Like many little girls, babies are something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. My first job was at our local library where I would borrow books on baby names when I was bored and read about all the different meanings and origins. (This was fun until the librarian quietly took me aside to ask if there was anything I wanted to talk about . . . OOPS lol I was probably 15 at the time)
In school they drill into your head that SEX = BABIES so avoid it at all costs. Birth control is given out like candy by doctors. And yet ..no one ever discusses the importance of proper hormone balance and nutrition, the fact that 1 in 6 Canadian couples suffer with infertility, the impact your thyroid can have on your fertility, and how balancing your blood sugar levels can drastically improve your PCOS.
My husband and I are both healthy people, we follow a fairly healthy lifestyle and generally eat healthy food so after a year of trying to conceive we hadn’t gotten any further in our journey and we were a bit dumbfounded.
At this point we made the decision to go ahead and refer ourselves to a fertility clinic. This was a huge game changer for us. Accepting that we had a problem was so difficult, the lack of understanding as to how our bodies were failing us was unimaginable and the dread, discomfort and grief we had walking into that clinic was the worst experience of my life. Not only are your appointments always between 7 and 8 in the morning, we also drove an hour each way to the clinic we were at, which meant regularly we were up at 5am to get ready and make the drive, have our appointment, deal with whatever they told us and then drive back to start our day at work as if nothing had happened.
Every test they could think of was ran. Between our naturopath, chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncture and fertility specialist appointments I ended up having 2 to 5 appointments per week. People with kids would say, how you don’t know what it’s like to be busy . . .just wait until you have kids. HA! (I can say that now having our daughter, I was still busier and far more stressed then than now)
Friends would want to hang out but you’d say no, to avoid the discussion and honestly because we were tired from the early mornings and running from one appointment to the next while trying to keep up the persona that all was well and nothing different in your life. I once went to a wedding out of town directly after driving to the clinic (2 hours the opposite way) to get testing done which resulted in me not only being exhausted from all the running around but wore a sweater during the entire (summer) event as my arms were so bruised from the needles and I didn’t feel like answering questions.
You get so good at hiding this secret life that you start to know all the typical questions people ask and have quick responses lined up. This makes you start to wonder how what you thought your secret life would have looked like (a famous, rich celebrity maybe?) ended up being you sitting in a waiting room waiting for your next oh so glamorous vaginal ultrasound from someone you’ve never met.
Neither of us were able to discuss it openly with those around us…even our families didn’t know (besides one or two). I mean really…how do you even bring that up? Maybe when you’re at a family gathering and everyone pauses to hear the answer as “Hey, are you guys ever going to have a baby?” is shouted down the table or when your best friends announce their accidental/first try pregnancy to you and it’s all you can do to smile, nod your head for a few minutes before dismissing yourself to the bathroom to ball your eyes out?
After 2 full years of secrets, needles, ultrasounds, over the top stress and many strangers in your bedroom (not literally…although it certainly felt like that at times) we decided that our only option left (and really we just couldn’t wait anymore) was to go ahead with the dreaded IVF treatments. These treatments can involve hundreds of injections of hormones (self administered), weight gain,extreme mood swings, thousands upon thousands of dollars and strangers getting all up in your business, with zero guarantee of a baby. The paper work you have to sign for this is out of this world. They make you answer questions like “what happens if one of you dies, or divorces, or gets cancer” , “what will you do with the remaining embryos if you are so lucky – throw them in the trash, donate them to research or give them to someone else in need” These are heavy duty questions that you just can not be properly prepared for, especially when you are already on an extreme emotional roller-coaster. This was not a process we looked forward to.
It was at this time while we waited for a new cycle to start (the arrival of aunt flo) that we decided it was time to share what we were going through with some of our close family members as this was about to alter our lives again in ways we weren’t prepared for. They were of course shocked, but so incredibly supportive of us, we knew we had made the right choice in sharing our struggles with them.
Now I never had a regular cycle so I would never know if I was a day or two late… so we waited…and waited ….and waited. After a few weeks of this waiting I randomly decided to do a pregnancy test (not totally abnormal but certainly not something I did regularly as I couldn’t handle the disappointment and grief when it came back negative as it always did) My husband and I had agreed to always do them together so that we could be there for each other, however I was getting impatient with the process, wanting to move forward with our treatment and decided to just do one this morning (even though I was sure it wasn’t anything) The shock of those two lines was so overwhelming I was speechless and flooded with every emotion from disbelief, over the moon excitement and fear of losing this little miracle.
A year later we were gifted with the sweetest, most precious baby girl (I thought for sure we were having a boy!) This kid has filled my heart with so much joy and wonder. And although I don’t wish for fertility struggles on anyone, she has without a doubt made it all worthwhile.
The emotional roller-coaster is so real in this journey. Anything from joy, disappointment, anger, resentment, grief, guilt, and jealousy cycle through on a monthly (weekly? Sometimes daily?) basis. And when you are suffering this way, always trying to hold yourself together, afraid to tell someone as you’ll just fall apart, it makes for one of the loneliest experiences of our lives.
As we start to think about growing our family again, many of these emotions rise back to the surface. However, there is so much comfort in knowing that I can now openly discuss our situation (avoiding those awkward holiday gathering discussions) and being so much more empowered with the education and knowledge I now have to move forward with our journey.
There is a huge gap of information in our medical system and I hope through my own experience that I can help fill that gap a little and provide women with the support and information they need to get through their own fertility journey <3