How Sharing My Story Helped Me Through IVF

Kelly and her husband are college sweethearts who always dreamed of having a family together. After nine years of dating, they tied the knot in 2019 and did not wait long before starting their fertility journey. However, the newlyweds were surprised to find out that conceiving was not as easy as they expected it to be. Growing up they heard many warnings about taking precautions to not get pregnant, but no one talked about the possibility of infertility.

Months went by and she wasn’t pregnant, so Kelly went to her OB/GYN for guidance. Since she was under 35 and healthy, her doctor suggested that she wait a little longer before seeking help. Kelly did as her doctor recommended but grew more concerned with every month that went without a positive pregnancy test.

Help from the Infertility Community

The stress of struggling to conceive combined with what seemed like an influx of pregnancy announcements on social media was taking an emotional toll. She started looking to others in the infertility community for support and following social media accounts like Infertile Millennial and Fertility Rescripted which made her feel less alone. It was the guidance and support of others in the infertility community that encouraged her to take the next step and consult with a fertility specialist. Kelly shared, “I would post or like things online about infertility, and lot of my high school friends and acquaintances started reaching out to me. A family friend along the way recommended Fertility Centers of Illinois.”

The couple scheduled a consultation with Dr. Christopher Sipe who revealed their fertility testing results suggested the reason they weren’t getting pregnant was male factor infertility. The diagnosis surprised Kelly and her husband who had no idea that nearly 50% of infertility cases are affected by a male factor.

Despite the circumstances, Dr. Sipe’s proven successes and bedside manner put them at ease. “The first time we went into his office I instantly felt positive about it because he had pictures of the babies that he helped make possible, which was comforting. He was very lighthearted even though it’s a very serious topic and you’re feeling overwhelmed and depressed about it. He had a logical list of all the steps we had to follow so it made it easy to understand for both of us.”

Starting IVF

Given their diagnosis, they decided to jump into in-vitro fertilization (IVF) right away for the best chance of getting pregnant. Having to go through IVF along with the frequent monitoring appointments and the medication protocol wasn’t easy for Kelly, but building a strong support system got her through it.

“I really went into IVF not knowing much at all. No one in my family or really any of my friends that I talked to on a daily basis have been through the IVF process, as far as I know,” Kelly explained. She had the support of her husband and talked with a therapist. She found comfort in snuggles with her dog.

Building a Support System

Where she found most of her support, though, was in a community she never expected to join. “I was reposting stuff on social media about infertility awareness and people would reach out to me. I found out one of my friends from high school was going through it. She reached out to me and we’d chat about the different medications. I learned that everyone is different. Friends I talked to didn’t have the same medication as me, some did. It was helpful to have other people who reached out to bounce questions off of, especially if a nurse wasn’t available or just to commiserate.”

Kelly also appreciated the support she received from her care team. She shared, “Fertility Centers of Illinois staff were really good at answering my questions if I had them. You get to know the front desk staff pretty well, especially in the beginning stages when you’re getting your blood drawn and ultrasounds every week. Even when I was scheduling appointments, they would know me because they knew my name and heard my voice so many times. You don’t really want to go into a fertility clinic, but it makes it a little easier when there’s staff there that build a relationship with you.”

Kelly’s care team and members of the infertility community continued to show an outpouring of support for the couple as her egg retrieval and embryo transfer day came and went. The two-week wait was agonizing as they anxiously anticipated the results of their cycle. Kelly and her husband had to tap into every ounce of willpower they had to resist taking a home pregnancy test to ensure an accurate result.  

Making Her Dream a Reality

Once it was finally time to test, they couldn’t believe what they were told. “When I found out I was pregnant, I was in disbelief for a while. You’re so used to not getting great news. I was very excited, and so was my husband. I remember when I had my graduation day the front desk staff were all very happy for me as well.”

The couple was over-the-moon about expecting a new addition to their family, but Kelly still struggled at times. “There’s always something in the back of your mind when you deal with infertility. Even when you’re getting ready to announce your pregnancy. It took a while for me to post anything or tell people because you’re afraid to jinx it. After I did announce it, I made it a point to say I went through IVF when people were asking, and I found out that more people I know went through it.” Also, when Kelly shared the good news with her friend from high school and fellow infertility warrior, she was excited to learn that they would be bump buddies because she was pregnant with an FCI baby, too!

Kelly welcomed her baby in May 2023, and the family could not be more in love with their little miracle. “Constantine (Tino) was born on May 9th and he is so loved. Sometimes when days are rough, I look back to the days I recorded myself administering shots or think back to the difficult days waiting for lab results and know that he was fully worth it.” And Kelly is not alone! Her friend is also in the new mom club. Kelly shared, “She just had her FCI baby and it’s crazy because we were just in the trenches.”

Words of Wisdom

For others struggling with infertility and seeking help, she shared, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell your story. Talking about infertility was a game-changer for me. I quickly learned so many other people I knew were dealing with similar issues. Their friendship and line of communication became essential to my sanity during the IVF process.”