I had always taken for granted that I would have a family when the time was right. I was a healthy 28 year old when my husband and I decided that time had arrived, and coming from a family of women who got pregnant every time they sneezed, I naturally thought we’d be in the family way within a few months.
After two years trying I still hadn’t fallen pregnant despite our best attempts to optimize the chances of conception. Sex was a finely tuned clinical process and our diet designed to guarantee increased fertility. But nothing worked, as the months passed so did a growing sense of failure, embarrassment, anger and guilt that I wasn’t able to conceive. To make matters worse everyone I knew was falling pregnant! It was time to face facts, we needed to see a specialist.
Following a plethora of tests we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, which simply means, “We don’t know why you’re not getting pregnant”. Over the next few years we strapped ourselves into the IVF roller coaster, ever hopeful with the ‘up’ that this round will be the one and disappointed with the ‘down’ of another failed attempt. Each cycle a mix of needles, and more needles, pills and patches administered to reduce hormones, stimulate egg follicles, and increase hormones. I’d yoyo between symptoms of menopause and full volume PMS. IVF was tough but I felt positive at least we were being proactive, the doctors were encouraging, and besides continuing with treatment was easier than facing the unthinkable.
By the sixth attempt my positivity was waning. Although life outside IVF was great, it was taking its toll on my sense of identity, womanhood and ability to accept myself. Furthermore, despite going through this with my husband who was amazing, I felt alone.
Whilst planning our seventh cycle the phone rang, it was our new IVF doctor with my ovarian reserve test results (a test which was protocol at his clinic that I had not done before), “Your egg supply is very low… we’ve had a case meeting and don’t think it’s worth your while continuing with IVF … I’m sorry.”
In that moment the unthinkable came true and I came face to face with my worst possible fear. I could not hide. I grieved with a small part of me relieved that the fight was over. It was during this darkest hour of processing the loss of my rite of passage as a woman and any hope of a genetic legacy, that there sparked the start of a mental, emotional and spiritual evolution. I awoke.
I realized it wasn’t having my own child that was important, but being a mother. My fertility didn’t define my womanhood…my grace, compassion and love does. It was not my DNA but the footprint of my soul left behind that counts. It’s amazing how adjusting the lens I viewed my inner and external world transformed the framework within which I related to my infertility, my identity and life. I fully accepted and embraced the previously embattled parts of myself.
We wanted to be parents, first and foremost, so we made the decision to source an egg donor agency and IVF clinic in California (unfortunately, adoption wasn’t an option as we lived outside our country of citizenship). We proceeded with three additional egg donor IVF cycles, which resulted in the devastation of two miscarriages and one failed attempt.
Nine years on from when we first began to try for a baby, and our fourth attempt with a donor egg, I knew it hadn’t worked before the results even came in. I sobbed that night, not because the result was negative but because I couldn’t face the thought of another round. I was done. It was time to move on. The doctors tried to convince me to continue but I couldn’t. I had reached a point of acceptance. I let go. I felt a sense of freedom and was able to be thankful for the journey I’d been through to make me the person I was.
The next month after this revelation I began to feel peculiar… NO, I couldn’t be… I know we had been intimate on a blue moon but… the doctors were floored. I was pregnant… naturally! In May this year our daughter Emily Claire was born. I didn’t want to get my hopes up during the pregnancy and couldn’t fully believe it until I felt her in my arms. Words cannot describe the joy and love we feel today. And while no one knows how or why we suddenly conceived naturally, to me it feels our miracle arrived exactly when the time was right for both of us.
Image Credit: Christina DeHoff