Share Your Story: Meet Kellie Stryker

Welcome to the Share Your Story series on InfertileAF, where we feature women and men willing to boldly share their personal insight into their diagnosis or their journey alongside Infertility.

Want to share your story? You can complete your interview HERE!

Without further ado, please meet Kellie Stryker.

Name: Kellie Stryker
Age: 34
Location: Crystal Lake, IL

Give us your quick bio: I'm a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in Infertility. My own personal experience with infertility led me to open my own practice. After four years of infertility treatments which included multiple losses, I realized how isolating infertility can be. Infertility is often considered "taboo" and not talked about openly. The lack of emotional support during one of the most challenging times in an individual's life baffled me. It was then that I decided I needed to use my background to help others.

What is your personal experience with Infertility?

About 4 yrs ago my husband and I began the process of starting our family, little did we know what the journey would entail. After trying on our own for a couple months, we got pregnant! We were ecstatic and so relieved it happened quickly. However, around 6 weeks I noticed light spotting and had a gut feeling the pregnancy wasn’t going to last. A few days later I began bleeding heavily and it was confirmed I had lost the baby. My husband and I were heartbroken but we had no idea that was only the beginning of our journey.

Another year went by without being able to conceive. We decided to pursue the help of an infertility doctor. We went through multiple IUIs and two rounds of IVF with no luck. It was then that we decided to switch to another doctor who had her own experience with infertility. To our surprise, our first IVF took! Again, we we’re over the moon but soon our luck changed to another heartbreak. My levels were not rising appropriately and they said I would miscarry. However, on my third blood draw my levels increased. My doctor feared an ectopic pregnancy (which is rare with IVF) and saw blood around my fallopian tube. I was given methotrexate, a medication used to treat cancer to terminate the pregnancy. However, the medication wasn't working and a third dose was given. My doctor was shocked because only one dose is typically required. Finally, my numbers dropped below zero but now I had to wait 6 months before we could try again to allow the medication to fully leave my system. Another blow we were not prepared for.

After the 6 months, we surprisingly got pregnant on our own! However, my levels started off low and my doctor was not hopeful. To her surprise, my levels doubled appropriately and we were scheduled for our first ultrasound. We we’re so excited to get to this step and couldn’t wait to see our little one on the screen!

During the ultrasound, we anxiously awaited what we so longed to see. However, my doctor looked at us with sadness in her eyes and gave us the news that there was no baby.
Again, we were faced with either another miscarriage or ectopic. We couldn’t believe it. After much discussion and a gut feeling, we requested a D&C (surgery to remove the pregnancy) to
avoid the methotrexate since it didn’t work correctly the first time. Following the surgery, my doctor explained that the baby had implanted in my right Fallopian tube which he stated was
the size of three of his fingers combined. He also told us that I was bleeding internally and he had no choice but to remove my fallopian tube (a possibility I was made aware of prior to surgery).
I was literally numb. I didn’t know what to do moving forward and decided we needed to take a break for our mental health.

After a 3 month break, we decided to move forward with a FET (frozen embryo transfer) but during the preparation they found fluid in my uterus. I was given the option to continue with the FET or opt for more testing. We decided the latter because we couldn’t bear another loss. My doctor completed a test that determined if they were implanting at the appropriate time. To our surprise, the test confirmed they had been implanting a whole 24 hrs too early. My doctor explained that the window for implantation was not yet open and now they know when to implant for our next FET. My husband and I were optimistic but cautious!

We finally moved forward with our FET and the new plan for implantation. To our surprise, it worked! This time we were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best! During our two
week wait I found one of those painted rocks outside a store with the words “believe” written on it. I knew then that everything was going to be ok!

We finally made it to our first ultrasound and we were relieved to see our beautiful baby growing perfectly in my uterus! My pregnancy went smoothly until 30 wks when I was diagnosed
with a blood clot on the left side of my brain and possible Multiple Sclerosis. At 35 wks, the Multiple Sclerosis was confirmed and that night my water broke.

On April 13th 2018, our little miracle Madelyn Grace Stryker came into the world healthy as can be at 5 wks early! She truly is my guardian angel because if it weren't for my pregnancy with her, I would have never have found out about my diagnosis. She is my miracle and saving grace.
After everything my husband and I went through and experienced, I decided to move forward with opening my own private practice focusing on providing counseling services for
individuals and couples expecting fertility problems. My experience has taught me that without the rain there would be no rainbows and I hope to help others find their rainbow through
the rain

At your lowest point, how did Infertility impact you?

I became isolated, withdrawn, depressed and angry at how infertility was affecting my life and ability to have children. After my second ectopic pregnancy and removal of my Fallopian tube, I felt numb, broken and extremely defeated. I truly couldn't comprehend why this was happening. The lack of emotional support was the hardest. I was always open with my journey but no one could fully understand the emotions I was experiencing. My husband was always so positive which caused me to develop resentment towards him. Infertility literally consumed every aspect of my life.

What was the turning point in your mindset? What helped you find happiness outside of Infertility?

After my second ectopic pregnancy and developing fluid in my uterus, I decided I couldn't continue on the path I was on and it was time to take a step back, focus on my health and develop a better mindset.

What actions did you take to help you heal?

The infertility medications caused me to gain 50 lbs which led me to feel extremely uncomfortable and unhappy with the way I felt about myself. I decided to focus on my nutrition and lose weight. I also began to take one moment at a time and not focus on the "what ifs". I stopped living my life around infertility and began living my life focused on me! It was then that I decided I need to speak
out about my journey in order to help other women and men realize they are not alone.

What would you tell other people facing an Infertility diagnosis?

My infertility journey has taught me to be resilient, to be ok with the unknown and focus on one moment at a time. Not every story ends with a baby but it can end with an ending you are happy with. It will take time and healing but I promise you will get there.

How do you views align with the InfertileAF Mission?

It's so important to empower women to speak out about their infertility journey. Breaking the stigmas that surround infertility will allow women and men to feel less alone and feel supported. Infertile AF will help to change, empower and support the infertility community to find success beyond the plus sign!


~Thank you, Kellie, for sharing you amazing words with our audience. If you have something you would like to say, be sure to submit your story HERE!