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The Quest to Conceive

Infertility is often referred to as a journey, and not one that you necessarily choose……

Infertility is often referred to as a journey, and not one that you necessarily choose to be on. I know from first hand experience. My husband and I conceived our first child effortlessly, but the second time around led us down the most windie road you could ever imagine. At the time, I would have chosen any other way. Little did I know where I would arrive.

Wrong way: After many months of doctor’s appointments, we were finally referred to a fertility clinic. That was when we were diagnosed with what is known as secondary infertility, the inability to become pregnant or to carry a baby to term after previously giving birth. Let me be clear that this was not what I had in the plans and I had great difficulties accepting it.

As someone predisposed to general anxiety, I soon realized that my quest to conceive again became the perfect vessel for all of my anxiety to channel into, and channel it did. I tried to take control in different ways. Over a period of time, I gradually became obsessed with getting pregnant again. It became the only thing that mattered. I slowly isolated myself from the people around me riddled with shame.  I felt confused about my identity as a woman and mother.

Inferiority Complex: My infertility experience, like that of millions of women globally, fall into that category which I term “the infertility inferiority complex.” This complex is characterized by feelings of being “less than” because you aren’t living up to your supposed role as a woman. As a result, a great deal of energy is aimed at trying to “fix” things. Suddenly your life is preoccupied with making drastic changes to your routine in attempts to optimize your fertility. Between supplements, diet, charting temperature, the early morning visits to the fertility clinic, life feels topsy turvy in a terrible way.

And not to be overlooked is the fact that the psychological effects of infertility cause emotional changes that are disruptive and invasive. This feeling often drives women into a state of worry and despair. We begin to question our own value and worth. Our identity becomes woven into numbers on a chart, follicular count and pink lines on a strip every single month. Our days become filled with the stress of rushing from fertility appointments into a busy workday routine. Overtime, life starts to feels like one big medical emergency.

It is a reality everywhere in the world that as women, we are expected to become mothers. We are groomed to view motherhood as the greatest blessing and responsibility life has to offer. Facing the reality of being unable to fulfill this calling creates tremendous trepidation. Our emotions become entirely dependent on how our bodies perform and function.

Nobody understands: I remember feeling exhausted and sad. My body felt defective. During my fertility journey, I often experienced feelings of jealousy and resentment for those women who didn’t have to face the same struggle. Friends of mine who conceived easily didn’t understand what I was experiencing. The comments that they made to me, intended to be helpful and supportive felt hurtful and judgmental. Unless you have experienced infertility, it’s hard to fully grasp.

My struggle left me not only searching for ways to alter things to improve my fertility but also towards what I could do to better myself emotionally. I felt awful and so alone.

Despite the fact that 16% (Canada.ca) of women in Canada are dealing with the same struggle, infertility can be a lonely experience. The shame and feelings of inferiority often promote silence. lt is such a private matter and usually we don’t want others to know, unless of course they are also going through it themselves.

Close to our destination: After several failed fertility treatments, we finally got a positive pregnancy test. At our twelve week scan, the inferiority complex that had once engulfed-me “almost” completely disappeared. In fact, I suddenly swung to the other side. I felt like super woman, super fertile, caring a set of fraternal twins. The IVF worked too well. I was elated.

Alchemy: Today my twins are 10. I look at them with amazement and gratitude.  I also take from their birth the process of grief to joy and my desire to help other women. I now work as a fertility counsellor supporting individuals and couples who are trying to conceive. I know that not everybody’s story ends up like mine. I also know that the experience does not need to feel so devastating and isolating. I wouldn’t change anything about my journey and the long winding road. I eventually got to where I wanted to be.

You are not alone and this won’t last forever. Infertility isn’t the only thing we use to measure our self worth. I have learned that the complex world of infertility transcends into most of life’s important markers some of which haven’t been met. Each of us has a unique journey and that is the path we must focus on.

Amira is a Social Worker in Toronto, Ontario.

She works in a private practice with individuals and couples who are struggling with infertility.

Amira facilitates the Mind-Body Fertility Group.

She is also a mother of three miracles.

Amira Posner

Amira Posner is Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Manitoba. In addition to working with individuals, couples and families providing therapy in a secure and safe setting, she is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Amira is also a certified hypnotherapist.

Amira Posner

July 7, 2023 • 4 minutes

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