Our journey probably isn’t that uncommon, and yet because of the taboo around infertility we went through most of it alone, with only our close family and friends aware that we were struggling to conceive. Like many couples today, we waited until our 30’s to have kids. We thought getting pregnant would be easy – just stop everything you’ve been doing your whole adult life to avoid getting pregnant. We were still relatively young and very healthy. We were also nerdy and so very naive. We planned and waited for the optimal month to get pregnant, May 2013. Emily had a new job with great maternity benefits and a May conception would mean a February baby and statistics show a birthday in the first few months of the year increases the odds of succeeding in life. We had it all planned out.
We were crushed when we didn’t get pregnant on the first try. Or the second, or third. After several months, we knew something was wrong. We bought ovulation kits, watched our diet, and did everything we could to increase our odds of conceiving but still no luck. We visited a fertility doctor and subjected ourselves to all kinds of tests (mostly to Emily), but no problems were ever found. We had “unexplained infertility”. We tried some mild treatments – progesterone, clomid, and IUI but we still couldn’t conceive.
It’s difficult to explain how frustrating and painful an experience this was. After only 2 years, we were burned out. Every month was an emotional roller coaster. I tried to stay positive, but failing month after month without any explanation as to why was hard on both of us, and I could see it slowly destroying our relationship.
We decided to take a break from baby making and from all the other stresses in our daily lives. We needed a change, and more importantly we needed something positive to balance out all the disappointment. We were still young, financially secure, and childless. Instead of focussing on how much we wanted children, we decided to take advantage of our situation. Emily quit her job and I got a leave of absence. We then went on the trip of a lifetime, spending an unforgettable 4 months backpacking across India.
I would like to say we completely forgot about trying to make a baby while we traveled, but at the back of our minds we still hoped that a change of pace was all we needed. Whenever we visited a shrine or temple known for its fertility granting powers (and there are a lot in India), we offered a prayer of our own. We even got fertility tips from Swamiji, our yoga guru in Pushkar.
But even with all that ancient Vedic wisdom flowing our way, we didn’t conceive in India. So after we got back to Vancouver we turned to Western medicine and started IVF treatment. It wasn’t an easy process but Emily was amazing. She managed to stay positive throughout despite having to inject herself daily. After a month of drugs that hyperstimulated her ovaries, the doctor extracted 18 eggs. Only 7 were mature, and only 5 successfully fertilized. After five days cell dividing in the lab, only 2 fertilized embryos remained – our best chances at having a baby. The doctors froze both embryos and waited a month to give Emily’s body a chance to return to normal hormonal levels.
After 3 years of feeling unlucky, it was our turn to feel blessed as our first embryo implanted successfully. On October 13, I got the call from a nurse who said “Congratulations, you’re going to be a dad”. I could barely respond or write down any of the details she provided me. Only an hour earlier, I received word that my sister had delivered a healthy baby boy. An uncle and a dad-to-be in the same day. I was overwhelmed with relief, joy, and excitement. After I calmed down, I walked over to Emily’s work and delivered the news in person. It was one of the best days of my life.
Our bundle of joy is scheduled to arrive on June 18. And then the real fun begins.