Sept. 8, 2021

Infertility journey to happiness. Anna's story of her and her husband's ten year journey of trying to become parents.


Anna Mueller, is the creator of Infertility Journey to Happiness. She has Endometriosis and is a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. She and her husband tried for 10 years to become parents. They spent over 100K, countless infertility treatments, 3 surgeries, endless months of thinking they were pregnant, and thousands of dollars spent on pregnancy tests that all came back negative. Fast forward 5 years later and now she is 40 years old with no chance of being a Mom and she can wake up every day with a smile on her face.

Connect with Anna:
https://infertilityjourneytohappiness.com/
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Transcript

Melissa Bright:

Thank you to better help for sponsoring this podcast. The progress that I have made in my mental health has been incredible. I just want to tell you my listeners a little bit about better help to see if it might be a great fit for you. Their mission is making professional counseling accessible, affordable and convenient. So anyone who struggles with life challenges can get help anywhere, anytime. They offer four ways to get counseling from video sessions, phone calls to live chat and messaging, you will be matched with your counselor and 24 hours or less financial aid is also available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com slash bright side of life that's better help.com slash bright side of life join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash bright side of life. The link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Anna:

I am still a woman whether I had a child or not whether I am a parent or not, I am still a woman. And once I let that go that non worth because I'm not a mom. The rest of it slowly started falling into place.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to the bright side of life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I'm your host Melissa Bright Today I have Ana Mueller. Adam Mueller is the creator of infertility journey to happiness. She has endometriosis and the carrier for cystic fibrosis. She and her husband tried for 10 years to become parents. They spent over $100,000, countless infertility treatments, three surgeries, and endless months of thinking that they were pregnant, and 1000s of dollars spent on pregnancy tests. All that came back negative. Fast forward five years later, and now Ana is 40 years old, with no chance of being a mom and she can wake up every day with a smile on her face. So Ana, welcome to the show. How are you doing today? Thank you so much for having me. I'm fantastic. I'm super excited to be on your podcast. Awesome. Well, let's go ahead and get started. When you were younger. Did you ever have any aspirations to be a mom?

Anna:

I love this question. Because the answer's no. I never wanted to be a mom. So growing up, my sister was the mom. She's six years younger than me and her She played dolls and Barbies and always wanted to be the mom and me, I played with Barbies. And I, it was me and Ken living in our penthouse in New York. And it was it was never going to happen. I never wanted to be a mom. My mom was like, Okay, I'm just never getting grandkids from you. And that's okay. Until I met my husband. And then he totally rocked my world. Yeah,

Melissa Bright:

and let's, let's talk about that. So when did things really start to change for you when you decided that? I think I might want to be a mom.

Anna:

So we had a conversation in the middle of us dating because we were 19 and 21. When we met, we were very young. And but we knew that we were each other's person. And I told him at the very beginning, I just don't think I ever want to be a mom. Is that something you can live with. And he he knew he was put on this earth to be a dad. He just knew he was supposed to be that dad, like his dad was. So his big thing was, I would rather be with you and never have children then be with somebody else and have five. So he was 100%. okay with it. I was good with it until it was about our first year, year and a half of marriage. And we went to a friend's wedding. And at the ceremony, I just happened to look over to my right. And there was this couple that had the most beautiful little girl sitting on her dad's lap and she had this dress in like layers of tool and look just like him and just kept looking up at him with that, like, only that smile that a little girl gives her father and it was the most amazing moment. And it just clicked and I was like, I want this. I want this for my husband. I want this for me. And I looked over him. I said okay, I'm ready. Let's go home and dry. So in between this ceremony reception we gave it

Melissa Bright:

Oh, and how old were you at that time?

Anna:

We were let's see we got married I was 25 and he turned 24 So about 2627 Okay, then we're like, okay, let's,

Melissa Bright:

let's start. Okay, so you guys start trying and kind of walk me through the the beginning of that. And what happened after that.

Anna:

So when we started trying, all of our friends were slowly meeting the loves of their lives and getting engaged and getting married. And we were the first ones in our boot to get married, the first ones to buy a house, and now the first ones, which I thought would be pregnant. So we tried, we tried through weddings, and you know, it never happens. We tried for about a year naturally. And finally, we were like, Okay, I guess I have to go to my ob gyn because I don't know why this isn't working. And originally, he said, it's very normal for women, it takes them a good year, you know, there's very few percent where they can get pregnant right away. He goes, you know, everyone thinks, oh, you have this week to get pregnant. And it's actually one to three days, you know, honestly, per month. So. I mean, we were going at it like rabbits. What else is there, you're young, you're freshly married, lay. And it just, it never happened. And then all of a sudden, our friends were like, Hey, I think we want to become parents. And we're like, oh, okay. Well, you know, it might take a while. Right? And it did not.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So after after a year, it didn't work. You talk to your ob what, what was your guys's solution after that point? Was it just Well, we just keep trying, or where did you go from there?

Anna:

So you have to remember, so we're talking 15 years ago, we didn't have social media and Facebook and podcast and you didn't have support groups of infertility, and you didn't even use that word. You just use the words of Oh, this couple never had kids, they just never wanted to. People didn't realize that they probably couldn't. So there wasn't a lot of options on where we were going with that. And I was raised very naturally, I my cycle was ever 28 days, I've never had to be on the pill. So it was not something I was accustomed to doing anything synthetic. And I told my doctor, I go, well, what's going on? My cycle started getting a little different. They were still regular, but they were getting a little more severe. Just not good. And that's when my doctor started running tests. And he came back and said, okay, you have endometriosis. So this will explain why you're not getting pregnant. Because the way I was set up, I had a lot of scar tissue from just two years of enjoyment, endometriosis just, you know, growing and growing. So he suggested that they do my first surgery, which would like laparoscopic, which would just flesh me out. And he could go in there and move all the scar tissue and then I would be kind of like a further Myrtle. He's like, you know, reason why you couldn't the tubes open, you got your pathway, just go. So it was it was hard. And it was scary. Because it was my first real surgery. We had to tell my mom and my in laws who I love and adore at that we were going in for this specific surgery because now we've been married almost three years and the questions are so are we gonna be grandparents? What's your thoughts? And we had to kind of have that hard conversation of it's not working naturally. So we need some assistance. And our families were shocked,

Melissa Bright:

right? Okay, I'm gonna back up just a little bit for anybody that might not know what and I suck at saying this. What exactly is that? So there's

Anna:

a lot of different definitions and a lot of different groups and there's four different stages to it and it's, it's can become like a full body disease. It starts out just in your uterus and in all of your womanly organs and it will flare up during your time with a month and there is a plethora of symptoms. I had every single symptom except for the pain for years which is why we did not diagnose me in time because pain is normally the big one if you want any of the endometriosis sides pain is the biggest one and I'm now getting the pain I've had the pain for about a year. It can be very crippling.

Melissa Bright:

So what kind of pain what kind of like where is the pain? What does it feel? Oh,

Anna:

so in your in your stomach area stabbing pain, like your insides are being ripped out burning. I have like the leg cramps and the hip pain, the nausea the I can't sleep so I have terrible insomnia during my cycles and I'll just be up to like two in the morning bright awake with nothing to do I still get little mini hot flashes from you know another procedure prior to but and you know, like The bathroom situation and as a woman, that's just a terrible thing to have to go through. It's and then it you can go into different stages when it starts hitting your colon area and affecting those organs, you've hit stage three and four. I am in stage two. So it's still contained in all of you know, during my cycle. But now I'm starting to feel my side effects the week before and the week after my cycle. So I have about one good week during the month where I feel fantastic. And you got me on a good day.

Melissa Bright:

So before we move forward, is, is there a point that if you would catch endometriosis early enough that it could not affect having children or even having pain or symptoms? Or is or is this just something that will once once you have it, there's nothing, it's manageable, but there's nothing really, we can do to get completely rid of it.

Anna:

So you you can and that was one of my first surgery. So when my doctor would go in and remove all of my scar tissue, and my cyst from my endometriosis, and clean out the endometriosis, I would be endo free. And it would give me about a year or so of relief for a lot of women, they can get pregnant on endometriosis. It just depends on what stage they're at what you know, the internal body looks like my pathway is covered in scar tissue. So it's very hard for, you know, the semen to get to where it needs to go. We're just not we're not you know, making it but it never gets better.

Melissa Bright:

It always gets worse. Okay, gotcha. It can't be manageable a

Anna:

little bit. But it's it's can be very intense.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Okay. So that's kind of our little education moment about endometriosis, because I didn't know too much about it. Here we are, you're about to go into your first surgery. And you have to tell both sets of parents because they were wondering, when are we going to have grandparents? And Was this something that you obviously you had you hadn't told him? yet? Was

Anna:

there a reason that you didn't really want to disclose the information of like, what we've been trying for a year or any certain reasons why you hadn't told him up until this point that you weren't pregnant, or you were trying? Absolutely. So again, and I say this again, go back 15 years, it wasn't something that was talked about. So for me, being a woman already having, you know, insecurities, as it is just a normal woman insecurity that you have on a daily basis to add this to the mix, that you can't do something as natural as conceive a child with the person that you love. And it was very hard to face and I was in denial for quite a while. And it was something where I told my husband I don't want to share it with anybody. People aren't going to understand they're gonna ask me questions I don't have answers to there's no books to read. There's no podcast listen to like no one else is going through this. I am alone. I am a broken woman and I don't want to talk about it. And so I forced him to keep it a secret and he did for years. It was just us in our own tragic bubble, living this life of misery every single day. It was awful. absolutely awful.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my goodness. And I love that you keep going back to remind people of 15 years ago when all this stuff wasn't available because like you said, nowadays there are many support groups, Facebook, all kinds of stuff which we'll get into later but I wonder now because you know for my mental health journey, of course I didn't talk about it until 2020. And it's like, you know, you kind of wonder what motivates somebody to finally come forth or what made them stay quiet for as long as they did and for you, that was exactly the reason. So your your the parents, your parents, his parents were shocked shocked in a what kind of way were they disappointed were they like compassionate for you what really were their responses when you say shocked

Anna:

so definitely not disappointed and in no way shape or form. Shocked as in I don't understand how this is happening. This is not happening on either side of our families. Mom and Dad my in laws. It no family member has gone through this that they were aware of my mom's side no one's ever gone through this my father's side. No one ever will do this again for what they are aware of because no one talked about it and they didn't have what they have now. And then they were shocked of sadness. Because one their daughter and daughter in law have to go under the knife and have surgery done. To that we're so young and having to deal with this and insurance doesn't cover hardly any of it. And three the chance that they could be grandparents is slowly slipping away. And you know it especially for my in laws that that was huge because my mother I was a stay at home mom, the entire length of her children. And she just she lives in breeze, children. And so it she always thought I was going to be a grandma. There was no question. We didn't think about that. And my mom is in the point of her life where she, her and I are best friends. And she's like app, take it or leave it, I'm good. But she was she was really sad. For me.

Melissa Bright:

It was it was hard.

Anna:

It was very hard.

Melissa Bright:

I cannot even imagine there's so many different layers to it, you know, thinking about first yourself as a woman, then your husband? And we'll talk about that. Then the grandparents, you know, when when what they want, and it's the latter pressure on you. Yes. Yeah. So what what did you feel in terms of, you know, how, first of all, how did your husband feel during during this, you know, when you were going to go into surgeries? And then what did you feel like toward your husband? Because I know, you said that you knew that he wanted to have kids. So what was that feeling like?

Anna:

at it, I felt like my body betrayed me and him. And I felt like our marriage was doomed. Because I could not give him a child. He has been nothing but supportive from the very beginning. I apologize through every procedure, every treatment, every negative pregnancy test, I would cry sob and say I'm sorry. And he would say it's not your fault. And I go, but it is it's my body and he goes, it's not your fault. stop apologizing. He goes, we're in this together. He was sad for me. And he was heartbroken for me because he wanted me to come out of surgery safely. He did not want to lose me. And he didn't want this to change us and infertility does. I'm not the same person I was. And my husband's not and my in laws aren't either. I mean, we're completely different. And I'm sure you know, just with mental health, once you get to a negative spot and you find your happiness, you're a completely different person.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Yep. I would agree. Okay, so moving forward after you went through the first surgery. Surgery goes good.

Anna:

No, it did it in my doctor's eyes, a success. I even have the picture still, of all the cysts that he found. My girl she had my left ovary was encased with this. So he was able to laser all that off. It was supposed to be I believe, an hour, hour and a half surgery, it lasted three and a half. It was very invasive, but they he was able to get all the endometriosis out. So healing time, it was hard, but I was young. So I bounce back pretty quickly. And I had a year of just wonderfulness. With my cycle that was not normal. Again, whatever normal would be. And my doctor said, All right, sheets to the wind, go have fun and come back to you when you're pregnant. So I had all high hopes that it was going to happen. Right? Didn't happen.

Melissa Bright:

And the doctor the doctor was giving the doctor was hopeful for Yes, yes, yes. Okay, so you guys, after that you do your thing you try you try you try. How long do you guys try? Until nothing happens? You know, in between this time? You know, did you have any bursts of not burst? But um, what is the word I'm looking for? Like? You thought you could have been pregnant. So you know, you took a pregnancy test? How often would that happen? every month,

Anna:

every month, every month I the lady at Walgreens knew who I was. Which I have a very funny stories remind me to share you with that because it happened in April. But this year, but uh, so I would go every month to Walgreens because we did not have CVS at the time in town. And I would get the clearblue easy because it would say pregnant or not pregnant and every month for me to be able to get through the the negative results, I would have this vision in my head of it showing positive my reaction, my husband's reaction, my in laws reaction and my mom's reaction. And I would kind of play that over and over again to kind of hype myself up to say, Okay, I'm it's going to be positive. And I would always do the test after my husband left for work because I didn't want him to see me crumble. And and he would do like the the the clear, easy five day. So you could take it five days before your period. And I would and it would be negative and then my period would be late a day and then I would get all excited again. And then you know, it would it would still not be and then I would start and my bathroom floor was my best friend for quite a few years.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So you were taking a test every month was it every month because there were Some sign like you said, a couple months you were late. Did you decide to take a test every month? Just because like you, you just had to know right then? Or was there always a sign of I might be pregnant because such and such has or hasn't happened?

Anna:

I would have Phantom symptoms. I would, I would think I was pregnant and I would fake myself out, I would feel nauseous. My breasts would be tender in the shower. I would feel like I'm a little bloated, I would have weird smells. The metallic taste, as they said was always a key factor. And I just always felt like, Oh my gosh, this is our month, because I had such high hope. Because my doctor said, we've planned you out. You're good. There's no reason not to write. Little did he know.

Melissa Bright:

So how long did this continue on for for trying and taking pregnancy tests? Yeah, how long did that last

Anna:

about a year? Because finally my husband came to me and he goes, Okay, he goes, hon, it's not working. He goes, we need to do something, because I know you don't want help. He was but we need help. Because we're struggling and this isn't working. You're miserable. I'm miserable. I pulled back on friends. I wasn't doing any functions, no social functions. I never wanted to do family functions, I would go and I would have to psych myself to go because I was so fearful that somebody was going to announce they were pregnant, or I was going to get that dreaded question up. So what are you Jeremy gonna have kids? Don't you want kids? How old are you now? Oh, you better hurry. Right? every social event?

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And that's just, it's so crazy to think that that simple thing like happens. And it happens for a lot of women for just being in that situation and you not being able to say what is really going on, you have to essentially make up a lie. And I know, on one of your blog posts, you even talk about you, you just kind of said oh, we're just focusing on our careers. And that, like was a smack in the face to you. When when the person responded and said that you were selfish. Yes. Yeah, I was like, people are amazing. People are amazing. And what they can say to you when they have no idea what's going on? I no longer friends with her on Facebook. I did defend her. Good for you. Good for you. Because a good year, but I did. Good for you. Yeah. Okay, so we are you are in what year two? year two or three of trying now my surgery. So your three, year three? And when you say that your husband knew that you didn't want to get help? What kind of help? Did he mean?

Anna:

synthetic help doctor help someone that a specialist, someone that could help. It became a point where I went back to my doctor, and I said, Okay, this isn't working, we need help. We want to be parents. So my doctor recommended that I went to a specialist. Becky at parents fabulous. I mean, I would recommend parents to anybody. It's an amazing clinic. They're as natural as can be. And they specialized in IU eyes, which is great.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Are you i

Anna:

i UI is they will take the men sample and dilute it with a special solution, pull out only the very best sperms and then insert it into my pathway. And then I stay elevated for a good 20 minutes. And then that then allows them to swim, find me and then produce. And again, I was told in multiple meetings with not just my husband, but I would bring my mother in law with me, because I wanted her to experience it with us because she was a big part of it. And they would tell me Oh, you know, This usually happens the first or second try. So get ready. And I'm like, oh, okay, multiple blood test. I was seeing her probably four or five times a month. And none of this is covered by insurance. So you know, checks come in, and we write a check right back out. And I would do multiple blood tests and multiple counts. And then she would call me and say okay, you're getting ready to ovulate. We need you to come in. Then my husband would have to, you know, provide me a sample and right. Yeah, many funny many funny stories.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, I can't even I cannot even imagine and I'm sure at some point as much as like you were going through you had to kind of find some humor or something during a little late,

Anna:

so we had a moment where it was One of our first ones. And so my husband had to, you know, give a sample. And he in our, in our old house in the living room, we had pocket doors. And he went into the living room, and he had the pocket door shots. And I remember him going in there. And I'm like, oh, he doesn't have like a Kleenex or anything. I have not found the pocket door. And I'm like, Okay, I'm just gonna open a little bit here is some clean accident. I'm like, oh my gosh. So you have a little bit of humor there. But then you get in the car, it's in the brown paper bag, you have a washcloth around it to keep it you know, body temperature, and you're driving as slow as you can, because you can't do a lot of movement, because it's in the solution. And you're driving from where we live out to Chesterfield. And the whole time, you're sitting in silence, I'm holding this. And I mean, tears are just running down my face. Because I'm thinking this, this could be it. This could be our moment where we could be parents, right? Like, this is amazing. So again, filled with all this hope and desire. And we get there and we're we go into the room. And the room was absolutely spectacular. She had it like a little guest room. So it felt very warm and cozy. All of her caliber instruments were warm to the touch. So they weren't cold. And I had to stay elevated. And Jeremy and I were sitting there while I was laying, he was sitting next to me. And I mean, tears are just running down my face. And he goes, Hey, what's going on? And he's brushing them away. And I'm like, this could be it. This could be the story that we could tell our kids that we could tell our in laws and 25 days later, it was enough. And you started all over again.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So you you don't find out immediately. No, no,

Anna:

no, no. Because it's just like when you're intimate with your husband. And then the next time you have your period, you don't start and you're like, oh, okay, maybe I'm pregnant. So we had to wait, you know, about 2025 days. And then I was given a schedule of after that when my husband, I could be intimate on these specific days. And I had to end missionary so I could stay elevated. Right? So it's a lot of pressure.

Melissa Bright:

That's what I was just about to ask like, holy shit.

Anna:

Yeah, definitely not enjoyable. Because you know, my husband's in focus mode of getting care of and I'm like, okay, don't move too much. Just lay here. Right? Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Wow, this is all stuff like you're explaining this so well, for somebody that I have never been through this or experienced this. So just hear the story. And you explain everything stuff that people don't think about the guestroom you talk about in the not enjoyable sex, because you're focused on so many different things besides just having sex with your husband? It's, it's crazy. And I can't even imagine I know that you have went through, you went through 10 years of this, but not only 10 years, it was every month, every time you would have sex every time you would wonder if you had your period. So basically 10 times 12. I, I cannot even imagine. So, what what happened after how many treatments? Are we on with the infertility treatments now? So we did 10 iu eyes? How soon can you do those? together? How far apart do they have to be

Anna:

depending on the person I never miscarried, and I never got pregnant, so I didn't need downtime. So we were able to do it every month if we wanted to. And there were some months where my numbers were so elevated, she would discuss twins. And I would immediately call my mom my mother in law and say, okay, but especialista saying I could have twins and Thoreau said go for it go for a will will help. And so then we would have to do two IU eyes that month. And again, none of these are covered by insurance. So my husband worked a lot of hours. And we paid a lot of money for this. So you have the emotional aspect of it. And then you have the financial aspect of it. And both of those combined is can be very tumultuous.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. There were there's a lot of tears, a lot of tears and what are you feeling? I mean, at this point, you said okay, so you did 10 different and infertility treatments. At what point did you guys say that you're done, or did the doctor make that decision for you? How did you guys ultimately find out You could not be parents.

Anna:

So after the 10 iu II treatments, we my husband, I had a conversation we said as much as we love Becky and love parents, we need to try something else. And at that time IVF was starting to become kind of a thing, if you will, a lot of celebrity people were doing it and coming out and kind of mentioned that they had twins because of IVF. So we've already spent about, you know, 95 100,000 on all of this between my surgeries and then don't forget in between the 10 iu eyes. I also did Lupron shots for six months, which put me in early menopause to clear up the endometriosis.

Melissa Bright:

And that was what are those just add them up? Lupron shots,

Anna:

you go to the doctor every month, and they literally it's a synthetic drug that puts you in menopause temporarily. Oh my god, that sounds awful. It was it to say those six months were the worst months of my life. I it's an understatement. It was terrible. But my doctor said that putting me in early menopause will stop my endometriosis from growing. And it will allow me to you know, get it cleared up, do another, you know, surgery, and then be able to go from there. So when you get put into a synthetic early menopause, the side effects are worse than normal menopause.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my goodness. So

Anna:

it was one of those things where the first couple months I was fine. And I was like, oh, I've got this no big deal. And then month three, when I would go in for my shot, they had to do it in my you know, buttocks hip area. And I would have to walk and massage because I would get terrible leg cramping. So I would have my mom, I would take the day off of work, my mom would go with me. And we would I would have my shot down, we would go go to Starbucks. And then we would go shopping at like grab a glass or chest real Valley and just walk around aimlessly and keep my mind off of it. But I went home I was just in constant pain. But by the third month, the synthetic drugs took effect and I had really bad hot flashes. To the point where my felt like my skin was burning from the inside out. I would have sweat just pouring off my body. And as a woman, you just never feel fresh. And I had terrible insomnia. I wasn't sleeping, which led to me forgetting everything, I would have just moments where I could not remember the day before. Mood swings left and right. During those six months, there was no way Jeremy was touching me. I was not in any mood to even do anything like that. It was it was bad. It was very, very bad.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Were you required to do these shots? Or did they just say hey, this could help move along? You not having any more endometriosis? Like this is just another option to give you guys some better chances.

Anna:

Yes, absolutely. Number two, it was it was supposed to help supposed to clear up the endometriosis. And it was just a temporary. The the issue was is that part of the mood swings was mentally too. And so I would mentally decline and I would feel extremely depressed. I'm a very happy, outgoing person. And I knew in my head it wasn't me. But I also knew I could not get these feelings to leave. And so suicidal thoughts were creeping into my brain on a regular basis. It was bad. Very, it was very terrible.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So did you decide to get off the shots then? Or did they, the doctors,

Anna:

I went through the full six months, like they recommended because I wanted to do it and do everything we could. And the very last shot after it was done. It took about three or so months for my body to kind of feel normal again. And then from there, you know, we went and did another laparoscopic, my third surgery and they were like, okay, you know, we've cleaned it out. You know, you're good to go. You know, give it a try now.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And yeah, where are your hopes at this point? I mean, are you even at this point? hopeful or I mean, you have been let down time after time after time after time. Where are you at at this point? emotionally, mentally? I mean, do you still have hope left?

Anna:

Very defeated, very defeated. So we got to a point where we sold our house and we were like, We don't want the memories. We don't want to be here anymore. We need to change. We were done with our Lupron shots. We were getting ready to we were meeting with an IVF specialist. Because it wasn't working. And at this point, we're like, we're gonna sell the house, we're done. And we moved into a condo that we were renting for about six months to a year, what we figured out was we were going to build, we wanted to build the dream house with all the bedrooms and bathrooms, the big backyard, because we were going to have kids, we never let go of that, that faith and that hope. And we bought a really fabulous cute villa. It was huge. And it was wonderful. And there was no maintenance because my husband said I don't want maintenance, let's just live a free lifestyle right now. And we moved in. And that's when we started the IVF journey of you know, possibly doing that. And we met with the IVF specialists out in Chesterfield, I will not name names, because I am not happy with that specialist. And it was, it was a terrible experience. We were not able to do IVF. That's that's when they found out after all the blood tests that I'm a carrier for cystic fibrosis. And so we had a three way call with a specialist because he did not have time to meet us after work. So we had to do a phone call. My husband and I, which I should have known in that moment, that bedside manner was not the greatest thing. He was known. I mean, I had a lot of clients that had used him and gotten pregnant with kids. And a friend of mine used him that we still talk on, she had a great experience with them. But he informed us that our we originally we were told 60 to 70% chance of getting pregnant with IVF. And they were like we can do this next month, we can get you ready, get you everything. It'll be about 3035 grand, you know, let's move forward. Yeah. And we were like, okay, 60 70% chance we could live with that if we lose this money on top of the 100,000. We, we could live with that. And then when he called us and said I'm a carrier for cystic fibrosis, and that is why you're not conceiving because you're not producing, you know, your normal, I guess eggs or, or embryos or whatnot, he goes through all considered abnormal. So now, if you want to move forward with IVF, we're gonna have to do a special task on each one that we extract from you. And it'll be three to $5,000 just to ensure that that egg is not a carrier with cystic fibrosis, that way we can have normal eggs and my husband are like, okay, so it's 30 to 35 grand plus this. I don't this is crazy. In the midst of all this, we have friends now having children.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Holy crap. cystic fibrosis, what is that?

Anna:

I am still learning about that. Because I was not at all prepared to be told I was a carrier. No one on my mom or father side has it at all. I know that you know, it. People can live live with it. But it is a very debilitating disease. And I know it has something to do, I believe it's like the bones and the muscles. And it can just be very treacherous. And it's not something that obviously anybody would want to how my mom is still to this day, five years later in shock that I'm a carrier for this. And she'll bring it up in random coffee chats that her and I have. I just can't believe you're a carrier for this. Where did this come from? I don't know, mom. I don't know.

Melissa Bright:

So you're just a carrier, which means like, so it doesn't mean that you necessarily have it. Correct. But you could pass it on?

Anna:

Yes. The likelihood of me passing it is very high. He said, wow.

Melissa Bright:

And was there any surprise in terms of should any other doctors should have caught this? Or is that not something that they would specialize in? So there's no way that they could have caught that? You are first of all that you were a carrier for cystic fibrosis and second of all, that you had abnormal eggs that weren't even taking?

Anna:

Yeah, so no, I mean, unless you were an actual specialist. Like he wasn't he did the blood tests and everything he had special tests he did on our blood to show what carriers we were what we had. But no, my other specialist would not have even known how to I don't even think know how to do that or have the machines for it. Because it's such a specialized test.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So once you found out that you were a carrier, once you found out it's going to be another god how much money What did you guys decide to do?

Anna:

So we looked at adoption, because everyone's answer to it when they would ask us when we were going to have kids was adopt because it's like going to target and picking out your Barbie girl. That's how they all made it same. So in in the midst of all that we all had. We had friends have having children. And now we were slowly sharing with our two best friends. So at this point, it is just our two best friends who became kind of our confidence. They they helped us at our lowest of lows. They were there for us when we needed them. And we are godparents to their children. They are they are our children. And 100% they are and when I was going through, so I'm going to backtrack just a little bit. Yeah, I, I want to share this. So when I was getting my Lupron shots done, I would go to the doctor, they would do the shot. And as I mentioned, my mom would be with me, and then we would walk it, I would have moments where we would walk into when they had Babies R Us at the time, we would walk into Babies R Us because I had so many friends getting pregnant, and I had to get things off the registry. But I could not get myself to get the registry, and I would walk aimlessly in the store and just touch the clothes. Just touch them, look at them. Look at my mom, my mom would cry, I would stand there and cry. And she would say it's going to be okay. And I would say this is going to be me, let's go pick out my bedding. Let's go pick up my crib and my mom would just rub my back. And we would pick out exactly how the nursery would look. And then we would leave and you know, go get something to eat. But in the middle of one of my shots, I was having really bad side effects. I just spent the night at my mom's I could not even drive home. And my girlfriend at the time was telling me that she was going into labor and she wanted us to head up to the hospital. Because that was years ago before COVID you could have you know, 2030 you know, you know the whole thing could not emotionally or physically even attend and I text her and I go I am so excited for you. We're not going to make it I'm so sorry. I'm sick. When I had another girlfriend who in the midst of my Lupron shots had her daughter's first birthday. And I texted her and I go I I'm not able to make it. I am so sorry. I have your daughter's gift, I will come by separately. And we'll you know do a big to do. Yeah, she was so mad at me for not showing up and being there for her that she cut me out of her and her daughter's life. And I have not spoken to her since because she did not know what was going on in my world. I did not share it. And shame on me for not. But I also feel the same time if you're friends with someone and they say they're not feeling good. And they can't make something give them the benefit of the doubt. Right. But that's when I realized in those moments, I couldn't hold it anymore. You know, I write I had to share. So that's when we started sharing with our best friends. And it was comforting to have them there.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Do you have any regrets of not sharing earlier? with people? No,

Anna:

I don't. Now, if we were going through it, I would tell the whole world But back then. It was not something that you talked about. And I couldn't deal with the questions because once family members found out every time we would go to any family function, they would stare at me and wait for me to pick up an alcoholic beverage or bottle water. And if it was a bottle of water, you'd see him go like this. Wow. Every time and then the questions. So you know, you know, a friend of mine daughter just did this and she's going to be a grandma. Have you tried that? Yeah. Okay. And it was it was the question after question after question. And then when I would take a drink of wine, they go, Oh,

Melissa Bright:

yeah, we'll pray for you. said, Okay. Thank you. They just treat you differently.

Anna:

Yes.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my gosh. Yeah. It's, it's really hard because I, you know, I've never Well, I guess to the best of my knowledge, I've never been in this situation. And I can't say how I would act, how I would talk to you if you are my friend in terms of like, sometimes I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt because sometimes I'm not good with words. I'm like, Oh my god, what do I say to Ana I, I know she's going through this thing where maybe I don't know. And I just say something that flies out of my mouth, but not intentional. But for you, every conversation every interaction is is something or this person is trying to educate me to go do this. This other person's judging me because I just picked up a glass of wine. It's just, it's crazy. And that's why I'm glad you're telling your story not only for other people that are going through this but for people that are friends and family members of people going through this that need to maybe kind of understand a little bit have a Little bit more compassion. It's it's really sad. So you lost. You lost another friend also, didn't you? Yes, I did. I think I put that in my blog. You did?

Anna:

Back and forth with my husband. It's like, do it. I mean, it's real. It's now to do it. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Do you want to talk about that one? Sure. Okay, so let's talk about that. Yeah. So where are you in that? At that point in the stage of losing that friend like in your treatment

Anna:

with the phone call? Yeah. So that was towards the beginning of the treatments. It was we were a few years in, we were still in our old house. And I was getting ready to start the Lupron shots. And my, so my house, the house that we first bought, because you know, we were young, we didn't really have any money. And you know, again, treatments are out of control. We bought my husband's parents house, and I love my husband's parents house. It is like four squares. And it was like, I think 1560 square feet for the main, the top and the bottom. I mean, small and fabulous, but small. So I mean, there really wasn't a guestroom because the upstairs didn't have AC and heat. So whenever my brother in law would come home from college, he would always stay on our couch. And then you know, we had our bedroom. So it was like six in the morning. And my brother in law was asleep on the couch. And my cell phone, my girlfriend's actually said, Hey, you know, can you talk, and as soon as she texted me and I looked, I was like, son of a bitch. She's pregnant. I just, I just knew it. I'm like, she's pregnant. I just I know, she's pregnant. She's gonna tell me she's pregnant. When you go through infertility treatments, you become very hypersensitive to pregnancy. So I have been known to know when people are pregnant before they know they're pregnant. Why? I said, I'm like, you're pregnant. And they're like, no, I go, No, you you're very much pregnant. And then they won't start that month, take a test and it says positive. And I don't know why and how. It's not something I like, and I enjoy that kind of sense it and so I said, I'm up, you can call me and she called me and I'm, you know, quiet because my brother in law's sleeping in the next room and again, small house. And I'm like, No, Hey, what's going on? She's like, so listen, I wanted to talk to you. Okay. She goes, we're pregnant. And I said, that's great. Congratulations. And she goes, we're pregnant with twins. And I'm like, Oh, I'm like, That is awesome. I'm like, congratulations. That's great. I'm so excited for you guys. Because they just gotten pregnant or just got married. And she was like, thanks, and, and I go, so you haven't boys or girls? And she goes, Oh, we don't know yet. And I said, Okay, go, Well, whatever you need, I'm here for you. And, and she was like, okay, and we talked for a little bit after that. And then we got off the phone. So I did not call my husband because again, brother in law sleep your next room. And then you know, I left for work. And I told my husband later that night and and I got a phone call from her husband letting me know later that night that she almost miscarried, because of the stress I put her under because I was not excited enough for her. I was not grateful enough for her. And she then internalized got really upset. And I don't know how we're going to be friends. And it was a whole big to do and I'm just sitting in their living room crying like Do you have any idea what I'm going through? Like, I could not be any more excited. I even said I go. I'm quiet because my brother in law was sleeping on the couch, like the next turnaround. So I'm not screaming at six in the morning. But yeah, it was just terrible. I only stayed friends a little bit after that. But it's slowly departed.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So the thing I'll say about that, and what it sounds like is she had expectations on how she wanted you and thought you would react. And then when you didn't. Now it's all your fault. Yes. Yes, absolutely. That is messed up. Yeah. And I just hope, I just hope that people understand that because I do that all the time. I have like expectations of what I think my boyfriend is gonna say. And he doesn't and I'm like, Ah, that did not play out like I wanted to, but that's not his fault. No, cuz I had expectations on that shit. Absolutely. Oh, yeah. 100%. Yeah. Oh, my girl. Yeah. So you lost friends. Definitely during this whole to do?

Anna:

Yes.

Melissa Bright:

Unfortunately, or that's so unfortunate. And but I mean, sometimes people show their their true colors and you're probably better off.

Anna:

Yes. Well, you you find out who your true friends are when you hit rock bottom. Yep. And who's there because you can't always be friends with someone just for the good times. There's got to be some Bad times in there too. And

Melissa Bright:

absolutely, we had. Yeah, exactly. I completely agree. Okay, so now here we are. We are we are. Fast forward. I know we kind of have skipped around a little bit, and that's totally okay. At what point did you guys decide? or How did you come to the conclusion that you weren't going to do this? I guess we didn't. We didn't talk about Did you guys decide to do the IVF? Even though you found out you were a carrier of the cystic fibrosis?

Anna:

No, we did not. Mostly because we then were told that our chances would drop down to 20%. And the IVF specialist did not recommend that we do it, that we would not be a good candidate for it. Okay. So we were we, it felt like a punch in the gut. And we were like, okay, so we looked at adoption, that was never something I was 100% on board, but my husband was. So I said, Okay, well, I'm gonna look into it. And you know, we'll go from there. And I called so I am Jewish. My husband is Catholic. So I called a Jewish adoption agency, a Catholic adoption agency, and then the American adoption agency. And so the the religious adoption agencies, they're absolutely wonderful. So you, you get the children that, you know, oops, you know, it happens. We don't believe in abortion. So, you know, we're going to give our child up. So, you know, the child's coming from a home where there's no smoking, no drinking, no drugs. It was just, you know, yeah, those things. The the issue that we had was those specific adoption agencies that we called, again, very nice. I mean, they're just they're wonderful people, but they are very much about the mothers rights. The the woman carrying the child, so they want that mother involved in the child's life, as like a co parent. So Facebook and Thanksgivings, and Halloweens together. And I said, No, no, no, this is gonna be my child. They don't. And she said, No, no, no, we have to respect both sides. And I said, well, then this is not the agency for us. So thank you so much. The American one that we called, very nice on the phone, we never did sit down and have a face to face because her questions were a little intrusive. She asked me what race I was, and what race my husband was, and what race we want for a child. And I said, Well, we would like our child to look like us. Because it's not something we're not gonna be like, this is our adopted baby, this is going to be our child. And when the child is of whatever age, we'll have that that difficult conversation, but all intents and purposes, it's our child. She said, Well, if you are of a certain race or a certain ethnicity, then you get, you know, a different rate. Because we want everyone to be treated equal. And I said, Okay, that's great. We're white, we want a white baby. Okay, how much do you make a year? And I said, Well, what does that matter? We can afford to take care of a child? Well, we need to know what your annual income is. that'll tell us what bracket you're in. So we know what package you're going to be in. So I told her, and she said, Okay, so you're at our top package. So it's gonna be about $50,000 for you guys to adopt. And it's a three year contract that we would sign I see your face, you're kind of like, Wait, what?

Melissa Bright:

No, dude,

Anna:

I yeah, so it gets better. So we would pay for so we would we would create a book. And our friends would create the books with us, they would interview the families, every woman, right? You know about us. And we would have to have a nursery fully set up. So that way, you know, Child Services come in their lawyers come in, see that we have a room with whatever gender we were wanting for a child. I wanted a little girl because I want her to look just like me. I mean, what, what woman doesn't want a little girl I know. Right? Hello. So and then, you know, from there, they would do the interview process. And then they would send like our video and our books to the expectant mothers and they would go through and meet with us and whatnot, and then they'll choose. So what a lot of people don't realize is that until the biological mom actually signs off, she has x amount of days after giving birth to change her mind. So I think for the state of Missouri, it was like 72 hours. So after they after they have the child, we would be called to the hospital. We could be there we could be in the room depending on the relationship we have hold our child and they whisk the birth mom away. And we now have this child, the child's ours in our arms, but she could come back at any moment within those three days and say, Oh, no, I changed my mind. I want my kid and we have to hand the child over. And then if she does not and she signs off her rights if the father is not Out in the picture, you know, we have to go through all of this to put it out there like in the news media, in the newspaper magazines, whatever social media to try to get that person to come forward and get rid of his rights. And then you have that six month temporary custody where you have people coming in and out of the house checking in wellbeing, and then you go to court, and then they say, okay, yes. Now it's official, that he or she is your child, you know, adoption, hit the gavel, this is the name. So there was so much going with that. And I could not wrap my brain around this whole process. So I have not I started writing a blog about this, and I never finished it because I just, it's just so surreal. So we had a meeting with my husband's praise to is fabulous. Because I we went to him I called I said, Okay, we are looking at adoption, can you help me like I don't know what to do. So he got he got a parishioner who they are married with two children, they adopted, we met with them. And she had two children, two boys, blond hair, blue eyes sitting out in the waiting room, and I just kept looking at them. And they look just like her. And I kept looking, I'm like did you adopt? And she says, Well, one I adopted and one I accidentally got pregnant with. And I said, Oh, because they look like they could be twins. She goes I know. And she told us her experience. It took them five years. It cost them over $60,000. But her mom and his mom helped them. And they each wrote half of the money check. So because they didn't have the funds for it. Yeah. Very nice, loving couple. She went on to say that she has a very deep connection with her adopted son, not so much with her biological son, like she thought she would because she brought they brought their adopted son home. And within that month, she wound up getting pregnant naturally, which she never thought she could. And so now they have these two boys, and life is amazing. And she gave me a book that I actually just got rid of a couple years ago. And it's it was a child book about being adopted, because she said it was important that you tell your child from day one that they are adopted. And I said so like a two year old, you're gonna tell them they're adopted? And she said, Yes. I said, Why? And she said, because they need to know that this is their path and their journey. And I said, No disrespect, I do not agree with you. So I will I if we go forward with this, I'm not telling my child at two years old that he or she has adopted, like one other conversation with their older and it will not it won't be a Lifetime movie. But are there 16 looking further, you know, person to get and then oh my gosh, are adopted and won't be like that. But it'll be a you know, authentic conversation. And I said I go so can I ask you in your journey? Did you guys try? Are you is did you try IVF? And she said no, that that's not God's way. And she did not want to test you baby. So I looked at my husband and I said, I'm done. We can we can leave. So we graciously said thank you so much. We walked out of the church. And then I just bought, yeah, he said, I can't do this anymore.

Melissa Bright:

This is all that was your that was your moment that you were done. Whatever like with with giving up.

Anna:

That was the start of it. There's not really a specific moment, it came to a point where my husband and I, we were now in our new house and I wasn't on any of the synthetic drugs. I was working out losing my hormone weight, I was in a new position with with a new company and I was thriving and he was thriving in his new position at his company. And we said we're going to take a break and give it like six months and just kind of reconnect emotionally, physically, mentally with our marriage because our marriage was breaking in that little condo, we were renting. And we had a conversation with his parents. And we told them we just we're going to stop right now. We just can't keep going. We just it's just not working. And his mom and dad were very, very sweet and kind and just told us they loved us and said we're here, whatever you want. My mom was like, I I could care less like we love you. Let's just go have a drink. Who cares? It wasn't until we gotten to this last house. Because we were like we're just gonna sell the townhouse for buying a house. I don't care if it's big. This is what we're gonna do that I was like, Okay, I'm on the fence. I don't know what to do. And I was we were sitting at cyber eggs with my brother in law, his wife, my mother and father in law, my mom and Jeremy and I and we were having dinner. And I kept looking at Sammy, which is my sister in law. And I kept looking at her, kept looking at him like, she's not pregnant, but she wants to be pregnant. Like, I think they're trying and all of a sudden was like a punch to the gut. And I was like, I need to have a conversation with her. And so we got back to our house, our new house that we're in now, and I took her aside and I go, Hey, are you okay? And she said, can I go? Can I ask you a really inappropriate question? And she goes, Okay, and I go, are you guys trying to get pregnant and she kind of gave me like a look, and I go, I just feel like you guys are trying to get pregnant. She goes, actually we are. And I was like, Okay, I go on here. If anything, I go, you know, what we went through? By no means are they struggling? And were they struggling, no infertility on their part. They literally just started like that month, but I was just very intrusive. It was like, I had a question to ask you. Again, get that like, you know, Lily, and her and I went for a walk later that weekend, and we just chatted, and she asked me, so question about we were going through, and my husband came home from work, and he goes, Hey, so Joshua, Sammy want us to come by Joshua has a bottle of wine He wants you to try. And I looked at him, I go, they're pregnant. And Jeremy goes, What do you mean, I go, No, they're they're gonna tell us they're pregnant. And he goes, really? And I go, yeah, and he goes, Okay, I go. I don't know if I can do this. And he was like, What do you mean? And I said, we were supposed to be the ones to give your parents a grandchild. And now they're going to, I'm like, the entire world has just been shifted. And I said, Okay, and we went over there. And they told us they were pregnant in the sweetest, most wonderful way. It's one of those moments where impacts you, and it will stay with you for the rest of your life. I've got a handful of those. Yeah, my proposal was one meeting, my husband was one and this is one, and it will never leave me like it. In that moment. I was like, Okay. Our entire family life is shifting. She's gonna give mom and dad a grandchild. And it's not going to be mean. Oh, my God. I don't know how to process and I didn't, I didn't process for months, I refuse to talk about it. They, you know, karma works in mysterious ways. And I swear to you God's really funny because they told us that Thanksgiving. They wanted to tell everybody that they were pregnant at our house. And I go at my house on Thanksgiving, my house, my Thanksgiving, because I'm the hostess. So everything only functions at my house. I am like queen bee. Right? And I said, Okay, and so I again told nobody, no friends, no family, no nothing. And they announced it, I have it on my phone recorded. I haven't shared with anybody. And as soon as they announced it, I went into our bathroom, I shut the door and I ugly, cried on the bathroom floor and just sobbed and I sobbed for my husband I sad for me, I sad for the family. I sobbed for them. And it was happy, sad, angry tears. And I said, Okay, I have two choices. I can either be really miserable, or I can be really happy for them. And I, I chose happy. And it was hard. And it was it was stressful. And it was emotional and a lot of tears. But I chose to celebrate the fact that my mother and father in law are grandparents. And that was something we prayed for for 10 years. differently.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Wow. Oh, my goodness. And I mean, like you said at that at that moment, you had to choose, because you went you were going through so many different emotions and for you to even, you know, even publicly say like how you felt. But that's how you felt how could you not feel a little bit of anger? I mean, you wanted to give this to both of your parents for for 10 years. And it didn't happen that way.

Anna:

No, it's funny, because I had a conversation. My husband I both did with my mother and father in law. After, you know, they announced and we all knew and we had conversation, because they were kind of like, what do we talk about it? Like, what do we do because we didn't want awkwardness. And we were talking and I said, Listen, I we're so excited for you guys. It's gonna be different. It's going to be amazing. There's gonna be tears, but it's positive. And mom and dad both said that. us never having children does not change how they feel about us and does not change our relationship and they love us no matter what. Right? And I was like, Okay, I take that with me. And it hasn't, you know, our relationship is stronger than it's ever been. And my mother in law and I are super close, very good friends and she gets to be a grandma and I have a new niece and Sammy facetimed me on my birthday. They with Leah, that's my niece and Leah, is 15 months old. And so she knows how to blow kisses. So she was blowing in Tiana. Which I'm like, how do you not find joy in that? That's amazing.

Melissa Bright:

All right. Yeah. So you guys at this point had have basically kind of called it quits? How do you find happiness? After going through all of that? What did your What did you do day to day to get back to feeling like a woman? I'm assuming, and tell me if I'm wrong that you had lost maybe some of your self worth, if not all of your self worth? How do you find yourself worth again? Talk to me about some of those things. Because I know that there are women out there that are currently going through this. And they might have just gotten the news or decided to completely give up or not try anymore. So we're what do you do day to day to get better to find happiness.

Anna:

So the first thing, the most important thing is to realize that I am still a woman, whether I have a child or not, whether I am a parent or not, I am still a woman. And once I let that go, that non worth because I'm not a mom. The rest of it slowly started falling into place. I had to remind myself every morning as I was putting my makeup on or brushing my hair, I am worth it. I am enough. And I am a woman I am no longer broken. And I started sharing, I started telling more people, people would ask me if you guys have kids, we can't. My husband started saying that. They're like, what are you mean, you can't? We tried for 10 years? Oh my god. Oh, I'm so sorry. It sucks. Do you have kids? Oh, you do? Great. Okay, I'm moving on. I know. It was one of those if you're going to ask me, the most obnoxious for me the most obnoxious question you can ask somebody is Do you have children? Why would that be your first question? There's so many of the questions you could ask me than then I'm going to give you an honest answer. And I started sharing it more I started talking about it more. I was open with the fact that this is what we went through and I redecorated the house because I realized I don't need you know, this non existent baby room that was just sitting there empty, let's make it a workout room. I'm going to do something for me I want to get back into my size six genes from all the infertility treatments. So I started working out I got a personal trainer lost my weight. You know, little things like that reconnecting with my husband. So the one thing with infertility is you have so much hate and anger and you tend to lash out at the ones you love. And you have to stay strong. You have to so my husband is my rider die. He is my rock I am his and we are so happy when we are together. So we started doing date nights. So whenever randomly and I totally recommend that you do this with your with your boyfriend because it is so much fun. We will like on a random Tuesday night if we're both low stress from work he'll put on YouTube because everyone has smart TVs put on you know, whatever music you like country music, r&b, 70s, rock, whatever, put on the videos, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit at your island or bar or sit on the couch, have some chips, you know, have some you know, cheese and crackers or whatever. And just talk and laugh and cheers. And every once a while having poorly in the living room.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah,

Anna:

it's just it is it's like okay, date night, my husband will text me Hey, want to have a drink? Absolutely. Because for 10 years, there was no drinking. I couldn't drink. I was drinking because I could not have a kid and I was trying to tell people don't ask me I've got alcohol, you know, and reconnecting physically. I mean, we have a 4000 square foot home. So

Melissa Bright:

Oh my god, I love it. Can I ask you? I don't know if this is a really personal question. But I I'm curious. Is there some relief now to being done with trying because now you and your husband can connect again and there's not that pressure, you guys can go about your 4000 square foot house and just do and just be and enjoy each other's company. Is there a level now to that at all?

Anna:

There is and it actually just happened this year. So the last, you know four years or so of just trying to reconnect and what is my purpose and who am I? I'm not infertility. I'm onna i'm i'm not childless. I am a godmother. I'm an auntie. And realizing that I can enjoy these children and send them home. It's, it's a different feeling. Because before I would hold my friends, kids, and then I would mourn having to go home to an empty house. So for us, it's, it's about the communication. And it's about realizing, okay, I, I have a great career, we have a beautiful home, let's, you know, let's hang out with our friends and enjoy life. And I'll be honest, when I have those moments of sadness, a certain commercial might trigger something, a song might trigger something at Columbia days, going to Columbia days, I went with my best friend and my three grandchildren, I had moments as I'm holding Harley, my God, daughter, and she's playing with my hair and telling me, she loves my earrings. I'm standing there imagining if this was my daughter, and this is what I'd be doing. And then I got a little sad, because I'm like, whenever we're going to experience that, and I go, Wait a minute. But look what you're doing. Now. Look at the moment you're in, you're impacting this little child's life. Yeah. And when you start realizing that you're not just infertility, it changes things. And it takes a while. And I call it the infertility roller coaster. And you got to feel the emotion. So if you're going to be sad, allow yourself to feel sad, but then stop, and I journey. I grow all the time. I actually, my journal right here. rosegold. And I always it's a gratitude journal, and I will write at least five things that I'm grateful for that day. So it might be I'm having a great hair day. So I'm going to jot that down. Or Mar, thank you so much. This amazing podcast with Melissa my new bestie I'm gonna write this down.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, a side note your hair. I love the color. I have wanted my hair that color for years, but haven't had the guts to do it. And I'm like, I What? It's a box. I don't care. It looks freakin good. And I couldn't go to the stylist. So I started box coloring my hair. And I'm like, Oh, it's so much cheaper. It looks really good. And I'm like, I want to cut off my hair. And I want to want to color it that color. But anyways, side note, a couple important things that you said in terms of your gratitude journal, when you are going through something such as infertility and not being able to have children and coming to these coming to kind of accepting what your fate is. It is extremely, extremely hard to get to the the gratitude part. totally separate different situations. I lost my mom when I was 25 years old, who was my best friend. I had a child when I was 16. My mom got to have her for 10 years before she passed away. That's that's the silver lining, right. But for a long time, I felt sorry for myself because everybody else had their mom in their life, everybody. But I didn't have my mom. And here I was trying to raise a daughter who I was a single mom so young. So I felt sorry for myself a lot. And then I just lost my dad this year. So now by the age of 36. I'm completely parentless. And it's really really easy to feel sorry for yourself in these moments. Because you're like, what the hell did I do to deserve this? I never thought my life ever would look the way that it does. Absolutely. And you do you have to find those moments of gratitude and look at the people that you do have in your life. And my my daughter, or my boyfriend or my boyfriend's family that has blessed me and my stepdad that still in my life, those are the things instead of always focusing on what you can't have, what you don't have what you have lost. Yes, and it's not easy. It's not. And that's why you have to have those journals and those gratitude days, because your head can just go there immediately. Immediately.

Anna:

Well, and it's important that you surround yourself by loving kind people, whether it's friends or family, our friends have become family, and we are extremely close with them. So for me, Mother's Day was always the day that I dreaded. And I wanted to curl up in a ball underneath the covers and not leave my space. And a lot of times I would and then I would force myself to go to family functions for my mother in law for my mother, you know, and social media is terrible when it comes to anything like that. I was making breakfast, like three mother's days ago for my husband, and we're completely ignoring the fact that it's Mother's Day. We're not we're not saying anything. We're in our little bubble and my mom calls me and so I answer and she was like and this is this is where she said hi oh my God so I'm sure you saw social media and you know what's going on? I'm like, No, I'm making breakfast having coffee. I haven't seen anything on social media. Oh, oh shit. Okay, so you're gonna see social media. I love you. I mean, going on very dramatic little moment and right. How to find out, you know, someone that I knew got pregnant they you know, she announced it on Facebook because of course, Mother's Day, you're gonna announce you're pregnant that everyone died. It was like a little Oh, so I, I got off the phone with her. I turn the pan off. And they hashbrowns I went into the mud room, I shut the door. I ugly cried for like 30 seconds. I said, Okay. I had my moment. We're good, got back up, went to Facebook, loved the post and put congratulations. And then went on about the rest of my breakfast. And Jeremy goes, I love you. And I go, I love you too. Yeah, no, I'm gonna have my moment that I'm moving on. I cannot let this consume me. I'm too important. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And you're you're so right. Because that it happens. And it happens in the craziest of moments. You know, I've had moments where people will maybe like, bitch about their mom, like, Oh, my God, my mom is calling me again for the 10th day, or 10th time today. And I'm like, I don't say it. But I'm like you don't even know. Like, you don't even know. And it's hard. It's hard to be like, I can't be angry at them because they still have a mom like I can't. But there's always still this small part of me that like once a smack upside the head when they say something like, Just be happy that you do have you know your mom. And it's, it's such a, like you said, it's such a roller coaster of emotions, you know, you want to be happy for those friends or your family for whoever. But then there's you that have, you know, went through all of that and you're like, but you just got to keep picking yourself back up. You got to keep picking yourself back up. I know we are at an hour and 16. This has been such a good podcast, we aren't done yet. Because I do have I do have a couple other questions for you. So I do want

Anna:

to say one thing, if I may. Because since you have experienced death, and I've experienced infertility, I think you can attest that, for both infertility and that there is expiration dates for loss and for feelings, not for the person experiencing it. But for the outside world. People have a specific timeframe. They feel like you're over it. They love to hear me and I and say, Oh, you live this fabulous life. Oh, you must be totally fine. Yeah, it never goes away. You can always have it. I'm smiling and life is great. I'm getting ready to leave for the weekend to go see my God, children. I'm going to eat up every moment of it. But I'm going to have some sadness, and my girlfriends know it. And it's and it's okay, you know, you are going to talk to your girlfriend's and you're going to, you know, see people and they're going to talk about their moms and you're going to watch a commercial and it's going to trigger you about a moment that you had with your mom, you're going to be sad, and that's okay. Doesn't your happiness.

Melissa Bright:

Nope. Yeah. And you were 100% right about expiration dates. At first, I thought you were saying for like us? And I was like, I don't know if I agree with that. No, but you are right outside people do we? I had a grief coach on here a couple episodes ago, and we talked about that with divorce with death with anything. It's everybody else. The outside world thinks you should just be over it because you went through this divorce and you're done. And what do you mean like no like that you have lost a lot of things and there is no expiration date. I promise you for it. So just put yourself in these people's shoes that that they've experienced that there is not an expiration date. And their grieving process could take two years, it could take 10 years, my grieving process took 10 years like it took me a really long time not to feel sorry for myself and to be okay with not feeling screwed by the world. It just everybody goes in different stages. I want to ask you if if you could give advice to a mom that's going through anything, not a mom, mom to be a mom that once a woman that wants to be a mom. That is just having a hard time that doesn't the she might not even know that she can't have kids yet. What advice would you give to that woman at that time and we can kind of go through the different stages? Yeah.

Anna:

So the first thing I would say is you are 100% not alone. That you are very normal. What you are feeling every moment of every day is very normal. You are not a bad person for feeling the feelings that I know you're feeling because I felt them many times. is over and I will take those feelings to my grave. And that you have people that understand. And there is support groups and being a parent does not define you. You can still be a strong, successful, fabulous woman and be an auntie or for mom or godmother.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah.

Anna:

And there's right at the end of the tunnel, there is happiness. I promise you that. Yes. You're living and breathing it, I can promise you there is happiness.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So what would you say to people that that know for sure that they could they could never have kids. And they're, they're devastated. And they, they're, they're listening to this? And they say, Ana, how? How can you even say that there is happiness at the end of this tunnel? What would you say to them.

Anna:

So first, I'm going to say that sucks. And I am so sorry. Because that's not anything someone that wants to have kids ever wants to hear. And it's going to be very hard, it's not going to happen overnight. Your happiness is going to come in waves, you're going to feel yourself getting happy. And then you're going to pull back because you shouldn't be happy. You want to stay in bed an extra hour and call in sick to work and not leave. You can once or twice, but eventually you got to get out of bed. I mean, the world keeps going it. In all seriousness, though, it's going to be you need to have a strong support system. So you need to be open, you need to share it, you need to share it with your if it's your parents, if it's your sibling, if it's your best friend, whoever is your go to person, you need to share it. But you need to share it with no expectations, because you're not going to get the answers that you want. And I learned that very hard way. So I have a specific friend who is I The Words cannot describe how incredible. My girlfriend is. And we we have a relationship where it is 100% the truth. And if I think she's being, you know, ridiculous, I'll tell her if she thinks I'm being ridiculous. I'll tell her, she'll tell me. And my thing is like, I will call her on my way to work if I'm having an off day. And I'll say I need to vent. Can I have like, you know, two minutes? Oh my gosh, yes. And I'm like, she takes it all in, and we have a conversation. She doesn't always tell me what I want to hear. But she tells me what I need to hear. And vice versa, hey, I need to vent about this person or about my husband or blah, blah. And then you know, she rambles and then you know, back and forth. But for for us, it's knowing that I've got her. And I'll be honest, if she's not going to answer I'm calling somebody else I got my list because I somebody you got you have to have that communication. At the same time. You have to do something for you. And if that's get your nails done, if that's go work out if that's by yourself something you know, out of the box, a new purse, shoes, whatever is going to make you feel sexy and pretty. And not Mom, why do it?

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Oh, that's such great advice. Such great advice. The last, the last one I have about that? What can you say for couples that are going through? Whether it's treatments, whether it's they've decided that they are no longer going to try? What would you say to those couples, because it's obviously been a long, stressful, hard, drying time? Absolutely.

Anna:

It's one of those things, everyone's journey is different. And everyone goes through it in a different way. You'll have people that will go to the doctor, and they'll say it's unexplained infertility, or it's infertility because of endometriosis like ours, or it's infertility because of a low sperm count. So all those factor in but the important thing is that you take a look at the person that you're sitting next to your significant other. And you remember why you're trying to get pregnant with that person. And you remember the love and the excitement you felt when you said I do or when you looked at them in that restaurant that you met, and you decided this is my person. And you have to hold on to that because it's going to be a terrible ride. It is going to be absolutely miserable and depressing. And you can't turn on each other. You have to be there for each other. And only one of you can be down at a time. So if I'm the one that's down, my husband's always the rock and vice versa, you both can't crumble, because who's going to pick you up? You need to have that and you need to communicate. That is a huge thing in our marriage. We have we communicate all the time. And it's it's a blessing. It really is.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that's such it's such great advice. And it's so true. Like in terms of the trying times and what you're going to go through. You have to remember that it's kind of you guys, the team against the world per se it's not you guys against each other and sometimes that is hard to remember when there's so many emotions flying and every year. Going through your own individual struggle, he's going through his own thing. And then you guys got to communicate it and work it out. And that's what you have to remember. You have to remember that you guys are the team and your intentions behind this and why you guys are together and and all that good stuff. That's, that's such great advice. I do want to touch on so you have you have a website, which is called infertility journey to happiness. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and what your purpose is for that website? And, and all the stuff you're doing with that?

Anna:

Absolutely. So infertility journey to happiness is something that my husband and I created. Because when we decided to take a step back, and reconnect with each other and reconnect with the world, we realized we needed to share and when I started sharing more and more, I did find happiness with that. And my husband said, I think you need to share it with everybody. He goes, why not? He goes, you're on social media, can't you create something, and let other people who are going through as well. And I said, of course. And I found that when I started sharing our journey, other people shared theirs. And we found out there was people within social groups that we know that were also in the beginning stages of infertility, and they thought they were alone. And it was this wave of relief for them. So we created our Facebook group, which is infertility journey to happiness. We're at 15 members right now. I'm so excited. Yeah. So you you go on, you asked to join or if somebody on there that that you know, they can request that you join, it's just three simple questions. You accept the rules. So just being kind and nice. And whatever stays in the group stays in the group, I of course, approve you, and away you go. We've got the website, because I created an LLC of infertility journey to happiness, we have a specialized logo that we created with a design team that I think encompasses infertility, and I am speaking with lawyers about starting a nonprofit as well.

Melissa Bright:

That is amazing. I love your logo. I love it. It is so so so perfect, it is so perfect. I absolutely love it. And you are doing such amazing things. And I feel in your early stages of doing this or however long you've been doing the Facebook group and everything I have just came out about like my mental health journey in the last year. And I promise you, you're going to find joy and helping people and what the pain that you experienced because with me starting my podcast, I have had so many people that I never in my life thought would message me personally from men, to women to younger to older than me, telling me that my podcast and me coming forward about my mental health is helping them. And that means a lot to me. And so you are going to find the same joy in helping people you know, because once you find that courage to share your story openly. That's like you said, other people are going to be able to share their story. And then you just don't feel so alone. Absolutely. And you're in your journey. Okay, Ana, the very last question that I have for you. in your own words, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Anna:

Oh, I love that. So for me, it is going through the thunderstorm and seeing the rainbow when it all clears up.

Melissa Bright:

I love it. I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for coming on here to share your story. It was wonderful. And I wish you all the happiness and success going forward. And yes, just thank you so much for coming on here to share your story for having me. I really appreciate it. Thank you guys so much for listening to this episode. I greatly greatly appreciate it. I hope that you guys got something out of this episode. I know that there are so many women out there that are struggling with infertility. And it's something that I personally have not experienced. But I know of friends and some family that have experienced it. But it's not really a conversation that I have had too often. So it was really good to talk to somebody that has been through this experiences and lets us know what they go to or go through on a day to day basis and in what they're feeling like and all the things that they had to go through. So my heart goes out to any woman that is going through all of this and going through this whole journey, this whole roller coaster. I know it's not easy for you guys. So hang in there and I just hope that this episode was able to resonate with you guys. And I hope you guys are able to take something away from this that you know if you can't be moms to know that there is happiness and that there's, there's options and and all that good stuff. So I hope you enjoyed it. And as always, if you guys know of anyone that may need to hear on a story, please share it with them because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.

Anna Mueller

Blogger/ Infertility Coach / Creator of Infertility Journey to Happiness

My name is Anna Mueller, and I am the creator of Infertility Journey to Happiness. I have Endometriosis and I am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. Jeremy (my incredible husband) and I tried for 10 years to become parents. We spent over 100K, countless infertility treatments, 3 surgeries, endless months of thinking we were pregnant, and thousands of dollars spent on pregnancy tests that all came back negative. There were times where I couldn’t get out of bed, and nights where I cried. No one tells you the complete and utter emptiness your heart will feel when you go through infertility, and it does not work. I promise you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings.
Fast forward 5 years later and now I am 40 years old with no chance of being a mom and I can wake up every day with a smile on my face.
You never get over infertility and it is never easy, but it gets easier dealing with the emotions and the broken heart. I am choosing to always find the happiness in the darkness!