While I had never been officially diagnosed, some symptoms I had previously experienced made me concerned that I had Endometriosis, which was eventually confirmed. After unsuccessfully trying on our own, I had a nagging feeling something was wrong and began seeing a RE. After conceiving with an IUI and Clomid I was elated to conceive for the first time. I was overjoyed to be pregnant and was left shocked and devastated with the loss of that pregnancy with an ectopic and some complications which left IVF the only option for me. I proceeded with IVF with much anticipation and was crushed when my first attempt failed. Ultimately I was blessed to conceive my twins through IVF and welcomed them in 2014 with joy after a challenging pregnancy. During the time I was struggling to conceive I felt isolated, envious of people getting pregnant naturally, anxious with uncertainty, and often hopeless. I felt resentful that I was experiencing infertility in my 20s. I struggled with social situations where I had to be around pregnant friends and colleagues. Though my battle through infertility is behind me, I vividly remember the pain. During this period I sought comfort from people who had gone through IVF and pregnancy loss and these relationships were a lifeline to me. I hope I could provide some hope and pregnancy to others who are on this journey.
My husband and I were married for a year before trying to conceive a child. Because of my age, 38, we were referred to an experienced Infertility Specialist. After two years, I’d had two surgeries, three failed IVFs with never having had any eggs to transfer, and were told we had less than 5% of ever conceiving a child. So we began to research and interview adoption agencies, as we knew we wanted a family and were ready to take our next step. Three months later, we found out that I was pregnant, having conceived the old-fashioned way. We passed every milestone of early pregnancy and arrived at our 12-week mark. I soon started to show and at 18 weeks an amino showed that the baby was progressing wonderfully. We were scheduled at 21 weeks to find out the sex of our baby. The day before that appointment I started cramping at work, and soon after began to bleed heavily. I had an emergency D and E which was just a day shy of birthing a stillborn. My husband and I were very shocked. We actually couldn’t understand what was going on and came home to all of our hopes and dreams shattered. As an early childhood teacher, it was very hard for me to go back to work immediately so I took two weeks off to heal and begin to deal with the grief and shock of it all. I cried a lot and grieved not only for myself but for my husband and the dreams that he had about what our family would be. About four months later, in September 2013, we began the adoption process with a wonderful adoption agency. We did home studies, took parenting classes, created a letter to birth parents and made a photo book which told our story. We became “live” and were matched when our son was born in August 2014. I believe that once a baby is born all parents are in the same boat, no matter how their family was created. We always say if we knew then what we know now, we would have started the adoption process earlier. Just like going through IVF in which you learn a new language and dialogue, adoption is the same way. I’m hoping to be able to help educate others and let other families know that they are not alone.
I had difficulty conceiving because I have PCOS and irregular ovulation. For me, the most traumatic aspect was when I thought about being the end of a chain of generations of Jews. It had always been important to me to be a link in the chain and pass on our heritage. Yet, the stories of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Hannah were painful to me—they struggled, but eventually succeeded. I wondered whether God answers prayers by giving us what we want, or by giving us the strength we need to cope. I had a great desire not only to nurture a child, but also to pass on my genetic traits, and see them in combination with my husband’s. After several cycles of Clomid, I became pregnant just before applying to adopt. After my first son was born, we began trying again as soon as my body was able. It took several years, using shots and IUI, before I conceived again. I found out I was pregnant when I began bleeding soon after what seemed like a period. I thought I was miscarrying at the same time I found out I was pregnant. It ended up that I was pregnant with twins, and one was implanted in a bad place and didn’t look healthy. I ended up having a “Vanishing Twin,” and bled through my first trimester. Thankfully, my second son was born with no other serious pregnancy complications, five years after my first son was born.
While our first round of IVF was successful, my husband and I made the heartbreaking decision to terminate our pregnancy of a baby girl at 14 weeks after a severe birth defect was discovered. Devastated and anxious, we embarked on another round of IVF, which was successful, and we welcomed a healthy baby boy last year. I expected to be elated to finally have the baby I had dreamed of for years, yet following his birth, I was consumed with despair and anxiety which was incredibly confusing and disheartening (not to mention guilt-inducing). I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, which I later learned is more common in women who have undergone fertility treatments and/or had a pregnancy loss. I never could have imagined all of the struggle I would endure to start a family and leaning on my support network of family and friends was crucial. I have tried become an advocate in both my modern orthodox community and my wider neighborhood, speaking openly about my fertility and motherhood struggles to encourage open dialogue and conversation about topics that can still be considered taboo.
It took many years to get pregnant. Ignorant of how many women use some sort of medical intervention to get pregnant, I was not willing to get medical help, as I assumed “it was meant to be” or “God did not want me to get pregnant.” In my very late 30s I started to get pregnant and then miscarry. It was a horrible cycle. Emotionally, I was a mess. I had a D and C for my first miscarriage and there was an error with the anesthesia, so part of my body was numb for a few days. I bled out during my second miscarriage. It was SO painful, and I was leading a synagogue tour to Israel at the time. My last pregnancy was not only viable, but it lasted 42 weeks. The entire time I was a basketcase. I did not believe my daughter would enter the world. I was cautious and pessimistic as I had no reason to be optimistic. Finally, I became a mom at age 40. I am not trying for more. I cannot deal with the agony of defeat in case it does not work out. When people ask if I am having more children (which is a question that should be banned from conversations) I always say “I did it right on the first one”.
I always knew I wanted to have children and being married to another woman meant there would be challenges, but not impossible. I was 31 when we started trying. We tried on our own with my partner’s cousin as the sperm donor, and after six months of trying on our own, we started working with different providers and having more Reproductive Technology assistance. I had 12 IUIs, in addition to 6 at-home inseminations. We tried Clomid, ultrasounds, acupuncture, charting, and pretty much anything anyone recommended. Eventually, we had a consult with an IVF clinic. We were met with discrimination and ignorance regarding our family situation because we had a known donor. We ended up switching IVF clinics to a place more LGBT friendly. On the two year anniversary of our first try, I had my first embryo transfer. We transferred two embryos and one successfully implanted and became my son who was born in the fall of 2012. We were able to freeze three embryos, and the day before my son turned 2, we transferred one embryo, which implanted successfully and became my daughter, who was born in the Spring of 2015. I was the gestational carrier of both children, using my eggs and my wife’s cousin as sperm donor. He is married and now has a daughter, a sister-cousin to my children, born in winter of 2016.
I had difficult periods and then suffered from bouts of pain and discomfort. It was discovered I had fibroids which led to abdominal surgery. My endocrinologist/gynecologist immediately started me on Clomid when my husband and I wanted to get pregnant as he knew we’d have difficulty. After one month of that, we moved on to monthly injections and watching the clock. We did this for 12 long months. It was in month 13 when we actually did IVF. There were 5 embryos and we inserted one. We were beyond lucky as I did become pregnant and had a healthy pregnancy which resulted in a daughter. We froze the other embryos for later and when my daughter was 3, we did one frozen embryo transfer at a time and none of them worked. In fact, the last embryo did not survive its thaw. Devastated, I unraveled into a severe depression which resulted in 2 psychiatric hospitalizations and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). After a lot of work in therapy, I am now at peace and so thankful for my 6 year old daughter and my husband.
I’d always had highly erratic, unpredictable periods, so even before my husband and I began trying, I feared I would have trouble getting pregnant. At 31, lacking any semblance of a regular cycle, I consulted a Reproductive Endocrinologist, and was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I began treatment with Clomid and eventually transitioned to IUI with injectable medication. I felt very isolated in my infertility, and sought connection by joining a small group of women who were undergoing ART/IVF on a timeframe similar to my own. My journey towards motherhood seemed full of hurdles (physical pain, emotional pain) but I was determined to endure difficulty if it would enable me to become a parent. I somehow believed in the importance of nurturing my own tiny inner light — an awareness that this was my challenge to face but that I would not let this experience define me. After one year in treatment, on my third round of IUI, I conceived a son. Infertility was the most difficult emotional challenge I had ever been through, and I although I have been a mom for many years now, I still vividly remember that painful time.
My fertility journey started with a struggle to overcome and manage depression and anxiety. I tried all different medications and tried getting off medications as well. It took me years to find a doctor who treated me such that I could try to conceive. By that time, I had hit advanced maternal age and learned of reproductive challenges ahead of me too. Throughout the process of becoming pregnant and becoming a mom, the most important mantra I kept in my head is a “healthy mama creates a healthy baby.” For me, this started with my mental health and remains true today, even when I have to make difficult daily decisions about my children’s care – how much can I do well myself and how much help do I need in order to be the best mama I can be?
I’m the mother of 2 adult children both born in Korea. When my husband and I were ready to start a family, pregnancy never happened and no definitive cause was found. I was diagnosed with endometriosis but was told that was not necessarily the reason. We briefly considered various fertility treatments but at the time (early 1980s) everything was very new, expensive, time-consuming and not very promising. We had friends with adopted Korean children, there were local adoptive parents groups and as we found out more about international adoption, it was clear that was what we wanted to do. Our son arrived after only nine months of waiting and four years later we adopted our daughter. Raising our children and creating a family is the best thing my husband and I have ever done together and I can’t imagine my life any other way. How it happens that you can bond with first the idea of a child, then a small photo and some details, and then the real child is something that is amazing, mysterious and totally natural all at the same time. I would like to share my experiences and what I’ve learned about infertility, adoption, and being Jewish with others going through something similar.
After having a first child without any fertility challenges, I assumed I’d get pregnant with a second child easily. But as months of negative HPTs passed, I began to worry and in desperation ran to the medical world. I soon learned about “secondary infertility” and began an incredibly painful journey through the world of fertility treatments: Clomid, IUIs, being told that I had a very high FSH for my age, and that my chances of getting pregnant naturally were around 2%. Thinking I had no other option, I turned to IVF. After 2 IVF cycles that yielded no fertilized eggs, we tried a third time with just one embryo, and I did get pregnant, but lost the little life at 6 weeks. I was told that my options were donor eggs or adoption. We began to pursue adoption, though deep down I knew that my body was not done. I searched for natural options and changed my diet (including giving up vegetarianism), took supplements and used acupuncture. I was fortunate enough to find several healers who taught me to heal emotionally, who enabled me to believe that my body was healthy and that it could conceive. The month that one of my healers looked me in the eyes and told me I had done all the crucial emotional work and I was ready to get pregnant, my husband and I conceived twins–completely naturally.
My journey to parenthood is not significantly different than many women. I was 35 years old. I had recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and after figuring out the right medication, I went into remission. But, something was still missing from my life. Not something. Someone. And so I began what ended up being a multi-year journey to becoming a parent. I worked with many doctors, doctors who officially treated me and doctors who were my friends, held my hand and answered my questions. Along the way, I suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy before success with IVF. I like to say that I tried to have every obstetric experience. While each experience was painful, I knew that for a woman in her late 30s, they weren’t necessarily abnormal. What was slightly abnormal was that unlike many woman who suffer through this process, I was doing it by myself. I am a single mom by choice.
I decided to pursue parenthood at age 38, on my own as a single mother. I knew that I was late to the game, that it might be hard to conceive, and that I would require assisted fertility. I spent three years on the “fertility roller-coaster” and my experiences included trying to conceive with a partner, trying to conceive with live donor sperm, medicated IUIs with anonymous donor sperm, and six rounds of unsuccessful IVF. None of my attempts at conceiving were successful. I was not interested in donor eggs. At age 41, I shifted gears and pursued an international adoption. It was clear to me that my top priority was to be a mother. I slowly let go of my dreams of being pregnant and carrying a child and replaced them with dreams of being a mother to a child who needed a mother. I was very lucky and within the year I became mother to a wonderful 11 month old boy. Three months after we were matched I traveled to Ethiopia to bring him home. Today my son is 11 years old. I have enjoyed being a mother more than I could have ever imagined. While being a single parent has its challenges, they have been for the most part, minor. I am glad I took the leaps of faith that enabled me to do this on my own, to try multiple paths to parenthood, and to cross an ocean to find my son. I would be happy to listen and support anyone on a similar journey.
As a teenager, I had irregular periods and at age 19 was put on birth control pills to regulate my cycle but the OB/GYN warned me that I might face future reproductive issues. At 31, just five months after my husband and I were married, I had a miscarriage at five weeks. My doctor said it was a chromosomal issue; she directed us to keep trying, and to contact her if I hadn’t conceived in six months. Three months later, I switched doctors but soon thereafter I still wasn’t pregnant, so she referred me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who was very supportive while we went on the hormonal roller coaster of IUI. The RE told us that due to very poor egg production and low ovarian reserve, I would not conceive on my own, nor was I a candidate for IVF. He identified three options for us: donor egg, adoption, or live child-free and “be great aunts and uncles”. We decided that egg donation was the route for us to go and did research on maternal genes through blood and pregnancy. I was just to happy to think that my husband’s genes would be within our child, and there is research to support that via carrying a child I might contribute some of my own genetic material. We were successful with donor egg IVF and conceived within 6 months. Our son is a carbon copy of my husband and has so much of my personality in him. He is a miracle and makes my heart burst with love when I look at him. I had to have faith to try and conceive again, so 13 months after my son was born, we did another successful donor egg IVF and in January 2017, I gave birth to his sister. Growing up as a religious Jew, I had many questions about whether my children were “technically Jewish” and needed to follow a halachic process after they were born for an unofficial conversion. I believe that my children, growing inside me, have Jewish souls. Donor egg donation is a gift beyond the scope of understanding. Without the kindness of the donors and the diligent folks in the medical field working tirelessly to enhance the IVF technology, we would not be parents today. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and I believe it’s up to you to fill up that village.
Due to irregular periods as a teenager, I went on birth control pills at a young age. At 27, I discovered that without those pills, I could not ovulate. With the help of a fabulous Reproductive Endocrinologist, I discovered I had both PCOS (Polycystic Ovarion Syndrome) and a genetic disorder common in Ashkenazi Jews, a double gene mutation in my MTHFR gene, which caused my body to reject folic acid, have elevated platelet counts, and have uterine blood clots. Over the course of 3 years, I went through many types of treatment- acupuncture, Clomid, IUI, injection medicines, and eventually IVF. I experienced a rare side effect of IVF, over stimulation, which resulted in weeks of painful recovery. After 3 chemical pregnancies, 2 ovarian cysts, and a miscarriage at 11 weeks, I finally conceived and successfully delivered my wonderful son. As a member of the observant Jewish community during this process, I experienced alienation, isolation, and even the loss of friends, which caused a period of deep depression. I lied to everyone around me and kept these struggles a secret for more than two years. Only when I opened up and began to share my story did I find comfort and acceptance. For myself and other women like me in religious communities, going to shul and seeing all the pregnant bellies, and other mothers my age with four kids, is a constant reminder that my family is not going to look the way I once dreamed. I have finally reached a place of peace with this fact, and have a burning desire to connect with others and help them feel the same.
My wife’s longstanding diagnosis of endometriosis gave her fears about infertility, which ultimately proved to be true. After months of trying to get pregnant naturally, Clomid and an IUI that ultimately led to an ectopic pregnancy, we ended up with IVF as the only viable path to pregnancy. On our 2nd cycle, my wife got pregnant with twins. The twin pregnancy came with some not uncommon scares and close calls, but our babies were born at 36w 2d (pretty good by twin standards) and our family was complete, with 2 great kids who were born in 2014. The journey was easier than some, harder than others, and my wife took it particularly hard — so I learned to play the role of a supportive spouse through what is a very hard journey no matter how long or short. There’s no playbook for this role, and striking the balance between providing empathy along with confidence and optimism was often challenging. I look forward to helping others who are charting that same course of playing the important but often undiscussed spouse role.