When Jenna Cucionilli was 13, she was diagnosed with PCOS and told she’d have trouble having kids. She went through her teens and 20s believing that she didn’t want to be a mom. Everything changed when she had an unexpected pregnancy with her husband Pete and miscarried one week before their wedding. Though devastating, this experience showed her that her body was capable of conception and carrying a child. Now, Jenna uses her popular Instagram platform to educate others about PCOS and infertility and invites people to follow her journey through IVF.
Q: What’s your infertility story in a nutshell?
We have been trying to conceive for three years now. I went from believing I could not have children because of my PCOS to the loss of miscarriage to the light that my body is capable of pregnancy. We immediately started trying by using apps to track cycles, and after a few months when that didn’t work, we then found a fertility specialist in the area. We started doing medicated, timed intercourse rounds and never took a break for many months. Without success, we moved to IUIs.
After those also kept failing, we started IVF in October 2019. We retrieved only one egg after having 30-plus follicles. We ended up with one Day 3 embryo, which we transferred, but didn’t survive. I was then also diagnosed with Empty Follicle Syndrome. We are currently continuing to try naturally with the assistance of acupuncture, while saving for another round of IVF in hopes of conceiving our miracle baby.
Q: What inspired you to share your story online? What has the response been?
While I do have the most supportive spouse ever, it is nice to be able to share our hard infertility journey, to educate other women, and be a support system for them. Before I became public about our journey, I followed one woman on social media and she had encouraged me to do the same. The response and support from others has been phenomenal and the whole TTC community is like a big family.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of your journey and how have you dealt with it?
Most people say ‘your marriage hasn’t been tested until you have kids’ but I feel like infertility is the biggest test…It has taught us to always appreciate one another, work together during the hard times, and love one another.
The most challenging part has been the emotional aspect. Seeing the years go by still childless is extremely hard, attending baby showers, having people constantly asking when you’re going to have children or trying to give you advice on what to do to conceive, going to public places like Disney seeing all of the families and wishing you had one of your own–it is extremely hard. I’m sure I could list more, but honestly, my husband has been the biggest support system during this entire journey for me. There are days I cry, and that’s normal for anyone on the same journey. I would say having a strong marriage, an amazing husband, and some self care days in between have helped me deal with the challenging days.
Q: How has your relationship with your husband, Pete, evolved through your journey?
My husband is my rock and best friend. Knowing our marriage is built on love and support helps me get through each day. Our marriage and relationship has grown stronger every day while going through infertility. Most people say “your marriage hasn’t been tested until you have kids” but I feel like infertility is the biggest test. If we can get through trying to conceive, then parenting may be a breeze. It has taught us to always appreciate one another, work together during the hard times, and love one another. It showed us that as a married couple not everything will go our way, but as long as we have each other, we can get through anything.
Our journey of trying to conceive has truly made my heart so big, and the doctors and nurses we have worked with on our infertility journey have changed my life. They’ve made me want to become the best doctor and teacher I can for my patients.
Q: We see that you’ll be a doctor in 2021. What kind of medicine will you practice and how do you think your experience has shaped how you will work with patients?
It’s funny you ask this because for the longest time I came off as cold-hearted (I blame my PCOS and out-of-whack hormones for this – LOL). I always joked around and said: “Hopefully they teach us how to have compassion and how to grow a heart in doctorate school.” Now sitting six months away from graduation, I have nothing but compassion and love for my patients. Our journey of trying to conceive has truly made my heart so big, and the doctors and nurses we have worked with on our infertility journey have changed my life. They’ve made me want to become the best doctor and teacher I can for my patients. I will be a Doctor of Chiropractic in March 2021 and plan on working in a practice that specializes in pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and family care.