Name and partner's name: Kerry Kunz and Dustin Morgan
Occupation: Government non-profit funding
Years trying to have a baby: Two
When the "mom gene" kicked in: I always knew I wanted to have a family, and when I was in my mid-twenties it became something I started to plan for. My five-year plan included steps that would help make starting a family become a reality. I settled into a long-term career and bought a home. My partner and I started trying and became pregnant within a year. It wasn't until we lost that first pregnancy that I realized just how much motherhood meant to me.
The infertility diagnosis: My partner and I started actively trying to get pregnant two years ago. We stopped using birth control and started using ovulation predictor kits to make sure we were giving ourselves the best chance to conceive.
After having two miscarriages within five months, my family doctor referred me to a fertility specialist who diagnosed me with recurrent miscarriages.
The specialist ran dozens of tests and determined I had a diminished ovarian reserve and possible premature ovarian failure. At 35 years old, I was told my fertility was that of a 45 year old and the chances of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy were very low. To hear that my body was performing like someone 10 years older than me was a huge shock. My health is very important to me and to hear that my body was failing me was devastating.
The reaction: My first thought was disbelief that there wasn't a simple explanation for why I was unable to stay pregnant. I was healthy, had always had regular menstrual cycles and did not have any prior signs that fertility might become a challenge. We kept trying and sadly had a third miscarriage earlier this year.
The plan B: We have used ovulation predictor tests, taken dozens of supplements, sought treatments from a naturopathic doctor who specializes in fertility issues, [tried] yoga, gone through an intrauterine insemination cycle, and taken Clomid [to help with ovulation].
The hardships: The biggest challenge has been navigating the heartbreak of pregnancy loss and an infertility diagnosis while trying to remain hopeful that having a baby is possible. It is difficult to repeatedly put yourself in a position that could bring significant heartache. Each time we've had a positive pregnancy test, our excitement is quickly replaced by worry. We are still very hopeful that we'll beat the statistics and have a baby one day, we just approach the idea of pregnancy with much more caution now.
The bright side: After my first miscarriage, I grieved, cried, and felt anger and frustration at the unfairness of it. I have also been overwhelmed by the love and support I have been given by my partner, family, friends, and medical professionals who guided me through the darkness. I cannot speak highly enough about the medical staff at my local hospital who answered all of my many questions and eased both my physical and emotional pain in the days and weeks following my miscarriage. [And] I am so very thankful to my family and friends who sent many, many messages, cards, and texts of love and support, reminding me that things would get better.
In those darkest of moments, my partner could not have shown me more love and support, while he was nursing his own broken heart over our loss. His endless hugs, supply of Kleenex, and reassuring words kept the light on at the end of a very dark tunnel. He has shown me what it is to be completely and unconditionally loved.
How their relationship changed: Our relationship has survived our infertility struggles and [has] been strengthened because of them. Through it all, we have remained deeply in love and committed to each other. If we can survive infertility, we can survive anything! We are learning to focus on all the wonderful things in our lives, and that we can be happy and fulfilled even without a baby.
How they cope: We always make sure we are communicating and checking in with each other. If I have a bad day and start to feel down about our struggles, my partner is always there to talk about it and to support me. He is endlessly optimistic, while I am more realistic about our situation and I think we do a good job of balancing our feelings. We recently adopted a puppy, which has been the most wonderful way to channel our parental feelings!
Talking about infertility: Infertility and miscarriage can be very isolating and frightening experiences. I don't know that it is possible to truly understand the emotions and impact they can cause until they are experienced firsthand. It is difficult to talk about, but [it is] also unbearably sad to have to keep infertility or a failed pregnancy a secret. After our infertility diagnosis, I found it extremely comforting to hear about other couples' experiences. Knowing we were not alone was so helpful and gave us a chance to talk about what we were going through.
[However], hearing stories about your neighbour's niece who "tried a fertility treatment and got pregnant right away" are not helpful. Couples who are experiencing infertility have probably tried every known treatment already. The most helpful and supportive thing you can do is to just listen, be supportive, and talk about it openly. Fertility struggles shouldn't be a secret.
What she wants other couples to know: It's easy to get lost in infertility and to have your life ruled by treatments, cycles, and two-week waits. It's important to take a step back every once in a while and remind yourself that you are more than your fertility. Take a hot yoga class, enjoy a glass of wine, and enjoy the things you can't do when you're pregnant while you wait. Find the silver linings in infertility.
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