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Bryna, of St. Charles, Illinois, knew she only wanted to have children if she were married. When she was 38, she married her husband, Scott, and never thought she would have trouble getting pregnant. But after she tried for 6 months with no success, she decided to seek medical help.

Her ob-gyn recommended intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is an office procedure that is done to place sperm directly in the uterus. Over the course of about 18 months, Bryna had eight IUIs. During this time she got pregnant once, but miscarried after 11 weeks. Then she decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF).

In this edited interview, Bryna shares her ongoing journey to try to get pregnant.

ACOG: Tell us what happened as you went down the IVF path.

Bryna
Bryna has coped with unexplained infertility. Photo courtesy of Bryna.

Bryna: We attempted two IVFs with no success, so I decided to see a different IVF specialist. While seeing the new specialist, I got pregnant twice and miscarried both times, between 6 and 9 weeks of pregnancy.

My ob-gyn said I had “unexplained infertility,” which is when there is no cause found for your infertility. But that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to try to learn more about what was going on.

I found a reproductive endocrinologist by word of mouth, a doctor who people from all over the Midwest come to see. She did a lot of in-depth testing to determine if I had autoimmune issues or different diseases. The tests were all inconclusive, but this was probably the most thorough assistance I received throughout the whole journey.

ACOG: How were you feeling during this time?

Bryna: I was sad and disappointed, but I didn’t stop hoping. And the hormones I was taking to prepare for the IVF treatments made it even harder. I felt like I couldn't control my emotions. I look back at that time, and I don't like who I was, with all the different hormones I was taking. I was reacting differently than I normally would have without them.

ACOG: Were you able to get pregnant again?

Bryna: After the first miscarriages, I kept seeing the endocrinologist, and we happened to get pregnant naturally – without IVF. To me, it was a complete medical miracle! I got as far as 9 weeks, but then I had another miscarriage.

ACOG: That must have been really hard. Did you continue with more treatments after that?

Bryna: I wanted to keep trying, even though the odds were against me. I went back to the IVF specialist, but at that point, the treatment plan felt too aggressive. It was going to involve growth hormones and testosterone injected into my body. And I finally decided I couldn't do this to my body anymore.

The bizarre thing was, I was still ovulating on a very regular basis and getting my period. So, we just kept trying and still do to this day, even though I’m now 49. It's not really even a thought anymore, but we don't not try.

ACOG: Where have you found comfort or support through all of this?

Bryna: I had many sources of emotional support, including my close friends and family. I saw two therapists during that time to get counseling through all my sadness and to help me process everything that was happening. I also participated in several Facebook support groups that were really helpful.

But the most significant thing was the in-person support group I found through an infertility organization. I was able to meet with a group of women every Saturday at a church near my house, and we could just cry together and encourage each other. They were the only ones who truly, 100 percent knew what I was going through. That was wonderful.

ACOG: How can friends and family support a woman going through infertility?

Bryna: A lot of people don't know what to say. For me, it was not helpful to hear, “Oh, you can have one of my kids,” or “It will happen in God's timing.” But the worst would be to complain about your pregnancy issues with someone who is struggling with infertility. I would go through any difficulties if it meant I could have a healthy baby.

I’ll also give you an example of something that was helpful for me. I once learned that my cousin was planning to announce her first pregnancy at our family Thanksgiving, which she was hosting. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day – sometimes it can still be painful when someone near to me is going to have a baby, even when I want to be happy for them.

But I found out that her mom made a gentle suggestion to her beforehand to not make it too much of a focus that day. I still needed a few minutes alone while we were at her house, but I knew everyone was being sensitive to my feelings, and that helped.

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If you have an infertility or pregnancy loss story to share – or a story about any aspect of women's health – submit your story to ACOG.

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Published: December 2020

Last reviewed: December 2020

Copyright 2021 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.

This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.