Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Are empathy and sensitivity really that hard? Like, I’m sorry dealing with my infertility is an inconvenience for you because it’s just such a walk in the park for me.

I’m so hurt and angry by some things some of my so-called friends said that I’m honestly questioning if I should continue the relationship. Look, I know pregnancy/parenting is hard, but maybe you shouldn’t complain about how much it sucks to someone that is willing to give everything (plus $20,000) to experience it. Respect that some days I will be able to listen to you and offer support and that other days (like today when I get confirmation that cycle 19 didn’t work and I know cycle 20 isn’t even worth counting because my husband and I will be apart) I just can’t. I can’t listen to you complain about sleepless nights when I spent half an hour lying on my bathroom floor sobbing. I just can’t today. It doesn’t mean I’m not there for you or that I don’t support you, it just means today that I need to be put myself first and protect my heart, and I need your respect for that.

Friday, 15 July 2016

It's none of your business

People seem to have an inordinate fascination with what is going on with a woman’s uterus and whether it is or is not or if it will ever be housing a fetus and it is none of your business.

Asking a woman if she’s going to have kids is a loaded question. It implies that her life is not complete if she doesn’t have kids. It suggests she needs to have kids. It is asking an extremely personal question about a major life decision that does not need to be shared or justified by anyone but herself and her partner. It is reminding a woman that she can’t have a baby, or has miscarried several, or that time is running out.

The decision to have children is personal. Some women do not want to have kids. There are many reasons why they may have made this decision, and it doesn’t have to do with hating kids or being selfish. There may be medical reasons, financial reasons, or just no desire to actually go through the process of pregnancy, labour, and actually raising a child.

Some women want kids more than they can possible describe. They long to feel a baby kicking, to hold their child in their arms, to watch a little person form and learn and grow. They will make the decision to have a child, and 9 months later baby will arrive. It will be difficult and trying and rewarding. When the time is right they will have another, or they’ll stop at one. Again, another personal decision that is none of your business.

Other women want kids but can’t have them. They struggle with infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss. Your question reminds them of what they can’t have and what they spend most of their time longing for. It reminds them of their dwindling bank accounts, the mornings crying on the bathroom floor as another period arrives, the frantic calls to their doctor because they are miscarrying for the first or second or fourth time. It reminds them that they are losing hope that they will ever have a child, the struggle not to start crying every time they see another pregnancy announcement, the heartbreak they feel as they decide if they can handle more or if it’s time to accept being child free not by choice.

I’m 30. I’ve been married for 2 years. I’m done school. My husband and I have great jobs. We are saving to buy a house. If I wanted a baby I’d have one. If I don’t there is a reason. It could be that we don’t want a baby. It could be that I want a baby and my husband does not or vice versa. It could be that I want a baby but can’t have one for medical reasons. Maybe my life will be at risk if I get pregnant. Maybe I have medical condition that will be aggravated by pregnancy. Maybe we are dealing with financial issues and can’t afford a baby. Maybe we want to build our careers or buy a house before having a baby. Maybe we’re dealing with infertility. Maybe we’ve done fertility treatments and they haven’t worked. Maybe we can’t afford fertility treatments. Maybe I’ve had a miscarriage. Maybe I’ve had several miscarriages. My uterus is none of your business. If you are not my doctor or my partner, think really hard about if it is any of your business if/when I’m going to start (or continue) having kids. (Answer – No, it is not). Your “innocent” question asked of the wrong person on the wrong day could mean your friend or family member is going to be sobbing the second she is alone.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Two years

July 2014 I went to my doctor for my annual exam and mentioned we were planning on trying to get pregnant by the end of the year. She ordered a bunch of blood and urine tests to check that everything was fine. I found out I was severely iron deficient, received the recommendation that I should start iron supplements and wait about 6 months before trying to get pregnant.

July 2015 I went to my doctor because I was trying to get pregnant but had bleeding from the time I ovulated until I got my period. Not only was I concerned that the bleeding would prevent me from getting pregnant, but it was incredibly annoying to spend 3/4 of my cycle bleeding. Infertility testing was started.

July 2016 I have a male and female combination infertility diagnosis, 3 failed medicated IUIs, 2 failed medicated cycles, and am waiting on a referral to a new reproductive endocrinologist in a different province because I'm moving at the end of the month.

Two years of waiting for my body to cooperate.
Two years of crushed hopes and dreams.
Two years of plans ruined.
Two years of supplements, diet changes, lifestyle changes, books, blood tests, vaginal exams, invasive tests, peeing on sticks, doctor appointments.
Two years and still no baby.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

I've got a secret

As much as I want a baby, I’m glad I’m currently not pregnant.

I’m starting a new job soon and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to take the job if I was pregnant and due between now and the end of the year. It is a really weird place to be emotionally because I am really excited for my new job, and I really do wish I had a baby. I am incredibly sad that I’m dealing with infertility and have had failed infertility treatments. Each failed cycle since I was offered the job still makes me sad, but I also breathe a sigh of relief that I’ll be able to start this job that puts me well on my way to getting my dream job.

It is incredibly hard to be a woman in science and trying to build a career when you want a family. Timing pregnancies so that they have the smallest impact on your career progression is difficult, but possible. Having a baby at the end of grad school, while writing or taking a few months between finishing a PhD and starting a post-doc seems like an ideal time. Adding infertility on top of building a career and growing your family makes everything feel impossible. I worry that my post-doc is not going to be as successful if I’m undergoing IVF and have a baby, and I worry that I won’t get those months at home with baby that I would have gotten if I got pregnant cycle 1. A cycle 1 pregnancy would have given me 4 months at home with pay while I finished writing my PhD thesis, plus 2 months at home before starting my post-doc. Now I’m considering only taking those first 6-8 weeks to heal from giving birth and letting my husband take the rest of the parental leave so that I don’t stall my career. It does give my husband the opportunity to stay home with baby that he may not have gotten otherwise, but it’s just another thing that we have to deal with in addition to the infertility.

One of the good things, I guess, is that if we do do IVF and have frozen embryos, we can do a frozen transfer whenever we are ready for another baby, which means we hopefully don’t need to go through the months and months of trying and planning again.

Current Cycle - 19
13 failed cycles
a male and female infertility diagnosis
2 failed medicated cycles
3 failed medicated IUIs

an IVF consult

Sunday, 3 July 2016

What not to say

When you are struggling with infertility it seems like everyone has some “helpful” advice for you, but people rarely say the right thing.

“At least you’re young” or “you’re too young to be doing infertility treatments”
Infertility hurts at any age. If you and your partner are ready for a family and it’s not happening for you, then age doesn’t matter. People are ready and wanting kids at a wide variety of ages, and medically speaking, if they have been trying to get pregnant for 1 year (6 months if over 35) then it is time to seek medical help. It doesn’t matter if you are in your 20s or early 30s.

“You could just adopt” or “I know someone that adopted and then got pregnant”
No one can “just” adopt. Adoption is a time consuming, expensive and potentially heart-breaking process. I’ve seen different numbers on different adoption websites, with estimates of it taking 2-10 YEARS from starting the adoption process to getting a child. The cost is astronomical. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars ($20,000-$60,000). You potentially go through cycles where a birth mom picks you and then decides to keep the baby, or you get the baby and then the birth mother or father pursues custody a few years later and you lose the child.

“My friend’s sister’s boss was told she can’t have children and now she has twins”
Well, that is great for her, but her fertility diagnosis has no bearing on mine. Yes, there are people that have babies against the odds, but there are many people that will never be able to have children because they can’t afford the treatments, or stop treatments because it’s too much heartbreak, or the treatments don’t work.

“You just need to relax/go on vacation/get drunk/stop trying/etc”
Actually, no I don’t need to do any of those things. I have a diagnosed medical condition that prevents me from getting pregnant naturally. “Relaxing” won’t fix that (and thanks for suggesting that it’s my fault for not being pregnant). Going on a vacation won’t fix that. Getting drunk isn’t going to help. Stop trying – guess what? That won’t work either. The people that do any of these things and get pregnant were not dealing with infertility. Would you tell someone with any other medical diagnosis to just relax or go on vacation to be cured? Hey, diabetic friend, don’t bother with insulin, just relax! Oh, you’ve got multiple sclerosis? You should just get drunk.

“You can have my kid” or some variation of “you are so lucky you get to sleep in”
Really? You would give up your kid so that you can sleep in? (And thanks for suggesting that you dislike your kid so much that you will give them away). So, my lawyer will be contacting you to work out the adoption agreement asap.

“It could be worse, you could have cancer”
Yes, it could be worse, but that does not minimize the pain I am feeling.

“Trying is the fun part”
If you think this you obviously did not need to “try” to get pregnant. Actually “trying” to get pregnant is not fun. Does it sound fun to say to your partner “no sex tonight, doctor’s orders” or “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mood, the doctor said we need to have sex today”.

“You should try BBT charting/ovulation prediction kits/more sex/less sex/preseed lube/etc”

Again, there is a diagnosed medical reason that people with infertility have that is making it difficult for them to get pregnant. Not only have they likely tried all these things, trying PreSeed or using ovulation tests are not going to be the magic solution. People with infertility are taking powerful drugs, and having sperm put directly into their uterus, or having embryos transferred because nothing else has worked. If you don’t ovulate, lube isn’t going to fix that. If your sperm count is low, BBT charting isn’t going to help.

Friday, 1 July 2016


Cycle 18 has failed. This means that we’ve now progressed to what is called Not Trying Not Preventing (NTNP) until we are able to pursue IVF. NTNP is kind of a weird concept because we aren’t using any sort of birth control to prevent pregnancy, so we are still technically trying to get pregnant, but we also aren’t obsessing about when I am fertile and making sure that we have sex during my fertile time. So, we basically just do what we want when we want and if we aren’t in the mood when I’m fertile, then we won’t worry about doing it. I’ll still be tracking my basel body temperature to confirm ovulation so I know when to expect my period. I have a drawer full of ovulation prediction tests so I’ll use them until I run out.

I’m not hopeful that this more “relaxed” approach is going to be successful because there is no scientific evidence that “just relaxing” will help you get pregnant. Unless you have chronic stress (a diagnosed medical condition) or have undergone major trauma recently, stress does not impact your fertility.

It’s incredibly frustrating to be on cycle 19 and to not be able to move forward with treatments. With 13 failed natural cycles, 2 failed medicated cycles and 3 failed medicated IUIs it’s likely that IVF is the only option. I know “life’s unfair” but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s unfair that I’m dealing with infertility. It’s unfair that people get pregnant by accident or that people who are terrible parents get kids. It’s unfair that I have to choose between putting my career on hold or putting having a baby on hold.