'This is grief': Local woman shares her battle with infertility

Courtesy of Katie Hundley

10 News is taking an in-depth look at infertility — sharing the new treatments, struggles, medical technology, cost of infertility and more. You can find more of those stories by clicking on the Only on 10 tab at the top of wsls.com. 

This blog is written by a local woman, Katie Hundley.

No one prepares you for this. How could they? Most of us never imagine that when we decide to grow our families the journey could be long, hard, and full of twists and turns. But some of us are right here, sitting in this heavy experience, all the same. 

For my husband and I, that journey began in 2012. While we did welcome a baby boy in 2016, he was years in the making through infertility struggles and a pregnancy loss. Now that we struggle to grow our family again, it feels like we’ve been on this road all along. Like the journey never missed a beat as we continue in uncertainty. I feel like we’ve learned so much, and although I wouldn’t call ourselves experts, I’m hopeful in sharing our experience and what we’ve learned we just might help someone else. 

1) There’s no wrong way to go about this. 

Since beginning our infertility journey, we’ve been faced with medical decisions hundreds of times. How much testing to do. Which provider to go with. More testing, more waiting, more medications, you name it. So here’s the thing, this journey is yours and yours alone. There is no wrong way to go through this journey. There is only the way you decide is best for you. In my situation, it is only the way I decide with my partner is best for us. It’s OK to hear the options from your doctor(s) and take time to sleep on it, talk to others, research. It’s OK to decide there are things you are not willing to do, or to even decide you are done. I’ve turned down an exploratory surgery that a doctor recommended because my intuition told me it was not for me. At this time, I’ve pushed for moving forward in the treatment process, for us IUI versus more diagnostic testing because it’s what we decide we wanted. This experience can often feel so out of our control, so I really believe finding places where you can assert that control is important. 

2) There’s no wrong place to be emotionally. 

You get to feel what you feel and there are no wrongs when it comes to your emotions during this experience. I’ve been excited and terrified and energized and drained and everywhere in between. This is a complicated experience and so, too, our emotions get to be complicated. People around you are not always going to know what you’re going through, but please don’t feel you need to wear a mask. I get it, I do, but the mask is too much to wear on top of it all. So feel what you need to feel, when you feel safe to feel it. It’s the only way through. I hope you can have a few trusted others who can let you be where you are without trying to change you. Support groups can be so helpful, just to hear the, “Me, too, girl,” versus someone trying to move you to a different place emotionally, tell you to have hope, or offering one more “tip” as if it were that simple. 

3) This is grief. 

This journey is a grief journey. For me, it began with the mounting negative pregnancy tests past the 12-month mark of time the average couple conceives. I remember a vacation crying as I walked down the beach watching kids play in the sand, longing for our own child. I, too, remember Easters and Halloweens and all those kid-centered activities where there would just be an ache in my heart. This only grew in intensity after we had our first miscarriage in February 2014. Even now that we have our one child on this earth, I still am allowed to grieve the vision we’ve long had for our family of having more than one child — all while we work on changing that. Grief shows up 100 different ways on 100 different days and it’s all valid. Grief is messy and grief demands to be felt for what we long for, what we lost, and the uncertainty of our future. 

I imagine you’ll be lonely in this experience at times. I know I have been. But it’s important to remember we are not alone.

Here are a few online and person resources I’ve used when I’ve needed extra support and that I’ve just found helpful:

- Southwest Virginia Infertility Support Group - in person and online group
- Miss.Conception Coach Group - online group 
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association - resources and education 
- Kindara application - for tracking cycles, temperatures, etc.

I hope that in sharing our story we are helping spread awareness, and for those of you who share struggles, that you might feel a little less alone. Let us continue this conversation and refuse secrecy and shame. 

With love, 

Katie Hundley 

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