1 in 6 stories

Kaitlyn and Lino

Kaitlyn and Lino

My husband and I got married after we finished Math degrees in Ontario - him a masters, me with my bachelors. We moved to Vancouver so my husband could study for his PhD; I found work. I immediately started calculating when we could afford to start having babies, but it seemed like it was worth waiting until we moved back, closer to our support systems, after his program was done.

As his program stretched on past the original three year projection, I decided I couldn’t wait, and it was time to start trying.

We approached conception as we did everything in life. We had a plan; we did research; we prepared months in advance; we documented it online. I started a blog which was supposed to be about planning a pregnancy when you’re as detail-oriented and exacting as two mathematicians can be, and about balancing the social media realities of today with the sage advice of not announcing a pregnancy in the first trimester. In retrospect, http://exactlyasplanned.com looks like an infertility blog from the get go.

We tried not to panic as the months went by. Friends who had needed eight or nine months tried to calm us. People at work convinced me I was too stressed to conceive, so instead of waiting for parental leave as my excuse to leave the field, I quit. I started studying Early Childhood Education thinking it would be better to pocket the qualifications sooner rather than waiting and studying part-time when my kids were grown and I wanted to open a home daycare.

The 2.5 years after our “year of trying” have been a whirlwind journey. We’ve been clients at three clinics after relocating twice for unrelated reasons. Every clinic has done their own battery of tests. The first clinic didn’t offer in-house testing and it took 6 months from our referral before we were ready to start interventions. The second clinic did double-duty as an obstetricians’ office and only had parenting reading material in the waiting rooms. We only made it past the testing phase before my work placement for school scheduled me starting at 7am for six weeks, precluding any indicated treatment at that clinic. Between personal and medical delays at our third and current clinic, it was 5 months before we had our first treatment in our new home city, almost 3 years from our first month of trying.

As lovers of numbers and formulas, we’re hungry for data that isn’t always available and for certainty that never is. Our diagnosis continually changes with treatment. Initial tests pointed to one cause, which 2 years later may now be reversed. But our poor response to treatment may point to more difficulties than could be found with testing alone, and no one can tell us what the prognosis really is. Even the “silver bullet” of IVF is no longer a sure thing, very unexpectedly for my age.

I haven’t found peers at support group and often drew shocked responses when I admitted that I was under thirty. Our ages also result in plenty of hollow assurances and platitudes from anyone other than specialists and infertility veterans: “Oh but you have so much time!” “Enjoy this quiet time together.” “Lots of people are more rushed than you.” Meanwhile our dream of having four children and a long empty-nest period together is almost certainly mathematically impossible. Now I’m hearing our age may also reduce our chances of adoption for now, leaving us in true limbo, unable to explore our best backup plan.

We try to practice gratitude and remember the advantages we have, but anyone who’s been through this knows that only goes so far.

As is almost inevitably the case, the only couple we know who went through infertility have “graduated”. That’s why I’m glad IAAC is working to spread awareness; I want people to feel like they can share their experiences so that we can find each other. My husband and I are very open with our story and try to break the taboo feeling around it, but it would be easier to get connected with others if it was something everyone could talk about.

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Chris and Lanie

Our story starts seven years ago, when we first got married and wanted to have a family. Our doctor suggested we try a full year before we looked into fertility treatments.

Wendy and Ryan

At the end of 2005 my husband, Ryan, and I decided the time had come for us to expand our family.

Terry and Tanya

My husband and I met in church when I was 14, and by the time I was 19, we were head-over-heels in love and engaged.