I have no idea where Candace & Chris get their strength from, they have been through hell and back, and back again…and again. Candace is our local Resolve infertility support group leader, she has helped me and so many, many others in our community survive at our lowest moments.
Candace and Chris are here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s their story…
First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!
Chris: It turns out that we met in college … FYI college relationships can work. We were both working at a restaurant. We both went to a colleges close to each other. Candace likes to say that she is a way bigger college football fan than I am, that is probably true. I was a cook and Candace didn’t know my name for the first year we worked together. We started dating thanks to a school bus hitting Candace’s car. She missed several weeks of work and I asked where she had been when she came back. Once we started talking, we realized how similarly we saw things and, clearly she was immediately smitten. Plus I had sweet dance moves. It was probably the dance moves that roped her in.
Cue wedding bells, doves and white picket fences.
When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?
Chris: We always kind of had an idea that we weren’t going to be overburdened with abundant fertility. We had prophylactic mishaps and similar situations that resulted in no unplanned pregnancies. We tried to get pregnant for about a year to no avail. After that, we started getting serious with ovulation kits, various Olympic-level feats of post-coitus positioning to improve the change of pregnancy, still nothing. That is when we decided it was time to seek professional help and started with Candace’s OBGYN. After calling on that doctor several times, we had a “getting to know you” meeting with our eventual RE at the infamous Jones Institute.
Where are you on your infertility journey now?
Chris: Well, we have gone through years of fertility treatments including 6 rounds of IUIs, IVFs, and IOUs with no success. Candace actually had precancerous cells detected in her uterus requiring a partial hysterectomy. We had 2 frozen blastocysts left after the surgery and our “Wonder Surro” said she would carry for us. We were terrified on the day of that transfer but, after 9 stress-filled months, welcomed our daughter.
(Here is a link to Candace and Chris’s amazing video of how their daughter came into their lives -**trigger warning** – and you will also need some tissues)
Now, we find ourselves in limbo yet again.
We had another gestational carrier come to us out of the blue and offer to carry a sibling for us! Contracts signed, psych evals completed, Candace drugged, stimmed, and extracted, I did my part with my plastic passion cup to provide a sample, blastocysts grown and frozen + PGS tested per request of our gestational carrier… then out of the blue and only a few days prior to CD1 to transfer, she backed out. We don’t have the faintest idea how we will move forward and we have 3 amazing, genetically screened and given a grade A health, ready to give life a try. But, they have nowhere to attempt that reality. We are just now picking up the emotional and financial pieces.
Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner?
Chris: Absolutely. It has changed how Candace and I interact in different ways at different stages of our infertility journey. When we were trying to conceive, everything was for a purpose. Passion, romance, and intimacy had to wait outside the door. It was clinical.
Now, with our little one through surrogacy, we are working to balance the feeling to grow our family with the feeling to “be” a family and that has been tough.
Through all of the struggles, we have decided to use them as opportunities to grow stronger instead of apart. Although we haven’t completely gotten through the storm, I hope we are nearing a place where our worries and confrontations will be on more mundane topics like dinner and laundry instead of whether or not to try to create life when the “normal” routes simply aren’t an option.
How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?
Chris: Simply put, we would have a second child either now or soon if finances weren’t central to the issue of infertility. Our surrogate that backed out was planning on being a compassionate surrogate, meaning there was no surrogacy fee, however we would cover everything else. Even so, we completely tapped out our resources to get to the point that we have blastocysts to transfer. Now, with her backing out, we are completely incapable of supporting a compensated surrogate and really don’t have any options. If we could cover the surrogacy fee, we would have moved forward long ago.
We have sacrificed so many things to pool resources for our various procedures through the course of our infertility journey. Vacations, our home, cars, loans, a myriad of other ways that we would be in a very different financial situation had it not been for our fertility issues.
That being the case though, if it took all that we did to get our daughter, I would do it over 100 times. Family is more important than our financial status.
How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?
Candace: Wine. Copious amounts of wine. Kidding..kinda. Honestly, our journey has been so long that what may have worked at the beginning of our struggles is much different than what works now. I am older, I have more scars since my first IVF and I have parted ways with few more tears since then.
Through it all, finding support in others, with others and for others.
I got involved with online communities, we began a blog, I started a local RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association support group. We both go as a couple each year to Washington, DC for Advocacy day and fight for better legislation and fight against anti-family building legislation so that the next us has less barriers to overcome. It is taking something so incredibly negative that has happened to us and flipping it into something positive and change issuing.
How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?
Candace: We were silent about our struggle for many years until the levy broke. We felt like other people had to feel the way we were feeling and there was no way were alone in our infertility diagnosis. We started our blog and cervical mucus, broken lady bits and plastic cups because it was a topic we talked about regularly. A weight lifted and something transcendental happened, people stopped asking when are you going to have a baby to how can we support you? They helped us fundraise, sent wine and ice-cream on beta days. They started to get a clearer glimpse into our struggle.
Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?
Candace: We had a daughter through surrogacy. Let that sink in for a moment. If you think IVF is misunderstood…. Whoa the comments that flooded in when we announced we were expecting through surrogacy.
Did your husband sleep with your gestational carrier? No- because um, science.
Does your gestational carrier have visitation rights? Also no—because um, genetics and legal paperwork. (our bun, her oven type of arrangement.)
Although the questions we received were crazy and bizarre and throat punching worthy, it was an open door to educate people on surrogacy and infertility.
Have you lost any friends along the way?
Candace: Yes. But now most of our friends that were lost have been re-found. Mostly many of them didn’t know what to say, or do. They were also off being Duggars and Chris and I were all like “hey look at this sweet Halloween costume we bought for our dog.” The gap of where were in life was growing.
Infertility is the thief of joy and it robbed me of celebrating amazing events with close friends. At the time it was self-preservation, most of my friends understand that now.
Are there any special messages to any friends or family who have been your rock that you would like to give a shout out to?
Candace: Goodness. There are way too many and at some point this post will have to end.
–you all know who are, love you, mean it.
I will say, having a husband (yeah, I am talking about you Chris) that is all in, all the time no matter what our circumstance, is what has kept our foundation rock solid.
In something like infertility, it is a couple’s disease and it is lonely. I have never been alone because of him.
What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?
Candace: We’ve had so much failure. So much.
We have experienced everything from brain tumors (Chris), cancer scares, and infertility. All have sucked lemons in their own unique way. I think we really took our recent surrogacy failure hard. It wasn’t because it didn’t work, it was because we were led down that path, and I went down that path with hope and reckless trust. We created a new set of embryos with the promise of a few tries if the first transfer did not take. Now, we are faced with a decision we never thought we would have, which is donate them to another infertile couple and let them have a chance at the child, the sibling, we so wanted or do we put our financial future at risk. Apart from that, I felt blindsided through it all.
What was your inspiration to keep going?
Candace: Time. Time heals but it leaves faintly visible forever scars. I am OK with that. Because now that I am a mother through surrogacy I am proud of them and I know where they lead.
So what is my inspiration to keep going? Hell hath no fury like an infertile woman who wants a child. Let me be clear though, that keep going push doesn’t always lead to a dirty diaper.
It may also lead to resolution of your fertility journey and resolution no matter what it looks like is a good place to get to.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
Candace: Advocate for yourself.
No one knows your body and future family like you. Ask questions, second guess answers. Take control of your infertility. It took a long time to get there but I wish I would have had a DeLorean with a full flux capacitor to go back in the future and pimp slap my past self. I also would have probably invested in Apple. Hindsight, amaright?
As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public?
If you know someone who is struggling to conceive, hug them, send them a card –check out what Celmatix is doing in trying to help people “say the right thing” via card. Be there.
If you are going through infertility, find a tribe. Find people who get it. Get support.
If you have resolved your infertility don’t forget your tears. Remember what you felt like before them. Give back so that the next 1 in 8, our future has less of struggle.
You can find Candace and Chris at www.ourmisconception.com, follow them on instagram @ourmisconception (by the way they are taking over Resolve’s instagram this week so watch out for them!) andfacebook here.
Please leave a comment or message of support below for Candace & Chris 🙂