As an infertility doctor who has also experienced IVF and fertility problems, I can relate to my patients’ struggles with infertility. I believe that I work harder for my patients because I know what it feels like to dream of a child and worry constantly that my dream may never become a reality. Here is a story I wrote about my experiences with infertility.
When my wife and I started trying to get pregnant, we bought a beautiful little silver picture frame with a baby bear holding some balloons. The frame said BABY in big letters on the bottom. We placed the frame on our mantle and looked at it often. We were sure that soon a sonogram photo of our first baby would be placed in the frame.
So we started trying. And trying. And trying. Nothing happened.
Soon, trying became a chore, ruining the romance. But we were dreaming of a baby, so we kept trying. We used ovulation predictor kits and tried every other day around ovulation. We even performed our chore every day for an entire month. Surely, we thought, that performing the deed every day would send a baby our way!
Still, there was no baby.
Since I was an infertility doctor, I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t get my own wife pregnant. I decided to order every test in the book. Everything came back normal.We felt frustrated, sad, and ashamed. We were so ashamed that for a very long time, we didn’t tell anyone. We chose to suffer in silence, alone.
Eventually, we confided in a few friends who were not dealing with infertility. Our well-meaning friends would give us their advice. It worked for them, they thought, so why wouldn’t it work for us? Just get drunk and do it in the back of your car, one friend said. Prop a pillow underneath your bottom after sex, another friend ordered. But, none of their suggestions worked. Nothing seemed to help.
The heavy pressure to have a child increased with every phone call from our well-meaning parents. When are we going to have a grandchild?” our parents would ask. The parental pressure added more weight to the intense infertility stress that was already on our shoulders.
Holidays were so tough. We watched little children running around everywhere. We saw babies all over the place, which constantly reminded us of our infertility. Even a trip to the mall was difficult. At the mall, pregnant women were everywhere. The biological clock was ticking and our chances were slipping away. Our dreams of growing older with our children were slowly fading. We began to think that we might grow old without children.
Our little silver picture frame remained empty. We thought about putting the frame away many times. But, we kept it on the mantle and brushed the dust away. That little frame gave us the hope to keep trying.
After three years of trying on our own, we decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF). The first try didn’t work so we tried IVF again. Christine became pregnant! We were overjoyed. But, the joy did not last long. Christine miscarried that pregnancy and we were crushed. We tried IVF two more times without success. We both were physically and emotionally exhausted and were wondering how long we could continue this journey. The funds in our bank account were depleting fast, and our hopes were fading.
At that time, we moved to Dallas where I started my practice with Dallas IVF and we tried IVF again. We conceived on our first attempt in Dallas! Since we had miscarried a past pregnancy, we were cautiously optimistic. But as the baby grew, our negative feelings began melting away. Soon our thoughts changed from talking about infertility to talking about baby names and decorating the nursery.
We shared the good news with our parents by giving them the little silver picture frame. We placed the sonogram picture of our child in the frame. It was great. My mom cried. My dad cried. That moment was awesome!
After my son was born, we waited eight months before undergoing IVF again. We were blessed with a daughter.
This year, I will be experiencing my third Father’s Day. Being a father is one of the best jobs in the world. You never know how much you love someone until you see the face of your child. My son, Collin, is now 3 years old and my daughter, Chloe, is 16 months old! I can’t wait to see my children when they wake up every morning. The feeling of joy when my children yell Daddy! and run into my arms as I walk through the door makes the painful emotional rollercoaster of infertility worth it.
Dr. Lowell T. Ku, M.D. is an award winning and leading Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at Dallas IVF, one the nation’s premiere infertility centers. Doctor Ku clarifies the many confusing terms used in the world of Infertility using straightforward explanations.