9621910572_f62ed87ee7_zHey there Lovelies,

A new Squawk Box post! Hooray!!! I am so grateful to the submissions I have gotten since asking for help during NIAW. I now have a few to get the Squawk back up and running, but I need more! Please, share your story with us- submit here-. Submit if you think your type of infertility is underrepresented, misrepresented or full on ignored. Submit if you have all of the feelings and need somewhere to unload. Submit if you want to raise awareness for people in your circle about your story but don’t want to make a long Facebook post! Just because NIAW is over doesn’t mean you should stop helping to raise awareness! Shout your voice. Let me broadcast it!

Ok, so this May’s Squawk comes from Ashley! She wrote in after my NIAW post asking for other voices to be heard. I’m so glad she did! Her voice, as a parent after infertility, is unique and I’m pleased to share her perspective on what it feels like to be a new mother after having dealt with infertility. The picture today, of a woman waiting for her train, was chosen to represent the way a new mother is at a natural pause in her life, that includes within her infertility struggle. A pause, not necessarily an end. Here is Ashley’s story:

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Nothing Natural

Written by: Ashley Harker

Published with the author’s permission.

Nothing about how I became parent was natural.

I married young and wanted to have a big family. We decided to wait until we were “ready”. For us this meant I was done with my bachelors degree and my husband was getting ready to starting his master’s. We waited two year after we got married and we had that feeling we were ready enough.

When my husband and I decided we were “there” we tried for six months before I had my yearly checkup by my gynecologist. I asked her about our plans to conceive and she told me not to worry about it, I was too young (23) to be concerned with starting a family and I shouldn’t worry that my period was erratic and sometime none existent. She said it wants important to look into my period and infertility issues until we had been trying for a few years. I stopped seeing this doctor after having my desire for motherhood so belittled and dismissed without any consideration for my desire to start a family on my own schedule and not hers, it was my family after all.

Due to other circumstances I was unable to see another doctor about my infertility for the next two years. After two and a half years of trying to conceive on our own, my husband and I finally found our way to an infertility clinic and an answer to why it wasn’t happening on its own, Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS.

We were tired of waiting and began the process of testing and cycle observation (where they found 21 cysts on my left and 19 cysts on my right ovaries, minor insulin resistance, and imbalanced hormones) before receiving our first round of Clomid. By a miracle we conceived on that first round of Clomid, even our doctors seemed baffled at our success but pleased all the same.

It never felt real. After years of waiting I was pregnant. I felt I could only hope to successfully carry the pregnancy to term as miscarriage was constantly on my mind.

Hearing our baby’s heartbeat at 6 weeks was the most beautiful sound in the world.

Seeing our baby grow inside me was surreal and still feels that way as I hold her in my arms even now.

At every step of my pregnancy I expected the worst to happen, but it didn’t. At least not until I was a week overdue and told I had to be induced. I was sad to miss going into labor on my own but induction is normal enough so I didn’t worry too much.

The medical interventions that made me pregnant did not stop until I delivered my baby girl. I was given a cervical ripening agent that didn’t work, Pitocin that made my contractions 30 seconds apart and extremely painful, an epidural that was the most amazing feeling of relief in the whole ordeal, all the methods of fetal and contraction monitoring, and eventually, and unplanned c-section.

I “naturally” labored on the Pitocin for six hours before getting the epidural and only labored with the epidural for three hours before they forced my labor to stop because my baby’s heart couldn’t handle the contractions and I still wasn’t dilating. We had to do a c-section because of placental failure and only when they did the c-section did we also discover the cord wrapped around her neck as well.

My baby girl began unnaturally, came out unnaturally, but the love we have for our daughter could not be more natural in the world.

I still struggle with feelings of failure, my body just doesn’t work right, I will likely be unable to ever have children without interventions from beginning to end, I am failing to be a normal mother.

I try not to let these doubts overwhelm me.

So far, as I sit here holding my beautiful three week old baby girl, I am content.

My infertility sits on a back burner for now. I know that when we start trying for our next child it will all come back. Becoming a first time mother has told me it is possible to have a family of my own, but I am still an infertile woman with dreams of a bigger family. I may never get the family I dreamed of with my husband, but we still have a family we love. I know what we have been blessed with is enough, knowing that doesn’t change our dreams and wishes for more.

I am a 26 year old married woman. I am a mother to a happy baby girl. I am infertile. And for now, I am okay.

-Ashley

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