My Journey with Infertility


Lullaby WishesBurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Northeastern Reproductive Medicine to bring you our latest series titled “Lullaby Wishes: raising infertility awareness.” 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility and yet the subject is often not openly discussed and seems to carry a stigma. Through this series we hope to open the dialogue and help women battling through infertility know that they are not alone. Thank you to the courageous women who have chosen to share their stories as part of this series, as we know that this topic is often deeply personal and difficult to discuss. Our desire is that those reading this series will find encouragement in the hope and beauty that is weaved into these stories of heartache, loss and love.

My Journey with Infertility

Having a baby was always my plan.

I was the typical girl who played with dolls, mothering them as if they were real. Barbie always married Ken and then they had a baby. I’d stuff a piece of cotton under Barbie’s bright pink dress and she’d magically become pregnant.

I learned later that it wouldn’t be so magical for me.

holly pic 2

After 5 years of marriage to my husband David, we decided we were ready to start a family. I went off birth control and I started tracking my basal body temperature to track ovulation. After a few months, I wasn’t seeing the rise in temperature that all of the literature said I would. I wasn’t getting a period. Something was wrong and yet my doctor told me to just be patient.

So we continued and still nothing. I still hadn’t had a period. I went back a few months later and they agreed to start testing me. This was torture for someone with an acute fear of needles. Once the initial blood work came back negative, they did a Hysteroscopy test and the HSG test. An MRI was done and after all of that I was diagnosed with Amenorrhea Anovulation – Unexplained Infertility and no ovulation. Helpful, right?

October 9, 2009 – I remember the day so clearly.

I had just unsuccessfully completed the Progestin Challenge Test and 10 Days on Clomid. The doctor called to say that there was nothing more they could do and that the next step was IVF. I was crushed. My job on this earth was to produce babies and nurture them. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t help but feel like I had disappointed my husband even though he assured me that it didn’t matter to him. I cried for days. Knowing our financial situation and the cost of IVF I just felt defeated. How could this be? How could something so natural not exist for me? How could the doctors just give up on me and not figure out a cure?

I was blessed to have a close friend, Robyn, who had just gone through fertility treatments. I expressed to her my frustration with my doctor and she urged me to drive to Connecticut to see her doctor for a second opinion. I agreed and Dave and I met with him a month later.

Dr. Mark P. Leondires sat with us and reviewed my files and suggested I start gonadotropins, medicine injected into the stomach that stimulates ovaries to produce more follicles. At the end of 10 days, you take a trigger shot (hCG shot) which forces ovulation and return to the office for an IUI. This is a lot less expensive than IVF, assuming it only takes 2 or 3 tries.

I started in December and had to go through all of these shots and the hormones that come with it while my husband was traveling for work. But remember my fear of needles? I had to have some help with the shots; my poor dad ended up having to help me. Can you imagine your dad helping you get pregnant? You learn to have no shame during this process.

After the first round of treatment I had 19 eggs! I was in so much pain from the cramps and my hormones were raging! If anyone thinks that they’re a little emotional when Aunt Flo comes to visit, wait until you’re on gonadotropins! Dr. Leondires obviously refused to perform the IUI – unless I wanted to have my own reality show. Another failure. It was another reminder that my body refused to perform the act in which it was meant to do.

It was time to try a different, less potent, cocktail of meds. This time we tried 5 days on Clomid & 5 days of gonadotropins. Success – I had 4 follicles when I took the trigger shot. Even though we knew multiples were possible, we opted for the IUI. We arrived at the office and my husband needed to perform his part of the equation. My husband is a modest guy. He’s super traditional and conservative and, while he wanted kids, he never really thought about what he needed to do in order to make this work. The nurse handed him the plastic cup and pointed him to the sterile room where he needed to provide ‘the specimen’. I’m sure it’s something he’s performed many times as a teenager but if you ask him about it today he’ll blush and quickly end the conversation.

An IUI is basically like any yearly exam, but instead the doctor uses a long tube and a syringe which injects sperm directly into your fallopian tube. Easy peasy! And now we had to wait for two weeks.

They call it the TTW – Two Week Wait. It’s brutal.

Luckily we were going to be in Mexico with my family during the wait. The 14 days went by and we were in our hotel room when I got the negative result. I took another test and still only one line.

I was crippled with emotions.

I felt like I couldn’t handle anymore. I was exhausted from the hormones, constantly feeling defeated, getting my hopes up and then being let down. My parents, my sister and my husband were my rocks and helped me to push on and keep trying.

holly pic 1
This picture was taken right after I found out I wasn’t pregnant

We returned home and we started again.

Dr. Leondires changed the cocktail again. 10 days on Clomid and a few days on gonadotropins. I’ve since learned that this cocktail is highly unusual but it worked for me. We had 3 follicles and we were ready for our second IUI on April 28, 2010. I’ve learned through this whole experience that every body is different and reacts differently. You need to push and do what is right for you. Don’t just go by what the doctors have done in the past.

I took a pregnancy on Sunday, May 9th. It was Mother’s Day and I couldn’t wait any longer. It was only 11 days post IUI but took the test anyway. Negative. That was it – I was done. I laid in my bed all day crying. We had spent thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. I questioned everything I knew in the world. How could a loving God above refuse someone the right to bear children? How could my husband want to be with me if I couldn’t have his baby? I stayed in my pajamas for two days, overcome with emotions. I woke up Tuesday morning, needing to go back to work. My husband said we’d go out for sushi – a way to entice me to get out of bed I guess.

I decided to randomly take a pregnancy test again. Two lines. I took another one. Two lines. I was stunned.

I was standing in my bathroom and couldn’t move, trying to think of a way to tell my husband! I got dressed and went downstairs. I told Dave that I didn’t feel like sushi. “Why,” he asked? “Because I’m pregnant and can’t eat raw fish!” He was elated! Finally, after the roller coaster we had been on, the ride felt like it had ended.

A few weeks later I was attending Robyn’s baby shower. She had called me the day before to reassure me that I didn’t need to come if it would be too hard for me to celebrate someone’s pregnancy. I didn’t want to tell her yet that I, too, was pregnant. I wanted her to have the attention she deserved at the shower. I picked my mother up for the shower and told her to look in the gift bag to see what I had gotten Robyn. What I actually put in there was a baby onesie that said “It took a village”. And it did. It took the love and support of my village –my husband, my family, my friends and my doctors to help get me pregnant. I wanted to quit so many times. My love for the child that I had yet to meet and the encouragement from my village fueled the perseverance that I needed. After the shower, Robyn called me to see how I was doing. “I’m fine. I wish I could have had a drink though. I guess I’m going to have to get used to diet restrictions now that I’m pregnant!”

holly pic 3

When someone tells me that I can’t do something, it makes me want to do it more. It could be the competitor or the rebellious teenager in me but I feel like I need to prove them wrong. It was a lot harder than I expected it would be. Your emotions are high and you’re going through things that so many people just don’t understand. You search for answers from blogs and discussion groups. I found so much solace in reading other peoples’ accounts and even though everyone’s situation is different, you’re united in one common theme.

Four years later we are blessed with two children; my son, Cooper, was born on January 19, 2011 and my daughter, Ella, was born on June 4, 2013.

holly bio pic

It took two IUIs to get pregnant with her using that same hormone cocktail that we used for Cooper. I feel so blessed and lucky that I was able to carry my children. I know that many women aren’t as fortunate. I pray they have a village as strong mine to support them and help them through.

Northeastern Reproductive Medicine is graciously sponsoring our ‘’Lullaby Wishes: Raising Infertility Awareness” series…and we would not have it any other way!  We are passionate about all that they are doing for women and couples in our community, and we encourage you to contact them to help in your journey to becoming a mother too.

To learn more about Northeastern Reproductive Medicine or schedule an appointment, please contact ::

1 (802) 655-8888


info {at} nrmvt {dot} com


Written by Holly Ryan

holly bio picI grew up in Montpelier, VT and went to college at UVM where I met my husband, David. 5 years later we were married. We had moved to Washington, DC briefly but decided Vermont was where we needed to be. We now live in South Burlington with our two wonderful kids. I am a Senior Marketing Manager for an International restaurant group and when I’m not working I’m usually playing with my kids, working out, thinking about our next Disney trip or doing a new Pinterest project.


  1. The struggle is real! So glad you had a happy ending its inspirational to me as we’re about to head into IUI. ❤️


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