I would like to introduce Lucy who has generously offered to share her infertility story in the hopes of raising awareness of infertility issues. Once upon a time, a group of four women in their thirties including Lucy and myself formed a friendship and coffee group at our workplace. Three of us were married and wanted to start our families. Three of us ended up at a fertility clinic around the same time...
Lucy, what was it like for you when you started to work on having a family, facing disappointment each month and then realizing there was a problem?
It was very difficult to get our heads around. Everything else in life we had been able to set a goal, and figure out a path to get to it. Career, home ownership, marriage…even rescuing our dog took work, but we eventually found the right furry friend for our family. When we started thinking about having kids, I just assumed that in three to six months time we would be choosing baby names and setting up a nursery. I calculated out how far into our pregnancy we’d be by Christmas, when we would be ready to tell everyone. Christmas came and went without having anything to announce, so I calculated to my next birthday, then an overseas family visit, then next Christmas…and the next. After a few years had passed it started to sink in that something wasn’t right. Of course that was when my gaggle of friends were all having their babies, so all the announcements and showers were piling up. And my birthdays were coming and going.
Tell us about your journey once you were referred to the fertility clinic – the good, the bad and the ugly.
I had a great clinic but I had to try a few avenues to get there. I didn’t have a family doctor (mine from years back had retired and being healthy I had never really done anything about it), so getting to the clinic wasn’t easy as you need a referral. The doctors I visited to ask for assistance would say things like, ‘oh if I had a dollar for every woman who came in here with your story…just keep trying’, and another memorable comment, ‘whatever is happening to you is right and normal…just keep trying’. Finally I told yet another doctor that I am sick of trying, sick of being told to have patience and really want to see someone about this. It was pushier than my personality allows, but I got my referral to the Genesis clinic in Vancouver. And another few months to wait for an appointment. The clinic was great. Mainly because it was full of women ‘just like me’, whatever that means, because we are all individuals. We did though have a few years of shared history. Also the staff, from the front desk to the doctor’s chair – they get why you’re there, they give you clear information and a realistic sense of what your options are. Really Lori, you want the good the bad and the ugly? It’s a book, and one that I’ll never likely write. But the Coles notes for my experience were;
- The good – the clinic staff, and sense of being in a safe place where I wasn’t going to bore someone with my tale, and the sense that whatever the outcome, I was taking control of the situation to the extent I could.
- The bad – I am a very private person, and IVF and other treatments are not private. One must just smile and carry on.
- The ugly – You might think it was the failed treatments, but not really. Because of that sense I mentioned above of ‘taking control of the situation to the extent I could’. Instead it was after our positive test when I recognized I just didn’t feel glee. So much had gone wrong until that point that all I could do was brace myself for all that could go wrong next. I missed that milestone of ‘yahoo!’ and ‘we did it!’ and replaced it with, ‘OK Self, hang in there.’
Who did you turn to for support? Were you able to share what you were going through with anyone, or was it too hard to talk about?
I had a great friend in Toronto who took my calls, texted me ‘good luck!’ on appointment days (how did she remember them!?) and was just a positive, reassuring voice at the end of the line for over a year of treatments. I also Googled around and found some amazing, brave bloggers online, and their success and disappointments taught me that we all take a different path to parenthood, and while mine went through a fertility clinic door, it wasn’t really that radical or bizarre. Theirs did too. These bloggers also allowed me to squeak open the potential door that I’d need to go through if we didn’t become pregnant. To this point I’d never considered what that looked like, but once I did it was less frightening.
What kind of financial worries did you face?
We were very lucky that we both have good jobs and a relatively manageable mortgage, considering house costs in this city. Plus I lived about half hour from the clinic. So it was basically a straight trade-off of IVF or an annual vacation. We did IVF and camped locally for a few years. I had a friend living about 3 hours of out of town who was trying to conceive for years and this made me aware of how much harder it would be for her to look for treatment – time off work, travel and hotel costs.
Tell us about your happy ending!
Two gorgeous boys who we love dearly. I forget the world before them.
What advice would you give to someone who is going through infertility and/or to the people around them?
Read as much as you can. Find stories and perspectives that align with your own. Open the scary doors and let the light in. Be brave, and hang in there.
Disclosure: Thank you Lucy for sharing your story in support of infertility awareness in BC. This post is sponsored by ivf4BC.
ivf4BC is a fabulous campaign from the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada to advocate for IVF coverage for the 1 in 6 BC families who will face infertility in their quest to have a family. One cycle of IVF costs approximately $10,000 including medications; these costs are not covered in Canada except in Quebec. Check out the ivf4BC website and find them on twitter @ivf4bc.