1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?
My husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby a few months after we were married. We tried for about two years with no results, then things got serious. Months of doctors appointments and tests and scopes and nothing. We did six rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) at a fertility clinic before something happened. I was pregnant, but a heartbeat later I wasn’t. It’s called a chemical pregnancy, but technical names are really neither here nor there. I was crushed. A year later, somehow I was pregnant again. But at just over eight weeks, I suffered a miscarriage. The crushed feeling I’d had before was like a tiny squeeze by comparison. I felt numb, and angry, and broken.
We looked into adoption, and defying the odds, were gifted with an adorable baby boy. We finally had our little family, everything was as it was meant to be. Maybe someday we’d adopt again, but for now our happy little family of three was all we needed or wanted. I changed jobs, we started making plans for grand adventures. Then, out of the blue…BAM. Pregnant. And holy shit was I angry. I took a pregnancy test on my lunch hour and called my sister in tears. I visited my husband at work to tell him the news in the most matter of fact, unemotional way, “So I’m pregnant.” Not quite the baby reveal either of us ever imagined. (I think he’s still a little sore over that, sorry babe.)
I spent the next few months teetering between rage, anxiety, and despair. Why would God or the fates or whoever put us through all that hell just to knock me up at the exact wrong time? So many years of trying and failing and heartache. We’d gone through so much and had finally moved on to a place where we were ok with not conceiving. Why now?? What if it all went wrong again, would I be able to handle another loss? There were too many questions and there was too much uncertainty. I wasn't sure I could handle it. And for the remainder of my pregnancy, I worried. Every checkup, I worried. Every flutter, I worried. During one ultrasound, the tech said “Oh, that’s not right,” and I burst into tears. Turned out it was a problem with her keyboard, not the baby.
Getting pregnant after a battle with infertility or a loss is like PTSD. You’re shell-shocked. On the one hand you want so badly for things to work, but you don’t want to get invested because things could go to hell again at a moment’s notice. Nothing seems real or permanent.
Now we are the proud parents of two kids--one adopted, one biological, both loved beyond reason.
2) How has it made your life worse? How has it made your life better?
My kids are my life and I try not to take them for granted. I’m all too aware of how many women are desperately trying to have their own.
3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/miscarriage?
I knew I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last to go through the trauma. It didn’t make the pain or struggle any less, but it gave me strength to know I wasn’t alone. I put more effort into finding joy in the life and family I already had, rather than the one I wished I could have.
4) What have you learned through this experience?
There’s strength in numbers. Having someone who really understands what you’re going through is so important and yet seems to be lacking for so many women. I felt lost but didn’t know where to turn for help or support. It’s why I’m so open about my experiences now. If I can help one would-be mother feel slightly less alone, it’s worth something.
5) What do you hold on to for hope/courage/strength on your bad days?
My husband. Infertility and loss doesn’t just affect women. I know our experiences with it were very different, but that doesn’t make his any less valid. But his humour, support, and love carried me, as it always has.
6) How do you feel about your experience with infertility on your good days?
It’s given me strength and a sense of purpose. I’m not big on the whole idea of fate or ‘everything happens for a reason’ but if I can find a silver lining to the pain and heartache we suffered, that’s good enough.
7) In three words describe yourself before/during/after miscarriage (in miscarriage specific situations)?
Carefree, hollow, and evolving.
8) In what ways has your experience with infertility/miscarriage changed you as a person?
I think it’s made me stronger, but also more vulnerable. I am fiercely protective of my kids because we fought so hard to have them, and am also terrified of losing them.
9) How have others responded to your infertility situations? Has it impacted your relationships? What are some things you’ve been told that have been helpful/harmful?
Infertility is hard on so many levels. Friendships suffer - I once lost my mind on a co-worker who made a comment about how cute our future kids would look. Innocent enough, she had no idea what we were struggling with. It can also be awkward for those who don’t understand what you’re going through. They don’t know the right thing to say or what kind of personal space you may (or may not) need.
So many people make offhand comments without realizing they can cut like knives. Asking a newly married couple how long they’re going to wait to have kids, asking a not-so-newly married couple what they’re waiting for. The comments people make thinking they’re being kind, “it wasn’t meant to be,” or “everything happens for a reason.” They mean well enough, but they aren’t even a little bit helpful. Instead, maybe just honour someone’s lost babies, recognize they are in pain and acknowledge their struggle. That helps.
10) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?
I’m a journalist, broadcaster, animal lover, avid reader, and occasional actor. My husband and I have been married for 13 years and are the proud parents of two kids, two cats, and a dog.
11) What is your favourite quote?
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger--something better, pushing right back.” -Albert Camus.