anxious to become pregnant; however, lacking the financial means to pursue infertility treatments, I felt nothing short of helpless and hopeless. The long struggle had finally exhausted me. I tried my best to avoid the pregnancy topic with those close friends and family who knew of the constant toil—dodging pointed questions, aggravating advice, and ignorant sympathies with a flippant response and a forged smile. My repetitive, prayerful pleading became void of meaning and feeling, as my pain became numb. I soon grew bitter about discussing the situation with Parker, whose counsel began to feel as canned and naïve as all the others’. He questioned my pessimism. I questioned his realism. The divide between faith and logic grew deep.

In a moment of my deep anguish and doubt, my normally gentle-spirited husband spoke up with fervor and said, “I know that God will provide a miracle for us! You have to have faith in that. He will not leave us hopeless. Look at Merrill and Shannon. Look at Justin and Shellese. He provided miracles for them, and He will provide a miracle for us. I do not know how that miracle will happen, what it will look like, or when it will take place; but, I know it will happen!”
His faithful declaration left me uncharacteristically speechless. I knew what he spoke was truth. There was no refuting or denying his words. Instead I stood silent, forcing back tears, as that warm, familiar sensation of truth burned once again within my chest.
Within a couple of weeks I received information regarding an IVF medical study (which would significantly reduce the overall cost of the procedure) taking place at a prominent, highly-recommended fertility clinic in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. A few days later I received a call from my parents who encouraged us to investigate this opportunity and offered a significant contribution to assist. The phone call left me overwhelmed to consider that a gentle prompting acted upon by my parents could in fact be the miracle Parker had attested would come. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Less than a week later I was on an airplane to Indiana to visit my sister and her family. During my stay I became ill with an ear infection and, subsequently, received a humble priesthood blessing from my brother-in-law. The blessing contained a pearl of wisdom regarding my infertility struggle—a tender mercy I had longed for—which brought clarity and understanding to my mind and peace to my heart like nothing had before. That inspired blessing gave added strength to the testimony of faith that Parker had so poignantly helped restore.
I returned home from Indiana to an unexpected job interview for a reputable company. I interviewed the following week, but felt it a long shot—having never worked in the particular industry. The following day I flew to Las Vegas to inquire about the IVF study my parents had encouraged me to pursue. Just as I had suspected, the “flat rate” study contained numerous ancillary costs. Additionally, the patient could be pulled from the study at any time if the doctor felt it would be beneficial. Being pulled from the study also meant that the patient would become responsible for assuming full payment of a standard IVF treatment.

I arrived at my parents’ home where I was staying that same night and headed straight to my former bedroom, locking the doors behind me as I retreated to the walk-in closet—my safe place. Then, in rare fashion, I let every emotion break free. I cried. I sobbed. I wailed. The tears rushed down my face, my eyes burned with sorrow from the inside out, and I felt physically weak. I had been sure this study would be the miracle Parker and I had longed for. When would this torture end for us? With tears streaming down my face I prayed in silence for relief. In that moment I felt the reassuring comfort that, at my lowest of lows, there was nowhere to go but up. I still had no answers to how or when, which was yet a daunting feeling; however, I knew I had to continue to believe in that miracle Parker had promised God would bestow upon us.
Within a week of my return to San Diego from Las Vegas, I received an offer for the job I had interviewed for the week prior. Flabbergasted and characteristically averse to change, I told Parker that I was going to decline the offer. The stress of a new job was the last thing I needed at that moment. However, a prompting within instructed me otherwise. With much trepidation I accepted the position and turned in my two-week notice the following day.
It was that very leap of faith which led me to where I am today. I soon came to find out that my new job provided day-1 medical coverage which offered some infertility benefits. There were still hoops to jump through, the tests and authorization processes to face; however, in the most unforeseen way, our miracle had finally come.
Like most who face adversity, my once wounded soul has, in hindsight, become revitalized with faith and gratitude multiplied. In quiet reflection, I have found strength to acknowledge that despite the mental and emotional anguish of these past 3 years, God has been with me every step of the way. There were desperate, exhaustive moments where I fell bitterly distant from His comfort; yet, even still, He continually bid me to His care. On countless occasions His small, yet significant, blessings went unnoticed, masked by the heavy vapor of my grief. However, in moments of clarity and peaceful retrospect, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the divinely-calculated blessings bestowed upon me by an omniscient, benevolent God. In my deepest despair His comforting hand has soothed my grieving spirit and reignited the flame of hope within my heart.
If you have struggled or are stuggling with infertility, I'd love for you to share your personal story with me @ thebloomdiary@gmail.com.


  1. Oh Steph! So beautifully written and heart-wrenching to read. I have such admiration and love for you and Parker. I know that you will be the best parents to those babies waiting to come to you. I daydream about the day when we can put on our mom pants together and push our babies {giggling and covered in boogers} around the zoo! I want all your readers to know that I have NEVER known anyone who struggles with fertility have such grace as you do. Always helping with and attending baby showers. Quietly sitting and listening to birth story after birth story every girls night. You my dear are amazing, and loved more than you'll ever know!

  2. This is so brave of you to share your experience! You will really help others who are dealing with similar heartaches. I'm so glad that you took that job and it has great health benefits. Isn't life always a surprise? Whenever and however it happens for you, you will be a wonderful mother.

  3. What you wrote was so beautiful Stephanie. I can relate to crying in the closet and being tired of throwing other people's baby shower's even though you are happy for them. Your positive outlook and your faith will get you through. That baby or babies is out there and waiting to be born! I remember in my darkest moments reading the section in my patriarchal blessing over and over that talked about spirits waiting to come to me to get me through. The shots, the retrevial, the transfer, the money it's all worth it in the end.

  4. It's so hard to be blind to Heavenly Father's plans for us isn't it? Loved reading your story - thanks for sharing it! :)

  5. Steph! You possess such remarkable talent in so many areas! This is so beautiful. I think of you so often, and I truly can empathize with you as our stories are so similar. I love you more than you know, and I will add my prayers to yours and those who love you!

  6. Steph, this post--and YOU--are so beautiful. I am crying just thinking about all you've been through, and all the amazing grace, patience, faith and hope you've so courageously and quietly shown, even at your deepest, most poignant lows. And I'm crying, too, thinking about all that is certain to come to pass for you. I'm convinced the older I get that learning what it means for me to truly endure to the end and to patiently wait on the Lord is one of my life's most important (and most difficult) tasks--because it is so much more than simply enduring and waiting. Steph, you are such an inspiring example to me. You have always amazed me with your unending generosity and kindness, and your capacity to reach out to, to serve and to love others, no matter what your personal struggles are. Your example teaches me how to more patiently, gracefully and faithfully wait on the Lord, and I'm so grateful you're sharing your story. :)

    P.S. You are such a beautiful writer. Looking forward to reading more. :)

    1. You are a beautiful woman - inside and out. Your story is so touching and made us cry. You are an amazing writer and I know one day you will have the family that you yearn for and deserve. Hang in there Steph.

  7. Stephanie, I have just been reading your blog like a magazine, nay, a novel. You write so eloquently what so many women go through. And I have to agree with Lela, of anyone I know dealing with infertility, you are the absolute example of charity, love, and selflessness. You are surrounded my women who are currently mothers, and who have lots to share about that. I didn't know you before this phase of your life, but I'm sure you had most of these endearing qualities to begin with, but I think of your sweet kids, and how lucky they will be to have a mom like you. We love you. Can't wait to hear about those sweet embryos and we are praying for you!