/ August 22nd, 2021 /
Yes, we have been blessed with the sweetest baby girl, but we did struggle with infertility.
PSA to all the people who struggled with having children and now have one/some…just because you now have a child, doesn’t make your infertility struggle any less real. What you went through to get here was real and changed who you are and how you do life.
PSA to all of the people in the midst of their struggle – I understand that it may be difficult to read a story with an outcome of a baby. While we were in the midst of our struggle, sometimes all of the positive stories were overwhelming and it felt like there weren’t any stories out there that didn’t end with a baby, knowing full well that could be us, and that felt lonely. So I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle, everyone’s story is different, and you don’t always have to go the traditional medicinal route.
We officially started trying to get pregnant at the beginning of 2018! I had been off of the pill for a little over a year and hadn’t necessarily always been preventing pregnancy, but we started paying attention to my cycle and ovulation times in January of 2018. First off, being an “older” woman without children in a small town can be a struggle in and of itself because people marry young and have children young, so to be focused on my career made me a trigger for all of “those” comments. You know the ones,
PSA to all people everywhere…don’t ask “those” questions! Do ask:
…keeping your questions open-ended allows for a conversation, rather than a pointed question that hits a soft spot.
Back to our story.
We were excited to officially be “trying.” We bought a larger house in hopes that we would fill it with a family of our own and had a room designated as the nursery, we dreamt of what our future would look like with a child/children. We planned a big vacation, thinking we wouldn’t get to travel far pretty soon if we had a baby. You know, all the things you do with the hope of a sweet little babe coming into your life.
Each month that passed without a positive pregnancy test got more and more frustrating. I started to come to the realization that we probably wouldn’t be getting pregnant on our own. I contacted my OB-Gyn at the one year mark – this is more difficult than you might think. Knowing you have now become a couple who struggles with the big “I” word, making the call and saying out loud, “We are struggling with infertility,” for the first time is HARD. It’s like it somehow becomes official and you’re now brought into this whirlwind of infertility jargon and appointments. It seems like the person on the other end of the line should empathize with you and say, “I’m sorry you’ve been struggling,” but that doesn’t happen. They’re just doing their job of setting you up for an appointment as you admit for the first time that you’re officially in the infertility group.
We went through all the normal tests: blood tests, sperm test, ultrasound (my tech was pregnant – that’s fun). Everything came back normal. I asked my doctor to check my progesterone levels, she dismissed it and said that wasn’t it.
Next was the hysterosalpingogram. This is a test where they shoot radioactive dye through your fallopian tubes to make sure there isn’t a blockage. Everything was normal.
All of the tests came back normal, which is wonderful, but also frustrating because there aren’t any answers or actions you can take to help you get pregnant. Obviously, I don’t want anything to be “wrong” with me, but I also want to be able to DO something other than just trying to conceive the same way over and over and over again.
My doctor put me on the drug Clomid, which is a drug that makes your ovaries overreact and ovulate multiple times in one month. I was ovulating normally, but because they didn’t know what was happening, they just thought I’d have more opportunities to get pregnant in one cycle. I wasn’t super excited about taking something that’s so unnatural for my body, but it was only going to be for up to 6 cycles, so I thought we would give it a try. Of course my hopes were high. What no one told me was that taking Clomid can make your cycle longer – aka your period comes late. This is VERY important information when every single month for over a year you’ve been hyper-aware of your cycle because any time your period is even just a day late, your hopes that you might be pregnant sky rocket! So I was very very hopeful that I was pregnant, until my period came in with a vengeance!! Super painful – physically, mentally, emotionally. I laid on the couch all day the day my period came.
PSA to health providers who prescribe Clomid – tell your patients it can make their period late.
After my experience with Clomid, I decided I needed a break from all of the tests. Each step in the infertility journey is filled with stories and comments like these,
Yep, these comments are filled with hope, but when each of these “milestones” passes and you’re still not pregnant, it’s a lonely and disappointing feeling. You are left feeling like the minority and it’s just not going to happen.
We took a break. I removed all pregnancy tests from the house and we started thinking about what our life would look like without children. Taking a break doesn’t mean you suddenly stop thinking about when you’re ovulating or if you could possibly be pregnant every month, it’s still always there, but you try to shift your focus to moving forward in other ways. Your mindset shifts/changes toward all the hopes and dreams you had stored up in your mind for years. The way you view the rest of your life suddenly needs to be different. You have to change. I focused on my business and what direction I wanted to see that go. I focused on our marriage and what that would look like with just us two for the rest of our lives.
A few months into our break, someone told me about the book, “It Starts with the Egg.” This talks about getting your eggs and sperm in the best health possible to increase the chance of becoming pregnant both naturally and through medical interventions. It gave specific things I could do for our diagnosis, “Unexplained Infertility,” and that gave me a new passion for figuring out my body and what is healthy for me vs unhealthy. I had heard and read that gluten can be a cause of unexplained infertility and my dad was diagnosed with celiac disease late in his life. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give gluten free a try. I officially went gluten free in July of 2019 and haven’t looked back. Unrelated to fertility, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I had gut issues that made some parts of daily life embarrassing and frustrating. I would randomly start feeling terrible in some of the worst situations (out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a photo shoot wondering if I was going to have to go into the woods to relieve myself…yeah. Thankfully, I never had to do that, but often I was fearful I would need to!).
I followed a few influencers on social media that had success with both health and fertility by going to a functional medicine doctor so I looked into a few in our area. I ended up going to the Livewell Clinic in Clive, IA, where they looked into my gut health. They had me do tests that showed the status of my gut flora (literally almost zero good gut bacteria), what foods agreed with me and which foods did not (way more than I expected), and tested my hormones. Turns out, your gut influences your hormones, so if your gut isn’t in good health, then your hormones are going to be off!
My progesterone was low! Listen, I had asked my OB Gyn to test this way-back-when and she dismissed me and told me that couldn’t be it…and here we are, low progesterone. I was mightily irritated that it was something we could have known and done something about years ago. BUT I’m viewing it as blessing in disguise so I could learn that my gut was way out of whack early enough to do something about it before it caused major health issues.
My functional medicine doc asked if I wanted to wait for my progesterone to level out on it’s own by healing my gut through a diet that agreed with my gut, or if I wanted to be put on a natural supplement. I chose the natural supplement! 2 cycles later, I was pregnant.
So what do I contribute to us getting pregnant in March of 2020?
PSA to all people struggling with infertility or other health issues: there is another way than just meds on top of meds. Look into all of your options. Functional Medicine has been life-changing for us.
Now we have sweet Ella Joy Sabo and our lives are forever changed. I didn’t know being a mommy could be so wonderful. But I have to say that one of my absolute favorite parts has been watching Stosch be a daddy. He is the sweetest daddy and Ella is for sure going to be a daddy’s girl. <3