A Community of Warriors: An Interview with Jennifer Prilliman

03/10/2020

Jennifer created The TTC Tribe, an online community where women struggling with infertility can connect, inspire, and learn from one another. Having struggled with infertility herself, Jenn felt a desire to help others realize they are not alone. “I want them to know that they’re not broken, or unworthy, or by yourself. You shouldn’t feel bad about what’s happening to you, or that there’s something wrong with you,” she says. Her blog is an informative and inspiring platform, ranging from topics such as miscarriages, male infertility, and financing fertility treatments. Her blog also has a section called “Weekly Warriors”, in which women submit their personal stories to be featured on the site. This selection of informative tips, educational posts, and personal stories creates a nuanced resource for those struggling with infertility. 

Jennifer was inspired to create her site after going through infertility herself. She was devastated when, two weeks after a positive pregnancy test, she started bleeding and discovered she had miscarried. This was her first pregnancy, and this was so disappointing and upsetting. She and her husband reasoned that if they had been able to get pregnant on their own initially, they’d likely be able to again. They kept trying for six months, but nothing happened. They decided it was time to visit a fertility doctor. The doctor listened to their story and regarded their miscarraige as a “fluke”, telling them they should have no trouble getting pregnant again. They ended up beginning an IUI that day. 

 

Excited to move forward, Jennifer felt optimistic. She got pregnant again with the help of the IUI. However, an ultrasound soon revealed there was “a sack without a baby”, also known as a blighted ovum. The baby had attached but did not develop. After this, Jennifer and her husband began a second IUI “with guarded hearts.'' She became pregnant again. This time around, the ultrasound revealed that there was no heartbeat.  

At this point, Jennifer’s doctor predicted she had poor egg quality. Because of this, she decided to move forward with IVF. She ended up getting 33 eggs in egg retrieval. After genetic testing, they had 12 left, and after PGS testing, 6 came back normal. This meant that over 75% of her eggs were of poor quality, therefore she was officially diagnosed with poor egg quality. It was comforting, in a way, for Jennifer to realize what had been going wrong in the past. She now knew more about her body, and what she should do moving forward. 
Two embryos were implanted and the ultrasound revealed two heartbeats. In an ultrasound the week after, a third heartbeat appeared, and they realized they had triplets. The third baby, however, had a “low heartbeat”, and the doctor cautioned Jennifer that this baby may not make it. The next week, they went in for a third ultrasound. There was only one heartbeat. The doctor believes two of them could have been conjoined twins, and the passing of one baby affected another. However, one baby remained, which to Jennifer was nonetheless a miracle. 

Jennifer had an “awesome pregnancy and an awesome labor”. She gave birth to her son, Jaxsen, in January of 2018. Jennifer and her husband were so excited to be parents, and were soon ready to try for another baby. Six months later, Jennifer implanted one embryo from her previous IVF cycle, eventually becoming and staying pregnant. Technically, Jaxsen and his sister Tegan were conceived at the same time even though they were born a year and a half apart. 

Reflecting on her journey to conceiving, Jennifer says, “When you go through infertility, you grieve your original idea of how your life was going to be. You were gonna get married, buy your first house, have your first baby by the time you were 30, have three kids, and everything was gonna be perfect. You grieve that a little bit.” Infertility stays with you, even after you have children. “As a mom, I don’t take anything for granted,” Jennifer says. She and her husband fought so hard for her kids, so she makes sure to “cherish every moment, be more patient, appreciate how much of a miracle they both are.” The ups and downs of trying to conceive ultimately led Jennifer to create the TTC Tribe. Sharing her story has helped Jennifer heal. It’s helped her realize how many people go through infertility, and how normal it is. “The biggest thing is that I want the women and men who read my blog to feel less alone,” she says. She is definitely succeeding in this goal, as she educates, supports, and shares stories of so many men and women.