One in eight couples experiences infertility, yet many go through it alone, unaware of the immensely supportive, online infertility community. Erin Bulcao started out her journey alone, “hiding behind the doors of IVF” until one day she decided to “open BOTH doors and leave them wide open”. Today she’s a mom of three and founder of the amazingly helpful blog and Instagram account My Beautiful Blunder. I’ve loved getting to know Erin and her story and I’m sure you will too! Read on for some incredible advice and the benefits of opening up.
Erin and her family
1. You’ve had a difficult journey to create your beautiful family, but you persevered and now are supporting so many others. To start, can you share your story?
Yes! So we started TTC the summer after we got married. I wasn’t getting a period so I started to think I was pregnant when I wasn’t. I went through boxes of pregnancy sticks thinking I was peeing on them wrong. Little did I know I wasn’t ovulating on my own. The OB sent us to a fertility specialist and he suggested an IUI for us. We had great success and ended up pregnant with triplets on the first round of our IUI. Unfortunately, we had to have a medical reduction at 9 weeks which was very traumatic. Nonetheless the twins were born full term and vaginally. Eliana had to stay in the NICU for 11 days due to her small size but we visited her daily. That was so hard but thankful for an amazing NICU team.
FF 6 years and we wanted to have another one. We thought maybe it would work on our own but again I wasn’t ovulating. We went straight to IVF the summer of 2017 in hopes that it would work on the first try since IVF has better odds than an IUI anyway. Unfortunately, it took us three years to have a successful pregnancy. Within that time, we did 4 egg retrievals, another IUI, experienced a very long miscarriage, switched clinics and doctors, had a pelvic and brain MRI and multiple hysteroscopies and biopsies of my uterus and of course 7 transfers, the 7th being our sweet Eriela.
A 3-year journey…
2. In your words, after ‘two years of hiding behind the doors of IVF I decided to open them up. And not just open one at a time, or even crack them open a little. No, I’m going to open BOTH doors and leave them wide open, SO COME ON IN.’ which is so brave and generous. How has opening up helped you along the way – and have you felt the support from the fertility community coming back just as you’re giving it out?
Opening up has been my own form of therapy. I opened up because I didn’t have support. Mostly because I didn’t seek it nor did I realize there was such a huge community. I thought, if I could share my story and help just one person not feel as alone as I did for the first two years of my journey, it will be worth it. So I wrote a blog and then was told to share it as a suggestion to get it out there via Instagram. I was overwhelmed by the support and acceptance this brought. So many people were welcoming me with open arms, relating to me and sharing their journeys with me. Thus, it became therapy for me. I was able to release all of my pain and feel seen not just by one person but by SO MANY! It was amazing and that’s why I’m so open today and continue to be. I think we all go through so many similar things in life and so many difficult times. These are hidden from social media and so many of us feel like we are alone in our struggles. The truth is that we are not alone. I understand opening up is not for everyone, but because it helps me and also helps others, it’s something I have become very passionate about. Being me and being real has led me to so many amazing women. I have formed such genuine and deep friendships and I would have NEVER imagined that. I could get support for all of my pain and continue to do so! What they say is true, worst club, best members.
3. The last year has been like nothing anyone could have expected – in so many ways. You had not only Covid to worry about and your twins home doing virtual school, but also a pregnancy and new baby girl! Any favorite family activities or memories from quarantine?
Oh gosh yes, what a year!! I look back and while I wish things were different, being forced to stay at home with the twins was a time I will never get back and am so thankful for. Having Eriela has taken ALL my time away from the twins. They are resilient and very understanding but I am so thankful that I got so much extra time with just them due to the pandemic. It was a strange but beautiful time of getting to know each other more and allowing for so much special time before the baby. We danced a lot and baked a lot and because I was pregnant we got a lot of fun foods that we normally don’t get to eat, which was fun for them. We took a couple road trips and did a lot of puzzles and board games. We also started a tradition of watching classic movies and having frozen yogurt for dinner every Sunday night which we are still doing.
The rainbow after the rain
4. What advice would you give to intended parents on GoStork – who are just beginning their own family building journey?
I would say be patient with yourselves. It took us a very long time to have Eriela but now that we are here it seems like it was a blink of an eye. With that said, it’s important to be your own advocate. To ask all the questions and trust your gut! Remember it’s your journey, don’t compare it to anyone else’s because no one can walk the same steps you are and your journey will be just right for you. Focus on hope and always celebrate the small wins because as much as you try to guard your heart, the end result will not change. Lastly, remember to live your life. I lost myself for years and looking back, that is something I regret. Be you and continue to do what makes you happy aside from TTC.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Erin – it’s amazing that you found support in the community but you’re also giving so much back too! Intended parents: follow Erin on Instagram @mybeautifulblunder for daily inspiration and support.