Today’s post from our “Being There Through Infertility” series, focuses the importance of friendship during infertility. Today’s post was put together by myself, Danielle, an American Greetings associate, and features one of the greatest friendships I have in my life, with my friend, Noha, who is also an American Greetings associate.
The journey to motherhood is what brought Noha and I together almost five years ago when we were pregnant with our daughters together. That journey – one of first-time motherhood definitely bonded us and solidified the power of our friendship. After my daughter was born, I experienced multiple perinatal mood disorders, including, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. I never felt so alone, but because Noha and I were on maternity leave together, I ended up leaning on her, and she became one of my biggest support systems. Over the next four years, we only became closer, and I am so proud to call her one of my best friends.
The past year has been one of stress, pain, and anxiety for both of us, but being able to lean on each other, and especially being able to repay a fraction of the support she gave to me during my darkest days, has allowed me to see how important showing up for people in our lives truly is.
Here is Noha’s story in her own words…
Tell us a little bit about your infertility journey.
After my husband and I had our daughter (without any issues), we decided that we were going to try again after she turned one. We officially started trying in November of 2013, a month after her birthday. After a good year passed with no luck, we decided to talk to the doctor. I found out that several cysts had developed, and after some time I ended up meeting with an infertility specialist and decided to have surgery to remove one of the cysts that would not go away.
After much preparation, I was ready for the day of the laparoscopy. I just wanted to remove the cyst and move forward with trying to have a second child. I remember waking up from my surgery and asking, “Did they get it?” The look on the nurse’s face was very telling. She said “Well… actually, we didn’t remove anything.” “We couldn’t even get to the cyst because you have Endometriosis.” I ended up being diagnosed with stage four endometriosis – an advanced stage that was most likely causing my infertility issues.
After much deliberation with specialists, we were told if we wanted to go in and try to remove some of the endometriosis, we’d have a 25% chance success rate. If we did IVF, it was a 40% chance, so we went the IVF route.
Our first try was in November of 2016. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a very positive mindset going into it knowing that I already had a child before and I’m under the age of 35. The doctors seemed very optimistic as well. However, that IVF failed and I was devastated and confused, but we decided not to wait too long before our next try.
We tried again with our second IVF procedure this past March, and this time around I got pregnant. However, I miscarried a week after getting the blood test. Although it was horrible news and I was devastated, I was, in a way, still pleasantly surprised that I even got pregnant.
We now have two embryos left, and after going through the first two tries, we decided to take a break during the summer so I can have a bit of a rest. Our last try will probably be towards the end of this summer or beginning of fall. This time we will put in the two embryos together, hoping for a better chance of a successful pregnancy.
How did you decide on being so open with your story?
I’m not a very private person to start with, so it’s not out of character for me to share my journey. Also, through the years of trying, I’ve met people that are either going through the same thing, went through it at some point, or just had their own issues with other things. To me, issues are issues. Mine is infertility. But anyone sharing any personal issue with me, is knowledge and awareness that I gain. So when I get asked the very common questions, “Is she the only one?” “You don’t want anymore?” I just explain very briefly that I’ve been trying for years. If they ask more questions, I share even more. I don’t feel ashamed for my infertility issue because that’s completely out of my control and there’s nothing taboo about it, in my eyes.
What was the most helpful thing someone said or did for your during this journey?
My parents have been extremely helpful during this process. During my first IVF try, it was peak time for my husband’s business. If he couldn’t make it, my parents stepped in and helped me by watching my daughter or even going to the appointments with me. They were there for me in every way possible.
My husband, although extremely busy with work, has been able to give me my routine progesterone shots every morning before leaving for work, and without him, I would NOT have been able to do this alone.
My friends were always there. I have a great group of friends that are there for me during the most important times. I’m so unbelievably lucky to have such an amazing group of friends at work, especially. This includes my manager and co-workers, who are extremely understanding when I have to take days off for appointments or when I find out results. These group of friends have literally cried with me, and I can’t feel any more gratitude when it comes to them.
What gets you through the hardest days?
I’m EXTREMELY lucky to be able to answer that question by saying that my daughter is 100% the reason why I’m okay. Many women with infertility issues, don’t have the privilege of saying “my child gets me through this.” I know that what I’m going through is nothing compared to what someone who wants to be a mom to at least one child is going through. I don’t take it for granted, and I know how lucky I am. When things do get tough with this process, I tend to gravitate towards my daughter the most and spend a little extra time with her, because I know how lucky I am to be a mom in the first place.
Watching our girls grow up together has been an amazing experience that has gotten both of us through some of the toughest times.
In what ways was Danielle able to show up for you differently than others?
Oh Danielle! I tell her this all the time, but she is absolutely one of the most thoughtful friends I’ve ever had. She listens to me and talks to me in ways that no one else does. She’s very empathetic and extremely supportive. She has never turned down a conversation when I needed her. She also isn’t just there when I need to talk, but is so attentively listening to every word I say and she just knows the right things to say to make me feel loved and cared for. I’ve never had a friend so understanding. She knows the right things to do and say to make me feel that she’s here for me during this process no matter what!
Knowing that Danielle credits you for being someone who showed up the most for her during her postpartum depression struggle, what has it meant that she is now able to show up for you during your infertility journey?
Danielle and I have been through a lot together. We became friends while we were both pregnant with our daughters in 2012, and have only gotten closer through the years. From her postpartum depression, to her dad’s passing, to my infertility, to our anxiety issues related to those situations, we’ve always been there for each other. I just can’t imagine it any other way. And for Danielle to be going through some of the toughest situations in her life, she somehow managed to make it about me when it came to my IVF process. It’s like she leaves all her worries and issues behind when she knows I need someone. And that takes a very special person to be able to do that. I’ve been beyond lucky to have her in my life and I hope to be as thoughtful and caring to her as she always has been to me.