Updated: Sep 10, 2020
My spouse and I had been struggling to conceive for close to a year when our doctor referred us for a battery of tests. From the beginning, I remember feeling stressed; going for blood work, ultrasounds, waiting for results, taking medications or supplements to increase chances of conceiving naturally, and going for acupuncture treatments. Trying to have a baby at this point became work. Another year and some months went by during which we did every possible test (and some of them were done many times!) and met with specialists. Our specialists had a hard time determining what was going on for us.
When we found out that our chances of conceiving naturally were close to zero, I was devastated. I was lost. Around me, my friends were getting pregnant, having baby showers, and announcing the arrival of their babies. I wanted to be there too, but instead, I was discussing with my spouse the many options that we had if we wanted to create a family: insemination, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or adoption. I was not where I wanted to be, and it was not easy! I felt angry, powerless, jealous, sad, and fearful of the unknown. At that point, I knew one thing: I could not take anymore disappointment. I was emotionally drained. I was raw. All I wanted was to finally have a positive pregnancy test!
The Roller Coaster Ride of IVF
We decided to turn to reproductive assisted technology with a first cycle of IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). I had mixed feelings about the process. A part of me felt frustrated and apprehensive. It felt unfair that I had to take strong medications, do injections, have an invasive surgery done on me, undergo more blood tests, and endure the physical pain of all of this! Then, another part of me was rather excited and hopeful. It was our chance to see our dream come true. We finally had a plan, and it brought a lot of promises. I worked hard at giving this hopeful part more room as we proceeded with the treatment.
Then came the interminable two weeks wait. I remember being totally obsessed with every physical sensation I had; the bloating, the cramping, the pain. I had a lot of fears, and thoughts that it might not work, that it would never end. There were so many what-ifs; amongst them were what if it didn't work, and what if we had to start from scratch (we only had 1 blastocyst, and no embryo to freeze).
In the end, my spouse and I were fortunate to have a success story with our first cycle; a healthy baby boy was born 9 months later. Then, another little miracle was to be born another year after that, conceived naturally, against all odds. I can say that even now, the wounds of my infertility journey are still there. Many friendships got hurt, and never repaired. Many celebrations and events were missed and will never take place again. I lived on an auto-pilot for quite some time, I lost myself, my passion, my hobbies, as I grieved the story I had hope to have, and wasn't having. It all came back eventually, but it took some time, compassion, and lots of support (particularly from my spouse!).
I realize that many people don't have the fortunate outcome that I ended up having. The journey of infertility is unique for everybody, and may include insemination, miscarriages, egg or sperm donor, surrogacy, multiple rounds of IVF, or having to make a heartbreaking decision of putting an end to treatments/trying to conceive. Regardless of the path that you may be on, know that you are not alone in the struggles of infertility. It is normal to feel how you are feeling, infertility is very hard.
With much kindness,
** If you are interested in reading about practices that helped me cope with this period of my life, click here.