client chronicles

Finding my support through IVF

I never thought I'd have to go through IVF. I suppose not many people do - but work gets busy, life gets busy, and having a baby remains a nebulous possibility. Until it doesn't.

At age 39, after several years of trying (naturally) and IUI (intra-uterine insemination) attempts, I finally relented and agreed to try IVF. I wasn't sure what to expect and my husband knew even less. We went through several clinics and we felt lost in the sea of people trying to have a baby, with doctors and nurses always too busy to answer all of our questions and to hold our hands through the process. 

And so I did what I do best - research! Throughout that research though, I still felt like I wanted support, not just information. That's how I came across Spectrum Doula Collective. I knew about birth doulas but I didn't know about doula fertility support! My doula, Corina, has been invaluable throughout the whole process.

Corina's help was crucial on two occasions that many of you may not even think of as traditionally associated with a doula. First, she accompanied me to my hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test, which I was convinced - based on Google searching - would be one of the most terrifying experiences on earth. I had postponed this visit for over a year and if it hadn't been for Corina I would have never moved forward in my fertility journey.

 Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

But she was there for me and she did a great job of explaining the science behind the procedure and all possible outcomes and, most importantly, comforting me when I was scared. As a result, the entire experience was positive and our bond grew from it.

It was thus no surprise that she was the person of choice to accompany me to the fertility clinic for an egg retrieval operation. I wasn't nearly as scared going into it because I knew I would be with someone who not only cared, but was also cool-headed and knowledgeable as to how to best handle me before, during, and after the procedure.

My husband and friends also care, but they aren't as great on the other two counts (needle-phobia, anyone?) and the least thing I needed on that day was worrying about someone ELSE's experience.

The procedure wasn't easy but Corina's presence made a huge difference. She made me relax, she made me laugh, and above all she made me feel safe. The picture is an 'after' shot in which she is squeezing my feet in encouragement. About an hour later we were at laughing at the outrageous, 'under sedation influence' topics we had covered while I was on the operating table. I felt relieved and hopeful.

I still do - and I am wholeheartedly (and bravely) navigating the rest of my fertility journey with Corina (and my loved ones by my side). 

Written by Spectrum Doula Collective Client

 

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with the whole spectrum of families (including single, LGBTQIA+, and polyamorous folks) who are trying to conceive. We will attend important appointments at the fertility clinic for uncomfortable tests, such as the egg retrieval process, hysterosalpingogram (fallopian tube test), and insemination/in vitro fertilization. Our goal is to instill confidence and provide emotional and physical support for clients who are trying to conceive, or hope to be a parent later on.

When it's a period.

Trying to conceive is not an easy process, but that moment you get your period and you know, you know that for sure you are not pregnant is devastating. We are grateful to a client of ours who has shared how challenging trying to conceive has been for her, and just how difficult it is when it ends with a period. 

 

I never imagined that I would struggle with fertility. I suppose no one ever does. But somehow we are surprised whether we get pregnant quickly, or when we don't get pregnant at all. I've known people who planned for at least six months of trying before a positive pregnancy and then when that positive pregnancy happened right away they were actually disappointed and wished they had more time. On the other hand, I also have friends who have waited until all their ducks are perfectly in a row, and then when it doesn't happen right away it's heartbreaking. 

Back about 6 years ago, when the idea of kids was a little seedling, I had travelled to Chicago for the weekend with my married friends to catch a Cubs game. Like one does at a baseball game, in one of the oldest ball parks in the world, is to indulge in the park's delicacies - hot dogs and beer. We were of course disappointed to find the hot dog we had been given had been boiled, soggy, and limp, but nothing a little ketchup can't fix. 

After the game, my friend started to feel ill, so ill she spent the rest of the evening in the washroom, followed by the next two mornings, and our whole drive back to Toronto not feeling herself. Her husband and I could only assume it was the not so delicate hot dog, we clearly just had stomachs of steel. Turns out she was pregnant. That bad ballpark hotdog was her little man - we couldn't believe it - and well neither could she. 

The significance of this story is that I think about it often. Now that I'm trying to conceive, I seem to mistake my indigestion for a positive pregnancy on the regular... it can't be that chicken I ate!? It's been two years of trying, and it's tough. I always seem to waver between hopefulness and hopelessness. Every twinge I feel I wonder... could it be?? 

There are so many aspects that can be unpacked when trying to conceive, the monitoring, the fertility clinic, the fertility drugs, the constant stream of well intentioned but unsolicited advice. But it's that very real and very brief moment when you know you've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find what little hope you have for another month of monitoring, tracking, and trying, is the one moment I struggle most with. That moment your body tells you another month has passed, another failed attempt. That moment you get your period. 

It feels weird to look back at those decades of relief (sometimes glee) when you get your period, and then just like that you dread it, and not just because of the bloating, and cramping, but because it simply magnifies the sadness, the sadness of another month gone and your dream of having a family a little more crushed. But then again, I can't help but feel hopeful as I near my expected period date, wondering if the bloating, or tiredness I feel is a sign of a positive pregnancy. And then it arrives, as if shedding the aftermath of a battle that's just happened in my uterus. And I feel a loss, a great loss. I had dreamed, hoped and imagined that I would soon begin a new life with babe in tow. But instead I have to clean up the blood and move on. A lost opportunity, and my life in suspension waiting for another month, another attempt, and potentially another loss.

Written by Spectrum Doula Collective Client

 

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with families who are trying to conceive, we will attend important appointments at the fertility clinic for uncomfortable tests, such as the egg retrieval process, hysterosalipingogram (fallopian tube test), and insemination/in vitro fertilization. Our goal is to be emotional and physical support for our clients who are trying to conceive, or hope to be a parent later on.