“I’ve never prayed for doctors to tell me something was wrong, until they told me we had unexplained infertility.”
When we started our journey to become parents, we had no success even when we did everything by the book:
- ran the tests
- tubes tested and cleared
- took the medications
- attempted IUI 4 times (intrauterine insemination)
We decided to move our care from our OB/GYN clinic to an infertility clinic, due to our doctor believing I had endometriosis. Once we established care at the new clinic, surgery was scheduled. I felt relief to a point; surgery proved I had endometriosis, but also mad at myself for not realizing I had endometriosis all along. I wondered why my OB/GYN did not find this? When she asked if I had normal periods, my answer was yes. I realized she had asked all the right questions, but I didn’t know that having horribly painful periods since the age of 13, that caused me to vomit and miss multiple days of school and work was abnormal. This was all I knew my whole life and I thought that’s what everyone’s period was like.
I kept thinking…why didn’t I speak up and say something to my OB/GYN? It could have saved us a year of heartache and trying. However, the lack of education prevented me from understanding the gravity of my situation.
The surgery was uncomplicated and a week later, we were pregnant. I thought to myself…” Yes, perfect. We found our answer! Endometriosis is our answer. Now we know moving forward what our why was.” We were told moving forward that it may cause issues again. Although, when you have the tissue cleaned out, it should stay fairly healthy for 5 years or longer, depending on the severity of the endometriosis. We felt confident that we shouldn’t have any problems when we were ready for baby number 2.
When we were ready to have another child, we found ourselves right back to square one, after trying on our own with no success. Since I was 36 years old at the time, the doctors were willing to see me after 6 months of no success on our own. We had switched to a new OB/GYN this time around that was recommended to us. Unfortunately, she wanted to begin with running all the same tests. So, we repeated our steps from our first journey:
- ran all the tests…again
- tubes tested and cleared
- 3 failed IUI cycles
Since we had been down this heartbreak road month after month before, I requested another endometriosis surgery. I kept telling myself, “it has to be the endometriosis.” Our doctor was hesitant, given we had just had the surgery a year and a half prior, but I advocated for myself and she finally agreed. When I woke up from surgery, I was hopeful.
Laying in the recovery room, I remember my husband coming in and holding my hand. I was still very out of it from anesthesia, but I was so hopeful to hear him say “they found endometriosis again.” I was praying so hard for another answer. Sadly, my husband grabbed my hand and said, “thankfully everything is fine and clear.” Thankfully? NO! I wanted so badly for them to find it.
I was not thankful; I was devastated. I had never prayed so hard for doctors to find something wrong, yet again. I can still feel the tears of utter sadness stream down my face as I lay in the hospital bed crying that everything was fine. I didn’t want it to be fine.
If it wasn’t endometriosis, then what? That’s when they used the word unexplained.
Baffling. Puzzling. Indescribable.
Words that are all synonyms for the looming term of “unexplained” infertility. They are also words to describe my emotions during our infertility journey. One would imagine we would be excited and relieved. We were two healthy adults with nothing medically wrong, but it was the exact opposite. We were constantly praying that the next test would show where the problem was so we could find a solution to move forward.
Not having an answer challenged my husband and I emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Emotional Impact of Unexplained Infertility
Neither of us wanted to blame the other, so we constantly blamed ourselves. Since there was no medical reason, I believed it must just be ME. My mind sounded like this:
- it must be me
- it must be what I’m eating
- it must be how I’m exercising
- it must be that I’m stressed
I hurt so deeply internally, but always put on a happy face for our 3 year old daughter, because I SHOULD be happy, I have a healthy child. Why couldn’t I feel happy? But I knew our family was not complete and I didn’t have an answer of why it wasn’t complete yet.
From there I started questioning my faith.
Spiritual Impact of Unexplained Infertility
From the sadness, I started to question my faith.
Why is God doing this to us? What is His reason for causing us this much pain? Why doesn’t God want us to be parents? Why are so many others becoming pregnant with no problems and I can’t? Through this struggle, we continued to attend church regularly, sent in prayer requests to our church family, and I constantly reminded myself with my tattoos that His plans are greater than mine.
Physical Impact of Unexplained Infertility
This was probably the hardest for us in the long run and still lingers with us 3 years later. Sex became more of a chore for us, instead of enjoyable. We were scheduling sex and it soon became such a burden. Infertility definitely put a wedge between my husband and I’s sex life. We are still working on putting the spice back into our relationship and overcoming the years we spent having “scheduled sex”.
The doctors had very high hopes for IVF, since there was nothing medically wrong.
Thankfully our IVF journey progressed smoothly. I was on a strict schedule of various medications that went well after the first shot; I almost fainted giving to myself. Once I got over the initial shock of having to give myself multiple injections, the process moved along. We retrieved 32 eggs with 8 fertilizing and grew into healthy embryos. We were only allowed to transfer one fresh embryo, since this was our first time doing IVF. There was no reason to doubt that one embryo would not implant.
Our transferred embryo successfully implanted and we FINALLY became pregnant with baby number 2
Ways to Navigate Unexplained Infertility
No infertility diagnosis is worse or better than another. Most everyone, in any situation, is just looking for the reason.
The why behind it.
I have had to come to terms with never knowing our why, which has been the most difficult. How can it be that nothing is wrong with us, but yet, we still can’t have a baby on our own? This was one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome. There were 3 intentional choices that helped me navigate my emotions during our infertility journey, that I want to share with you.
- I joined infertility support groups.
- I stayed close in my faith, even though I questioned it all.
- I stayed open and honest with my feelings to my husband, family and friends.
Being purposeful in my choices is what truly helped me get through the years of unknown. I understand how many women going through infertility choose not to share their feelings or story with family and friends. However, I encourage you to find support in a way that speaks to you. You do not need to feel hidden or go through infertility alone.
Written by Robin Hinrichs for the Hopeful Mama Foundation. We are incredibly grateful to all of our writers, who open up their heart and share their journey with this community. If you would like to connect with one of our writers, please let us know by submitting an email on our website’s contact page.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Hopeful Mama Foundation. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.