Stories of Infertility: Many times – having a child is just hard.

Last year, I began working on a series of special stories for Greenville Health System…stories that shared the human element for the tagline “Advancing Health Care for Generations.” Each one of these stories has impacted me on some level. But I didn’t imagine that this story would have such an impact on my personal life.

When I met Amory and Jeff, I knew their story was going to be tough — tough to tell as well as investigate. From the first time I met Jeff, he presented himself as a husband who was willing to do just about anything to put a smile on Amory’s face. Jeff felt that “their” IVF story was all about Amory, specifically telling me that he felt she would tell “their story” best. From that moment, I knew this reserved gentleman had something to share. I just think he wasn’t ready to be in the forefront of his (their) story.

Amory and Jeff are just regular people. They look just like you and me. Both have successful careers, are hardworking, and love life. When it was time to start a family, they experienced what many face today…the long, difficult path of having a child. The word “infertility” is such a touchy subject for many couples; this untold story is normally not shared at the dinner table. It is just hard to bring words to this path many are traveling.

I know this path all too well. Sarah and I struggled to have Rose. It took us nearly three years for Rose to become a reality. If you take a walk through our backyard, you will see three small memorials to the three miscarriages we experienced. We even have ultrasounds from those three little ones. This past experience was that major reason we never named Rose until we knew she was going to be real, living, healthy baby. Her name for the first two trimesters was Z4.

Z4 stood for Zygote Number 4. Yes, it sounds harsh, removed, distant, and even somewhat pessimistic…but it was our reality. Zygote is a term used when signifying the first stage of the development of an organism. Sounds kind of like being in high school biology again. That distance brought comfort and provided the ability to find humor during a tense time.

It was January 2, 2011 and Z4 abruptly became a reality when Sarah just happened to pee on a stick in an Atlanta McDonalds bathroom. We were on the way back from our Christmas vacation and stopped at McD’s for a bathroom break. I was sitting in the car waiting for Sarah. I was wondering what the heck was taking so long. She hopped back in the car and the flood gates opened. She cried, “I’m pregnant…what are we going to do?”

Before Christmas, we had already scheduled a visit with a fertility specialist during the first week of January to chart our next plan of attack. The day we discovered that we were pregnant (again), it was a Sunday. We immediately called and left a message on the office answering service. We quickly received a call back from the nurse and they wanted us to come into the office Monday to chat. After numerous ultrasounds, multiple blood tests, and many medications, we began realizing that maybe this time was for real. Maybe it was time to start thinking of Z4 as an actual person instead of a project. Yet to me, Z4 was still Z4 until Z4 was born…and that day, our project became Rose.

Now Rose is turning two years old, and it’s a distant memory that she was once known as Z4.

We are surrounded by people whose stories are so different, yet similar. What have I learned? It ‘s ok to talk about it, to share, to offer support, and sometimes to offer advice. The only way to tackle these issues is to share our stories so that others can learn and find their path to a family.