Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Kristyn. I am an infertility warrior, wife, and mother to one-year-old boy/girl twins Brooke and Charlie, who were conceived via IVF. I am also a huge book nerd, a fitness enthusiast, a lover of country music, and an obsessed dog mom to my mini Australian Shepherd Nash (short for my favorite city, Nashville).
Like many of you, my journey to motherhood was not at all what I expected it to be. Navigating the world of infertility was confusing, isolating, and I constantly wished there was some sort of a handbook I could turn to for advice and guidance along the way. That's why I created The Fertility Tribe, an online community for your unique fertility journey.
The Fertility Tribe features real stories from real women (and men!) about all things related to fertility, including infertility, IVF, miscarriage, adoption, surrogacy, and more. Our site also gives a voice to pregnancy and motherhood after infertility because I truly believe that the scars of infertility don't fade the minute you find out you're pregnant.
Our mission statement is "Redefining Fertility Together," because, honestly, who can do this alone?!
What brought you to where you are now? Bring us along from the beginning.
I was 27 years old when I decided to go off of birth control after 11 years on the pill. It was right after my wedding, and we weren’t necessarily ready to start trying for a baby yet. I really just wanted to flush the hormones out of my system in hopes of restoring my normal menstrual cycle so that we could start trying in a few months.
But three months after stopping the pill, I still hadn’t gotten my period. I went to my gynecologist, and she ordered me an ultrasound and a blood test. When the results came in, she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and told me I would need the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist to get pregnant. Little did I know at that time, but I was in for a year-long fertility journey that would both challenge me and change me.
Because I was immediately referred to a fertility doctor following my PCOS diagnosis, my husband and I were thrust into the world of fertility treatments before my mind had time to catch up. I was not, in any way, shape, or form, mentally prepared for what I was about to go through.
What my doctor promised me would be a quick fix with some Clomid to help induce ovulation turned into several failed IUIs, an egg retrieval, a bad case of OHSS, and one failed frozen embryo transfer (FET) before I had success on my second FET. It was a roller-coaster, to say the least. I felt like no one had warned me about the time commitment and sacrifice that went into trying to start a family via Assisted Reproductive Technology, so I set out to create a safe place online where I could be that person for someone else.
I started The Fertility Tribe as a personal blog when I was pregnant with my twins. I had always wanted to write about my infertility journey, but I honestly couldn't wrap my head around actually doing it when I was going through all-consuming fertility treatments. But when I got pregnant, I decided it was now or never. My very first blog post was "5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Fertility Treatments," and I couldn't believe the positive response it got from the infertility community.
A few months into blogging, I realized that mine is just one story and one perspective, so I started covering all types of fertility journeys on my site, from IVF and miscarriage to surrogacy and adoption. We now have an incredibly engaged community of over 24,000 people on Instagram and a website representative of the many different paths to parenthood. I am so proud of what The Fertility Tribe has become, and I can't wait to continue redefining fertility with so many strong women by my side.
Tell us about your partner. What made you want to start or grow a family together?
My husband Dan is the best. He has always made me feel beautiful and listened to, and he has always made our family and me his number one priority. We have been pretty much inseparable since we met senior year of college, and we lived together for four years before getting married. On my wedding day, I was totally calm because I had never been more "sure" of anything in my life. It was always known that we both wanted kids, and I couldn't wait to start our life and a family together. When we went through fertility treatments, it was a hard test during our first year of marriage, but it also taught us that if we could get through that, we could get through anything together.
What was your journey to parenthood like?
Nothing about our journey to parenthood was easy. In addition to going through fertility treatments and IVF to conceive our twins, I had an extremely high-risk pregnancy. I went into pre-term labor at 26 weeks and six days due to a shortened cervix and spent the remainder of my pregnancy on bed rest and in and out of the hospital. I ended up making it all the way to 37 weeks, and thankfully, my twins avoided the NICU, but it was an extremely scary time for my husband and me.
I also had a bit of a traumatic birth. My daughter was born vaginally, and then my son failed to descend into the birth canal, so it turned into an emergency c-section. I hemorrhaged both during my c-section and again ten days later, so it was a rough recovery to say the least.
When everyone was finally home and safe, it was hard to believe that we were finally out of the woods after everything we had been through to have our two healthy babies. It felt like I had been in "survival mode" for so long, and I became anxious thinking, "what's going to happen next?" It took me a while to get over that feeling and actually enjoy motherhood. Infertility has a habit of sticking with you long after you become a mom, and I think it's important to bring attention to that.
What was happening in your life when you decided to start your family?
I was immediately referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist after being diagnosed with PCOS, so our decision to really "start trying" was kind of made for us, because we weren't sure how long it would take us due to my diagnosis.
How did you care for yourself while trying to conceive?
I usually do high-intensity exercise, and I had to tone that down during fertility treatments, especially IVF. I did a lot of yoga, and ate as healthy as possible. I also took prenatal vitamins and went to therapy.
How did you care for your body while pregnant?
I took prenatal vitamins and took it as easy as possible, due to the high-risk nature of my twin pregnancy.
What experiences shaped your understanding of conception and pregnancy?
I had 24/7 nausea for the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy and was on bed rest for my entire last trimester, so pregnancy, for me, was far from easy. I hope to one day experience a singleton pregnancy that is "normal," but I definitely didn't have the typical pregnancy experience, or the one that I thought I would have.
Tell us how you found out you were pregnant. We'd love details!
I took a home pregnancy test a few hours before I was due to get my blood drawn at the fertility clinic for my HCG blood test. We were so shocked to finally see those two lines, and we even brought the test to show the nurses at our fertility clinic! They called me about an hour later while we were on our way to work to confirm the pregnancy, and all of the nurses were cheering in the background. We had gotten to know them all really well by that point, so it was nice to see how excited they were for us. Still, I was in disbelief and scared that something was going to go wrong, so it was hard to get too excited at that point.
What have you learned as a result of trying to get pregnant and/or being pregnant?
What have I not learned? I could write a whole article on what I've learned, but I would say that the number one thing would be that not everything is in your control.
What's your wish for women who are trying to conceive?
Knowledge is power. Know your facts. Ask your doctor questions. Be your own advocate. If something doesn't feel right to you, seek a second opinion.
Anything else you'd like to share about your journey to parenthood?
My journey to motherhood was nothing like what I expected it to be, but I do believe that I am a better person because of what I went through to conceive my children. I learned how strong I am because being strong was the only choice I had. I learned how to lean on the people in my life like I never had before. I learned about the importance of self-care. I learned to love myself for what my body could do, rather than what it couldn’t. Now, my marriage is stronger than ever, my friendships are more genuine, and I am a more resilient mother to my kids because of the journey it took to get here, and for that, I couldn't be more grateful.