After almost a decade of trying to conceive, I decided to give IVF a shot—and share my story with the world.

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Dulce Candy Ruiz and kids
Dulce Candy Ruiz with her beach boys, Izek and Aaron.
| Credit: Courtesy of Dulce Candy Ruiz

Herbal supplements. Chinese medicine. A visit to a sobadora who massaged my uterus. I tried everything to get pregnant. But time and time again, nothing worked. The two little lines meant to show a positive result on a pregnancy test never appeared. My husband, Jesse, and I were grateful to already have a beautiful son, Izek, and we'd been down this difficult road when we tried to conceive the first time around. But we were determined to stick with it—and had for nine years—in an effort to give our boy a brother or sister. We both come from big families (I have three siblings; Jesse has eight) and know how special that bond can be. Yet after so many failed attempts, I started to believe that my dream of having another baby was just that—a dream.

When the thought of doing in vitro fertilization (IVF) first crossed my mind, my reaction was fear. I was afraid of what the hormones from the infertility treatment would do to my body. But I also knew I was strong, and I harnessed that power to start the process.

Looking back, I probably shouldn't have waited so long to see a specialist. After I'd spent years wondering what was wrong, my doctor immediately got to the root of the issue: Both my fallopian tubes were blocked with scar tissue because of an STI that I'd contracted in my late teens. I never thought it would one day affect my reproductive health.

IVF was such a mystery to me. I didn't know any Latinas who had been through it. And infertility isn't exactly something that my mom and tías discussed when I was growing up. While my family was fully supportive, I needed to share my experience with other women who could relate and were feeling alone in this experience. Between the ultrasounds, blood work, and injections, IVF can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. I wanted to be that support system for women who might be having a hard time conceiving. Just like me.

It started with a 13-minute YouTube video that marked the beginning of our IVF journey and generated hundreds of comments. Many people sent their prayers and well-wishes, and others were moved to action, including a woman who wrote me to say, "You made me feel brave enough to go to the doctors and ask for help as to why I hadn't gotten pregnant in two years." Little did I know that the same people I was trying to empower would become my rock. Seeing other women inject themselves with hormones on social media was so inspiring. I knew that if they could do it, I could as well.

The whole situation also taught me a lot about compassion. Asking someone when they're planning to have another baby or even saying something like "Just relax, it will happen" can be emotionally triggering. You never know what another person is going through. The path to parenthood looks different for every mother, and it's rarely a straight line. For me, no amount of relaxing was going to make the scar tissue disappear.

I'm happy to report that Baby Aaron, my little pollito, just turned 1 a few months ago and is all rolls and smiles, especially when he sees his big bro. As for myself, I'm still catching up on missed sleep, but I can't wait to explore the possibility of having more children. Luckily, I have two frozen embryos in the bank (a female and a male), and I know where to turn for support if I ever need it.

Dulce Candy Ruiz is a Mexican mother, United States Army veteran, published author, and influential content creator who aspires to empower young women everywhere.

This article originally appeared in Parents Latina's August/September 2021 issue as "My Fertility Journey."

Parents Latina