5 Family-Building Options for Couples Facing Infertility

National Infertility Awareness Week is a time to raise awareness about infertility and those who have struggled to build their families. To wrap up National Infertility Awareness Week 2019, we’re uncovering some of the options available to hopeful parents who have struggled with infertility so they can consider the best way forward for their families.

Building a family can be one of the most hopeful and heart-wrenching times all at once. This journey for any couple almost always begins with excitement for what your future holds. It is usually what comes next that determines the feelings a couple has when interpreting the reality of how your family will expand. Emotions are raw, and people may feel suffocated under the weight of the decisions they have before them to determine how their family will grow.

My husband and I watched our best friends struggle for years trying to get pregnant so they could bring a child into their family. We experienced complex emotions of welcoming our own child at a time when our friends loved and yet grieved their own emptiness. Seeking several different opinions and medical routes, they finally did seek the direction that brought a baby to their family.

Their story was our most personal connection with infertility up to that point in our lives. We researched with them, made inquiries, prayed for them, held their hands, and listened when they just needed to talk. When my husband and I were faced with medical issues a couple years later, we started having the same emotions about being able to carry any more children and what the future of our family looked like. What we have found is that the options for building a family are numerous and the sensitivity of the subject ever-reaching. But everywhere we turned, either with our friends or for ourselves, we were met with answers, encouragement, and support for what our future held and how our family could grow in numbers or feel completely adequate in the journey our family is already on. To understand the best options for your family, research these options and seek direction from your medical professional so that you will be better prepared to take the next step.

Fertility Drugs

This option will more than likely be a doctor’s first suggestion for a couple trying to conceive naturally to have biological children. Medications can be used for males or females and can address concerns a doctor may have about boosting a couple’s chances or probability of getting pregnant without further medical treatments.

IUI and IVF

When seeing an infertility specialist, after a trial of fertility drugs may have been unsuccessful, couples can then turn to procedures that assist even further in trying to become pregnant. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that inserts sperm into a woman’s uterus during her ovulation by using a soft catheter. For this procedure, the woman is usually still taking fertility medications and being administered hCG shots to prepare her body for an implantation. IUI can be used with the male partner’s sperm or donor sperm that is collected, cleaned, and readied for the procedure in the doctor’s office. IUI is a relatively brief procedure with minimal discomfort and without the use of anesthesia. In vitro fertilization (IVF) requires a little more invasive approach than IUI. For IVF, a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm are taken in a lab setting and combined to create an embryo. The woman will still be taking fertility medications to increase the possibility of retrieving one or more eggs from her uterus. Your doctor will perform the egg retrieval in the office, but the procedure will be slightly more uncomfortable than an IUI procedure. The next step is creating the embryos and confirming the viability of each embryo. Once the best embryos are chosen, your doctor will perform an embryo transfer into the uterine cavity with mild discomfort. IUI and IVF can both be completed by using your own sperm and egg, or you can use sperm, egg, or embryo donations that you choose. While either of these options can increase the possibilities of conceiving a child, they are not usually covered by insurance, are not always successful, and can have side effects from the medications taken. Consult with your physician for more information.

Surrogacy

This option may not always be as popular, but it can be a possibility for couples who want to have a biological child but are unable for any number of reasons to carry the child themselves. Surrogacy involves the use of another woman who offers to complete an embryo transfer in the attempt to become pregnant with your child. Some states have differing surrogacy laws, so you will need to research what your state allows and meet with a lawyer specializing in reproductive law to counsel you on what the agreement between a couple and surrogate can look like.

Adoption

While many families desire to be blessed with a biological child, there may come a time in your infertility journey when you are considering trying a medical procedure again, waiting longer to conceive, or moving forward with another option that will bring a child into your home and hearts: adoption. Adoption can be achieved through a foster-to-adopt program in your state, domestic infant adoption, or international adoption. Each opportunity is different and will be comprised of various conditions to fulfill. But the end result through adoption will be the hope and love that touches not only your family but also celebrates the courage of another family for their gift. For more information on the specifics of adoption, contact an adoption professional now.

Living Child-Free

While some couples may see this option as defeat, after the emotional ups and downs of attempt after attempt to grow your family, others can see this decision as freedom. Freedom from medications and doctor visits. More financial independence again. The ability to control your choice after years of being shackled to the whims of fate. Whatever the reason a couple chooses to suspend infertility options and see their life in a different light, their resolve did not come without heartache and their peace without pain. It is sometimes in our most confusing and difficult times of life that we seek clarity and boldness to create a new path for a fresh start. Living child-free can still bring joy and excitement for a couple and can also be celebrated by doing what’s best for their family.

Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.

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