Surviving Infertility - Cindy Maudsley

Cindy Maudsley

I am the mother of two daughters. They were born two years and three months apart; they are biologically my husband’s and mine, and I carried and gave birth to both of them.
Looking at us, one might not suspect that infertility is a battle we fight. 

But it is so important to understand that everyone’s infertility is different. Few people have the exact same story.  It is a battle being fought and endured by so many couples. They say one in eight couples struggle with infertility. We are one of those one in eight.

Although we fit the perfect American mold of having two children, our journey to get them here was not easy, and our desire to add another child to our family continues to be a very hard struggle.

Six months after getting married in April 2007 we started trying for a baby. After six months of negative pregnancy tests, I called my OB who agreed to start doing tests on me and my husband. It was during the next six months that we finally got some answers about our fertility. Between trying  to become pregnant and not knowing something was wrong, and trying and figuring out what was wrong, that year was one of our hardest, both emotionally and physically.

The beginning of my infertility journey took me on a rocky, bitter, sorrowful path. I felt as if I was surrounded by pregnant friends and family members. Each week I would find out another person was expecting, and I literally cried on my floor and in my husband’s arms at each announcement.

I cried because my heart was breaking not knowing if pregnancy would be in our future.  I cried because I longed to have that same joy and excitement;  I cried because I hated that I was feeling that way toward people I loved. I hated feeling jealous, angry and bitter. Those are very natural feelings, and I had to allow them in--I had to reach rock bottom before I could build myself back up.

Exactly one year after our journey began we found out we were pregnant after our very first artificial insemination (IUI). And suddenly, all the tears, the sorrow, the pain was worth it. 

We were on cloud nine and so very excited. I was so grateful to be able to experience being pregnant, giving birth and most importantly being a mom. I never took for granted the fact that I was pregnant, and I realized that year of trying was so important for my own personal growth. I learned so much in that year. I learned so much about fertility in general; I had so much more knowledge on the matter, and because I was quite open to others about our journey, I was able to help many others who reached out to me for help and guidance. Through my tears of sorrow I also gained so much insight and compassion. Going through the heartache truly refined me, even though it was hard to see that in the moment.

Our daughter was born in September 2009 and our hearts and arms were filled with what we had been longing and praying for. When she was 18-months-old we knew we wanted to expand our family and went back to the doctor to once again begin doing IUI.

To conceive for the second time it took three rounds of doing the insemination before it was successful and we welcomed another daughter in December 2011.

At this point I felt as if the hardest part was behind us. We had experienced great sadness and trial in our journey to having children. We would always need to do IUI to get pregnant; we figured it would always work when we wanted to expand our family. And even though it wasn’t ideal, we had overcome all our challenges.

I became stronger emotionally and  was able to accept the fact that we would most likely never get pregnant on our own.  I came to terms with the fact that this was our story, this was what we would do, and I was pretty much okay with it. Those feelings did not come easily, or even overnight, but they did come. We had our two girls, and we knew we had been incredibly blessed to even  be able to have children. 

However, trying for a third baby has not been easy. In the past two years we have gone through 12 failed IUI’s and most recently a round of  invitro fertilization (IVF)  that resulted in a non-viable, chemical pregnancy. 

It took thousands of dollars, countless doctor appointments, medications, shots, hormones and, one minor surgery to finally be told I wasn’t pregnant. 

I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been hard. It has been devastating, and heartbreaking and I’ve taken so many steps backward on my path to healing and acceptance. I thought I had figured it all out. I thought we had paid our dues; it wasn’t supposed to be this hard anymore. But I was wrong.

I’ve felt more lows than I ever did in the first year of us trying for a baby. I have gone through so many emotions including jealously, bitterness, sadness, depression, and resentment. I have spent hours crying on my bed; I’ve avoided social media, not “liked” pregnancy announcements on Facebook and have held in more tears than I can count while being a part of conversations that hurt my heart.

However, the thought has come to me so often that if this is my trial, if I can’t change it, then I’m going to do whatever I can to endure it well.

I’m going to grow; I’m going to be strong. I have felt all the immensely sad parts but I can push myself, too.

I’ve taken meals and gifts to friends who have had babies because I loved these friends and knew it would help me, too.  I wanted to be filled with the special light and love that comes through serving others.  Doing those things  would push me to be stronger, to truly be happy for others. And they did.

I learned to smile through the tears, attend the baby showers, “like” the social media pictures of newborns and over time, it has gotten easier, and I can tell that I’m stronger for it. I genuinely am happy for others. It doesn’t break my heart as much anymore to see others expand their families while we want so much to do the same for our own. 

The sadness is still there and the longing to have another baby is, too. The heart does hurt not knowing what our future holds.

I am always grateful that we have two beautiful girls. That is something I make sure to express daily. I am blessed to be a mother, and to have children as we fight this fight. I stand strongly to my belief that no matter if you are trying for your first, your third or your fifth, the heartache is real and deserves to be validated when your arms are aching to hold a baby.  When you feel as if your family is not complete, and you are not done, the pain is excruciating.  I know I can’t truly understand the pain those who do not have children at all go through. I can only imagine the heartache, and I feel for those women so, so much.

Infertility is hard. It is probably the hardest experience of my life. It is a pain no one can understand unless they’ve been there. But there is also the good that can come of it, and that is what I cling to when I feel myself going to the dark and sad places.

I’ve seen so much love given to our family; we have received so much service and an outpouring of prayers and comfort from our family and friends. I have felt the peace and calm that only comes after the storm. I’ve learned so much; I’ve learned to have a greater compassion for others, and I have a greater sense of gratitude for the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth.  

We are not given trials in this life for no reason. I believe we are given them to help others, to uplift, to strengthen, to gain empathy and sympathy and to be a beacon of hope to those struggling. This is our trial and although it hasn’t been easy and I have taken many steps forward as well as back , I’ve learned that it can be an honor to be given such a noble responsibility in this life.

There is no room for judgment when it comes to another’s infertility-- there is already so much sadness and heartache. I have had many difficult experiences in my life. I try not to let each one define me but they have definitely shaped me. I share so openly because I know I am not alone in my struggles and heartache, and I don’t want anyone else to feel like they are alone either.