April is all about infertility, even though it technically only has 1 week. Since I endured my own long journey of trying to get pregnant, I think it's only fair to talk about infertility awareness whenever I feel like it, because when you're in it, it's kind of the only thing on your mind. I've shared my story a lot, but you still might not know all the details. Keep reading to hear about all the ups & downs, including starting IVF during a pandemic!
Infertility is not talked about enough. 1 in 8 women in the United States will experience trouble getting pregnant. Not to mention that we're very undereducated about fertility and our bodies in general.
***Read to the end for exciting updates & PHOTOS!!***
What Causes Infertility?
Many people who deal with infertility have an underlying condition that causes their fertility issues, like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Endometriosis. However, that’s not the case with me. I have what’s called, unexplained infertility, meaning there isn’t a clear reason why I’ve struggled to get pregnant.
There's so many factors that go into determining what's causing infertility and every woman is different. It makes it difficult to pin point exactly what's going wrong sometimes. Even doctors can make an educated guess, but they're not always right. That's something I've learned throughout this process too; doctors do not always have the answers & their advice won't always work. You have to advocate for yourself!
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My Fertility Journey
I was 33 years old when my husband and I started trying to get pregnant in 2018. Most couples I knew who were the same age as me were getting pregnant within four to six months of trying. After my husband and I had been trying for eight or nine months, I knew something was wrong.
People kept telling me that I was still young and I shouldn’t worry- it would just happen. Even doctors won’t test for fertility issues until you’ve been trying for over a year. But I knew that something was off. My cycles were pretty short, which seemed abnormal.
Luckily, my OBGYN was awesome & tested my hormone levels. She told me the solution to my issue would be to supplement the end of my cycles with a hormone called progesterone. This was going to be my ticket to getting pregnant- it was so easy! (and FUN 🤣)
Except I still didn't get pregnant.
Meanwhile, my husband got tested but nothing really came up that pointed to him being the issue.
Exploring Natural Fertility Treatments
We realized we needed to take other measures to help get pregnant naturally. I started seeing an acupuncturist weekly who put me on a Chinese herbal regiment, consisting of like 38 pills a day. (more FUN 🤣)
After about four months, she told me that there was nothing she could do because the second part of my cycle wasn’t long enough to sustain a pregnancy to the end. She explained that you can't change how long your cycles are because it’s how you’re born. I started wondering if maybe I was getting pregnant this whole time, but because the second part of my cycle wasn’t long enough, it wasn’t implanting or staying implanted.
My acupuncturist told me I might need a donor egg which shattered me. It became very real to me that it was entirely possible I wouldn’t be able to have my own child that was genetically related to me. It was very upsetting to be told that before I had even seen a fertility specialist or tried treatments like IUI or IVF.
Let's Give the Doctors a Chance
At the recommendation of my acupuncturist, I started to see a fertility specialist. I'm very blessed that I have the opportunity to pursue these treatments, because they can be very costly. At this point, I started hearing the terms IUI, IVF, and other fertility tests & treatment terms which I realized was becoming a reality for me.
Self Doubt Shows Up
When you're growing up, you spend so much time trying to avoid getting pregnant, thinking it's going to be the easiest thing you'll ever do. As a woman, I'm built to have children, right?
Well, going through infertility makes you question all of that. It makes you regret things & terrorize yourself for stupid stuff you've done in the past. I had a lot of anger, tears, frustration and questions. I started questioning whether I would ever be pregnant or if I was meant to have a baby at all.
I knew it was gonna be important for me to stay positive through all these long months of trying & then being disappointed. I continued writing in my gratitude journal every day to help put things in perspective and not allow this to take over my life. I also tried to meditate every day to destress and unwind.
Time to Try Science
In October 2019, we did our first IUI cycle which stands for Intrauterine Insemination. We were so convinced that this was it- but it didn’t work. We took a short break due to the holidays and the stress that comes with it, so our second try took place in February. Sadly, this try wasn’t successful either.
You only get three tries with IUI before moving to IVF, but sometimes doctors will suggest you move forward with IVF sooner, or women get impatient and just want to be pregnant already- which after a 2 year journey, I can understand.
These processes are tiring and it gets old every month. Sex is not for fun, but rather a business exchange that needs to be scheduled. The tests upon tests upon tests are enough to make you crazy. And the tracking becomes part of your normal routine, but god did I want to forget about that crap.
At this point in my journey, I had turned 35, which increased the risks and difficulties of pregnancy. Crossing this imaginary line made me feel even more anxiety and pressure to get pregnant asap.
Pull Out All the Stops
Based on my personal numbers and recommendations from my doctor, my husband and I decided to move forward with IVF. Which is a really complex process with different parts.
To summarize, it starts with a round of stimulation shots to grow your follicles so they can be harvested and hopefully fertilized in the lab to create an embryo that can then be transferred later.
So, we started our shots (which are just so much fun), and then the Coronavirus Pandemic showed up.
Luckily, I was able to complete my cycle and retrieval. Not without uncertainty and stress everyday about wether or not I'd be able to finish it out or if it'd be cancelled. And trying not to get sick- holy moly, I'm glad it all worked out.
Then, we were on an indefinite hold waiting until it was safe to do the embryo transfer. In July of 2020, I went in for my FET (frozen embryo transfer), and 10 days later, I got the best news of my life! I was finally pregnant!
After a very normal and uneventful (thank god) pregnancy, our baby boy was born in March of 2021!
Welcome to the World Colby Zazzali
Let's Stick Together
As an infertility warrior, I want those of you who are facing infertility, whether it's unexplained infertility like me or due to underlying causes like PCOS or endometriosis, to know that you’re not alone. Us women need to stick together and support each other especially when it comes to topics that aren’t talked about enough like infertility and miscarriages.
If we stick together and support each other, we will come out of this journey stronger.
Custom Made Jewelry To Keep Your Embabies Close
I was inspired by my journey to create a way for you to use your embryo images to make your own custom jewelry that you'll cherish forever. The process is super easy and you'll end up with a high quality piece of jewelry that tells your story and lets you keep your embabies close always. Get started by clicking here.
Some things to help you on your journey
And, if you're interested in commemorating your journey while supporting people who struggle with infertility but can't afford the treatments, check out the Support Infertility Collection.