For two years, my husband and I have struggled with infertility. It didn’t start as a struggle. In fact, we thought we’d get pregnant within the first few months. When that didn’t happen, we were caught a bit off guard. It’s just not something I expected to happen to me at the age of 25.
In fact, most our our lives we were told how easy it is to get pregnant and that we should do all we can to prevent it. Imagine my shock at six months when it still didn’t happen. I had a feeling in my gut right then that something might be wrong and we could be in for a very long journey. I had seemingly no reason to have that gut feeling. Again, I was 25 years old. Jon was 31. Both young and healthy with no pre-existing issues to be concerned about. I had a regular monthly cycle, so couldn’t imagine what might be wrong. And yet, I still knew.
So I took my gut feeling and used it to make a phone call to my OBGYN. It was January of 2020, and would be our last appointment before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. We shared with the nurse that we’d been trying very intentionally over the past six months and that we weren’t having any success. I shared that we’d even been using ovulation strips to understand when we were in our “window”. It didn’t seem to matter what we said. The nurse was quick to dismiss us and ask that we come back if we still are having trouble after a year of trying. In the fertility world, this is the standard practice for those under 35 years old.
I immediately broke out into tears at their dismissal, and while it wasn’t how I wanted that appointment to go, it was the crying that encouraged the nurse to take action. She scheduled a series of labs for both Jon and me. We started on a train of bloodwork and exams that has continued to this day. After these initial exams, we were able to have a review with a doctor. She shared that Jon’s exams all came back clear, but that I had some concerning findings that could be contributing to our infertility. My bloodwork showed signs of elevated prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone, both of which can have an impact on fertility. It would take a full year of workups, ranging from extensive genetic testing, bloodwork, dye and saline tests, to finally get a diagnosis of what they think might be polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
I’m glad I advocated for testing, even if I did so with tears in my eyes. At the very least, I was able to begin treatment for the hypothyroidism and prolactinoma. We had hoped, of course, that being treated would mean we would get pregnant. And yet, months and then another year went by without a positive pregnancy test. No amount of prodding and poking and bloodwork and ultrasounds have changed our circumstances. Not even three rounds of in-utero insemination got us any closer to bringing home a baby.
As we begin conversations with our doctor around in-vitro fertilization, I’m scared. I know this will require even more of us, which doesn’t seem possible given all it’s taken from us already. Even in my darkest moments, I remain hopeful. I do believe that this won’t be the end of our story, and a more joyful chapter is just around the corner. Like a flickering candle, our hope wanes but never fully goes out. Every once in a while, a gust of faith swoops in to provide oxygen to our flame. No matter how badly this bruises us, we will keep down this path until we find the door that leads us to Baby Lynch.
This experience has tested me beyond my limits. It has been a constant reminder that there is so little within my control, if anything is at all. It’s terrifying and humbling all at the same time. It has required me to lean on my faith, which might be the best thing that has come from this whole experience.
I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy. While I wish everyday we could turn the page on this chapter and finally have a child of our own, I hope in the meantime that my story can help others. It’s this deep pain and feeling of loss that inspired me to dig into my husband’s story of loss as a 9/11 Surviving Children. It’s what urged me to learn more about other 9/11 Surviving Children and how they’ve been able to pick up the pieces after enormous tragedy. Their valuable insights after 20 years of grief have propelled me forward while I walk through my own. I hope the stories they’ll share with you in Rise from the Ashes: Stories of Trauma, Resilience, and Growth From the Children of 9/11 inspires you to continue on in your story as well.