Earlier this week my Facebook memories showed me pictures from last year, when my husband and I took a road trip to Washington, DC. We hit all of the main tourist spots while also participating in the March for Equality. I was the only one in the march booing Jeff Sessions while everyone else was preoccupied with Trump, and the hubby just wanted to find some shade. The vacation was fantastic and I was so excited to see the memories, except this trip was also a hard one for us. It was the first of what would be three failed IUIs. I was at the holocaust museum passing through the shoe exhibit when I realized my asshole aunt flo was coming. I ran to the bathroom and started sobbing. I wish I could say it was the exhibits that was the reason behind the tears, but alas it was all about me.
I believe that struggling with fertility is just about the worst feeling two hopeful parents can go through. The shame, dread, confusion and anger leads to a level of pain that stunts you to the point where getting up in the morning is just worthless. I’m in no way, shape or form someone who would ever be able to coach another person on fertility matters, because quite frankly I don’t know how I survived the ordeal (or if I would have survived had the fourth IUI not gifted me with my little sweet boy who I can’t stop cherishing every waking and sleeping moment). That said, I want to share some things I did during the times of hardship that, if anything, distracted me from the pain. I hope that this helps someone out there who is desperately waiting for their little one to arrive.
Don’t expect great advice from fertile people. Your friends and family always mean well, but from my experience this is an area of hardship that’s hard to understand when you’ve never had an issue before, or if it’s been a long time since you’ve been through the pain. I tried to seek advice from my parents when Daniel and I first realized that getting pregnant was harder than expected, and it ended up making me feel worse. My mom got pregnant after a drunken night on her honeymoon and accidentally right after giving birth to my older sister with me, so even though she tried to comfort me, there’s really nothing she could say because she simply didn’t understand. These are the people who will tell you to “just relax,” “enjoy the sex” and “do some activities that are fun for just the two of you.” No, Janet, I don’t want to go on a cruise with my husband, I want a fucking baby.
At the same time, don’t be quiet about it. There is so much shame in infertility because miscarriages, IUIs, fertility medications and the whole IVF process is something that stays on the hush. What also makes it hard to be quiet about your struggle is that you’ll end up getting the dreaded question, “When are you two going to have children?” When I started to tell people that my multiple doctor appointments were for infertility treatments I started to feel a little bit more like myself again, and those awkward questions disappeared.
Block your overly happy parent friends on social media. I know this sounds petty, but honestly you can’t handle that right now. For the friends you have that are posting cute pictures every other day, hit the unfollow button. You’re not unfriending them and you can always follow them back once you’re in a better state of mind.
Find a fun project. While Daniel and I were preparing for IUIs and I was starting Letrozol I organized an event to write cards for support for transgender kids. Not only was it for a good cause, but it gave me something to be passionate about that didn’t have to do with my ovaries. Think of something you’ve always wanted to do and go for it; the moment you have that child you’ve been praying for, you won’t be able to do it again.
Start an initiative at work. Another perk to not having kids is that you have far more time to invest in your career. While I struggled with fertility I found greater passion for eCommerce and curated multiple projects at work that catapulted my skill set for the long term. I even learned how to code a bit, which turned out to be an asset!
Enjoy a bad vice. I know the advice goes that if you’re trying to get pregnant, you should treat your body as if you’re already pregnant. When I first started trying that’s exactly what I did. I’m sure there’s significant merit to this, but for me, focusing on my ovulation schedule while having robotic sex and avoiding the much needed glass of wine and cup of coffee just didn’t work for me. On the month that I conceived I was in Ottawa for work, taking three Letrozols a day. I assumed it wasn’t going to work and we’d be heading down the path of IVF anyway, so I bought a pack of cigarettes and enjoyed myself. I would never tell someone trying to “just relax” – because that’s honestly the worst piece of advice you could give – but relaxing probably did work for me. I dropped three eggs and my little one entered my life nine months latger.
I don’t think I’ll ever experience a feeling more painful than being childless not by choice, and I hope that these steps help someone out there trying to survive infertility. I would never give real advice to someone trying to get pregnant, because I know that anyone out there would want nothing to do with me and my newborn (and that’s totally fine!) The one thing I will say is that everything ends – including infertility.