#IVF: My Last Hope to Become a Mom

Little girls dream of being mothers from the time they are toddlers. Playing with Barbie dolls, having tea parties, pretending to run errands, dressing up in their mother’s jewelry and clothes. It’s part of the deal. You want to be just like your mom.

Our reproductive systems were created for this very purpose so we never stop to think we might not be able to make that dream come true. (My heart sinks)

Life is ironic. I spent my college years trying to not get pregnant by my long-term boyfriend only to find that I am not be able to get pregnant with the love of my life. (My heart sinks again).

After getting married we tried to conceive for over three years and it just wasn’t happening. I was broken into a million little pieces. It was bad enough that I let myself down, but to let down the love of my life. Denying him the opportunity to have children absolutely tore me up inside.

During this period of strife it took all my power to keep the tears from flowing when I’d come across families. Especially those with babies. Tears would run down my face even in public places. Sunglasses were a staple even on cloudy days. I tried everything to hold the emotion back, but my maternal instinct wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally, after almost a year of resisting this ridiculous response I decided to let it go — blaming allergies if anyone noticed.

I knew in my heart of hearts that I was missing out on something big. I’ll admit it — I was unhappy with myself and probably not the easiest to be around. I wallowed in my sorrow. I frequently imagined myself as an old lady with no one to come visit me, watching all the other old ladies in the home with their children and grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Even though I was with the most supportive an amazing husband in the world, I was miserable. Cold. Alone.

Becoming a mother was a dream of mine since childhood. I had no idea how hard it would be to get pregnant.

Over time I grew resentful when people would complain about being pregnant. I’ll never forget the time I was getting a pedicure and some young mother in her late twenties was complaining about how she already had three girls so baby number four better not be another girl. (My heart sinks even further.) I know she didn’t know any better. She didn’t mean to be insensitive, she had no idea what I was going through. But it was really hard to see it from that perspective.

I could only think, “what I would give to have a baby! I just want to be a mother!”

Three years later I met a man that changed my life — Dr. Collin Smikle of Laurel Fertility Care in San Francisco, CA. Prior to meeting him I had been very timid to ask for help and was reluctant to go to the group meetings to learn about the process. Finally, I agreed. I was willing to try anything.

Dr. Smikle taught me it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to admit I couldn’t do it alone. It’s okay to feel guilt. It’s okay to feel like I’m abnormal. Then he said something very powerful.

“When you are holding your baby in your arms it will not matter how you got him or her. ”

With that, he transformed my thinking. He was right! How could I be so short sighted?

I took a few deep breaths, fighting the tears back. That night I let go of my disappointment, anger and resentment. I was ready for it to be my turn to be a mom and it didn’t matter if I needed to use conventional medicine to make it happen.

So we did. We were lucky to have a successful first round of IVF which isn’t always the case. Many of those who go through IVF have to undergo several rounds which is very taxing physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Two beautiful sons later we have a family of four. The perfect four.

I’ll admit it wasn’t always easy after I got pregnant. No one prepared me for the feelings I’d have during the pregnancy and afterwards. With the IVF process comes a lot of guilt and emotions that you don’t expect. There’s an element of stubbornness and ego that come into play because you had to go to extreme measures to get pregnant. I had horrible morning sickness but refused to do anything about it because I somehow felt this was part of “the deal” I so desperately wanted. I better suck it up. I also put a huge amount of stress on myself with nursing and not giving formula.

What was I trying to prove and to whom?

I realized that person was myself. Looking at my first born son I quickly felt the sense of pride a mother has when looking at their newborn baby. My heart was full. I cried because I was so happy.

This was the first of many lessons I would learn about motherhood and leadership.

Today, as a former Silicon Valley executive, an entrepreneur, and a dedicated wife and mother I have an inner strength that wasn’t with me prior to my IVF and mothering experiences. IVF teaches us about resilience. Being a mother teaches us about leadership.

I am very open about the IVF process so when people drum up the courage to ask me about it I tell them the truth. The IVF process is not fun. It’s very intense with the hormones and the timelines and the daily intramuscular progesterone shots with a 1.5 inch needle — ouch! But…it’s all a fog to me now. So worth it!

Those of you about to venture on the IVF journey or who are going through the process, I cannot express enough how important it is to connect with your IVF sisters. This whole experience requires a degree of compassion that can only be related by another who’s experienced infertility first hand.

There are more IVF sisters out there than you know or think. Once it’s not such an emotional topic, you will start to pick up on the words people choose and what they say about having kids, or not. It becomes clear who your IVF sisters are very quickly.

For anyone interested in learning more about how to manage the IVF process I offer a few select seats in my Leadership Coaching practice to help others who require support in this area. You can inquire at kendra@kendradahlstrom.com