Everyone’s infertility story is wildly different. There are many ways to build a family and it is all such a personal decision. Infertility and miscarriage also do not discriminate. Anyone can be impacted no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or economic status. We wanted to share with you some of these stories that are both raw and break the barriers of how most people perceive infertility.
We have the incredible privilege to begin a new series of personal stories. It will be a glimpse into each individual’s very personal struggle. Each one as you will read, are starkly different from one another. Carrie and Liz bravely shared with us the many barriers they experienced in trying to conceive as a same-sex couple with infertility and parenting after success.
This is what Carrie and Liz had to say to us when we asked them to get personal with us about their infertility struggle.
Let’s Get Personal With Carrie and Liz
This is us:
Liz and I ironically met in a sorority. I really believe it was by chance. We were both attending Radford and I rushed a sorority in the spring she was graduating from our organization. We became fast friends and well, as they say, the rest is history. We have been together for over 13 years and married for 6 years.
I think we’ve been through more than the average couple. We’ve gotten through obstacle after obstacle and it’s taken its toll on us, but here we are, stronger than ever. We’ve navigated our relationship status with unsuspecting friends and family. We’ve merged two families together, nicely (if I do say so myself) and of course get through some very trying times with our infertility struggles. Something I am not super public about is our daughter’s medical condition. Not only did we struggle to conceive, but finding out she had a mystery heart condition definitely threw us an unexpected curve ball. We are just parents after infertility trying to do our best and normalize our lives as much as possible!
Hobbies? Well, they include doing things as a family. Liz travels for work often and then will work from home the rest of the time. That leaves me with our miracle twins, so I spend a lot of time alone. Because of what it took to create our family, we try to spend plenty of time together when we can. Mostly, walks at night and just taking the kids to do new things they've never experienced before.
How Our Fertility Journey Started
Maybe it was just me being naive or (stupid?), but I guess I didn't really ever consider that we would have an infertility diagnosis. I realized that we would need to go somewhere to have a procedure done to get pregnant, but I would never have imagined we'd have infertility issues on top of that.
Once we figured it out, which was a pretty heart-wrenching process, we were aggressive with treatment. Our first RE had a requirement that we had to do 3 unmediated cycles, which is when we figured out the infertility part. We ended up doing over 7 intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) and had to use many series of injectable medications.
A month after Liz had her second miscarriage, we started to look into adoption. We contacted the agency and had received all of the necessary paperwork. We also attended foster family seminars and information sessions. We decided to try one last time before we went down that road and started the arduous process and we got pregnant with our twins.
Life is a real kick in the pants, isn't it?
We started treatment in 2013 when we moved back to Virginia. It began with 3 unmediated IUI cycles that all failed. We then started a small dosage of medicine (our reproductive endocrinologist (RE) was very conservative with medication protocols) and had yet another failure. I recall it was on the 5th IUI that we got pregnant. Sadly, this was the one that eventually ends in a miscarriage. That loss was heartbreaking.
We decided to do a couple more cycles without any success and came to the conclusion that our doctor wasn't being aggressive enough. That is when we found another RE. She looked over our records and decided to give us more medications and a more aggressive approach, which we agreed to. We got pregnant, but that also ended in a miscarriage and a D&C. It was traumatic for the both of us, but especially for Liz because it had been her body failing her all along. The morning of her D&C the lady next to her in recovery had just had a massive egg retrieval and I think that was a real kick in the ass for Liz. Here we were losing our baby that we worked so hard for and the lady next to her had 30 possibilities.
Two months later, in April 2016 the twins were conceived. We were worried all the time. At every appointment, every milestone. Were their hearts still beating? Did they grow from the last appointment? How was being pregnant with twins going to affect Liz's health? It was a bittersweet combination of being both excited and so scared all at once.
Where Are We Now?
It's crazy. You try for so long and you get what you asked for (x2) and now we're thinking about putting ourselves through it again, only this time I would carry. It's something I have always wanted to experience. I am as optimistic as I was before we ever started this process.
What We Want You to Know
There are so many things that I would and I actually do tell people going through this experience.
Don't give up. That's your child you're fighting for. If you don't feel comfortable with how your doctor is doing things, then get a second opinion. You and your child are worth that. You give up so much of yourself when you have children, but you never think it will be the same way when it comes time to conceive. Don't let failure get in your way. Just when you want to give up, keep going. You are 100% not alone.
Things that have changed: Maybe it's just me being optimistic, but I feel like there is definitely more awareness around fertility. I feel like women are more supported now, but that could just be because I am not currently in the thick of it.
Things that haven't changed: The cost. It's definitely cost prohibitive and it shouldn't be. You shouldn't have to be a millionaire to have a family. I think that is the most maddening part of it all. And that leads me into the next segment...
Let’s Talk Money
So, luckily Liz's IUIs were covered by my insurance, but it's not necessarily the IUIs that cost the most money. We spent at least $8,000 on sperm and I don't even know how much on medication, co-pays, diagnostic testing, and pregnancy tests. Not to mention the gas to get to and from the RE when you're in the monitoring phase of your cycle. We traveled almost an hour to get to our first RE's office on monitoring days.
Our Infertility in Numbers
- 7 IUIs
- $8000 in sperm
- 2 doctors
- 2 miscarriages
- 2 live heartbeats
Do you have a fertility story that you'd like to share? If so, we'd love to hear from you.