On My Infertility – My Messy Beautiful

Embryos I

Someday, we’re going to have to tell them.  I’m not sure when, or exactly what version we’ll tell them.  But, we’re going to have to tell them.  I mean, we can’t really keep it a secret since I’ve written about it and shared it with the world from time to time. (And by “the world” I of course mean our friends, family and a few readers.)

Nor do I want to.  Keep it a secret, that is.  From you.  From them.  Especially from them.  But they are only three-years-old now, so it hasn’t exactly come up just yet.

But it will.  And while I know that we’ll tell them, I’m not exactly sure how we’ll tell them.  Consider our options:

Let’s see…well, it all started with a romantic trip to the doctor’s office one morning.

Okay, so there are the birds and the bees and then there are the semen cups and the vaginal wands.

You think a flu shot is fun, kids?  How about 12 weeks straight of daily shots in the…um…bottom.  Talk about a pain in the…well, you get it.  

Your dad really got off pretty easy all things considered.  {Sort of an inside joke for the infertile. Wink.  Wink.}

You’ll have the best baby pictures in the yearbook…I mean, look, you’re 7-cell embryos!  Can’t you see the resemblance?

Sure, it cost us a small fortune to get pregnant, but on the bright side, you were a BOGO deal!

Okay, so I’m thinking that we might not lead with these. Though, they are our truths.

Instead, when the time does come to tell them how we tried for three years to have children, how we researched every option, and how we finally came to IVF, we’ll probably start more gently.

We’ll probably tell them how we loved them even before we knew them, but that our crazy love could not, in fact, help get mom’s eggs from Point A to Point B.  We’ll tell them how doctors can do amazing things, from fixing boo-boos to helping mom and dad get all the necessary ingredients in the right place at the right time in order for babies to grow.  And we’ll surely tell them that we prayed for them…and prayed and prayed and prayed for them.

We’ll tell them that when we did everything that we could, we believe God did what we could not.

And then, when we’re all feeling warm and fuzzy about ourselves, I’ll probably haul out the pictures.  The – I probably should hide these in a safe…with a lock…but instead I’ll show them to the world because why not – pictures.

And we’ll all say, Woah.

Holli Pregnant - Yup

Holli Pregnant - Shirt

I’ll share the ups and downs and impossibilities of twin pregnancy, and how thank God I had wanted this for so long because my goodness was the last month with 15 lbs of baby inside mis-er-a-ble.


Peeing 8 times per night because the bladder can only hold a droplet miserable.  Taking an hour to readjust all twelve pillows on the couch to get myself and my belly wedged in the only possible sleeping position miserable.  Crying in my closet because just trying to get dressed (when nothing fits anyway) is way harder than running a marathon miserable.


Holli Pregnant - Woah

But then they arrived and they were perfect and it was all worth it, of course, but thank goodness they were out.  All 15 lbs of them.  Out.



{Someone please tell me why was I complaining again?} 

And if they want to know why we chose to tell our story, why didn’t we keep this part of our story private from them or from you, we’ll tell them this.

Because.  Infertility can be lonely and isolating and painful.  

Infertility can be crying in the bathroom at church on Mother’s Day.  It can be smiling through another baby shower or pregnancy announcement, simultaneously feeling this confusing mixture of joy {for another} and anguish {for yourself}.  It can be dreading the seemingly harmless question…When are you going to have kids?  Because if only you knew.

And these truths should not have to be endured alone. 

So my husband and I have never wanted to hide the messy behind and along side our beautiful.

Because I sometimes feel a pang of guilt when I walk by, my children in hand, and I see you look at them, at me, with that longing.  I know that look.  I know it because I was the one looking and longing for so long.  (And there are times even still, knowing the decision whether to have another child may not be mine to make, when my eyes rest a little too long on a newborn in another’s arms.)  I want to tell you this.  It was hard for me, too.  My mountain was steep and the path was winding with ditches and detours all along the way. I want you to know there were tears and doubt and fears for me, too.  There was throwing myself on the floor and crying out to God.  There was looking at my still empty womb every night as I ached for my children, not knowing how or when or where…or if.  I want to say to you, this.

 I know.  Me, too.

But I also want to tell you there was goodness in our grief, hope in our hurting.  There was friends and family reaching out to us.  There was a shoulder – often each other’s – to cry on.  There was the feeling that our prayers, even if not answered on our desired timeline, were always heard.


And now that they are here, that we are here, having arrived on our proverbial mountain top, I want to tell them – my children – simply this.  We’d climb it again and again for you. {And we did climb it again for our third.  We’ll tell them this, too.} We’d climb it again and again.  And just like their mom and dad, one day, they can and will do hard things, too.

The tears, the bruises, the heartbreak, and the hope are part of our story.  Just like they are part of all our stories.  We all climb mountains for our children. Sometimes we just have to start that climbing before they are actually in our arms.  And sometimes we climb still even after our arms are empty.

I am infertile.  And I tell my brutiful story because I want to stand with you on yours, shouting from the summit.  

Me, too.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

***Carry On, Warrior Giveaway Announcement – For a chance to win a copy of Carry On, Warrior of your very own, click on over here as I’m hosting a giveaway this week!  Thanks friends!***



  1. Thank you for sharing this, I felt heard in this post, even though our end results are much different. Justine

    • I do hear you, Justine. Your story is an inspiration…thank you for sharing and educating. Grateful to connect through Momastery and look forward to connecting and reading along with you.

  2. Yes! I remember those years. For us it took four years and then boom – we were in the infertility doctor’s office waiting to get the necessary bloodwork/ultrasounds unknowingly already pregnant. It was a crazy journey.

    And sharing stories like this is vitally important. I remember those days crying in the bathroom on Mother’s Day. I remember steeling myself for hours just to be able to walk into church on those days. Turning off my emotions. Staring straight ahead, listening as church and Hallmark and seemingly the whole world was going on and on about how motherhood is the greatest calling and feeling like I wasn’t worthy of it.

    And by the way, I think your pregnancy pictures are adorable :-)

    (Btw, I found you through Momastery.)

    • Big hug my friend! And thank you for sharing your story here too. And for the kind words about my pics…they are something, that’s for sure. 😉

      (PS… I still cry on Mother’s Day…for all the reasons.)

  3. I just love all of this! We have one of those pictures too. With 3 embryos, one with 7 cells, who I believe is our little girl, now 4! All of those emotions, I feel them too. We went through 2 rounds of IVF. It was painful, and rough, and hard on my marriage, but oh so very worth it!!!

    Lately, I have been wishing, praying, wanting another baby. We have an older daughter as well, although she was conceived naturally. But to have another, it would mean more fertility treatments, more IVF, and I just don’t know if its fair to do that to the two beautiful girls we already have.

    I am so thankful for my babies. God I am THANKFUL! And I feel incredibly GUILTY for wanting more. After all, I remind myself that there are many many other couples out there who are still trying so hard for one. It feels like I have my two blessings, and I am being greedy for wanting more.

    All of those, “why can’t it just be easy for once”, feelings are back. All of the “I’m so happy for you, Congratulations on your pregnancy(I am so stinkin jealous right now)” feelings are back. Because I am happy for my friends, but it hurts so much at the same time. Only people who have gone through infertility “get it”.

    I needed this today. Thank you!!

    • I’ve heard many people say the emotions never really leave…whether or not you have children or whether or not you have one or five or how ever many your heart wants. I so get it…and telling you (and myself) it’s okay not to feel guilty. Thank you so much for sharing your story…and wishing you peace moving forward, my friend. Thank you again.

  4. Love this. I haven’t dealt with infertility personally but have many friends who have. Thanks for sharing your story. Beautifully written.

  5. LJarvis says:

    Congratulations on your three blessings – you fought hard! I don’t know what it’s like to be infertile, so your story helps those of us who love people who share your fight.

  6. rah marie says:

    i needed this. thank you for sharing!

  7. Your family is absolutely beautiful. And I’m guessing when you finally tell them the story God will give you all the right words :)

  8. Shelly Donahue says:

    How adorable are you, how precious your babies, and gracious your story! So glad I read this today!

  9. Thanks, Amy. Infertility is infertility…and it is hard…whether it is secondary or whether it is whatever you call not secondary. :) Definitely wishing you all the best as you try to grow your family.

  10. Agreed. So happy to connect through this awesome project!

  11. Your story is beautiful, even if it’s messy or hard or not what the world calls “normal.” But who needs normal when we have God? Your children are precious. Your family is beautiful. It it is all conceived by love.

  12. Elizabeth Stewart says:

    What a beautiful testimony! My daughter was infertile for 10 years, and had three miscarriages, before having miracle daughter #1 with a little help from the dr. (not ivf, but the step before that) . Then just shy of 3 years later, daughter number 2 came along without medical help! My other daughter never got pregnant in 13 years of marriage, but her and her hubs are the happy adoptive parents of biological siblings. Surprise! Their first bio baby is due in June. God is crazy amazing and crazy good in all of the ways He works.

  13. Lisha Epperson says:

    Oh Holli… Of course aid meet you here. Because I lived your story. Different details, but I know the broken heart bleeding of infertility. My journey lasted 14 years and ended with the natural conception of my only biological child at 44 years old. In that span of time I welcomed learned to love a step son and embraced 3 spirit babies through the miracle of adoption. We have 4 children at home now aged 3-13. What a ride it’s been. Continued blessing on your family and thanks for sharing your story. It’s beautiful! Visit g today from Emily’s linkup.

    • Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and story here. There is so much healing in sharing. Too often we find connection later in the journey, but it is healing still. Blessings to you and your family as well!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this at last week’s Wine’d Down Wednesday. I picked your post to be featured at this week’s party. I’m sure your story will touch a lot of those suffering with/from infertility.

    I read a lot of your other posts on Blog Her during the week. Great stuff!

    • Thank you so much for sharing and for the kind words. When I was going through the worst of infertility, I found a lot of comfort and encouragement in hearing/reading the stories of other women/couples. Reading blogs and then eventually writing my own became a bit of a refuge. I hope by sharing my story I can somehow “pay it forward” in some small way.

  15. I read this post last week, and it blessed me so much.I am currently in the midst of seemingly endless fertility battle (we thought it ended on January 1 with our very first positive test, but we miscarried on February 7th), and reading your story gave me hope.

    I found your blog during the WV fiasco, and I was struck by how brave you are to speak out about these things (it is hard for me, because I am a pastors wife at a conservative church). But knowing that you’ve been through infertility, it makes sense. I feel like going through infertility has made me a much more open and compassionate a person, as well as a stronger one. I can’t think about LGBT issues without crying, because I know how hard it is to have no control over your body. It’s not the same, but the ache is similar.

    So anyway, thank you for sharing. I’m glad to have found your blog and discovered a kindred spirit :)

    • Wow…yes, “not having control over [our] body” is a huge part of the mental/emotional/physical struggle. I’m not sure than I ever made that connection until you suggested that here, but definitely. Yes. I know that we go through so much through our fertility battles, but I’ve never thought “if I just pray enough”…nor have I ever I discounted the role of faith and prayer…if that makes sense. Thank you for that really profound reflection about the similar aches. Also, thank you for your kind words. I am so deeply sorry for your miscarriage. Please know that you will be in my heart and prayers and that I admire your courage as well. Thank you for reaching out. I look forward to following your beautiful blog as well. Sending a big hug your way. <3

  16. Nicolette Springer says:

    Wonderful post. I also struggled with infertility. It’s one of those experience that changes the way you interact with people. Like you, I see that look as well and I just want to run over and say it’s ok. It gets better. As hard as it was for us I don’t think I would change anything. It was made me a better person.

    Thanks for joining in the Mommy Mixer. Hope to see you again this week.

  17. Thank you for your kind words and apologies for just getting back to you now. (Somehow I missed your comment in waiting in the queue.) Also, “only” 14 lbs! Nothing “only” about that. :) All the best to you!


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