Recently someone asked me what my inner power might be…it took a few minutes for me to answer that one. I am hopeful, and I try to be positive, but is that my inner power? What exactly IS an inner power or super power? Is it strength? Is it courage? Yes, but not quite right. Is it faith? Resilience? I think it is a bit of all of that. But, my inner power is also something more than strength, courage, hope, positivity, resilience and faith.
Back when I was working in a daily newsroom I had an editor who called me The Badger, because I was stubborn and determined and I never gave up. I’d track a lead anywhere to get my story. Same can be said of the approach I took to infertility and parenting.
My husband and I were roughly 28 and 32 when we first butted up against infertility. I had a complex health history that began when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder, at the age of 14, the same year my period started. My cycles were disrupted by illness often. Life was often put on hold for lengthy hospitalizations, medical treatments and surgeries. As a result of all the surgeries throughout my 20s, I had a lot of scarring inside my abdomen.
When we started trying to get pregnant, my medical history worked against me. I was about 28 when we decided we’d love to start a family. After a year of trying, we still weren’t pregnant. But everyone else was. Everyone we knew was either pregnant or already had a baby. It was an infuriating, frustrating, and sad time. Baby showers were torture. By the time I was 29 or 30 we got a referral to a specialist.
My mother had always had endometriosis, a condition categorized by heavy periods and cramping, where the endometrial lining grows outside the uterus. I was also diagnosed with that shortly after we started trying to conceive. Exploratory surgery revealed that my Fallopian Tubes were blocked, so a specialist cleared them. My husband was also tested to see if sperm motility was an issue or anything like that. His results were normal.
For six to eight months we tried fertility drugs, but I had a strong feeling pregnancy wasn’t going to happen. And after going through so much hospitalization and treatment for Crohn’s, I had no desire to spend more time in a doctor’s office. Many people with Crohn’s Disease can get pregnant. I’ve also met many people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s who struggle with infertility as well.
What’s Your Inner Power?
Back when we were experiencing infertility, I didn’t know any of the statistics associated with infertility. Did you know that male factor infertility happens almost as frequently as female factor? I didn’t know anything about egg health at all. By the age of 28-30 a woman’s fertility has already started to decline.
I could fill a book with what I didn’t know back then. When I was in school, learning sex education as part of the Ontario curriculum in the 80s, the focus was almost entirely on not getting pregnant. Abstain. Use contraception, avoid getting sexually transmitted diseases. Meet and marry a partner and procreate. I know the curriculum has changed a lot since then, but I still feel we have a long way to go. There’s really no reason why we don’t talk about egg health, fertility and infertility in high schools.
Eventually, we stopped the fertility drugs. I had been having a lot of pain in my one side. Doctors figured out that because of the surgeries one of the ovaries was sticking to my intestine. So the ovary had to come out surgically. Shortly before that we had started investigating adoption as another route to parenting. That began a new type of waiting. There were many times it felt like we’d never be parents. On the day we first called London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society and were told there were no healthy babies available for adoption. I could have quit, but we didn’t. We would find a way to become parents. I stubbornly believed it to be true.
In July 2001 I had a bowel obstruction that required surgery, and I was in a lot of pain. The afternoon right before surgery I got a call in the hospital telling me we’d been matched with a healthy baby girl. She was 6 weeks old and in foster care right at that moment. She was safe and beautiful and doing well and her birth parents had chosen us to be her forever family. The next morning I had my surgery and I was determined to race through recovery, even if my body had other ideas.
Some Facts About Egg Health
- Did you know that 1 in 6 couples in Canada struggle with infertility?
- At birth a baby girl has 1-2 million immature eggs.
- By the time she hits puberty that same girl will have somewhere between 300,000 to 400,000 eggs left.
- A variety of factors can lead to female fertility problems, including age, sexually transmitted diseases, medical conditions, stress, poor diet, excessive alcohol use, smoking, and premature menopause.
- And many health issues like cancer, PCOS, endometriosis and Thyroid disease can affect fertility too.
- A woman’s body is pretty remarkable and we can often do the most incredible things. But getting pregnant is very often more challenging than expected. For 1 in 6 Canadian couples facing infertility, egg health may be a key factor affecting a woman’s ability to conceive.
Despite all the obstacles and the diagnoses on the way I knew I was going to become a parent. I KNEW IT in my heart from the start. I didn’t stop or give up because I could see the goal. Our path wasn’t easy but I knew we’d find a way. We adopted our girls when they were very small. Today, my kids are 12 and 15.
Today, we are a family because of my inner power, or superpower – I am stubborn, resourceful and determined. I am a Badger.
If you are trying to conceive use your voice, research and always be your own advocate. If you don’t understand something then ask for clarification. Be a badger. If you want to learn about the latest tests or treatments, read everything you can find about the topic of infertility. Learn about your egg health too.
There is a new campaign from OvaScience® called My Inner Power and the goal is to celebrate women tapping into their own strength when facing infertility, empower them to share their unique stories, and reinforce that infertility is an experience shared with many other women. I’m going to share my infertility story and if you’ve dealt with fertility issues too, I encourage you to share yours as well. OvaScience will make a donation to Fertility Matters Canada for the first 500 people who submit their #MyInnerPower story, video, photo, or artwork representing their infertility journey at www.egghealth.com/myinnerpower.
Find your inner power and use it. I promise it will be worth it.
Disclosure: This post is part of the #MyInnerPower sponsored program with YummyMummyClub.ca and OvaScience. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.