MCCORDSVILE — The journey to motherhood and becoming a parent can be a painful one.
WRTV's Kelsey Anderson knows that roller coaster ride of emotions all too well, and she shares her story to becoming a mother with the hope that someone who reads this will feel less alone.
"We met at Ball State," Kelsey said as she sat on the couch next to her husband, Max, with their dog snuggled in close by. "It was the first day of Welcome Week, so the good times of college."
From the moment they met, Kelsey and Max were an inseparable pair.
"We balance each other out," Kelsey said. "But he's almost too nice, the nicest guy you will ever meet, and patient."
Max says he admires Kelsey for her drive to always do her best.
"Kelsey is probably the hardest worker I've ever been around. She's very competitive," Max said. "Always working hard and doing whatever it takes to put our family first."
Family and the importance of quality time with family are things the couple bonded over during their years of dating.
Kelsey hails from Fortville and graduated from Mount Vernon High School, not far from where they live today. Max is a Brownsburg native and close to his family as well.
They knew before they got married that they wanted a family of their own someday. They hoped to start expanding that family right away.
The two had been together for six years before marrying. They had their original wedding date postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We got married in August 2020," Kelsey said. "We were ready to start our family and get our life started."
But the journey to a positive pregnancy test proved to be a longer, more painful experience than they expected.
"We went into it thinking that it'll only take a couple of months to get pregnant, and that just wasn't the case," Kelsey said. "A long painful journey."
She says the first month went by and the test was negative, but they didn't get too discouraged.
"It's like 'OK, we are not really trying.' And then the second month and then the third month and then the fourth month and the fifth month," Kelsey said. "And you are like, OK."
Kelsey describes her feeling during that year as hurt, confused and even jealous at times.
"It's a gut punch," Kelsey said. "It's a hard pill to swallow."
After several months, Kelsey and Max decided to check-in with her primary care doctor, but then as their first wedding anniversary came and went, they decided to seek care from a fertility specialist who ran a number of tests on both of them to see if there was a reason for not being able to get pregnant. Those results didn't point to any underlying issues for either of them.
"Unexplained infertility," Kelsey said about their diagnosis. "There's got to be a problem because I'm very much a matter of fact person. There's got to be a reason. There's got to be a method. I don't understand."
They decided to move forward with one methods of medical intervention called Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, which is a simple fertility treatment that places the male's sperm into the uterus with a catheter or syringe bypassing the cervix.
Posterity Health reports the process makes it easier for the sperm to travel to the Fallopian tubes, towards the egg where fertilization occurs. If successful, the sperm will fertilize the egg and the embryo implants in the uterus, resulting in pregnancy.
Kelsey and Max underwent two IUI procedures that year. Both failed to result in pregnancy.
So, they made the choice to try In-Vitro Fertilization, which is a more complex fertility treatment.
According to Posterity Health, the eggs are removed from the woman's ovaries and taken to a lab. The sperm is added to the dish with the eggs in the lab and then transferred back into the women's uterus after it is fertilized.
The first round of IVF for Kelsey and Max failed as well.
"It was just disheartening," Max said. "You don't know if you will do it again."
Kelsey says IVF and infertility took a toll on her health in many ways.
"The pain of infertility is financial, it's mental. IVF is physical. It's tough. And honestly, you know, it's not only tough on all of those things, its tough on your faith too," Kelsey said. "You are left wondering, why not me? Why not me? Why is this happening?"
Kelsey says she felt the pressure on her faith, and her relationships but she used that as motivation to grow stronger.
"I think it made us stronger as a couple because I've never had to rely on him," Kelsey said. "I'm typically a very independent person, so I relied on him for everything."
Max came to her doctor appointments and administered her shots while going through the fertility treatments. She showed off a picture of Max giving her a shot with the caption "best nurse."
"Rely on your partner," Kelsey said. "Talk to your partner and talk to other people. For our first round of IVF, we didn't tell anybody, we told very few people."
After the first round failed, together they made the tough choice to start over and try a second round.
"The second round, we told pretty much everyone that we knew what we were doing," Kelsey said. "I am a firm believer that people praying for us is what got us through the second round. I don't regret at all telling people about the second round because I think we had so many people asking God for a miracle."
And those prayers were answered when Kelsey got the phone call, the test showed she was pregnant.
She called Max into the kitchen and surprised him with a baby onesie and a coffee mug that says Dad.
"It was shocking," Max said. "I was just in the middle of my day and she just called me in the kitchen and surprised me."
They remained cautiously optimistic going into their first appointment.
"We did get the positive pregnancy test and did the six-week ultrasound, and found out we were having twins," Kelsey said. "At seven-weeks, we heard their heartbeats, and it was the best thing. It was the only time we got good news at the doctors office."
But their double dose of good news was met with some more heartbreak.
"And nine-weeks, unfortunately, one of the babies didn't have a heartbeat," Kelsey said. "And we were not prepared for that."
Thankfully the one baby continued to grow stronger as days and weeks progressed, and Kelsey and Max found out she is a baby girl.
"I'm most looking forward to the moment she is laid on my chest," Kelsey said.
"Just seeing her grow up," Max said. "And I'm a big golfer, so I definitely want to get a golf club in her hand as soon as possible."
Kelsey and Max now await the arrival of their baby girl and share this message: you never know what people are facing privately.
"It's common and you have no idea what anyone is going through," Kelsey said.
According to a new study by the World Health Organization in April 2023, one in six adults worldwide face struggles with infertility.
"I know how long it can take and how frustrating it can be," Max said. "Just don't lose hope. I feel like I did lose hope after the first round of IVF."
Kelsey and Max also say the entire process can be challenging on your marriage and faith, but Kelsey urges people to let the difficulties make you stronger.
"You can either let it do one of two things for you. If you are a faithful person, it can take you further away from God or it can bring you closer," Kelsey said. "My goal was to really make sure it brought us closer to God, and it definitely has, and it brought us closer to each other. God put us through this to put us closer together and make us realize that we need each other."
Sometimes it is hard to know where to go for help, and it can also be hard to know what to say to a family member or friend going through infertility issues if you have never experienced them yourself.
Here's some of the many resources we compiled to help you and your partner in this journey:
- (National Infertility Association) Find an infertility support group
- (Johns Hopkins) Fertility support groups and information
- (ASRM) Infertility Counseling and Support: When and Where To Find It
- (CNN) How to support your loved one through the infertility journey
Always be sure to first check with your doctor about any concerns you may have about your health.
Also, there are private Facebook groups you can join, like Indiana IVF Support and an account called "InfertilitySchool" on Instagram.