For 1 in 8 it is not so easy to fall pregnant they instead have to endure rounds of hormone stimulation, injections and so much more.
Cassie Silver is one of those 1 in 8 who is struggling to conceive naturally. While some go down the negative spiral of ‘Why me’ and blaming lots on the universe she has chosen to put a positive spin on her experience and share hers plus many others journeys through her podcast: ‘What To Expect When You’re Injecting‘.
I haven’t created a human yet, but the journey has made me a better one.
“I’m grateful this is happening to me”, are words I never thought I would say when it comes to reflecting on my journey so far in trying to conceive. Why would anyone want to go through the pain, grief and uncertainty that comes with IVF? Is it the need for attention as the woman putting her body and soul through so much? Or the quest for validation that I am working harder that other to become a mother? The truth is, I wouldn’t change the cards I have been dealt because it’s the journey so far has completely changed my outlook on life. I had the fairy-tale picture in my mind when I married my best friend years ago and came off the pill. I started talking about baby names, character traits and even forecasted what horoscope they would be and aligned the moon and starts perfectly. Just like my type A personality, I had planned to fall pregnant after my 30th birthday, soon after our wedding. Fast forward a few years and we’ve had multiple IVF and FET cycles without any success. So- in a nutshell. While we haven’t made a human yet, it’s made me a better one.
Living with PCOS, a high follicle count, the inability to ovulate, blocked tubes and my husband’s poor sperm motility means IVF is our best chance to have a family. I have been no stranger to the world of swaps, smears and stirrups; suffering from abnormal cells and having many laparoscopy procedures since I was 18 years old. But, unlike any challenge or milestone I have faced in life, making a family is the only hurdle I have no control over and feel I am failing at. I have spent more than a decade working in the Australian mediaindustry as a television journalist, producer, presenter and now the owner of a successful production business. I am no stranger to the spotlight as a media identity in Perth and I’ve always made I my mission to life an authentic life. I have interviewed incredible individuals and travelled the world as a journalist, sharing their stories of success and struggle. While I have always been transparent, I never thought I would be sharing my own. If someone tells me I can’t do something, I fight for it even harder; I am a high achiever, I mean we collected 29 eggs at our last collection!
What started as a bruised ego is now a bruised belly, but Iwouldn’t change the cards I have been dealt. This journey has already made me a better friend, daughter, sister, colleague and wife. Ultimately, this is going to make me a better mother. A mother with a deep understanding of the value of empathy and the awareness of other people’s shit instead of suffocating in my own. I have cried through the park on my runs and walks as I fly by prams and mother’s groups feeling alone and lost. But it’s been the ability to change my internal language patterns and recognise self-sabotaging behaviour that’s made all the difference. Instead of wanting to run headfirst into prams and yell “F U”, I look at them and smile and say “that will be me very soon”. Yes, many strangers think I am a little creepy, but I am the only one who can control my emotions attached to infertility. I used to wish there was a different button to click other than “like” as people posted their baby announcements on social media. Maybe a “just a thumbs up” emoji will suffice my level of happiness for this Facebook acquaintance. Once again, there exciting news shouldn’t create a reaction of jealousy or anger, it should fuel hopefulness. I have run out of responses to comments like “everything happens for a reason” or “maybe a holiday will do you both some good.” For anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility, sometimes silence is the best support. One thing I’ve learnt, is I may feel lonely- but I am not alone. Whether it’s an early miscarriage, unsuccessful implantation or the embryo didn’t survive thawing, I have experienced the loss and grief which comes from all of them and I’ve learnt not to measure it.
I have more patience for people in general and take time to listen to their problems instead of finding solutions. Someone wise once told me, “when you’re heard, you start to heal” and I truly believe in the magic behind the phrase. My marriage is stronger than it was when we decided to come off the pill and give natural conception a good crack. We both understand eachothers love language and appreciate what we have more than what we don’t. We have had the Carrie and Big from Sex & The City chat about, “will it just be us two?” and are we ok with that? I now have more honest and open conversations with my family instead of being a hero and projecting a persona of success. Going through IVF and running my own business has taught me the value of balance and priorities, I learnt how to say NO. My friendships have a focus on quality not quantity, a bit like my outlook now at egg collection. I have removed people from my life I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do a few years ago and created new connections instead. Not only has my rollercoaster ride through infertility been a chance to overcome a horrific fear of needles, but it’s also allowed me to evaluate how I see my own self-worth and esteem as a woman. I have gratitude’s written on my bathroom wall which remind me every day that my body is doing incredible things, the process is incredible, I am worthy, and my journey is remarkable. There is nothing wrong with being your own cheerleader and it gives you a new meaning behind the word empathy too. It’s redefined my definition of failure and allowed me to use my media skills in a completely new light as the host of new podcast “What ToExpect When You’re Injecting”. I wanted to marry my skills and struggle together by producing an authentic and uncensored podcast, “What To Expect When You’re Injecting”, a candid and personal discussion on IVF and infertility. This project is allowing me to turn pain into purpose and fill my life with contribution and connection. So, for those on the journey, try to find the silver lining in it; somewhere, somehow. IVF has made me a better person, and while many would never wish is upon anyone, this is the only time I can truly believe in the saying “everything happens for a reason”, regardless of loss, heartache and pain. While some may say I’ll be able to translate the gratitude I have right now into motherhood; the truth is, I may never be a mother, so for now my greatest achievement is to be a good human regardless of if I make my own or not.
Check out @injecting_to_be_expecting
Written by @cassiesilver
What To Expect When You’re Injecting is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
For some this is true: Don't drink the water you'll get pregnant! For a growing number the ability to fall pregnant is a long and ardious process with many roller coaster rides of emotions and pregnancy test kits. The angst felt by woman who see their friends/relatives/work mates fall pregnant within a drop of a hat is indescribable. They keep saying to themselves: 'When will it be my turn?'
Just because you haven't conceived doesn't mean you cant or wont be able to fall pregnant naturally- sure there are some medical reasons that might inhibit it but one thing is for certain you need to put your body in the best healthy state possible.
Did you know:
~Around four per cent of all children born in Australia are the result of IVF -- that's the equivalent one child in every average sized classroom.
~The success rates of IVF significantly drops from 35 per cent in patients under 30 years old to just eight per cent for women over 40 years of age.
~A quarter of Australian women undergoing IVF are over the age of 40.
This leaves many to ask how can I place my body in the best possible space to fall pregnant?
We have compiled some tips, foods and ideas to help you on your way:
- Healthy weight
Being overweight or underweight can affect your chances of conceiving. Too much or too little body fat can make you have irregular periods or stop them completely, which can affect your ability to conceive.
+Your weight is healthy if your body mass index is between 20 and 25.
+Women whose BMI is more than 30 or under 19 may have problems conceiving.
+If your partner's BMI is more than 30, his fertility is likely to be lower than normal.
Studies of the effects of exercise on fertility have found that vigorous exercise reduces the risk of ovulation problems and that moderate exercise decreases the risk of miscarriage and increases the chance of having a baby among women who undergo ART(Assisted Reproductive Technology.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex condition which is associated with infertility. Women with PCOS often have irregular or no periods because they rarely ovulate. For overweight and obese women with PCOS regular exercise can increase the frequency of ovulation which leads to more regular menstrual cycles. As ovulation becomes more frequent, the chance of conceiving increases. While studies show that exercise boosts female fertility it is important to note that a large amount of very high intensity exercise may actually reduce fertility and the chance of having a baby with ART. So, it’s a good idea to avoid very high intensity exercise while trying for a baby.3. Smoking and Drugs
There is also a link between smoking and poorer quality sperm, although the effect on male fertility isn't certain. But stopping smoking will improve your partner's general health.
There's no clear evidence of a link between caffeine, which is found in drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, and fertility problems. Though it is recommended to keep the caffeine at a lower level. There is also some prescription drugs and illicit substances that will interfere with the ability to fall pregnant.
+Following a low-carb diet may improve hormone levels associated with fertility, especially among women with PCOS.
+To boost fertility levels, avoid foods high in trans fats. Eat foods rich in healthy fats instead, such as extra virgin olive oil.
+Some studies suggest that eating more calories at breakfast and less at your evening meal can improve fertility.
+Taking an antioxidant supplement or eating antioxidant-rich foods can improve fertility rates, especially among men with infertility.
+Eating a diet high in refined carbs can raise insulin levels, which may increase the risk of infertility and make it harder to get pregnant.
+Eating more protein from vegetable sources, instead of animal sources, may improve fertility levels in women.
+Replacing low-fat dairy products with high-fat versions may help improve fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
+Consuming iron supplements and non-heme iron from plant-based food sources may decrease the risk of ovulatory infertility.
The last piece of the puzzle that we are sharing is the impact that the stress or worry will have on conception. We know of several examples of woman who were so stressed/anxious/uptight about the whole process and when they gave up and stopped trying so hard- guess what they FELL PREGNANT!
As your stress levels increase, your chances of getting pregnant decrease. This is likely due to the hormonal changes that occur when you feel stressed. Having a stressful job and working long hours can also increase the time it takes you to become pregnant.
In fact, stress, anxiety and depression affect around 30% of women who attend fertility clinics.
Receiving support and counselling may reduce anxiety and depression levels, therefore increasing your chances of becoming pregnant.
Our next article on fertility is going to be on the small percent of woman who conceive fine in the first pregnancy and then struggle with their second (second infertility). This actually accounts for a whopping 50% of infertility cases.
The above information has been collated from a range of sources and research papers.