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Kaci Aitchison: When the path to ‘pregnant’ winds through a fertility clinic

SEATTLE – My husband and I are very grateful to be expecting a baby in November. But it’s not at all how we thought starting our family would go, and I know we aren’t alone.

John and I assumed becoming pregnant was as easy as deciding you wanted to be- combined with romantic dinners and naive hope. But for us – and millions of others around the world – the path to parenthood really is filled with potholes.

Instead of a year of “trying,” ours became years – emphasis on the plural – of infertility, pregnancy losses, and heartache (you can read my previous article detailing our journey here). Since we aren’t alone, we wanted to share what it’s really like getting to “pregnant” when the path there winds through a fertility clinic.

This isn't a story about the science behind ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), although we are incredibly grateful that those advances in science and medicine are helping us build our family. This is a story about the emotional journey; how it really feels to have to give up on your dream of doing something you've assumed you could do whenever you wanted: Start a family.

That's one of the reasons visiting a fertility clinic is so hard, whether it's your first or 50th time. You find yourself mindlessly turning the pages of a magazine in the lobby of a fertility clinic wondering how the heck you got here. You feel like a failure. You feel like there is something wrong with you, that maybe you angered the Universe or God or whom/whatever to take yourself off the list of "people who deserve babies."

Luckily, the doctors themselves completely understand this.

"Nobody wants to come see me!" says Dr. Lora Shahine, our doctor with Pacific NW Fertility. "Nobody wants to walk in the door and see a fertility doctor. Just walking in is giving up on a little bit of the dream that they're going to conceive... the way they saw it in the movies."

And she understands her patients perhaps a bit better than you might think.

"I am very fortunate in that I have been a patient too," she says. "It's pretty funny being a fertility doctor and not being able to get pregnant. But I've been there and walked the walk. And it's helped me- not understand everybody, I'm absolutely not in everybody's shoes - but I think I can understand a little bit."

Dr. Shahine says patients come to her feeling a wide range of emotions.

"Fear is a big part of it - fear, sadness, nervousness," she says. "I try to take a lot of that and in the first visit provide a lot of education, reassurance, and I really want them to leave with hope. Because no matter what anybody's diagnosis is, or what they're coming to me for, they can have their family, one way or another."

RELATED: Our resource page on finding information on all sorts of different ways to build a family, from fertility treatments to adoption, and more.

Hearing that hope existed at all is what we needed in a time we were feeling like complete and utter failures. The first part of visiting a fertility clinic, at least for us, involved a 30-60 minute consult, where it's all about educating patients on options, and personalizing your care. That's an important part - setting you up with someone you can contact as often as you need with all of the questions that come up over the course of your treatment.

That's because even once you have a plan to medically address infertility, as those ultrasounds and other necessary appointments add up, you're still chased by an insecurity of not being enough. Not worthy of being able to conceive, when it's supposed to be one of the most natural things our bodies can do. Advances in science and medicine are giving hope to so many people like us; it's the reason we were able to conceive our daughter.

But the other reason: we never lost hope. We had to frequently adjust what we thought our path to parenthood would entail, and we were prepared to continue adjusting if our fertility journey hadn't worked out.

Watch the video above to see more on our journey; and please click around the Q13FOX.com/family page to watch other couples describe the paths they took to build their family. We also have articles on everything from pregnancy loss to advice for people who have friends or family members going through infertility on how to be supportive.

How did you build your family? Share your stories with us on social media HERE.