Thursday, January 29, 2015

Infertility and Me: I am coming out of the closet.

Last week Andrew and I came out on Facebook as Infertile.

It was terrifying yet completely exhilarating.

Not that I think my uterus and our sex life is anybody's effing business, but the effort and feelings of shame in keeping it a secret while simultaneously fielding the awful (inappropriate) questions from virtually everyone about when we were going to have a baby (of if we "wanted" to have kids, or just how BIG our house was for just the two of us... yeah) was emotionally exhausting and like continuously getting punched in the heart every time.

That and I realized that people at home in my rural nosy village already knew. And I'd rather they not talk about it as the shameful secret they weren't supposed to know. Because eff that noise.

What I've realized in both living and sharing about our experience is that infertility is VERY common among couples. And usually the only time someone "comes out" is when they actually manage to get pregnant. Which is so unfair.

Our journey reads like almost every other blog post out there.

Up until about three years ago I had no idea, no concept that making a baby would be that difficult. I mean, I had just spent ALL of my adult life actively avoiding that very thing. It was never even a QUESTION whether or not I'd be able to make a baby. The ability to conceive was always a choice I had.

At least. That's what I thought.

If you're not experiencing a similar journey, you have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be so betrayed by your own body. And no matter what anyone says, in today's society infertility still implies shame and blame on the would-be mother.

For us it started with testing prior to actively trying to conceive due to my years of disordered cycles. All those awful, invasive tests followed by loads of blood work just to determine that well- everything physically appeared just fine.

Then, two years ago we decided to try to conceive. We figured it would take a couple months, at the max five or six.


Months of daily temperature checks, cutting caffeine in half, eating almond butter from a spoon every morning and following a ridiculous meal regime recommended by the naturopath, tracking my cycle-symptoms and sex life with a ridiculous App on my phone... And every three weeks the crushing, heart wrenching realization that we had failed. Again.

All this in secret.

At the year mark it became obvious that we weren't going to just "make a baby". A referral to the fertility gynaecologist was made.

Followed by more blood work and more invasive test after invasive test. All the while every three weeks we faced another cycle gone by. Another missed opportunity, another failure where we must have done something wrong. Each month I can't help telling myself- "NEXT month we'll do things right. We'll eat better, meditate more and catch it exactly at the right part of the cycle. Next month we will succeed."

At around month 16 "living as if I were pregnant" was starting to wear on me. All it did was to remind me several times over the course of the day what we'd failed and what we struggle against.  My first waking thought was shutting off the alarm and sleepily taking my morning temperature. Followed by a disgusting breakfast that hurt my stomach, lunch vitamins, a special fertility three part cycle specific smoothie at supper and the evening Folic Acid.

I decided it was too much. We stopped going to the Naturopath- I couldn't take the daily reminders of our failure with the intense fertility regime AND go through all the painful and personal medical testing that had to be done.

Last fall the gynaecologist sat us down and shared our options: either we keep trying (which for the past 18 months had not been working), I go through exploratory surgery to see whether I had endometriosis (for which I have ZERO symptoms other than infertility) or we go to the fertility clinic and begin the process for fertility treatments.

January 9th we returned to the Naturopath and the fertility "boosts" have returned.

On January 12th we met the fertility specialist at the fertility clinic and paid 175$ for 30 minutes of her time (NOT covered by Canadian Health Care system nor my work health insurance). As we sat there, I still had a tiny glimmer of hope that she would have some good news.

Holding hands nervously, we listened as she outlined the truth: at this stage of trying to conceive Andrew and I have a 3% chance each month. The longer we aren't successful, the lower that percentage gets.

It felt like being slapped in the face. It still feels surreal. My body FEELS fine. I am healthy, I am active, I eat well, I have taken care of my body. I did all the right things and I have all the right parts. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS.

Our only real option with any hope for results over 20% success rate is IVF: In Vitro Fertilization. She kindly went through a diagram of the entire process. I could barely process a word she said. I remember acronyms, weeks of drug injections, more blood tests and then some scary procedures.

There's an info session. We haven't gone to it yet.

The week before this appointment, on January 5th, Andrew lost his job. IVF costs over 10,000$ per procedure. None of that is covered in our health care system nor in my insurance.

So. Here we are. Last week I tried acupuncture. It was awful. The acupuncturist judged me and gave unhelpful and hurtful advice. She told me to "just act as if you're pregnant all the time". I wanted to slap her. Who can live that way for years on end?

This is not like "choosing" to wait until later to have a baby, or "choosing" to not have a baby at all. This is not my choice.
This has been the most difficult part of my adult life so far.

So, EcoYogi peeps. I am sharing this here because it's such a huge part of my life now.


Because I think it's unfair that we keep something that happens to SO many couples a shameful secret. Because I want at least one person reading this to reconsider the next time they ask someone "when are you going to have a baby" or "do you even WANT kids?".

And because I haven't given up.


  1. I have always been amazed at how often people are so insensitive to make comments or ask questions about 'when' someone is going to have a baby. I always viewed it as none of my business. I had a glimpse of what you are going through when I lost a baby and then didn't conceive for the longest time. I do know that life is so unfair and that horrible awful stuff happens at random (I don't buy into the 'it all happens for a reason' philosophy. I'm dealing with that myself (different crap of course).

    I'm glad that you 'came out.' There is no shame. Truly. And people say stupid stuff trying to be supportive.

    I will stop my rambling now. Just know that I am pulling for you both.

  2. This is such a powerful post. I can definitely relate to having to field repeated questions about when we'll "choose" to have kids - meanwhile my Facebook has officially been taken over by pregnant bellies and ultrasounds and baby photos. It's a lot of pressure to deal with whether you want to have children or not. For the record, I think you're an amazing human being who is contributing wonderful things to the earth and if you end up contributing another life as well, that would just be some extra icing on top.

  3. Hugs! Thank you for your honest post. It must be (just assuming here) a relief to let go of that secret. I think (for myself) 'living like your pregnant' would be a constant reminder of troubles getting pregnant.

    There is always a chance no matter what the doctors say. But the stress of thinking about it daily probably doesn't help. Try taking a break from all the things you were doing. Enjoy the things you gave up. Enjoy your Husband. Give yourself a break of the thinking and all the steps.

    My friend's sil had problems getting pregnant, she went the drug route (not ivf) and didn't conceive. She stopped and thought that was it. Later she did become pregnant on her own and had a healthy baby girl.

    Just because you are having problems, it doesn't mean you are less of a women or that you'll never be a mom. There are a lot of options out there and when your ready look at all the options. Sometimes when we head in one direction, something in a another direction happens.

    Looking forward to reading the post about your first child.

    (I reread what I wrote and please read this as an encouragement, rather than me telling you what to do.)

  4. I love that you haven't given up. That's the best part.

    I am sending happy, healthy, vibes.

    You are not alone. I am glad you are talking - outlaid - about it all.


  5. Amazing post Lisa. I will not give you trite advice or words of wisdom. Just good wishes to achieve happiness in whatever way that may be.

  6. I am so sorry you're going through this--I can't imagine how hard it is for you, but thank you for writing about it in such an open and thoughtful way.

  7. Dear Lisa,

    thanks for this post and your honesty. I'd like to say something encouraging but I don't know what to say in this special situation. Please, don't give up loving yourself, you are an amazing women.

    All the best, Lise

  8. I know at least a handful of people in my personal life (and more in my professional life, where medical history must be divulged) going through this. it is way more common than people realize. I am sorry you have to go through this :-(

  9. Fertility issues are the worst! I am so sorry that you are going through this. Although we think of infertility as mostly affecting older women and men, I have read that infertility is actually rising fastest among the younger couples. You are far from alone. I have a lot of friends with this heartache.

  10. So sorry Lisa. Having to live as if you're pregnant for months on end would really get to me - the not drinking and eating super healthy etc - I don't think I could last as long as you did.
    That sounds like a terrible acupuncturist. I used to see one regularly, and she was very sympathetic and sweet and the sessions were relaxing - so I wouldn't write it off just because you didn't like the one practitioner.
    I sometimes tell my husband my fears that I won't be able to get pregnant and he thinks i'm crazy, but I tell him that I'm just trying to warn him that infertility and miscarriages are more common than people realize, because no one talks about it. Kudos to you for not hiding it.

  11. Congratulations on your "coming out." It's hard to admit one's infertility as everyone is expecting that being able to reproduce is a must, a sort of norm that should be followed through by everyone who has a uterus. Sorry to hear about your acupuncturist, and I am happy to know that you haven't given up just because of a medical diagnosis.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I are just starting to try, and my being 41 we know we have the odds stacked against us. Our goal is to be parents and whether we have a baby biologically or adopt or foster, ultimately it doesn't matter, as long as we are parents. We're actually not interested in any kind of fertility treatments, as for me I feel really uncomfortable trying to push my body more than I feel it wants to. So while we just began trying, rather than waiting to see if my body is cooperative, we've started researching the various options for adoption. My husband and I are both volunteer readers for little kids whose environments are very challenging, many of whom are in the foster care system, and while I would love to be pregnant, we want to make sure our family includes adopting or fostering a child who needs a family.

    So I guess just what I'm saying is, don't forget that you guys want to be parents first and foremost, and parenting doesn't have to be biological. This doesn't lessen the pain of infertility, of course, but perhaps it will help bring perspective. Infertility does not have to mean childlessness :)

  13. What a lovely candid post Lisa. You are brave. I have had a few friends go through what you and Andrew are going through and have witnessed the unimaginable pain, the shame, the guilt, the mourning period. I send you virtual hugs.

  14. Oh lady, I want to give you a big ol' hug! So glad you were able to get this off your chest and share. I've come to realize that authenticity usually helps someone else in the process even though it's scary to be so authentic at times. It's never easy to share openly but I can't even imagine how hard it's been to be dealing with all of this on your own also. Such a trying process but I'm glad to read at the very bottom that you haven't given up yet. Know that I will be praying/sending positive encouragement from afar. Let me know if there's any specific way to best/better support! Much love!

  15. Lisa, I really can't fully comprehend the stress you must have gone through already. Not having a choice in whether or not to have children must be a horribly challenging experience. I look forward to seeing what your journey brings. Thanks for sharing.


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