June 2017. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the Montreal Fertility Clinic and seeing this couple come out of the doctor’s office with a huge smile, tears and exclamations. Pregnant! She was finally pregnant! They took a picture with the two nurses and the doctor, one with the receptionist and, finally, a pic of their quite large medical file. That file truly caught my attention. It was a thick file. They had been patients here quite a while and they must have tried quite a few times to have a file that big!
I had just decided that I was going to be a single mom by choice and I was coming in for insemination. THE insemination! I, of course, would get pregnant on the first try! My file would only have the couple of sheets with my tests results and my sperm donor info. I was not going to have a file like theirs! Wow, that was a big file… I remember thinking: “Poor them… that must have been quite the emotional ride. I am glad that they finally got their happy news.”
Fast-forward to April 30th 2018 and there I was again, sitting in the waiting room of the Montreal Fertility Clinic after my four failed insemination attempts, my two failed in-vitro and my, what felt like, hundredth ultrasound. I was eyeing the file that was on the receptionist’s desk, waiting to hear my name called. “Boy that file is thick”, I thought and then I had to correct myself — “Boy MY file is thick…”
And it hit me… I looked around the waiting room and I wondered how many of the other women waiting there were thinking “Oh wow! That’s a thick file. Poor girl. I hope it works out for her soon.” I also looked at them wondering how thicktheir file was, as I was only 10 months into this and some people spent years trying. Many try on and off and I sometimes wonder if I should have taken a break, but I know that if I turned off that switch – even only for a couple of months – I probably wouldn’t have been able to turn it back on. Especially not alone. It’s so tough.
It’s funny though to think back to the fact that I was so excited and eager to jump into this new adventure, that it never even crossed my mind that my single-mom-by-choice journey would become one of infertility. I had never heard of the 1-in-6 stat and here I was, one of six Canadians faced with fertility issues. I’m one of six. How crazy is that statistic? How crazy is it that I went 39 years without truly worrying about my fertility. I was always told that getting pregnant was easy and that one had to protect herself from it. That I could study/live/play/dream/work as much as I wanted, because I could have all of that and a family too… I wondered how many of the other 1-in-6s felt the same way I did? Like if I had been lied to… actually no, not lied to, but utterly misinformed… so misinformed about how the female body works.
Did you know that you are born with a certain number of eggs? Did you know that the egg you ovulate every month takes 90 days to develop? Did you know that a follicle is a little pouch in which those eggs develop and that, every month, you have several of them? I always thought that I only had one egg a month, but that is because I never knew that as soon as one mature egg ovulates from the follicle, the other ones kind of “die”. So every month, since the day that you have had your first period, you’ve had MANY eggs “die” on you. Therefore, as you age, you have less and less eggs developing and — since the best ones went first (yay survival of the fittest) — the quality of those eggs is not as good. Hence, one of the causes of infertility. And there are so many more…
Low ovarian reserve. That was one of my diagnostics. At 38 years of age, one should still have about ten follicles a month. So when I finally got tested in order to pursue my single-mom-by-choice adventure and they found less than that (two the first month and six the following month), I was mad. Mad at the educational system for failing me by not teaching me how my body worked. Mad at the medical system since, twice before in my 30s, I had expressed concern about my fertility and a doctor told to only worry about it when I’d be in a relationship. Mad at myself for not seeking second opinions or better information, for waiting so long to meet “the one”, for breaking up with guys who could have been “the one” (who knows), for following a passion of working in broadcasting and putting my career first and my social/love life last. I was just mad.
I still am. However, I use that to educate people I know. I try to talk about the topic as openly and as often as I can. I use my determination and knowledge to help me understand the failures that I have gone through in the last 10 months. What’s weird though is that I am mad, yes, but I am also in awe! I’m in awe that this field of medicine is so hard to explain and how one just has to roll with the punches. In awe that people who have gone through horribly emotional times can stand up and continue to pursue their dreams of having a child. In awe that technology allows for more options and opportunities. And in awe that there are people in this world who get it and just want to help others — like the doctors/nurses, the advocates, some of you readers and, of course, families like the UK one donating it’s remaining embryos to me!
Ok!! I can hear you ask: “Where are you now? What’s the plan? What’s the lastest?” Well, a month after signing embryo “adoption” papers, my clinic has finally received the information they needed from the clinic in the UK. Now it’s my clinic’s turn to return a form. Soon, paper work will be done and embryos will be on the way!
So why was I in the waiting room at the doctor’s then? Well, I went in for my failed in-vitro’s “post-mortem” and did the regular ultrasound. Twelve follicles. A first in the last year of ultrasounds. I’ve never had that many! Murphy’s law. What shall I do?! My doctor knew that my budget was already a bust, so he suggested a round of insemination (which is covered up to 9 times in Quebec) but with the help of hormones to boost my chances. If I was going to play the lottery again, I wanted to play the best odds. We would take it four days at a time, see how my body would react to the stims and make a final decision in ten days.
So here I go again – taking hormones and buying sperm!! I had to chose a new donor as, once again, my previous donor was sold out and I also had to pay more, as there was a 50$ increase as of April 1st **side-note: can I express how frustrating it is that sperm is not considered a medical expense?! How else can a single women get pregnant without parental ramifications or one night stands?! At almost 1000$ a pop, it’s frustrating. I feel like we are punished as single wanna-be moms.
So what’s going to happen next?! Well, the best case scenario is that the UK embryos – that are soon on their way – will be used in a couple years in order to give my child a sibling! Wouldn’t that be fun?
Let’s see what happens on this month’s rollercoaster ride! 😉
(TO BE CONTINUED)