“I remember having a conversation with a work colleague in my thirties about the similarities between having a baby and doing a PhD. His wife was pregnant at the time and i was several years out of a Masters degree wondering what my next steps in life would be. Being mostly single at the time and knowing i didn't want to raise a child on my own, i chose the PhD route. It took me a couple of years to ﬁnd the right school and get accepted. In the meantime, i met the love of my life, and
we began a romance that led to our marriage roughly three years later. At the time we met, i had convinced myself that the baby or career decision was strictly an either/or choice and so put thoughts of a family out of my mind. Besides, my wife was older than me and not interested in having children. We proceeded on our merry way until in the midst of writing up my thesis my biological clock started ringing, loudly!
One day my partner made some offhand comment about the sound of little feet pitter pattering in our new condo. My heart leaped at the idea. i was 37 at the time and began fantasizing a new plan in my head about being pregnant by 38. We met some friends of a friend and got some personalized perspective on the IUI process. They were expecting their second child and had had no problems getting pregnant within the ﬁrst 2 tries. i felt i was healthy, strong and a pretty young 37. No problem, i thought, even though i had never been anywhere near pregnant in my entire life. The preliminary testing was all normal and things proceeded slowly while i attempted to ﬁnish my PhD.
Then it got messy and i still don't recall the exact order of things. i was stressed and obsessed by the doctoral work, struggling with serious bouts of procrastination and perfectionism. My wife began to secondguess herself; the medicalization of the process freaked her out and she began to ﬁrst tolerate and then outright refuse to support me through a total of 7 IUIs. i couldn't ﬁgure out why i wasn't pregnant yet. i tried acupuncture for a few cycles but didn't feel much benefit after the ﬁrst few weeks. Each time i felt more and more desperate to succeed. i knew the stress wasn't helping and i didn't feel supported.
Anxiety and depression set in. i got counselling, put the baby business on hold, ﬁnished the PhD, and began teaching parttime. My last IUI was in spring 2011. This time we had taken a more interventionist approach and added Clomid and ultrasound monitoring. There was a small uterine polyp but the doctor said it was nothing to be concerned about. i refused to be hopeful since i had been disappointed so many times before, but as always hope snuck in. i remember vividly walking into town to get a pregnancy test because my period was a few days late. i even asked my yoga teacher about modiﬁcations just in case i was pregnant. To speak the possibility out loud made me breathless. The pregnancy test was negative, but i hoped it was a false negative or that i had tested too soon. The next day i tried again; still negative. Then later in the day, my period started.
I tried to put things behind me and to grieve. With counselling, i began to realize how deep is my desire to be a mother and how i had made choices that subconsciously postponed acting on it, how i often made choices that served others or some ideal i had adopted but that didn't serve me. In retrospect, i had never fully committed to getting pregnant. i also realized how little my career choice nurtured me or the relationships that mattered to me. Just as i was making the decision to quit my job and try again, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Any thought i had of reapproaching the topic of family was put on hold, again!
But in the midst of all the difﬁculties of cancer treatment, i couldn't let go of my desire to be a mother. i turned forty and felt it was now or never. One last shot. Ironically, just as i was trying to ﬁgure out how to say to my spouse that i knew it wasn't what she wanted but that i needed to try for me regardless, she started talking about a babies again. (i have a strange Norwegian thriller called Headhunter to thank, apparently). i had spent the last year deepening my yoga practice, prioritizing my mental health, and eating even better than i already did. i felt ready.
So now i am moving as quickly as possible into IVF treatment, with the (occasionally freaked out) support of my spouse. It's difficult to accept that my reproductive system is in decline when i feel so young and vibrant. But i know rationally, if not in my heart, that my hormones are shifting and chances are slim. i've had midcycle spotting for the last few months and i have half as many developing follicles per cycle as i did two years ago. i'm sure the polyp i finally had removed was part of the problem, but i know there is more i can do. My wife’s reliance on TCM during cancer treatment has taught me how effective herbals can be for rebalancing. i know acupuncture has scientifically proven its effectiveness in IVF and for pregnancy symptoms. i have full conﬁdence in my medical team's experience and expertise. Here's hoping the universe is on my side this time.
Vancouver Infertility Stories are actual submissions of women who will be coming to Yinstill to integrate complimentary and alternative care into their fertility journey. They are intended to be snapshots into other women's lives, to know that you are not alone. Please click Vancouver Infertility Stories to read more stories like this.