We were referred to TRIO from Lakeridge Fertility after learning of low ovarian reserve and morphology/motility issues. We never thought it would come to IVF, but received support beyond our expectations that led to a successful pregnancy on our second attempt!
In my gut, I always knew I would have troubles conceiving; I knew this as a young child. However, as I got older, I pushed off the feeling and believed that I would become pregnant like ‘everyone else’.
Fast forward to the age of 34. I was now happily in my second marriage and ready to start a family. Six months of trying passed and that gut feeling resurfaced with a vengeance. I wasted no time and got myself to the doctor, wanting to explore my options.
My partner and I worked with Lakeridge Fertility for several months prior to being referred to TRIO. During this time, I went through invasive testing that led us to understanding some of the factors impacting our ability to conceive. I learned of my low ovarian reserve issues and that I wasn’t ovulating on my own. At the same time, we learned that my partner’s sperm had poor motility and morphology. As a survivor of sexual assault, I entered into this phase hesitantly and scared. Each test and procedure took me back to a place I didn’t want to enter, but knew that if I wanted a child, this was something I’d have to figure out how to work through. I was the person who would avoid PAP tests because of the triggers it would induce; now, I was entering a world where my body was under a microscope and I had to subject myself to frequent triggers. No words can explain how difficult this was.
Countless monitored cycles, many medicated, passed unsuccessfully. Two IUI’s came and went. I hit a low point after the first failed IUI because I had convinced myself it worked. That was a changing point in my journey, where the hope I allowed myself to build came crashing down. It was at this point I had to consider IVF, something I never thought would happen. We had friends around us tell us that as soon as they started cycle monitoring, they became pregnant. I thought that would be us. I knew that would be us. It wasn’t.
Being referred to TRIO for IVF led to a mandatory counselling session. This was a crucial experience for me, because it turned this journey not only into one of trying to build a family, but more one of self-discovery. As a social worker myself, I understood the importance of this but had no idea the support it would provide me and the issues I would face and deal with head-on. It made me a more self-aware, self-reflective and more self-compassionate person. This support became incredibly crucial after our first failed IVF. Many things happened at my life at the same time that led to me feeling like the world was crashing down around me.
Yet somehow, I picked up the pieces and maneuvered my way through piecing them back together into a new version of me. I had a vision earlier that year of my baby boy. He told me at that time that it wasn’t ‘safe’ to be inside of me. I finally decided to listen and knew that regardless of the outcome, this was my time to take care of me – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
A few months after our first out-of-pocket IVF that failed, we received word that our funded spot had come up.
I spent countless appointments in my naturopathic clinic in consults, doing acupuncture and opening my body to painful yet peaceful pelvic massages. I spent countless hours online, researching and talking to others about how I could better care for my body. My daily routine involved supplements that required an attention to detail I was not used to. I tracked everything I ate and slowly learned to change my diet and sleep regimes. Most importantly, I learned to trust my body despite the doubts that continued to float through my mind.
We embarked on our second IVF and the physical side effects were nothing like the first. I felt everything, and it was painful. I had decided to take time off work this time so that helped tremendously since I was able to focus on me and my body. Despite the nasty side effects, my body responded much better than the first round. We transferred one embryo on day 5 and froze two. Compared to transferring the only two embryos we produced on day 3 of the last IVF, this in and of itself was a success. It showed me that my body could respond to meds, something I had lost hope of after the first cycle (I was told I would likely be a ‘poor responder’ even before the first attempt). My hard work felt like it was paying off. In addition, I thank my TRIO doctor who was willing to try things differently this time and grounded his decisions in research. He was an ally during my journey and always showed he cared. I was never a bother, no question was too dumb, and no attention to detail was too great. He allowed me to express myself the way I needed, and supported me in understanding what a triggering experience this was as a sexual assault survivor. I felt confident knowing he was in my corner.
Fast forward to the end of that IVF cycle. I never tested at home because I wanted to prolong the disappointment. This round was no different. I went into my beta and told the nurse to text me if it was a negative and call me if it was a positive. As like every cycle, the minutes waiting for the result felt like years. Finally, I got myself busy enough in work that thoughts of the results faded to the back of my mind. The phone rang and it was the clinic. I should have put two-and-two together and assumed it was a BFP but my mind was in such a blur I couldn’t think straight. I heard the words I had waited years to hear … “Ang, you’re pregnant”. I will never, ever, in a million years, forget my reaction. I started shaking and said, “Shut the f*&% up!” (my nurse and I bonded to the point it felt okay to say this!). She assured me it was real and the more she assured me, the more I shook and the harder I cried tears of hope that had been suppressed for years past. It was one of the best moments of my life that carried on into my conversation with my partner to share this news that we never thought would happen.
I’m currently 4 months pregnant and although I will never know what led to this success, I do know the following – my life changed in the process of trying to conceive in the following ways:
- I learned to reach out for support. I have always turned inwards when things don’t go well but this time I chose to reach outwards to those that understood. I protected myself from those who didn’t by establishing boundaries so they couldn’t penetrate pain into my life, and let the love and support from those who ‘got it’ take over. This was instrumental throughout every stage and phase of this journey.
- I learned I can take control of my health. I’ve always been passive when it comes to dealing with my health issues. I would often ignore them and hope they would just go away. After my first failed IVF, I turned this upside down. I approached my body from a lens of curiosity and genuinely wanted to feel better.
- I learned to trust myself. When I hit my points of rock bottom, I witnessed myself pick up the pieces and rebuild. I’ve never considered myself a resilient person because I’ve always been told “I’m too sensitive”. This time, I learned to embrace my ability to feel the full range of emotions and recognize this was my strength. I let myself feel, I let myself feel hard. And by doing so, I was able to move through the pain.
If you’re reading this and are anything like I was, where I internalized the belief it would never happen, I hope this story brings you some comfort. If I could give any words of encouragement, it would be to not treat this journey as just one to have a child, but one of self-exploration and discovery. These lessons are painful, but if you can feel like you are in the driver’s seat, the label of ‘infertility’ does not consume you in the same way. You are not a label, you are a person, a resilient one at that.