My worst fear

Okay, so that’s probably an unnecessarily alarming way for an infertile pregnant woman to title a post. Rest assured, all is fine with the baby, as far as we know.  (Why do I always feel the need to add that qualifier?!) We had our first OB appointment last Tuesday. Aside from being super nervous, cranky, and cold, (Seriously, why would you keep an office in which your client is always naked at 60 freakin’ degrees?!)  the appointment was good. We heard the heartbeat (holy miracle moment!), saw actual toes, and as a bonus, we found out our obstetrician has a master’s degree in chemistry. 🙂

Since becoming spontaneously pregnant two weeks before my one-day-workup at CCRM, my “worst fear” (you know, aside from something awful happening to baby), is that people who hear my infertility story will try to use me as an example to support their bad advice. I just imagine well-meaning friends “comforting” their other infertile friend with the story of the girl-they-know who had abysmal AMH, who was counseled by three different doctors to consider donor eggs, and then spontaneously conceived once she “finally relaxed/stopped trying/[insert insensitive cliché here]”…

Last weekend, that fear came true.

I went to Palm Springs for my friend R’s bachelorette party extravaganza, and, as happens all too often with me, the subject of infertility & IVF came up. (It’s amazing to me how many infertiles come out of the woodwork whenever I open up about it!) One girl, who is currently struggling with secondary infertility, listened intently while I told our story. Then, as I finished, she declared triumphantly,

“I’ve heard so many stories like that. As soon as you relax and decide to leave things up to the experts, you get pregnant!”

Yes, because traveling across the country two days before the fall semester starts is so relaxing…

And what exactly what was I doing during the two IUI cycles, and IVF cycle? Apparently not “relaxing and leaving things up to the experts”…

In this situation, my post on infertility math came in handy, as I tried to explain why a natural conception after three failed ART cycles was evidence of nothing except that we had a helluva lot more months of trying ‘the old-fashioned way’ than anything else. (Believe me, I have the FertilityFriend chart – complete with BBT, EWCM, OPK and CBFM data – to prove that I was still trying damn hard!)

This challenge to the authenticity of my infertility made me want to whip out this little beauty:


In her defense, I’m sure that the woman who said this desperately wants to believe that just relaxing might work. She’s been struggling for two years to get pregnant with her second child, and mentioned that her husband is opposed to both IUI and IVF (because they’re “not natural”).

I sincerely hope that putting her fertility in the (somewhat tied) hands of her reproductive endocrinologist is all it takes for her to have a spontaneous pregnancy!

But in the mean time, please DON’T use my story as evidence of anything other than that sometimes weird shit happens!

Lastly, as my contribution to the onslaught of cute Halloween costume pics, here are my two “babies” in their costumes:


Leave a comment


  1. Your post could not be better timed. My coworker told me less than an hour ago that his wife was pregnant after a zillion failed IUIs and IVFs, knocked up the old fashioned way. I’m nothing but happy for them but my immediate thought was, “Ugh, don’t be one of those people that’s all when you just relax-least expect it-give up all hope-miracle-blah-blah” because I feel like it does a disservice to a lot of infertiles. Amazing, wonderful things happen all the time – in conception and life in general – but I hate to think that someone would wait to get help for a medical condition because of a wonderful, true story. I ramble. I am so happy for you. And, I get it. You can be a great advocate for infertiles no matter how you get knocked up.

  2. Kandie

     /  November 7, 2013

    Good post! Loooooove the Halloween babies! 🙂

  3. I think it demonstrates that sometimes people get lucky/ statistical and that’s great for them but still doesn’t fix a) whatever was causing fertility issues to start with or b) whatever other fertility issues people have. I have two friends who – fortunately – now each have two healthy children after being told their medical data slotted them into an ‘unlikely to ever conceive naturally’ group. But… they were just lucky. And so were you! And that’s great! But.. yeah.

    There’s a great book by Nathanael Johnson (friend of a friend) called “All Natural”. I like to point out that dying of a tooth abscess is natural, too, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

  4. I have been worrying about the same thing myself! We did a hail mary IUI after 2 failed IVFs, but we didn’t expect it to work, and actually spent hundreds of dollars on adoption expenses during my 2ww because we finally went full-force into adoption. I’m afraid people will say “See, you finally stopped trying and you got pregnant!” or “You started adoption paperwork and got pregnant!”

  5. Emily

     /  November 7, 2013

    I’m right there with you! When I conceived with my first pregnancy, I had just been telling my mom that I was feeling a little better that cycle, just sort of as a fluke. I wasn’t hopeful, just not quite as despairing. I wasn’t relaxed, but I wasn’t crying as often. I didn’t “know”, but I didn’t dread seeing messages on my phone from the RE’s office as much as usual. I knew she’d been listening to me during my journey, though, because one of the first things she said after celebrating my BFP with me was, “Don’t worry, I promise I won’t tell anybody you felt relaxed this time!”

  6. Yeah, people are obviously mistaking “taking a month off between heinous rounds of fertility treatment” for “relaxation”. What about all the months before you ever saw your RE that you were blissfully unaware that you had fertility issues? Couldn’t possible have been more relaxed than that, could it? God, people can be so stupid. Rest assured I just use your story as a “some people get really really lucky, and some just don’t” kind of tale. So glad to hear that things are progressing well!

  7. Yes, firstly do not scare us with a title like that! Not that I would have doubted it for a second, but thank you for being true to scientific and rational principles. I know I’ve written extensively how much it burns me up that my formerly infertile cousin (1st time IVF success) attributes her spontaneous conception to “we were so relaxed in Hawaii” No! you were lax about birth control and probably drunk! When I do come out about our infertility, I am so going to confront her and call her out on her bullshit. On a less ranting note, what I’ve been absorbing lately, is that you can never expect a treatment that worked for someone else to work for you. There are just too many variables and a powerful factor of the unknown. Although I still catch myself doing it, I’ve been trying not to research people with similiar stats and conditions, because whether or not it worked for them, has no bearing on if it will work for us. It’s a reason I don’t pay much attention to clinic SART data (unless they totally suck). Stories like yours are awesome, but more of the exception rather than the norm, and I can appreciate your fear of being the example that convinces another infertile “maybe if I stop trying it will happen…” On a second note -so happy to hear things are progressing well!

  8. Hahahaha. Several times after making the decision to adopt, I heard. “Now you’ll get pregnant!” Anyway,I’ve still never seen a positive pregnancy test. No shade to the woman who is hoping , I was that one too, but it’s amazing the reality vs the hope. Everyone always talks about that one person who spontaneously got pregnant.

  9. I hate this too. It sounds so condescending to me when people say “Oh, see, you just needed to stop trying!” (Or relax, or adopt, or whatever.) Like how silly of you to worry and to try all those expensive high-tech treatments when you just needed to do it the old fashioned way like everyone else!
    I’m glad all is well with you– the post title was a bit scary 😉

  10. If I could, I’d just hug you. This is a fantastic post. The pups in costume are just icing on the cake. Love it.

  11. Ellen

     /  November 14, 2013

    Guess what–I relaxed and I DIDN’T get pregnant. Shouldn’t I be a statistical anomaly then?

  12. I just found your blog while researching wheatgrass and supplements as they might pertain to egg quality. What a find! I had recently decided to take three months to try to charge my eggs before trying IVF#2. I see you attribute your pregnancy to “weird shit” happening, but I am wondering if any part of you thinks the supplements, etc. had anything to do with it? Impossible to know or tell, but I had read some interesting stories of people getting pregnant while waiting to start an IVF cycle when taking DHEA.

    Belated congratulations on your pregnancy!

    • Hi Scarlet,

      Thank you for reading! Certainly, I do consider the distinct possibility that the supplements had something to do with it (which is why I saved all of them and plan to start up again whenever I finish breastfeeding…) Here’s a more thorough reply that I gave to someone who asked a similar question on my TTC timeline page:

      To tell you the truth, I have no idea whether any of them helped. The science behind them is quite thin (see: for my research on DHEA; there was even less evidence out there for the other supplements…) There’s also a lot to say for random chance (I wrote about that here: Since becoming pregnant, I’ve also come to believe that prayer may have played a role, as one of the most common responses I’ve heard from people who learn of our pregnancy is, “a lot of prayers went into that!”

      Maybe a more revealing question is, ‘what do I plan to do when we’re ready to try for #2?’…And the answer is: All of the above. As soon as I’m done breastfeeding (assuming I can breastfeed), I intend to start taking the whole laundry list of supplements (wheatgrass juice and nanogreens and all); if I can find the time as a new mom, I’ll exercise and go to acupuncture; I’ll chart and use OPKs and my CBFM to time intercourse every month (to give us as many chances as possible); and C and I will ask our friends and family for their prayers and well-wishes…

      And then we’ll try our best to strike a balance between being hopeful for another, and intensely grateful for the miracle we’ve already been blessed with…

      A large part of my hesitation to attribute our success to any one thing is that I don’t want to provide any ammunition to all the well-meaning dispensers of unsolicited advice.

      Saying that “weird shit” happens is my attempt to be respectful of all the women who haven’t been so lucky, and who don’t deserve to be told that they would get pregnant if they would only do X. (Nevermind that they already tried X, or that X is prohibitively expensive, or against their religion, or that why should they have to do X when 90% of the population gets to make babies without it?!)

      In any case, I wish you all the best in your babymaking efforts! I’d love to know what works for you!


      • Thanks so much for your speedy and thoughtful answer! I am no scientist, so I find a scientist with an infertile pov so helpful.

        Good luck with the delivery and with breast feeding. All we can do is try our best for each step 🙂

  13. Mary Smith

     /  November 14, 2016

    I struggled with fertility issues for years. It was a hard road filled with doubt and self-loathing. All we wanted was a baby and we tried for years to have one. I tried every medical and old wives tale I could think of to try and get pregnant. I even slept on red sheets to promote fertility. It was starting to get crazy and I was overwhelmed. My husband found out about California Fertility Partners through a good friend. I was skeptical because I thought we had tried everything but I was wrong. We worked with Dr. Guy Ringler He made me feel so comfortable. My first IVF transfer at the clinic is coming up and Dr. Ringler has made us feel so confident about the process. We are crossing our fingers that it will be successful!

  1. Farewell to Lilly | the infertile chemist

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