I am so thankful for Infertility Awareness Week, as it gives those who struggle an outlet to come together and raise one another up. More women are affected than you think.
Did you know that about 12% of women experience difficulties becoming pregnant or carrying a child to term? Or, that 1 in 8 couples in America sadly encounter fertility hurdles and 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss.
The baby making business is not easy! To me, infertility is a silent loss. The loss of possibilities that are so longed for. The loss that isn’t out for everyone to see. It’s the type of loss that many hold so privately because they are too scared to whisper their struggle in fear it will jinx them or cause future hurt.
Infertility is heartbreaking.
When you are TTC (Trying to Conceive) there is nothing in life you want more. It is a longing that consumes your every thought. I pray for the women and families who are experiencing infertility. I know it is a struggle but you are not alone.
My story of trying to conceive is a little different… I didn’t struggle with infertility long term, but I feel my case was heightened because of what I previously had experienced.
I have had three pregnancies. My husband, Lucas and I have two babies on earth and one in heaven. Our oldest son, Baylis, is 9, our angel baby in heaven, John Ellis, is 4, and our rainbow baby, Stanton is 2. Our sweet boys.
Tragically, we lost John Ellis at 35 weeks gestation due to a misdiagnosed case of Cholestasis of Pregnancy. He is our perfect angel in every way. We were shattered due to this condition we had never heard of. We host an event in his honor called Hope From John Ellis Benefit through One Wing Foundation to raise funds for pregnancy, stillbirth, infant loss, Cholestasis awareness, offer grants, as well as to donate Cuddle Cots to local areas.
After the loss of our son, I wanted to get pregnant immediately.
I can’t explain it. It was a yearning like no other! It was by no means, and I mean no means trying to replace John Ellis. There is no replacing a child you lost. They will always hold a private and special place in your heart. You will always miss them.
It was two separate feelings all at once. One emotion was grieving the loss of John Ellis while the other emotion was wanting a baby. My arms ached to hold my baby.
My first two pregnancies happened pretty quickly, so of course, I just knew the third pregnancy would happen quickly. But, not so much. I was also older than before. Every month was a huge let down when I would see the test display “NOT PREGNANT”.
It was too much on top of already grieving. A heartbreak every time. For one year we tried to have another baby. It was just hard! And, it was very hard to see those around me pregnant and having babies. I would physically feel uncomfortable if I was even close to someone pregnant. I wish it hadn’t been that way but it was. I also realized that I had been so blissfully unaware of how delicate pregnancies really are.
Now, if someone tells me they are expecting, I can’t help but pray it works out for them because the reality is, it doesn’t always work out.
Infertility is like a beast of its own…so many things to learn about, so many things to research. One thing I can confidently say is: Ladies, please find yourself an amazing OB team! Do not compromise! If they do not listen to you, find a second opinion. I now have an amazing OB team. Find a team that listens and makes you and your baby their first priority.
After John Ellis, it took me four months to start my period again. It felt like forever! We discussed the option of taking medication to speed up the process, but I was concerned it would throw my body out of whack even more. However, I decided I would take it the next month if I had not started by then and, thankfully, I did start without taking the medication. I have never been more excited to start, because, it meant progress!
While TTC there are options of medications to promote ovulation. This was very hard for me too. I knew God had a plan and I didn’t want to get in the way of it. Was his plan for me to take medications or not take medications? Would this hurt me or help me? So many questions, tons of praying, research, and a lot of asking friends who also experienced infertility issues. It was draining!
Every month I would get my hopes up and just know, this is the time!
However, we were only to be let down again, “NOT PREGNANT”. I even bought ovulation kits to make sure I didn’t miss an opportunity. We lived by smiley faces or frowny faces. Lucas hoped for the smiley face. If you know, you know. 😉
I had my ovulation calendar too. Every day, noting what my body was going through and all the fun questions they ask you about your mood, tenderness of boobs, discharge, ovary location, etc…
Let’s just get real here, trying to plan a pregnancy is hard work and all modesty flies out the window.
You become somewhat of an amateur subject matter “expert” on the whole thing. You spend money on things you would rather spend on a baby. Infertility testing and treatment is not cheap. Even those little ovulation kits and pregnancy tests add up! My friends who have had IVF, spent thousands and thousands!
After not becoming pregnant for some time, my OB recommended I do a procedure to flush out my fallopian tubes and see where that would get us. We scheduled the appointment and had the procedure at an Imaging Center.
It is a neat process where they insert blue dye into your tubes to see if there is any blockage and, if so, you can see the blockage being flushed out on the X-ray monitor. We saw a shimmer of something being flushed and were hopeful this could have been something big. We were praying this was the answer to everything!
About a month after the tubal flushing, I met my mark to see a Fertility Specialist (most OB’s will wait a year before they refer you to a Fertility Specialist). I was feeling very hopeful for the next steps to come…scared, but still hopeful.
We made the drive to New Orleans, LA to see one of the best fertility doctors around, because, let’s face it, I wanted to be pregnant 12 months ago. They took my blood, again. We ran some tests and scheduled the next appointment which, we knew would be more in depth and discuss IUI options. Not only do the women have tests run, but so do the men. Lucas and I were both determined to do whatever it took to see this journey through.
It is not an easy process for some marriages or partnerships.
Please listen to one another and do special things for each other during this time. Push through together!
Again, not only were we TTC but we were still grieving very hard. I wanted our oldest son to have a sibling on earth so bad I couldn’t think of much else. Grief and TTC consumed me. A lot of people would tell me, “Don’t worry, it will happen when it is meant to be.” I would cringe when I heard this because I wanted to be pregnant now! I didn’t want to wait and see… However, something nice I did like to hear was, “I am here for you and am praying it happens soon!”
It is important we talk about these things so we can educate others and learn what is truly helpful for our friends and loved ones who experience infertility.
They may not always voice their struggles on the outside, but on the inside, it is a constant emotional battle. Not to mention, if you are receiving fertility treatments with all the hormonal and physical side effects that go along with it, you are already emotional.
One week before our next visit with our fertility doctor, a miracle happened… a rainbow miracle! We tested positive! As soon as I saw the test read, “Pregnant”, I ran and jumped on the bed, waking Lucas up, and screaming with joy!
We delivered Stanton Eli Naff on October 8, 2018. Our sweet little miracle!
There are no words for the day I got to hold our new baby in my arms for the first time.
I finally let out the breath I had been holding for almost two years. It was such a joyous occasion for everyone in our circle. We are so incredibly thankful for our families and friends support. They, too, were all affected by the loss of John Ellis.
It was quite the pregnancy journey. I was high risk during the whole pregnancy and experienced Pregnancy after Loss which is a very real thing and a topic for another day.
Looking back, my pregnancy journey for our rainbow baby was just the right amount of time God wanted to give us to focus on my family’s healing after the loss of our son.
We did find seeing a Grief Counselor helped us a lot. However, I wish I would have been more patient and trusting of God’s plan. I wish I wouldn’t have tried to control everything so tightly. The whole time I felt God by my side, telling me he would bring beauty from ashes, and He did. We still host the Hope From John Ellis Benefit and it is a true legacy to John Ellis.
If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone.
I know some will struggle for years and years and still not have their desired outcome. I pray that God grants you peace and let’s His purpose to you be known.
I have heard such amazing stories of IUI, IVF, adoption, surrogates, etc. And, it always touches my heart in more ways than you can imagine.
Your stories matter. You matter. You alone are enough.
About the Author
Elisabeth Naff is an ICP Care Board Member and Hope From John Ellis Event Chair.
For more information on infertility resources visit:
For more information on Cholestasis and One Wing Foundation please visit the below: