Since 2009, Jen has gone through four miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, multiple rounds of fertility treatments, the loss of a fallopian tube, and her husband underwent urological surgery. Now, after seven years, Jen is happy to be 8 months pregnant with a baby girl, Emersyn. We spoke a few weeks ago about what it’s like to be on the other side of infertility after years of struggles.
Caitlin: So last fall you find out that you are pregnant, for the 6th time. At that point, are you cautiously happy?
Jen: Every time.
Caitlin: You feel happy and excited every time?
Jen: Yes, like you’ve said, I’m cautiously happy. I think, maybe this is the time. Maybe this is going to be it. But of course in the back of your mind, there’s always that constant paranoia. I worry I’m going to go to the bathroom and I’ll be bleeding. That’s the mindset. It took me a long time to feel relaxed with this pregnancy. When we found out it was a girl, I was like okay. Maybe I can relax.
Caitlin: Those milestones make you feel like, okay, maybe this really is going to happen?
Jen: Every ultrasound is huge. We had one at four weeks, we had one at six weeks. Then another at eight and then another nine, fifteen, and eighteen weeks. It’s wonderful to see her on that screen. She’s healthy and she is okay but at the back of my mind, I’m wonder, when is the other shoe going to drop or something bad going to happen?
Caitlin: Do you feel scared, even now?
Caitlin: I think that every pregnant women does, to be honest. I didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant, but it was the same sort of thing for me. Every ultrasound it felt a little more real. I was like okay, this is happening. You’ve gone through so much, so I imagine why that anxiety would be just multiplied for you.
Jen: What a lot of people don’t realize is, 65% of first pregnancies end up in miscarriage. (With our first pregnancy) I said okay, maybe we were a part of that 65% and everything after will be fine. Maybe it was just a fluke, and then it kept happening. At some point you realize, something is not right. It was hard to want to try again. It was hard when we found out that we were pregnant this time.
I kind of had a feeling, we had ran half of a marathon over the weekend. Something just felt off. And my husband said, maybe you are pregnant. I took the tests and it was instantenous. It was one of those, okay how is this one going to go?
Caitlin: You’ve always been open about your struggles to have a baby. You share your story on Facebook and on your blog, kyleandjensmith.blogspot.com. Why did you make that decision and how did that work for you?
Jen: Well, we didn’t talk about it the first time that it had happened. That was really hard. Only our family knew. So, since then, I’ve tried to tell people what we were going through. I couldn’t imagine going through everything that we’ve been gone through and not talking about it. I think it makes it worse.
My husband said if you’re comfortable with sharing, I’m on board. I think when you haven’t been in the position that we’ve been in, it’s kind of hard to understand why we are so open. It’s a comfort thing. It’s something that happened. I don’t have to walk around with a smile on my face because people know what’s going on and and they understand. It just made it easier knowing that people did know.
I also think, it’s an educational thing. I don’t think people understand how common this is. They don’t realize, one in eight couples deal with infertility and pregnancy loss on a very recurrent basis.
We’re trying to help others that are going through the same thing and dealing with it. Not knowing where to go, what to do. What programs are available to help them? That’s helped me. If I can help someone else by sharing our story, then I’m perfectly okay with that.
Caitlin: For people maybe who have friends or family who are dealing with infertility. What do you think is important for them to know? For them to be the best support for their family member ?
Jen: Just be good at listening. If someone in your life is dealing with infertility, just listen. Let them cry, let them get their feelings out. For me, that was huge. I called my sister and she let me go off on a rant if I was having a bad day about it. The little things can make all the difference for someone who is going through it.
I think some of the hardest things for me was one of the family members or friends getting pregnant, and they were afraid to tell me. Don’t be afraid just tell me. It made things so much harder, if you apologize a million times.
Caitlin: I feel like that puts you into a really awkward position. You shouldn’t have to be reassuring the pregnant person.
Jen: My sister got pregnant when I just had had a miscarriage. She texted me, tell me to call her. I called her and said, “You’re pregnant aren’t you?” She got real quiet and she said yes. She began to apologize.
Being pregnant is not something you should apologize for. Just because someone else has problems doesn’t mean that we don’t have the ability to be happy for somebody else. People need to understand that. We don’t lose feelings for everyone who is able to have kids.
Caitlin: Now you are on the other side. You are one of the lucky ones to be able to pregnant. What has it been like for you switching roles here?
Jen: It’s very surreal. I wake up every day, I’m like okay, this is happening. I will say, though, it doesn’t take away all the pain I’ve been through. We have five babies that are not here. That kills me every single day. To wonder what could have been. I still think about those other ones. We are very lucky, but she doesn’t replace the ones we lost.
I want to be an advocate for those who are struggling. Yes, I am on the other side but at the same time, it doesn’t negate everything that has got us to this point. We’ll never forget that.
Caitlin: That’s a part of who you are know, I imagine.
Jen: It is, very much.
Caitlin: What are you most looking forward to now?
Jen: Everything. The next milestone. I have my glucose test coming up and people joke about how hard that is.
Caitlin: Oh, that’s nothing after what you’ve been through!
Jen: Yeah, I’ll sit there, I’ll be fine.
I’m excited about all the little things. Having her, teaching her, and supporting her. It’s the little things that we’ve wanted since we got married almost eight years ago. We are so excited and our families are so excited.
A lot of people didn’t think it was going to happen and I can’t blame them. I didn’t think either. I thought it was just going to be disappointment after disappointment.
Caitlin: What do you think you’ve learned about yourself on this journey?
Jen: I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. With my first miscarriage, I was like, I cannot do this again. I can’t keep going, I can’t go through that again. I realized just how determined I was to make this happen.
I’m tough, I’m strong, and I can push through for myself and Kyle. It made us grateful. I wouldn’t change anything.
Image courtesy Jen Smith
Photo credit: http://ashleykemper.smugmug.com