Undoubtedly, I am a better physician and clinician because of my experience with infertility and recurrent miscarriage. While I often felt helpless when treating patients battling infertility and miscarriage before, I now share my story as a source of encouragement.
My fertility journey
It might be surprising to learn that I did not always want children of my own. Sure they're cute, cuddly, and fun, but they're lots of work and demand lots of time—of which I had little to spare as a budding OBGYN.
But after being blessed with a wonderful husband, who exceeded all expectations, and sharing in the beautiful birth story of so many patients with their spouses, I warmed up to the idea.
Like most of us, I imagined I’d stop birth control, start prenatal vitamins, and deliver a bundle of joy nine to ten months later!
Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong. And honestly, after a year of TTC (trying to conceive), I painfully acknowledged that fertility, for whatever reason, seemed clearly beyond my reach. Up to this point, I believed that with hard work, any life goal can be accomplished. And if you added prayer to the mix, the sky certainly was the limit. So why was it taking us so long to conceive?
After an evaluation revealed a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, I felt simultaneously relieved that there was nothing wrong, but frustrated that there was nothing to “fix.” My life was busy, and I wanted a microwave remedy to correct this poorly understood diagnosis. And for those who have experienced infertility, you know exactly how this feels. As if you’re suspended in time, while being totally consumed with “how and when” conception will happen. From drinking cough syrup during ovulation to doing handstands afterwards, there is no shortage of advice nor of folks to remind you that eggs don’t get younger.
I now realize that there was purpose in the delay and, for me, valuable lessons followed. I discovered that it's much easier to tell patients about faith and how they should use theirs than to use my own.
As a person who trusts God, I knew that conceiving was possible, but would require simple obedience. My pastor had instilled in me the principle “to get something you’ve never gotten, you must do something you’ve never done.” (Pastor T. Riley)
So, I intentionally took 30 days each morning and dedicated myself to prayer and confessions. Before the month was over, I was more convinced of God's word and the scriptures I’d confessed than the negative reports from my doctors. My entire attitude and mindset changed, and I knew that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when. This shift was imperative for me and allowed me to celebrate my upcoming pregnancy while taking care of everyone else’s.
After renewing my mind in this fashion, time again seemed to move. When starting a cycle, frustration was replaced with renewed excitement as I anticipated another opportunity in two weeks to capture an ovulation.
I began preparing for my pregnancy and delivery. I bought clothing, a carseat, and other cute things to reflect my belief that any day I would have the manifestation of what I couldn't yet see. And that's the exact definition of faith—the evidence of things not seen!
After four years of TTC, three miscarriages, one failed IUI, and three and a half years of trusting God, we delivered our first son, Douglas Gleaton III. My husband and I both emerged from our fertility journey better positioned to face life challenges. Our journey brought us closer to God, and ultimately, one another. Now we employ this same model of faith application to finances, health, our professional lives, everything!
How my experience shapes my interactions with patients
Undoubtedly, I am a better physician and clinician because of my experience with infertility and recurrent miscarriage. I’m more sensitive to couples' emotions and really connect with their sense of loss. And while I often felt helpless when treating patients battling infertility and miscarriage before, I now share my story as a source of encouragement and impress upon them my experience of “unexpected delay, unexpected loss, yet expected triumph.”
You are not alone
Infertility is not easily explained nor endured. And while it's common to feel alone in this battle, you're not. One in eight couples are affected by infertility.
If you’re facing this diagnosis and feeling alone and defeated, openly discuss these feelings with your OBGYN and seek help. Pastors, counselors, and fertility support groups are excellent resources to access online or in person. At Natalist, we’re also here to help. As a team of moms and doctors who have been there, we understand and aim to bring you the most evidenced based information and products to assist you along your journey to parenthood.