When we first started trying to conceive, I went from 0 to batty real quick. I will admit, I am incredibly type-A, a total control freak, and have a schedule for everything. I was ready, and I assumed that meant a baby would be inhabiting my body the first time we tried.

After six months of trying to conceive, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN.  I was 30 and healthy; infertility was the last thing on my mind. Being one of five children and an aunt five times over made me believe conceiving would not be difficult. Bloodwork, ultrasound, and discussion would follow. Nothing out of the ordinary was discovered. My OB/GYN advised us to continue trying naturally, and we decided to reconvene again in a few months.

I planned accordingly for being pregnant that whole first year. I calculated countless due dates and seasonably appropriate birth announcements.

I secretly purchased a onesie after the first month of trying to conceive. I hid it under my bed in a spot my husband would never look and daydreamed about using this piece of clothing to reveal our new roles of “Mom” and “Dad”. [He just learned about this his first time reading this article, so there are no real surprises anymore.]

I was so presumptuous back then.

I skipped a friend’s bachelorette party assuming I would be pregnant but “too early to tell.”

I went to an art walk with friends, and every time they turned their back I would have my husband chug my wine. Admittedly, trading off drinks in secret was not an isolated event, but that month I was especially certain I was pregnant.

I ordered decaf coffees for no reason. Better safe than sorry, I thought each month after successfully identifying ovulation.

I didn’t register for a half marathon assuming I would HAVE to be pregnant by the race day.

I peed on sticks in Target, airports, restaurants, my parent’s bathroom, vacations, and on a camping trip. I popped my prenatal vitamins daily. I checked my cycle tracker app religiously. Each month when my period would arrive, a piece of my heart would break.

I watched those closest to me become pregnant and eventually become mothers. Holidays, weddings, trips, birthdays, all flew by as I remained childless. I smiled as I fielded questions such as “when will you guys start trying?” or everyone’s favorite “do you have kids?” Each question stung a little bit more as the days passed by me. I felt like I was losing so much time. None of this was a part of the plan I had envisioned.

We would eventually receive an infertility diagnosis and plunge headfirst into the world of IVF. Our plans for how to build a family would be forever changed. Timelines and monthly tests would be thrown out the window. It was time to buckle up for a trip we had little control over, a trip that would have lots of curves and detours.

We started our first cycle of IVF in January 2020. I was terrified but so excited. I really thought it would work and I would finally be pregnant. Then our cycle was canceled due to poor follicle growth the day before retrieval. This was my first lesson in “there are no timelines or guarantees when it comes to infertility.” I was destroyed. It was another huge setback.

We pushed forward and geared up for round two almost immediately. 9 days before starting our second round of IVF we got the call that our cycle was again canceled, this time due to the COVID pandemic. I cried and cried over more time wasted. It felt like our life was on hold and we had no authority regarding when to say “go.”

Our patience and persistence would pay off. We would complete our best IVF cycle in May 2020. That cycle would give us 13 beautiful embryos. In a way, this felt like our first infertility victory. I personally felt like I could finally check off one stretch of this marathon.

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Thinking back to those months of trying to conceive naturally makes me cringe and chuckle in a way. There was literally nothing I could have done to get pregnant without fertility treatment. Little did I know, it truly wasn’t in the cards. So now I have let go of those monthly stressors and rituals. It’s not the way it’s going to happen for us, and that is something I am becoming comfortable with.

Infertility has changed my entire outlook on life. It has helped me realize what truly matters. I have learned how important it is to surround yourself with love and support. Infertility has undoubtedly altered my relationship with my husband. It has taught us how to navigate feelings of grief, frustration, and loss together. At times we have been pushed beyond our limits, but there is no one else I could fight this battle with.

I have discovered a new level of resilience and determination I never knew existed in me. Most of all, I have learned that parenthood is a privilege, one that I will never take for granted. I will admit, I still experience jealousy towards those who are able to accomplish their timeline much quicker than me. I continue to remind myself “there are no timelines when it comes to trying to conceive.”

For those of you waiting for a positive pregnancy test, my heart is with you. I am actually right there with you. Letting go of what I “thought” this journey would look like has been one of the most challenging aspects of it all. Infertility has a cruel way of reminding us of its presence each and every day. It can be a painful reminder of what we don’t yet have. We may not be there yet, but we are closer than we were yesterday.

Kristen Ginty is a 31-year-old infertility warrior living in Denver, Colorado. She and her husband love to travel and spend time outdoors. They are currently waiting to transfer their first embryo this summer. Kristen loves to connect with other warriors and is constantly inspired by the women and men in this community. You can follow along with her infertility journey on Instagram @sisterhood.of.strength.