Infertility Awareness Month!
We wish, we hope, and we power through for the dream of creating a family. Sometimes the world seems so against us. But one thing I know for sure is… you are not alone.
Meet Chelsea & Josh
Chelsea is an inspiration to me. In addition to countless medicated cycles she’s also had 5 IUI’s, 3 fresh IVF transfers, and 2 Frozen transfers. And she does it with her strong faith in God, the amazing support of her (handsome) husband, and empowering others to be brave.
A message from Chelsea:
“Hello! I am so honored to be a part of Mallory’s blog today and always get excited to connect with others! I try to be authentic, genuine and open about what I am learning throughout life and our journey with infertility. Thanks for letting me share our story!”
Mallory: Where are you from?
Chelsea: I am originally from Chicago, IL where I spent the first 19 years of my life. Josh is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. We got married in 2005, settled down in the Twin Cities and almost 11 years later, still call it home! (Although I still will forever be a Chicago Cubs fan!)
Mallory: How and when did you meet your spouse?
Chelsea: Josh and I met in 2003 at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. I was 18 and he was 21 and it was love at first sight!
Mallory: What do you and your spouse do for a living?
Chelsea: My background is in Business with a Human Resource emphasis. I am PHR-HRCI certified and currently do contract work in healthcare, freelance writing, and have co-authored a woman’s devotional on the topic of waiting. (http://amzn.com/0692521100 ) Josh is a financial controller and fitness instructor and the hardest worker I know!
Mallory: What is one thing we should know about you?
Chelsea: Well, I love Starbucks, snail mail, books and laughing. I enjoy taking pictures, trying new recipes and being with friends and family. Oh and I’m the mama to the cutest little furbaby, Cali!
Mallory: How/When did you first decide you were ready to start trying for a baby?
Chelsea: We decided we were ready to start a family in 2008 and began actively trying in 2009. It’s hard to believe that was over 7 years already!
Mallory: When did you first notice there was a problem?
Chelsea: In 2010, after trying for nearly a year but struggling with irregular periods and other hormonal issues, we visited the doctor. It was then I was diagnosed with a “textbook case” of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Mallory: How did you come to the decision to finally see a RE? How did you feel about this decision? Was your Sig other on board?
Chelsea: Our OBGYN was wonderful. We worked with her closely, starting Metformin for a year, having an HSG done, and then working our way through 6 cycles of Clomid. Once we did all of that and continued to have difficulties inducing ovulation, she then suggested we find an RE that could work with us more closely.
Mallory: Tell me about your RE… what did you guys try first? And how did it go?
Chelsea: We met with a well-known clinic in the Twin Cities and started on Femara medicated cycles with a trigger shot and timed intercourse. While the Clomid hadn’t worked for me, the Femara worked great and I finally had follicles leading to ovulation. Unfortunately they weren’t success cycles though but did bring encouragement that my body could work!
Mallory: How many medicated cycles, IUI cycles, and/or IVF cycles have you endured?
Chelsea: We did 6 cycles of Clomid, 3 timed intercourse + trigger shot Femara cycles, a total of 5 IUI cycles, 3 fresh egg retrieval cycles of IVF, and 2 frozen embryo transfers. In that time, we have lost 3 pregnancies and learned that I also have Factor V. We just completed the 3rd egg retrieval last week and are waiting to do an FET this summer. This will be our last cycle on our journey and we are prayerful it will be a success. We have seen 3 RE’s and can’t speak more highly about the doctor we are currently seeing at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis.
Mallory: Did you take any breaks between cycles? Why or why not?
Chelsea: YES! Not every cycle, but often enough. It’s hard to make BIG decisions when I am on constantly high amounts of hormones and in the clutches of emotional thinking. Stepping back and clearing my head helped me see things more clearly. Battling infertility is a lot like biking uphill. It’s hard and strenuous and often times I had to fight everything to keep going. But it’s impossible to pedal uphill for 7 years straight. We would take breaks when we needed some time to coast, pray for redirection, analyze our hearts calling and make sure that we were still moving in line with what we felt like God was calling us to do.
Mallory: When did you decide to pursue more advanced treatments like IVF? Was this a difficult decision?
Chelsea: It was and it wasn’t. In the end, we are people of faith and prayed a lot about it and felt immense peace that this was the next step for our family.
Mallory: What was the hardest part about IVF?
Chelsea: Great question! Physically it’s difficult, but that was also empowering for me. I got to fight for my family and I got the chance to focus on thriving with the opportunity. Not everyone gets the chance to do IVF who needs it. I felt blessed with every opportunity we were given to try. Truly, I think the hardest part was the day’s coming up on beta day. So much goes into one blood draw and that wait was mentally really difficult.
Mallory: What was the most surprising thing you learned after going through IVF?
Chelsea: I wouldn’t say it’s “surprising”, but I think what I had the most re-validated after going through IVF, is the fact that no matter what science offers, God is the only one who can create and sustain life. IVF is a wonderful resource, but it’s not a given and there’s no guarantee. I think too many people walk into it thinking it’s going to solve everything problem.
Mallory: Did you decide to tell anyone outside of your spouse about your struggle? If so, who and how did you come to the decision to open up? What was their reaction like? Has this been helpful for you?
Chelsea: We felt called to be open and help break the stigma of infertility pretty early on in our journey. I began blogging over at Starbucks, Peace and the Pursuit of a Baby (http://www.trialsbringjoy.com) in 2012 and have consistently invited people into our journey there. I also am active in the TTC community on Instagram, @chels819, and the support found there is incredible! People have responded with love, sympathy, prayers and support. They may not always understand, but they try and it’s been priceless.
Mallory: How has your relationship with your spouse been during this difficult journey? What were the hardest parts on the relationship? Was there anything that made your relationship stronger or better?
Chelsea: Nothing can prepare you for the news or reality that you are going to struggle with infertility or recurring miscarriages. We have always tried to be intentional on how our relationship is impacted by remembering that we are on the same team. For Josh and me, it’s extremely important to stay in constant communication about our feelings and also, our expectations for one another. Some days it’s simply expressing my need for a hug or his need to escape our realities by going on a date to just be ‘us’. The ability to communicate and share our honest emotions with each other brings comfort to us both. Our faith and ability to pray together and trust the Lord is the most significant role in our coping and ability to flourish going forward, no matter what our future family looks like.
Plus, Josh is the funniest person I know and I am so thankful for his sense of humor during hard times. He’s always been able to maintain such positivity and strength about our infertility which constantly encourages my heart.
Mallory: Tell me one or two things that have been the most helpful to you during this journey.
Chelsea: Besides my faith, it’s the community of women around me who cheer me on, pray for us, and encourage us.
Mallory: What advice would you give someone about to make their first RE appointment?
Chelsea: Do your research. Bring a list of printed questions with you so that you don’t blank out once the doctor starts talking. Be your own advocate. Ask follow up questions if you don’t understand what they are saying. Remember you are paying them which means they work for you!
Mallory: Any last thoughts?
Chelsea: Thanks so much for giving me the chance to share our story with you and your readers! We just completed our last egg retrieval last week and will be doing an FET this summer. We know that this road has been long, but we are hopeful for what is to come.
Stay connected with Chelsea!
On her blog at www.trialsbringjoy.com and Instagram- @chels819