I have to start by saying, to those of you who read my last post about Single vs. Multiple Embryo Transfers, my 4th cycle of IVF has failed and we have been thrown a curveball that will take our path through infertility into some new territory that we were not expecting.  We are not ready to give up our fight yet and we will continue this courageous battle until we get our miracle!

When CooperGenomics asked me to be a monthly contributor to their blog I was honored. They told me that they were aiming to build their infertility support network and that is what really drew me to take this opportunity. The world of infertility is vast and scary, but it is totally navigable if you take a little time and effort to place yourself in it. If you’re like me, then you throw yourself right into the middle of it, but you may be more comfortable taking baby steps and that is ok too. The important thing is that the world of infertility is survivable and is actually (this might be hard to believe) an amazing place filled with the strongest couples you will ever meet.

Infertility is a disease. Some people will be fortunate enough to get a diagnosis and more than likely, a cure, and some will not be so fortunate. It’s like cancer. Some will survive and some will succumb (but not literally). It does not discriminate in any way. It doesn’t care if you’re financially stable and ready, it doesn’t care if it’s all you think about it, and that it’s the deepest desire of your heart. Anyone can suffer from it. People of all races, genders, shapes, sizes, etc. can possibly suffer from infertility. It’s not always the woman who has the issue, the percentage of couples affected with male factor versus female factor infertility is roughly the same. It may not have affected anyone else in your family; you may have no idea where it came from. That is infertility, a lot of unknowns and undoubtedly, a disease.

Although infertility doesn’t often lead to death like other diseases might, there are still ways to “survive” it. There are ways to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even though you never know for sure if you will ever get pregnant. Although everyone handles their journey differently, there are some things that I see most of my TTC sisters doing in order to survive, things that we all do, that we need to do, to get through this.

  1. A positive attitude—this is the #1 advice I give to anyone new to this world. STAY POSITIVE. I’ve been TTC for 4 years, have had 2 IUI’s, 4 IVF cycles, and 1 m/c (miscarriage). Through it all I have kept as positive and optimistic as I possibly can. I am a firm believer in positive attitude=positive outcomes. Keep the positive vibes flowing as often as possible! It won’t always be easy, you WILL have hard days, you WILL have doubts, you WILL want to give up, you just have to make sure you pull yourself out of those moments and keep yourself on the happy track.
  1. A strong support system—I feel like #2 could put up a good fight to be #1. You won’t get anywhere in this world without a support system. Most importantly, it’s not about the quantity of people you have it’s about the quality. People who truly believe in you and your dream. Not everyone will. You may not want every single person in your life to know what you’re going through but I still urge you to collect a small group of people who you trust and love. The most important person in this system will be your partner. Be on the same page with them, understand and accept that both of you will go through hardships. I also suggest another Infertility/TTC sister who can truly relate, and maybe a best friend, a mom, or an aunt. Someone besides your partner that you can vent with. If you’re not sure how to find other TTC/Infertility sisters, the best place is Instagram where you can create either a public or private account. There are thousands of us out there on social media supporting each other every single day.
  1. An outlet—a journal, a blog, a support group. Anywhere that you can vent your frustrations, share your story, write your feelings, etc. For me, it’s blogging. Blogging has been a blessing I couldn’t even begin to explain. I’ve met some amazing people and have been given some amazing opportunities through blogging. It isn’t for everyone, so journaling is something else I suggest that is obviously much more private and so good for the soul. Everyone should journal!
  1. A will to live your life—DO NOT let infertility take away your will to keep living your normal life. Infertility doesn’t define us and it isn’t all that life has to give us it doesn’t have to consume our every single thought. Count your blessings often and it will keep you sane and it will help you remember that there’s a lot more to life than trying to become parents. For us, we just built a brand new home which completed construction in May 2015. We did most of the work ourselves and it was really our biggest accomplishment and a huge blessing for us! We also love to take our Harley on camping trips, we have a pug that we adore, we love spending time with our friends and family and much much more!
  1. An ability to step back—at some point, you WILL need a break. Infertility is the longest road you can possibly travel. It does not often move quickly and it’s most often a lot of waiting. You wait for periods, you wait for cycles to start, you wait for test results, you wait to have surgery– it usually feels like a never-ending waiting game. When we started treatment we did 2 IUI’s right away back to back then tried for a 3rd but I kept getting overstimulated so we decided to move onto IVF. Then we quickly did 3 IVF cycles back to back taking toll after toll on ourselves emotionally. None of them ended up in BFP except for our second IUI which ended in a 4 week miscarriage. After the 3rd failed IVF cycle my husband said enough. It is time for a break. So that’s what we did. We took a mini vacation to Wisconsin Dells in December of 2014 and took time to re-evaluate our situation. It was an amazing time. We reconnected and I didn’t realize how badly we needed that until it was happening. It can be hard to admit to yourself that it’s time for a break, but it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It doesn’t have to be long, but let your mind clear. Taking a step back will often lead you to a different perspective and clearer view of the big picture.

I know that my TTC Sisters would agree and could probably contribute a lot more to this.  There are so many ways to keep your spirit alive while traveling down this extremely emotional path.  It will be a challenge, but if you own your situation and become your own advocate you will survive and you will flourish!

Elena Ridley

My name is Elena, author of Baby Ridley Bump. My husband and I got married in 2011 and have been trying to start a family ever since. We had no idea that we would be dealt the card of infertility but have decided to become advocates for infertility awareness and are sharing our story and pursuing every avenue we can to make our miracle.