Real Mom Sh!t – Fertility

A rock star mom who went through the ringer when trying to start a family. Between several rounds of IVF, miscarriages and general stress around the subject, she always remained positive and continued to travel the world and move forward, all while keeping a smile on her face.

You had a bit of a longer process when trying to conceive your first born. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Yes! Ugh! My husband and I first started dating when I was 15 so after all those years of trying NOT to get pregnant it was ‘almost’ laughable that once we got to the point where we wanted kids, we couldn’t have them. After a year of trying…and a bunch of doctors appointments and tests, we were basically diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” (cool….super helpful…haha not!). In the end, we ended up doing three IUI’s (intra uterine insemination), three full rounds of IVF (3 egg retrievals), 5 embryo transfers, had two miscarriages, 1 d&c, and a partridge in a pear tree. When I type it all out it makes me feel very lucky to be sitting here drinking a bottle of wine with my husband watching Love is Blind on Netflix while our two healthy boys (aged 6 months and two) are asleep upstairs.

How many miscarriages did you have during the process and what “types”?

We had two miscarriages….but I feel like we’ve lost three.

The first one was our first ever pregnancy (through IVF), we were in NYC for the weekend and spent the whole day walking around touristing and when we got back to the hotel I had some spotting but thought maybe I just ‘overdid it’ with all the walking however the spotting didn’t really stop… but also didn’t get worse…so when we got back to Canada the next day, I called our fertility clinic and they sent me for a “reassurance” ultrasound at an external clinic. After everything we had been through to get to that point, weirdly enough I still didn’t expect the worst. When you go through fertility treatments, you get a lot of early ultrasounds so we’d seen the baby almost every week since first hearing the heartbeat at 5 weeks… I was 11weeks2days and when the ultrasound tech finished up the ultrasound, I asked if I could have a picture and I will forever remember the lady who didn’t speak English very well say to me “it not alive”. Then sent me on my way. That was a rough and confusing drive home. We ended up having to go for an emergency D&C that night and they sent the baby for testing. We later found out it had problems on the 9th chromosome (no idea really what that means other than it wasn’t something I had done (I ate unpasteurized cheese one night and forgot to take my vitamins so thought it was for sure something like that) or that we would pass down if we transferred more embryos and that that chromosomal problem is apparently very common in first trimester miscarriages.

Our second miscarriage, I was “only?” six weeks pregnant (I’ll admit I’d turned into a bit of a robot when it came down to it at this point) plus we never heard a heartbeat so that one really wasn’t even that bad? Is that awful to say? Just a really heavy sad and expensive period.

The first embryo we ever implanted never resulted in a pregnancy so I consider that one a loss as well. (Even just getting to the point of being able to implant an embryo is a lot)

What was the worst thing about going through IVF and how many rounds have you done?

We did three full rounds of IVF.

With the first one, we got 19 eggs and only ended up with 4 frozen five day old embryos. We lost one embryo in the thaw, we lost one embryo when it never properly implanted, and the other two were our miscarriages…so as soon as my body healed, we jumped right back into our second round.

For the second round, we switched up my meds and we retrieved six eggs. On the third day of growing the embryos, we only had two that were still dividing properly and they weren’t looking great so we put both of them back in me on that day. We kept calling them “the twins” but only one stuck and he is now our totally insane, super smart, table dancing, sword fighting two year old. When he turned 13 months and we stopped breastfeeding, we decided let’s just jump right into it again and see if we can make him a buddy.

The third round barely even felt like we did IVF (not to discredit the 23 belly needles, 7 blood draws, 8 vaginal ultrasounds, too many pills to count, and 38 nose sprays)…. Seriously, I learnt when trying to make a baby with science that literally the only hole that is safe seems to be the ears. We got 13 eggs and out of all lucky number 13, we ended up with only one five day old freezer baby. And that lonely little freezer baby resulted in our sweet and dimply independent little 6 month old.

The worst part of IVF for me is definitely the hormones…..not the million belly needles, tens of thousands of dollars, all the doctors appointments, never knowing your schedule etc. and maybe its just me but hormones really mess me up. I am a either a raging lunatic or emotional disaster during my period and IVF hormones are way more intense. When it was all said and done I was getting hormones injected into my belly or shoved up my vagina for a very long time to make my boys and that really got to me. I can still recall the day I felt myself come out of the hormone “fog”. It was sort of like ooooooh there I am!

The egg retrieval surgery days are a close second though. As I understand it, most fertility clinics put the women “to sleep” while they retrieve the eggs but for all three of mine, I was wide awake and chatting as she took the eggs out of my ovaries one at a time through my vagina with a giant needle on the end of an internal ultrasound camera. I mean, the morphine and fentanyl drip helped but still not very much fun.

Did you ever feel like giving up? How was your husband while you were going through everything?  

It is stupid expensive and emotionally/physically draining but no, I don’t think we ever thought about giving up. If that second round of IVF hadn’t worked for us, we might have reevaluated but luckily after 3 years, we got our little man. And I hate to say it because I love to complain about him but my husband was amazing during it all. The IVF process itself is very one sided. I literally had to inject dried up old lady pee (seriously…that’s where they get some of the hormones from) into my stomach every 12 hours for 2ish weeks, sniff hormone spray up my nose for a month, stick way too many pills up my vagina, have a million internal ultrasounds and blood draws, go through egg retrieval surgeries, have embryos implanted into my uterus, etc etc etcccccc and my husband had to………go into a nice room …watch some 80s “muff porn” as we called it and jack off into a cup. Cool cool. But no he was wonderful, he did every single belly needle for me (I’m weak okay? I couldn’t do it myself), he dealt with my “hormotions” and was just truly loving and supportive. I did sucker him with a few tears into doing our second round of needles in Maui so that helped….what better place to take a couple “shots” than an airplane bathroom….a different kind of mile high club.

As you have gone on to have two healthy pregnancies with two beautiful boys, do you have any advice for anyone in a similar situation?

My first instinct was to say “never give up” but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to say because I think you should do what you feel is right and try for however long you want to before maybe exploring other options… or even just realizing you can still have an amazing and wonderfully fulfilling life with no children. I would say that you should definitely try and find some support whether it be family, friends, or strangers on the internet going through similar things.

Last question that is somewhat unrelated. You seem to travel a lot (both before and after having kids), any tips and tricks you can share while traveling with kids? 

Oh boy this might be long but yes we love to travel. The world is toooo big I’m always panicking that I’m running out of time to see it and if I’m being honest I’m most excited when I have a big trip with my family on the horizon. My toddler is 2 “AND A HALF” as he says now and he has been on 44 flights…after I realized how often we were flying with him I decided to keep track of them all… (but to be fair he did rack up a lot of them when we spent two months ripping around Europe when we were pregnant with our little guy). My tips are verrrrry similar to your “Vacationing With Kids” blog post. Actually while I’m thinking of it, can I borrow one of your Baby Bjorn travel cribs for our next trip? 😉

My first piece of advice would be for the whole family to get their Nexus. It’s cheap, easy and so worth it. We got both of our boys done as soon as their passports came in. (Another little tip is When checking into US flights if you put your Nexus number into the “optional redress” space, your boarding pass automatically prints out approved for TSA precheck. Bonus!)

I used to always just say “snacks, a loaded ipad and flying at a smart time” (aka not witching hour) but that was when I only had one kid and he was smaller. I learned to never really bother with packing many toys when he was smaller because they would last maybe 10 minutes before they ended up on the floor just out of reach so I would suggest just using what’s around you…make a puppet out of the barf bag or when the drink cart comes around ask for extra cups to chew on or build and knock over towers with or hide things in…or even a cup of ice to shake around would go a long way and those seemed to be “toy” enough when he was smaller (kids always seem to like non-toys better then the $17 Lamaze toys anyways right?) .

I did just fly to the US by myself with both boys for the first time recently and I think my biggest piece of advice would now be to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) one carry-on is more than enough for us. A backpack works best for me because I usually end up with baby in the front (in the Ergo) or a toddler on the hip so when the bag is on the back I have extra hands for organizing the passports and boarding passes, or for folding up the stroller when you get to the plane.

You mentioned this and I totally agree when travelling with a baby, I would die without my nursing pillow….okay maybe that’s dramatic but we went to Cuba just before Christmas with our two littles and we forgot it and it was one of my least favourite flights of all time and it was only 5 hours (plus I had no hands for a glass of wine!).

Another thing I do is whenever we have a big flight coming up, I don’t give my toddler any screen time for a while leading up to it so he turns into an excited iPad zombie by the time we’re on the plane (judge if you want, I used to rarely give him any screen time but now that I’m outnumbered let’s be honest, there’s definitely a lot of screen time happening around here). I also always pack lots of new snacks and now that he’s a bit bigger, some small airplane friendly toys to occupy him when he gets tired of the iPad (a little play-doh set, those water wow books, busy books, small lego train etc….things that are also fun to have in your hotel so not a total waste to pack if he doesn’t use them on the plane). I’ve also never really let him be a kid who walks the aisles. We sort of treat the plane like a car….sorry bud but once we are in our seat, we stay there until we get there. He’s also been fully potty trained since before he was 2 and not sure if this is terrible parenting or not but we still put a pull up on him for some longer flights….way easier than taking two littles into an airplane bathroom together.

Okay these last two tips are pretty random (and maybe these only apply to us) but our toddler was very dependent on some milk before “bed” and we eventually learned that unfortunately for him (and us) most airlines don’t carry milk and a lot of airport outside of Canada don’t sell white milk BUT we’ve had a lot of success getting Starbucks or little random restaurants to hook us up with some milk to save the day. And lastly, usually when you fly with babies you get two free baby “items” Aka stroller, car seat or crib and out of all the airlines we’ve flown with the ONLY one that ever charged us for a crib was United. They said their baby items only include car seat or stroller. Booo.

And the main thing I think to remember is….the worst they can do is shit and cry and really….. is that THAT bad? They do that at home or in the grocery store anyways. People expect crying babies on planes and at this point, I’ve had way more empathetic parent winks than angry old man glares anyways.