I feel like the words infertility and joy are not often used in the same sentence. When I reflect on my own infertility journey, I must admit that the word “joy” isn’t one that initially pops up in my mind. Anxiety, despair, heart-wrenching sadness, anger, guilt… those are some of my immediate reactions and emotional responses that arise when I reflect back on our infertility journey. Maybe my immediate emotions or thoughts would be joy if I already had our baby in my arms, or we were already pregnant and expecting our precious bundle of joy. Alas, we are not at that part of our journey… yet. We’ve been on our journey for over a year now, which feels like an eternity to us some days, but I know a year is nothing compared to what others have gone through, which is also terrifying for me to think about.
The unknown and not knowing is excruciating some days, along with the fact that there are never any guarantees with anything fertility-related. No matter how much money you spend or IUIs/rounds of IVF you go through, there’s never a 100% guarantee that this is the one that will be successful and result in that precious baby you’ve so desperately wanted. I find it doesn’t do me any good to think about something like that for too long. To think about the what-ifs or the fact that none of this is guaranteed. Perhaps it is time that I shift gears and change my mindset. Having these negative emotions be my initial reaction to our fertility journey thus far doesn’t make me feel good, and certainly doesn’t exude much hope or joy for our future as we continue on our journey to parenthood. It’s so easy to fixate on the negatives, but it certainly doesn’t bring me much hope for the future, or joy for that matter.
I actually kind of love that the theme for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week 2022 is “find your joy”. It forces me to re-examine our journey thus far through a new lens, and with a new perspective. It reminds me of the moments of hopefulness and excitement that we’ve felt so far in our journey, and thus enabled those feelings of joy. Focusing on the joy brings me hope for our future, and therefore reignites the fire inside of me to continue fighting this infertility battle and continue on our journey to Baby Gill. When I focus on joy, I’m reminded of my end goal, my reason for starting this journey, to begin with… Baby Gill. Having that reminder makes me just as determined as ever to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back out there. I haven’t even met Baby Gill yet, but I already know that I will do absolutely anything for them.
So, what are my moments of joy throughout our infertility journey so far? The support we’ve received from friends, family, co-workers, complete strangers, and the community we’ve become a part of on social media. This brings me the most joy/hopefulness because it makes me realize I’m not alone and makes me believe that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. After making our story public I’ve had multiple people reach out to me and share their own infertility struggles. Their stories actually become words of wisdom to me. I had someone describe their infertility journey as being in the trenches. But then, once they had their baby, the trenches became a distant memory, and they wouldn’t have changed a thing because everything that they did/went through, led them to their bundle of joy. Hearing these stories brings me so much peace. While my heart hurts to hear what others have to go through in order to get their baby, it brings me so much joy to hear that their family is now complete and gives me so much hope for our own journey. Even when I feel like giving up, these stories remind me to persevere and continue to remain hopeful.
What are other moments that have brought me joy? Having a family friend come forward last year and offer to be our gestational carrier, completing a round of IVF which yielded 5 euploid embabies, watching our embryo scope footage of our 5 embabies growing in their Petri dishes, seeing that perfect little embryo come up on the screen prior to a transfer, and then watching the monitor as that embryo be transferred into our surrogate’s uterus, the thought of being PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) during our two week waits. These are the moments that have brought me joy. These moments have brought on a multitude of other emotions, don’t get me wrong. I was so bloated, constipated, and uncomfortable after my egg retrieval, the two embryo transfers we’ve completed have both unfortunately been unsuccessful, and our surrogate has had to end her journey with us due to some personal matters.
I could easily let these moments of joy turn into moments of heartbreak, and in all honesty, there are times where I have let that happen. But what I’m now realizing is what good does that do? I don’t feel any better when I replace these moments of joy with the sadness that I feel, knowing these transfers were unsuccessful, remembering the pain I felt post egg retrieval or dwelling on the matter of our surrogate needing to take a step back from our journey. If I just remember these little moments as being ones full of joy, I surprisingly find myself full of so much hope and optimism about the future. It’s easier for me to remember my why or end goal when I focus on these moments of joy, and therefore easier for me to get back up, dust myself off, and continue on our journey. Our journey which I am just as determined as ever to continue, to lead to our ultimate moment of joy, which will be getting to hold our little bundle of joy.