Since starting our fertility journey three years ago I have had quite a few things change in my life. Though none of the changes have resulted in a baby, I have learned a lot about myself and continue to do so along the way.
1. I have learned to say no
I used to be the person that would go to three different events in the same day and bring an appetizer to each. I would carefully plan out how much time we could spend at each event before driving across town to the next one. I would say yes to help someone paint their house while I was in the middle of moving myself into a sublet. At work I will take on a project that someone needs help with at the last minute when I already have way too many projects on the go. Personally and professionally, I have always gone out of my way to help anyone, until now. Fertility treatments changed that about me. It didn’t make me a grinch, or a selfish person, it just taught me that sometimes I need to put my needs and myself first. I didn’t realize how much stress I was encountering by overextending myself until I learned to say no. My weekends are no longer calculated in 30 minute increments of all the tasks that I need to complete that I don’t have time for in the week. I actually can hang out in my pyjamas and marathon Netflix shows. I can take drives to see random things, or spend the day with friends. All of these things I used to say to myself, “I will have time for that when things slow down”.
2. I learned to delegate and ask for help
I am a control freak when it comes to a lot of things, I am basically Monica Gellar from Friends. I have a hard time handing things off and just think that it is easier to do it myself rather than explain it to someone else. Ryan and I have had some major events in our life since we started our fertility journey, our engagement party being one of them. I overextended myself so much that by the time our party came around, I was exhausted and I don’t remember much of it. I wish now that I would have taken the help I was offered from friends. In the last year or so I have learned to relinquish control over trivial things. Ryan wanted to pack up the Halloween decorations when I was out of town, old me would have had a minor panic attack that all of the bins wouldn’t be packed and sorted by decoration type and location. That Ryan wouldn’t sort the spiders by size and type. Would all of the bats be tucked away neatly?! Instead I was thankful that I didn’t have to handle that when I returned back from my trip.
3. I have worked on self-improvement
I used to think that a lot of the mindfulness, counselling, journaling, and ten-minute relaxation breaks were all very silly. It wasn’t until after our failed second round that I realized that I needed to seek professional help. I had hit rock bottom. I was depressed, blaming myself for every little thing, and essentially in the middle of a nervous breakdown. It took a while to find the right counsellor for me but when I did, it has made a huge difference in my every day life. Having that extra bit of support and new set of tools to help battle my way along this rocky road has helped me continue on. You can really never stop improving on yourself and while I have always considered that to be more of learning a new skill, or getting into better shape, I now see that a lot of bettering yourself comes from a mental place first.
4. My personal relationships have changed
This was the most surprising aspect of infertility to me. I have distanced myself from some friends, and in turn gained new friends along the way. I’ve connected with strangers in infertility groups over topics more than I have with some of my closest friends. The bond that you can form with someone else going through the same hell as you is surprisingly strong. I have had to distance myself from some people that don’t understand and have become unsupportive and judgemental on my decisions through this process. I don’t expect anyone in my life that has not gone through infertility to understand it, nor do I expect to be treated any differently. However, I don’t have the same patience and tolerance that I did when I started three years ago. I used to just turn the other cheek when someone offered a very opinionated take on my situation. Instead now I try to explain what infertility is like, what the treatment process that we go through entails, and how this takes a toll on us financially, mentally, and physically. I’ve had heated discussions over why I deserve the same right to have a genetic connection to my child. Just because I cannot conceive naturally doesn’t make me less deserving of my own baby. I have also tried to explain what the adoption process looks like. Some friends and family cannot understand how I have to put appointments, transfers, and retrievals first. That I cannot plan vacations, girl’s nights, and family events months in advance as my life revolves around a single cycle.
5. My relationship with Ryan is stronger
Not that our relationship was ever bad, but it has brought us to a new level of closeness. I cannot imagine going through this horrible journey with anyone else. We have been through miscarriages, failed IVF rounds, and awkward conversations with people who love to offer their opinion on what we should be doing. We have held each other’s hands at first birthdays and binged on ice cream together when we hear yet another pregnancy announcement. Ryan’s been with me at my lowest of lows and helped drag me out of the pit of depression. I’ve snuggled up to him, listening to his feelings and fears. We’ve been to more doctor’s appointments, blood tests, and ultrasounds than we could have ever imagined. He’s helped me do my injections, held my hand during egg retrieval, and even though he is terrified of needles he has stepped up and done my progesterone injections after our transfers. It has made us more open with each other. They say that if you can survive a renovation together you can survive anything. Ryan and I did a kitchen renovation a year and a half into our relationship, which I don’t think resulted in single argument, unless you count the time that he questioned if I needed all of my kitchen gadgets. If you really want to test your relationship, then you should get all hopped up on fertility medication and then have to wait to see how many of your embryos make it to day five.
Infertility has changed a lot of aspects of my life and taught me a lot about myself. Though I wish that I never had to go through this, new friendships and self-improvement aren’t the worst side effects that I could have.