After many years of struggling with infertility, Tina Donvito found her herself struggling to feel a sense of belonging among other moms. Tina wrote about this, the other side of infertility, here. On her blog, FoggyMommy, she opens up about infertility, pregnancy loss, and motherhood.
We reached out to Tina and are so grateful she was happy to share more of her story with us!
Briefly share your infertility story.
It took six years, seven IVF cycles, and five miscarriages before I had a successful pregnancy. My body was like the perfect storm of infertility — not only did I have trouble getting pregnant, I soon learned that I had trouble staying pregnant as well. I had diminished ovarian reserve, endometriosis, and some blood clotting factors. My losses did not fit a pattern and so it was hard for doctors to understand what was causing them — I had a few early miscarriages (one after hearing a heartbeat), an ectopic pregnancy, and a loss at 17 weeks after a lot of bleeding throughout the pregnancy. Eventually I saw a reproductive immunologist, who tried somewhat experimental and controversial treatments. I’m not sure if they worked or if it was just luck, but I was able to have a fairly smooth pregnancy with my son.
What things helped you cope with infertility? Whose support during that time stands out to you, why?
My husband was my rock. It wasn’t always easy to be married to me during that time, but he was always there for me no matter what we were going through. Ironically this horrible experience brought us closer as a couple. I also had great support from my mom and sister, who I’m very close with, as well as the rest of our family. The people whose support stands out to me were those who didn’t offer platitudes or advice, but just listened, and had compassion and understanding. Friends who cut me some slack if I wanted to skip their baby shower, that kind of thing.
One of the most supportive things anyone said to me came from someone I don’t even know that well. She just said to me at a child-filled gathering, “I heard what you are going through. It must be hard for you to be around all these babies. I just wanted you to know we’re thinking about you and are here for you.” That’s all it takes to be supportive. Also, I got a lot of support from a message board, later a private Facebook group, for other women dealing with infertility.
What were you most looking forward to as a new mom?
I’m not sure if there was any one thing; just to be able to experience life with a child: holidays, birthdays, even the everyday moments of watching my child learn and play and grow. Of course, during my pregnancy I was just waiting to finally hold him in my arms. When I finally did, it was so surreal — I couldn’t believe I was really a mom!
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d share with women facing infertility?
I tend to refrain from giving advice because everyone experiences infertility differently, and there is nothing anyone can really say to make it better. What helped me, though, was the realization that I could be a mother even if I didn’t get pregnant. But I had to come to terms with it myself; no one could really tell me that. Knowing that there were other options out there — adoption, third-party reproduction — helped me, but then again, those options aren’t for everyone. I guess I would say that there is an end to infertility, whether it’s a successful pregnancy, adoption, or living child-free.
Tell us about your blog! How has writing helped you navigate motherhood?
When I was laid off from my magazine staff position after my maternity leave, I decided to stay home instead of looking for another full-time job. I started my blog, foggymommy.com, because I missed having a creative outlet, and blogging allows me to write what I want without the hustle of freelance writing — although I do that too, and have written about pregnancy and parenting for The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Fit Pregnancy, fitpregnancy.com, Scary Mommy, and Mamalode.
I’ve found that parenting after infertility and loss is its own challenge, because the scars of what I’ve gone through have stayed with me and affect how I parent. So I write a lot from that point of view, which I think most people don’t really think about. It’s nice to hear both from fertile people who tell me that my writing has given them a new understanding of infertility, and from infertile people who say they feel supported and not alone.
Infertility is so isolating, and there is still so much stigma, misinformation, and misunderstanding surrounding it. I want to be open about that experience, as well as about the general experience of being a mom. Too often we hide our truths behind what we think is “normal” or “the right way” of doing things. I want to break down those barriers and have an honest, real conversation about the experience of having children.