How to Survive Infertility: Is Everything Okay Now?

It's December 28th, I wrangled our twin girls into doing kundalini yoga with me this morning and I've had exactly three cups of coffee - so I'm feeling pretty wonderful and just inspired enough to publicly commit to bringing back my weekly essays - only this time, let's just call it "weekly-ish essays" (because I'm all about the low pressure these days). So here goes!

How to survive Infertility

To: the woman I was six years ago,

You aren't crazy for secretly wishing you'd requested that the doctors put all three embryos back in. I know at the time of their transfer, you thought you wanted twins, but then afterwards, when you had them, you realized that triplets may have been easier in some ways.

Not in the day to day ways.

No, twins... they were busy, but they never got close to breaking your spirit.

Triplets, well then you would have been completely outnumbered and let's not even speak of the stroller that would have been necessary for your sanity saving walks.

Octomom - right? That's what you'd envisioned. No, scratch that. You never envisioned anything related to three children then or in the future. You made a deal with yourself somewhere between the age of five and twenty five that you'd have two children, before the age of thirty so that you could have enough time to get your body back and because two is what you knew.

But then you had two at one time and you weren't okay.

You were in a race, the newborn type that comes with a stubborn sense of determination to get all the things done and move on to the next to-do, so the fact that there was this tiny hole inside of you, it was hardly noticeable.

Except when you'd hear the word triplets,

Except when you'd see some crazy big family on tlc,

Except when you'd drive by the fertility clinic, then that hole would spread, smearing the ache around.

We all know what happened eventually. (And in case you're new here you can read it for yourself here, here and well everywhere else on this blog and instagram).


To: the woman consumed by guilt one year ago,

After Ben's birth, everything felt so good and wrong and wonderful and achy, and although it's less acute now, I acknowledge that all of those mixed feelings were necessary.

Six years with an embryo in the freezer at the fertility clinic, is a long time to wonder,

to miss what you've never even had,

to swallow down the guilt whenever you see a newborn,

to just not know what to do, with something so uncertain, so unknown and yet so full of possibility

And the rush of deciding to try to have another baby was exhilerating and utterly terrifying

I remember googling "frozen embryo after twins," and "singleton six year age gap," when we were on the cusp of making the decision to try our frozen embryo - and coming up blank. I wanted to know what that life would be like if we ever got there.

So when he was finally with us, where he was always supposed to be, it's no wonder that just looking at his newborn face had the power to crumple my defences.

Everything felt raw, and as I've learned, all too real. I was remorseful, judgemental and completely unforgiving to the me of the past, the one who couldn't decide what she wanted.

A year ago, that life looked like survival, it felt like my heart was having an out of body experience where it was prone to bumps, bruises and possibly even breaking. I retreated to the safe house of our family, I stopped sharing pictures + stories publicly because I was frozen in all of the intensity of life.

And, as with many things in life, all I needed was time. Time to soak up this new role as mother of three. Time to allow the guilt to turn into peace. Time to realize that this must have surely always been the greater plan.

I now understand that surviving infertility is more about allowing yourself to not feel the need to get over it, it's about accepting that it's just part of who you are and hopefully also part of your children, if you're lucky enough to come out of it with a family.

Now it all feels right and warm and as it should be - and now I remember that there was this big old clue.

I was standing in the line, very much pregnant with Alice and Isla in my belly 8 years ago, when the man behind the counter smiled at me, gestured towards my straining bump and said, "You will be blessed with a boy." I smiled back of course and gently reassured him that I was having two girls.