Women share stories of struggle, hope in fertility process

Posted at 4:05 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 23:03:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For couples trying to conceive, the process can be an emotional roller coaster, with uncertainties seemingly every step of the way.

We profiled a local couple's journey and ultimate decision to seek IVF treatment in Barbados.

Several women shared their stories of struggle in hopes of offering support to others. Read their stories below.


Courtney Belz, board member of Kansas City Infertility Awareness Foundation:

Hi all! If you are struggling with infertility, I am so sorry, and I am here for you! You WILL get through it, and yes, it sucks. 

My husband and I struggled with infertility for about 2 ½ years before having our twins in 2015. 

I have diminished ovarian reserve, and I was told that my eggs are likely the problem in our equation. We went through about a year and a half of various fertility treatments before completing our second IVF cycle using an egg donor. 

This was successful, and we now have 2-year-old twins! 

Infertility has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve been through. Unless you’ve lived it, you don’t truly know what it’s like, so be kind to yourself and give yourself grace to feel all the feelings that go along with infertility. 

Take care of yourself, especially at difficult times of the year.  Allow yourself to skip holidays, baby showers, and kids’ birthday parties. I would also highly suggest finding a support group or a strong support system you can lean on. 

Once I found a local infertility support group with many women who are now great friends, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I was no longer walking this journey alone, feeling like only my husband could understand what I was experiencing. 

Again, remember to take care of yourself! I am always an open book to share my journey and listen or provide support, so don’t ever feel like you are alone. Take care of yourself and don’t lose hope! 


Caitlin L.

These are our IVF miracles, courtesy of a vacation to Barbados and the fertility center there. 

They are just over three months-old now (born two months early) and are our greatest gifts.

We spent about $20,000 on procedures, medicine, airfare and hotel (the stuff you can deduct on your taxes). Food and other was above that! 

We were fortunate in some ways that we did not have many attempts before. I have endometriosis that caused me to be in almost constant pain- from my monthly cycle to ovulation- it all hurt - even after two laparoscopies and a hysteroscopy. 

I knew early on I had endometriosis and would have trouble. We started trying as soon as we got married because of that. 

Within a couple months I was in so much pain I was missing two to three weeks of work, so we started seeing fertility specialists. In ways we were fortunate that we had good doctors that didn’t waste our time, emotions or money. In that way our story is different. Most people have months of IUI and times intercourse before moving to IVF. We were not candidates for that path, so we skipped straight to IVF.

The Barbados doctors were respectful of the religious and moral concerns we had, and our reservations regarding IVF. They still made sure we had our best chance at success. 

Clinics in the states were not; it was about numbers- keeping their success rates high with singletons only and money. It was awful. We almost gave up hope until we found Barbados

We kept it quiet from most of our community just because it was hard to talk about and honestly we felt so much pressure and judgment. We know keeping it a secret does nothing for the stigma surround infertility, which is why we are now much more open.

If you can’t make babies the fun way, I say the beach is a close second!


Jen Houcek:

My husband and I got married in 2000 and immediately began trying for a family. 

I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a momma. We have been married for almost 18 years. We have been poked and prodded, had procedure after procedure, fostered, and were chosen to adopt only to have our little girl given back to her biological mother who had lost other children for drugs and neglect. 

I hope she got her life together and is a good mother to that precious little girl. 

We have been heart broken, beat down, lost our faith and found it again. After all that, we still do not have children and at 40 years-old, that ship has sailed but we have found happiness in life anyway. 

There are still sad days like Mother’s Day and sometimes on the holidays. I don't think that loss ever completely goes away but we have found joy in life and peace in serving and loving others. 

I wrote a book recently called “L is for Loser: The battle through infertility.”

It is about six women (including me) who suffered with infertility. It is a very raw account of what it's like to go through your life without children with constant reminders of your failure to do the one thing you want more than anything. 

It took me many years to even talk about this. 

When I started going through infertility, there were no support groups, no one really talked about it. You really did just go through it alone. 

The reason I wrote the book was because the first time I thought, “What if this doesn't happen for me?” 

I started quietly searching for someone or something to connect to. I found books, talks, articles, and without fail, every single one ended with the woman getting a baby. 

It was so frustrating to me. 

I felt even more like a loser and in a huge hurry to make this happen. It was even more pressure. I have since wondered how many other women are like me. How many will not have kids and always feel like a total failure. That really made me sad so I wrote that book. 

I have learned that things in life can be a real bummer sometimes but we as individuals are priceless and have so much to offer even if it's not in the way we may have thought.



My husband and I have had two failed IVF cycles. Both of them were $30,000 and not covered by insurance at all. We have since gone the adoption route and are matched with a birth mother who is due later this year. 

This is our second match - we were matched with a birth mother last year, but she changed her mind a month before we reached her due date. 

This whole journey has been devastating, but the failed adoption probably hurt the worst. We’ve been trying to have a family for five long years, while everyone around us is having kids seemingly effortlessly. 

It’s a long and lonely road, so I’m thankful you’re getting more awareness out there and learning all you can.


Jen Praul Isbell 

After many unsuccessful attempts with fertility medication, we finally decided that the only way to guarantee a child with the amount of money we would have to spend would be adoption. 

We were lucky enough at the time to be able to adopt and I know many people don't have that choice. Unless you have experienced infertility, you can ever imagine how disappointing and emotional it is. 

After one adoption fell through right before the baby was born, we now have a 12-year-old who is amazing, who we adopted at birth. 

We have been blessed, but I know many out there are struggling because they can't afford the fertility options or adoption. All you want to do is be a mom, and when that is taken away from you, it is excruciatingly painful - there are no words to describe the disappointment you feel.


Leesha Heins 

The lack of insurance coverage is horrible. We went through more than a year and a half of IUI's and horrible side effects from the meds, and were just told it was unexplained. 

We could only afford the basic tests since everything was out of pocket. If I would have had a more extensive test to begin with, it would have shown the deeper problems, but we could not afford it. 

We prayed a lot, hoped and did everything we could emotionally, physically and financially. 

We then decided to pursue adoption. Our goal was parenthood. We waited almost nine months exactly and were blessed with our little man who is our world. 

He is the light of my life. I could not imagine life without him. If we would have been successful in our treatments we would not have him. I truly believe that God was gracious to us in giving us our son. 

The other side of infertility is the emotional toll.

I am passionate about our story and I want to be there for others who are going through this to let them know they are not alone and it is OK to feel upset and hurt and deal with the disappointment. 

I hate that we had to go through what we did, but our mourning was turned to joy.


Monika Ogilvie 

We tried to have a baby for 10 years and went through IVF. After a lot of failed attempts, we had three embryos left. 

My cousin carried our daughter for us, who is now 7. It was a great experience after all our struggles.

Our treatments, including all the prenatal, was out of pocket. Ironically, with our insurance, if I would have carried for someone else they would have covered everything.



Samantha Buffinton 

My husband and I have a four-and-a-half year-old daughter who was conceived fairly easily after a few months of trying. 

I was 29, almost 30, when she was born and I wanted another one pretty much right away. We started actively trying when she was 7 months-old. 

I found out I was pregnant again the day before her first birthday. Unfortunately, this pregnancy implanted in my Fallopian tube, an ectopic pregnancy. 

I was treated with two doses of a chemo drug to dissolve the growing cells in my tube before it burst. 

We continued to try with no luck until I saw a fertility specialist and found out both of my tubes were too damaged and filled with fluid. He decided it best to remove them, leaving IVF as our only option to add to our family now. 

By the end of June, I should be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise!) And just hope and pray he or she sticks!!!! 

And be pregnant for real, for real, after the two-week wait!