You’re very open about your struggle with infertility, how did this contribute to your mental health and how did you combat this?
The first time around we didn’t open up about our struggles until we were already pregnant with Skye. To be honest, this is something I’m saddened about. I was ashamed to share my story in real-time because I felt broken. I didn’t know anyone else going through what we were and didn’t feel normal. This led me to a very lonely and difficult fertility journey. It wasn’t until I opened up about our struggles after finding out I was pregnant, that I found out how wrong I was. So many people struggle with fertility issues, sure each story is unique, but the TTC (trying to conceive) community is so incredibly supportive. I wish I had opened up about it sooner, as I know when we were struggling for our second just how beneficial that community was to my mental health.
What criteria did you set on determining the right fertility clinic to assist you on planning your family?
To be honest (again), we didn’t have too many criteria which is something I wish I could go back in time and alter. Living North of Toronto, there aren’t many options when it comes to the fertility world, which meant that I dealt with some clinics that really didn’t have the right resources or my best interests in mind. It just so happened that when we found out that we needed IVF to conceive that we were transferred to a Toronto clinic. We were lucky to have fallen upon a doctor that cared about getting the answers. Although again being desperate we didn’t truly ask the right questions. During the time time of being on the government funding for IVF round 2, we decided to explore the male side of the world (something we had been discouraged to do for years). Sameer went for a small surgery called a Varicocele Embolization (again something we were told for years we didn’t need to do) only for this to be the answer. We fell pregnant naturally 4 months after. Now I know what I should have done from the start, which is research myself and advocate for what I want. Finding the right clinic can be a long journey, it can mean kissing a few frogs until you meet your prince charming, but don’t just settle because you’re desperate. Make sure you connect with the clinic, that you truly feel comfortable, heard and understood.
Did you take a more holistic or science-based approach when considering fertility treatments? Why?
So, I did a little of both. I actually went to a holistic fertility specialist whilst going through my science-based treatments. I wanted the best of both worlds. I knew (at the time) due to our diagnosis that we would never conceive without the help of IVF + ICSI, which is a procedure where the sperm is placed directly into the egg. However, I wanted to give this procedure the best of me. Mind, body, and soul. Through holistic medicine, we were able to support my reproductive system through acupuncture as well as supplements for better overall health. For my mind, my clinic actually requires you to pass a therapy session in order to move forward with the procedure. I found it incredibly beneficial and healing to talk as a couple to a therapist that really understood and had personally experienced the fertility world.
What is the best advice you can give to couples who are struggling with infertility?
Ask questions, do your own research, and advocate for both parties (male and female) to be looked at properly. Unfortunately, in the fertility world, a lot of the onus is put upon the female. This was the case for us, I underwent intense testing over and over again whilst my husband only had to provide a basic sperm test which he passed. Had they taken a deeper dive into the male side from the start (something they did later on), it would have saved us thousands of dollars and years of heartache.