Losing Hope, Control, and Eventually Sanity: My Daunting Fertility Journey with the Ultimate Happy Ending

The day I knew I wanted to be a mother I was 10 years old.

I told my grandma, who is now 93 and still remembers, that I wanted four boys.

The day I decided to start trying for a baby I was 25 years old. My mom had assured me that none of the women in my family ever had trouble getting pregnant or breastfeeding, so I was built for motherhood, wide-set hips and all. My husband and I were in the prime of our twenties. He was in his second year of business school at Harvard, working hard to set us up for a great life, and my career was taking off. Both coming from big Irish Catholic families, we had always wanted a sizeable family, and the time had finally come to start down the path of making it happen.

The trouble was, we started and nothing happened. Every single month, nothing happened. After a year of trying with no luck, he graduated and we moved from Boston to Chicago. I immediately sought out the best fertility specialists in the city, determined to find answers and make my 10-year-old self’s dream a reality. When we finally had the sitdown with our fertility specialist, the results were so inconclusive, it left us two Type A’s incredibly baffled.

“Well, sometimes the sperm just has trouble finding the egg,” one of the top doctors in the city said casually.

“You’re joking, right?” I said with a straight face.

I was hoping for some logical, scientific diagnosis that we could either treat or move forward from with Plan B, and her response was blurry at best.

So that fall, at 26 years old, I began my In Vitro Fertilization journey with round one. As I watched all my friends begin to announce they were expecting, I tried my best not to be envious, but holy cow, that’s a tough pill to swallow. In my mind, nothing compared to becoming a mother. To me, it was in many ways my divine purpose within my family. Without that role, my life wouldn’t be complete, and at 26 years old, I wasn’t in a headspace to fully embrace alternative options like adoption. I was still in the throes of, “Why the heck is this happening to me? I’m a healthy person! No one else in my family has fertility problems! What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I carry a baby?” My career, marriage, friendships—I had control over everything else in my life except the one thing I wanted most.

My first round of IVF resulted in a viable pregnancy, heartbeat and all. After such a long struggle, we were elated to finally hear good news that we shared with everyone. Eight weeks later, at a routine ultrasound, the baby’s heartbeat had significantly slowed, and by the weekend it had stopped completely. This miscarriage would brutally cause our first taste of parenthood to come to a screeching halt. After four months of early morning appointments and painful injections that left me feeling legally insane, our year of hope was gone in an instant. Through the despair, we forged on, eventually experiencing a failed attempt before finally getting pregnant with our oldest son, John.

The elation of this precious little blue-eyed boy joining this world and our family is beyond measurable. For months, each time I looked at him I was in disbelief that he was mine and I was finally a mother.  

As he turned two, the attempts to give him a sibling proved even more challenging. I would soon face multiple failed attempts, an ectopic pregnancy, biopsies, and more. On my seventh (yes, seventh) IVF attempt I told my husband, “This is it. I can’t mentally and physically go through this anymore, so if nothing happens on this round, we can start looking at surrogacy or adoption.”

In an odd turn of luck, that final IVF transfer fulfilled my childhood dream, and I wound up pregnant with triplet boys, completing our family. The amount of joy and pride I feel when looking at my children goes beyond what they’re doing in the present. It gives me a sense of personal pride to reflect on what I went through to get them here, in my lap, snuggling. Nine painful years of hopes crushed and prayers I thought would never be answered turned into my present blessed existence, with four little boys who drive me insane and shower me with love simultaneously.

My advice to anyone about to enter a fertility journey is this: remember—there is nothing wrong with you. If you want to become a mother, you will; the process of getting there may just not look the way you envisioned it. Be patient, and be kind to yourself. Always keep hope alive, no matter how difficult the road ahead appears. And know that things may not always happen on your timeline, but the universe has a plan for you.