I AM HOPEFUL

I AM Hopeful

Before reading this story, please remember I am sharing this story, a very personal story, to provide other women and families with HOPE. Here it goes...

Brett and I have been together since our Senior year of High School. We got married in 2013, four years after we graduated from college. Three years later when we decided we were ready to have a baby, I assumed it would happen right away, but that was not the case.

We were in the South of France when we decided to “try”. We joked that we would name our baby “Eden” or “Rock” because that was the hotel we were staying at when we tried for the first time.  One month passed, two months passed, three, and “trying” was still fun! We were totally relaxed for these first few months, but after a few months with ‘no luck’ things started to change. My mental state became frenzied and obsessive; it was the only thing I could think about, and every time that “two week wait” came along, I couldn’t focus on anything but “the test”.  Every month that passed made “trying” feel like a job, and I slowly started to resent the entire process. My husband was truly amazing, and my rock throughout the entire journey, but it was really hard on both of us.  

For my entire life, whenever I’ve put my heart and mind into achieving something, I wouldn’t stop until it was accomplished; wrapping my mind around why I couldn’t make this happen was really hard for my type A personality...not having control was driving me crazy.  And all the while, every Instagram or Facebook post with a Baby announcement felt like a direct attack on me and my fertility, rather than a celebration for these people’s announcements. I felt horrible! I missed birthday parties for my friends’ kids because being in a room full of babies and pregnant women made me sick. I never let anyone see this in the outside world. 

After six months of trying, we decided to see a Fertility Specialist.  She gave me Clomid, which is a medication used to stimulate ovulation. On the first try, we were pregnant!  I finally saw that “positive” test I was waiting for, and I was elated!! It was the end of January 2017, and my husband’s birthday was two weeks away. He came home and I had put the test inside a Cartier box (which fully makes sense, given who I am, and what I do).  Brett had wanted a “Love bracelet” with a blackened finish, but I knew that this would blow him away. And it did! We both cried, and I actually have it filmed! That “high” lasted two weeks, until my gyno told me that it was a “chemical pregnancy”, and that I could expect to have a miscarriage.  Which I did, on a plane to Hawaii, on my husband’s 30th birthday. The only silver lining is that I knew it was coming. For those who don’t know, a “chemical pregnancy” is when an egg becomes fertilized but the implantation isn’t completed.

I was devastated, but we spent our time in Hawaii clearing my head, and drinking Rum punches. I was at least hopeful that I had seen that “positive” test, and that it could happen again. We tried this three more times with no success. The next attempt was an IUI, which then failed as well. I was frustrated that there was no explanation for why this wasn’t happening, and decided to seek out further advice. I started telling just about everyone I felt comfortable with about our experience, and asking if they knew any doctors they could recommend.

In August 2017, we met with Dr. Brian Levine at CCRM, just over a year after we started this journey. His incredible bedside manner, attention to detail, and handholding approach to medicine made me feel confident.  I learned that I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). PCOS can cause irregular menstrual cycles and difficulty conceiving. I was so happy to finally have an answer, but furious that the two other specialists I had seen during this journey thus far never mentioned this being a possibility. We immediately made a plan for an egg retrieval and IVF. I was truly LUCKY to learn that my eggs were healthy, and we ended up with 19 healthy frozen embryos. This was the result of one retrieval. I know that others are not as lucky, and many women have to go through this process several times. I would say that the retrieval (and the weeks leading up to it) are the hardest. I was being pumped with hormones, giving myself shots every day. A weak person could not make it through. There were some days I felt like I just couldn’t do it; and I’d stand in my bathroom for 20-30 minutes trying to convince myself to stick myself with the needle. It was brutal! But every day that went by was one less day I had left! And if it worked, it would all be worth it!

The IVF process is really all-consuming. I was at the Doctor’s office every week, having blood drawn, and making sure that everything was going to plan. The anticipation of each visit filled me with dread, and I scanned the waiting room waiting for the day I would see a familiar face.  And my face fell when it happened the first time; it was a girl I knew from camp. She was so nice to reach out afterwards to offer her support and to assure me that she wouldn’t tell anyone she had seen me there. On top of everything I was going through, I felt EMBARRASSED!! While my husband held my hand throughout the entire journey, it wasn’t his infertility, but mine.  He couldn’t quite understand the shame that I felt as a woman who doesn’t ovulate, and who couldn’t get pregnant naturally. The embarrassment slowly subsided as I started paying attention to blogs and Instagram accounts that discussed topics of fertility. It made me feel less alone.  

I hope that sharing my story can help break down some of the shame other women might be feeling about their infertility journeys. Our journey worked! We allowed the Doctor to select the most healthy embryo, which was our little Jordan.  And just before Thanksgiving last year, we learned I was pregnant. The shots didn’t stop for another 10-13 weeks, but a week before I left for Bora Bora with my family, with a huge bruise on my butt from the Progesterone, I was DONE! I had made it through, and didn’t look back!

It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The willpower to push through day after day of sticking yourself with a needle is unparalleled! But I know I am one of the lucky ones. It worked for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful!

I am hopeful that by sharing my story, other women will be more proactive about exploring their fertility, before they’ve wasted precious time and driven themselves half-crazy. I am also hopeful that this provides some relief to other women out there who are asking themselves “what is wrong with me” or “what did I do to deserve this?” Infertility is scary, and I am lucky to have made it to the other side (this time). But I know I’ll have to do IVF again for my future children; and honestly, I’m no less scared, or upset about it. Knowing that other people can just have sex and get pregnant on their first try is frustrating. But we all do what we have to do. And this is one of SO many sacrifices a parent makes for their children. It’s a lesson in patience and self-awareness. It’s a test! But it’s worth it!

I want to finish by saying that my journey is unique to me. I know that many other women and men struggle with infertility, and that their “answers” aren’t quite as simple. I also know that so many people cannot afford the treatments recommended to resolve their issues. My only goal here is to empower others to share their stories, to be HOPEFUL, because by sharing your journey, you may be able to provide sanity and strength to someone else. My Instagram community has been with me to celebrate all of my happy moments and my “wins”, and I think it’s only fair that you know that what you see is not always the full picture. My life is not always rainbows!! But my rainbow baby was worth every minute of the journey.

September 17, 2019 by Stephanie Gottlieb

Comments

Carly

Carly said:

Wow! This is beautiful! It brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing your journey – Jordan is one lucky boy! Best of luck to your family❤️

Lindsay

Lindsay said:

Thank you for being real and sharing such an emotional and personal experience that so many women feel shame or embarrassed to talk about. Hopefully you’re story will inspire someone else to share their story and as women we can help each other through the hard times instead of judging others. Your Rainbow 🌈 Baby Jordan is one lucky little dude to have such a strong mommy!

Karoline Bruun-Andersen

Karoline Bruun-Andersen said:

Thank you for sharing your story Stephanie. Many times with social media only the “pretty” is put out there. No one is without struggles. You are an inspiration and I must say very brave. I know that you have given many other young women struggling hope. God bless your family. Xoxo💓🌈💓

Eileen

Eileen said:

I relate to your story on so many levels but after I almost died from my lungs filling with fluid due to the injections and a subsequent miscarriage of twins, my husband and I gave up on that journey. He decided my life wasn’t worth a “maybe baby”. PCOS is a never ending battle between moods, weight fluctuations, pain and other symptoms. It is always nice to know that you’re not alone!

Congrats on your beautiful little one!

Amanda

Amanda said:

I felt like you wrote my story complete. All of the feelings and upset about “why them and why not me” followed me around forever. I just wasn’t as brave as you to do the shots myself! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s one of the best things I have read today. Keep strong! 💗

Christy

Christy said:

Thank you for sharing your very personal story. As much as infertility is common, no one likes to talk about it in public and it gets very lonely and draining while going through the process. I can totally relate to your story, even though I’m not there yet (failed 4 cycles, 1 miscarriage and 1 chemical). After reading your story I am hopeful again to go for another cycle. You’re truly an inspiration. So happy for you and your family that everything worked out – Jordan is absolutely adorable!!! ❤️🌈

Caroline

Caroline said:

Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story 🙏🏼 I had been diagnosed by PCOS a year ago, and can completely relate to what you described. I find it very brave that you had the courage to share your journey, and it also gives me hope that things can turn around in the future. 💫🌈

La-Jene

La-Jene said:

Thank you for being soo vulnerable just to help someone else. How unselfish of you :))
I can only imagine what you’ve endured, yet I can feel the emotion and joy when I see you with your family and sweet-faced, Jordan.
May God continue to cover and strengthen you along this beautiful journey of parenthood. Xx

Sally

Sally said:

I also have PCOS and had difficulty conceiving. It is so hard and I felt all the same things you did! I’m so happy you got your rainbow baby! I am sitting here reading your story while staring at my rainbow baby! Cheers to you for being open about your journey. I hope the next baby comes easier and stress free!

Angelica Hare

Angelica Hare said:

Beautiful story Stephanie. I went true all that and I wasn’t lucky…after all that stress, needles, hormones, I gave up…today I regret but back then I wasn’t prepared to go true al I had to go true again…

Patricia

Patricia said:

Tears streaming as I read your journey Such identification and raw honesty Thank you for opening up and telling your story It needs to be heard and is crazy to know how sad and how much pain you had while portraying a very put together successful businesswoman to the world Much love

VMC

VMC said:

I’ve been following your Instagram for a long time and what a surprise to see this. Infertility, IVF, two week wait, progesterone, all terms that have defined my life for years. We all think we are the only ones suffering, but couldn’t be more wrong! Thank you for sharing and this makes me love little Jordan even more knowing what you went through. I had my daughter a couple months before Jordan and enjoy watching all your baby/ pregnancy posts.

Tahnee

Tahnee said:

Thank you Stephanie.
I have the same PCOS, same Clomid, same Progesterone, shots and everything.
Been through 2 chemical pregnancies and you give me hope.
Thank you to share this SO difficult side of your Life with us.
Be blessed, you and your family
And to another beautiful baby ❤️

Mandy

Mandy said:

Thank you so much for sharing. I am sure this resonates with so many women.

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