This post has been in the making for a few
months years now. It’s something I never talk about publicly because I suppose putting it out there would be an admission of its truth. This is probably the single most difficult post I will ever write.
It’s about our TTC journey.
I may be vocal and funny online, but when it comes to certain things (like TTC/Trying to Conceive), I’m a very private person.
Conceiving a baby and starting a family is something that I always thought was supposed to “just happen”. I always thought that women generally went to school, graduated from university, met their soul mate, fell in love, started a career, got married, bought a house, had babies, and lived happily ever after. Of course, we know that’s not exactly true or accurate an account of how life is “supposed” to be. That’s just what I thought my life was going to be. Life tosses so many obstacles and road blocks in our paths.
I went to college, received my Diplôme d’études collégiales in Liberal Arts/Social Science from college (C.E.G.E.P.). I then received my B.A. in Honours English with a Specialty in English Literature and a Minor in Linguistics. I taught English. I focused on work. I dated, but only met the right man for me when I was in my late twenties. We got married and both wanted to start a family immediately. We agreed that we wanted three children.
It took us fifteen months to conceive Little One.
It was an emotional roller coaster and just when we were about to give up, we all of a sudden discovered that I was pregnant. Little One arrived at 28 weeks and spent her first 72 days of life in the NICU.
She is now a happy, healthy, amazing five year old who keeps us very busy. We were thinking it’s maybe time to give her a sibling. At first, I was hesitant because I was worried about having another high risk pregnancy. Now that we’ve been trying for about a year, the thought of not being able to give her a little sister or brother is devastating.
I used to think “one is enough”. We can provide amply for one child. She will never be for want of anything — emotionally, physically, as well as for her education and general basic needs. Recently though, many people have been telling us, “You NEED to give her a baby brother or sister”, “She’ll be alone”, “It’s not fair for her to be an only child”, “You are a horrible, selfish parent and person for only having one child”. I understand that people who have no idea that we’ve been trying to conceive have no idea how hurtful those words are. It’s not like we’re not trying to conceive or grow our family.
I never thought I’d ever have to use the term TTC. I think that the idea of TTC really hits a woman’s core. After all, we’re supposed to be able to create life. The idea of not being able to have babies or even the challenges in getting pregnant really make you question yourself as a woman. At least in my case it does. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it…which is likely why I don’t discuss this with anyone. I never wanted to admit to myself that we may be struggling with infertility. We were able to conceive Little One, so why are we having challenges TTC another baby?
The Number of Couples TTC is Larger than I imagined
In Ontario 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility. For some of those couples IVF, in vitro fertilization, is the medically recommended course of action. But IVF is not covered by OHIP so many couples give up on having a family. Some try other less effective fertility treatments.
Some will pay $13,000 out of pocket for one round of IVF. Some will save endlessly, fundraise, drain RRSPs and take out second mortgages for the chance to have a baby via IVF.
Many areas of the world are funding IVF. Belgium, Australia, Ireland, Sweden etc.. There are many funding models that work. In Canada Quebec funds IVF – they pay for three rounds of single embryo transfer. Manitoba has a tax credit in place.
- If we do not fund IVF in Ontario, the incidence of multiple births continues to grow and cost health care systems more.
- We know the rate of multiple births is doubling roughly every decade in Canada.
- We now have one of the highest rates of multiple births for all the developing countries.
- The World Health Organization has recognized infertility as a complex medical health issue.
- Infertility impacts 1 in 6 couples.
- Infertility has wide ranging repercussions for society.
- Infertility means declining birth rates. That also translates into fewer taxpayers in future.
- Quebec is the first province in Canada to fund in vitro fertilization.
In Ontario, the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption stated that we can’t afford not to fund IVF. They also declared that best practices would see funding tied to single embryo transfer and up to three rounds of IVF. Single embryo transfer produces better results for mothers and babies.
In countries that have funded IVF – even those that tied it to a tax credit – the rate of multiple births has declined rapidly. The goal is to get the rate below 10 %.
The benefits of IVF funding tied to single embryo transfer (in addition to healthier outcomes for both Mom and baby, there are projected savings to healthcare systems.) The costs savings are achieved when fewer costly multiples are born. So for instance we know that people who transfer 3 embryos and potentially have triplets end up with extreme and lifelong health care issues. Also the mother can have a very high risk pregnancy and wind up placing her own health at risk. This costs health care systems a great deal in short term and long term costs. But we also know that because IVF is not funded that couples sometimes take a high risk because they are working three jobs or remortgaging their home to pay the costs of IVF.
Based on the projections of the Ontario Expert Panel Report on Infertility and Adoption:
400 Million to $550 million in savings over 10 years in hospital costs plus
$300-$460 million in savings related to long-term disability costs.
These estimates are based on a conservative estimate that the multiple birthrate will decline to under 10 % in a 10 year period. Quebec achieved this within one year.
Support & Build Awareness
Learning more about infertility and the number of couples experiencing it, makes me feel a little less alone. I am hoping that Ontario follows Quebec’s footsteps in IVF funding. I know my child-bearing window is closing, but hopefully other families can benefit from IVF funding in the future.
This week in Ontario, it was reported that there is funding for IVF in a draft budget. Funding for IVF will help so many couples in Ontario realize their goal of having a family. The budget needs final approval. What can you do to help make that happen? Please write, call, or tweet your MPP and tell them you support funding for IVF and would like to see it in the final budget.
Conceivable Dreams is a patient advocacy group advocating for better awareness for infertility issues and public funding for in vitro fertilization. You can follow them on Twitter and on Facebook.
Disclosure – This is a sponsored post, but one that is close to my heart. Thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Jo-Anne Pfoh says
I just reread your post and think you are a brave and wonderful woman.
Thanks for your bravery… so many women will be able to relate to your story and it will make them feel less alone. I know this is something that has weighed on you for awhile, and I’m sending good thoughts big hugs your way. xo
Victoria Ess says
Thank you for sharing your story. I was so moved and filled with admiration for the strength that you clearly exhibit. What awful, insensitive comments those are!
Darlene Schuller says
This is such a difficult subject .. more should be done to help couples that want to have a child. I think it’s a right of every human being, our gov’t can fund all sorts of councilling, addictions, etc.. it’s time this became a focus.
Christine, the TTC journey plays havoc, some day monthly I say daily. .. it took us 15 months to conceive Miss K… we too had resigned ourselves it just wasn’t meant to happen, when it finally did.
We used ‘pre seed’.. I inserted 1/2 a tube… after some fun that was that. It was my first time using it, my last attempt at trying, the following month I had planned to start on the pill while hubby awaited a vasectomy.
We were pregnant.
I don’t know if this is something that will help you, I did mention it to a friend of mine, she used it once and go pregnant. It’s something that came up a lot on a child loss board I’m a member of . silentgrief.com. …
Wishing you much success and soon on your journey to bring new life <3 ..
Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo says
I truly believe that people mean well, however, they need to know how their words can hurt. Even if unintentional. No one knows what it’s like to walk one step in your shoes.
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having problems conceiving. I’m sure that your words will help others in a similar situation but that don’t feel they have a voice.
Your post is great Christine; however, when I read “many people have been telling us, “You NEED to give her a baby brother or sister”, “She’ll be alone”, “It’s not fair for her to be an only child”, “You are a horrible, selfish parent and person for only having one child” ” I’ll admit I felt very angry. How annoying that people often speak without respect for others. I am amazed at how ignorant many people truly are.
There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with being an only child, and those that think otherwise should have their heads examined. I pray that you are able to fulfil your desire to have another little one but if it doesn’t happen please know that you are blessed either way.
I was born at 28 weeks at a time where we didn’t have [well] what we have available to us today! I was considered a miracle baby for having survived. Fast forward to 16-17 years ago, I was told I couldn’t conceive by a fertility specialist…my first pregnancy terminated at 12 weeks and I was devastated and felt really alone … like no one really understood the pain. I hated when people would say “don’t worry, you’ll have another” because it was so insensitive. I need to mourn the loss of my baby and then face the possibility of never having another chance at conceiving. I was so lucky to conceive once more … 16 years later, my daughter is an only child and will always be. I’m NOT selfish. I’m NOT a horrible mother. I am blessed … and very grateful for my daughter PERIOD.
Don’t listen to others. Only listen to what’s inside of you and let God (if you believe) take care of the rest.
MJ @The Flying Couponer says
Bonjour ma belle Christine! I really enjoyed reading this post. It is just like you, genuine and caring. So many things can cause infertility. Many of my friends have been struggling with infertility. I really hope that Ontario will funds IVF just like in Quebec. On lâche pas Christine!
Heather Atton Cook says
As I’ve read these stories about TTC and IVF, it makes me realize how much I take for granted in my own journey. If it helps in any way at all… my kids are over 5 yrs apart and it’s a fantastic age gap… 🙂
(I struggle giving any kind of helpful advice or commentary when it’s something I don’t have direct experience with, so I apologize if that’s flippant). <3
🙂 Thank you so much, Heather!
P.S. Not flippant at all. Your comment actually made me giggle because the first time I saw anyone actually use the word “flippant” was when my I was in university and our professor gave me friend an F and said his essay was “flippant and glib”! BEST adjectives ever! 😉
Kim McD says
Thank you so much for being so brave and sharing your story. Hopefully it will help even just one person also struggling. You are amazing.
Thanks, Kim! I hope by sharing our stories, we will help even one person in their journey.
Jenna Em says
I’m sorry that you’re going through a rough time right now, Christine. Many people talk first, then think and it’s hurtful.
My husband is an only child and he enjoyed having all the attention lavished on him.
Thanks, Jenna! <3
Xenia Paterson says
When I was pregnant with my twins, strangers would come up to me and ask if they were “real twins” Yikes…who says that? No, I’m not carrying fake babies! Some people are really clueless.
It’s not the number of people in a family that makes a family… it’s love and your daughter is obviously loved. She is a very lucky little girl. I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster that you are on. Ignore the best you can the “clueless” and make peace with your choices. Whatever you choose to do, it will be the right thing.
Thank you for sharing your story. Big hugs.
Thank you so much, Xenia! You make me cry!!! You are so right. It’s not the number of people in a family that makes a family. xo
Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel says
Christine – what a brave post for you to write. Talking about something as personal as infertility is something really special to share with your readers and will no doubt help someone who is reading your post.
As an only child myself I can tell you that there is something amazing about being an only. You are so close with your parents and while every child wants a sibling I was lucky enough to have two parents who could give me all of their attention. Now, as a mom of twins I wish sometimes that I could have time with each of them alone so that they know what it means to be the primary focus. However my boys HATE being separated for any reason!
In response to the horrible comments you receive please know that people will ALWAYS say rude and insensitive things. For me, strangers come up and ask me “Did you conceive those twins naturally?” or “When are you going to try for a set of girls?” Unfortunately when it comes to kids, all kinds of people feel they have the right to just say whatever they feel like when they absolutely shouldn’t!
Hugs to you and your beautiful family and thank you for sharing your story.
Thanks so much, Kerrie! So true. People will always say what they want to say…even if it’s none of their business. For the most part, I think people who ask whether we’re going to have another child ask with genuine cuiriosity. Others, not so much. It’s a little annoying to constantly hear “So, when’s #2 coming?” or “Aren’t you thinking of having a second child?” or the best…”You’re not getting any younger!” Then they talk about how LO will be a selfish, spoiled, self-centered brat if we don’t give her a sibling! That part makes me laugh.
The best so far has been, “Next time, have a boy!” so we can have a son and a daughter. As if we can choose the gender of our baby! I’d just be happy to have a healthy baby!
Love what you said about being an only child, Kerrie. I often think how lucky Little One is to be able to have both of her parents’ attention. We can give her everything she needs. It’s actually quite special. This said, part of me still longs to have another baby. Whatever happens, happens. Right?
Christine, it is very brave of you to share your story with all of us. I am so glad you did.
What horrible things to say to a person especially when they are struggling with something as personal as trying to conceive. I have known many friends and people who have trouble conceiving. Some have been successful, some have not. I cannot imagine the pain people go through while doing so and I do not pretend to. I just hope that they and you know that we are here whenever you need to talk. I will support you no matter what happens down the road.
I have thought about being a gestational carrier a few times. At one time I was worried if I could ever have children and my brother (well you know the story of him being born my sister) said he would carry my babies for me if need be. I know I would do the same for him if he asked.
Remember we are always here for you and reach out if you need to. *hugs*
Thanks, Brandy 🙂 I think most people comment on seeing an only child and think they need a sibling so they won’t be lonely and so they learn how to share, etc. My child’s an only child and has so many friends and cousins that are like siblings to her AND she shares better than some kids who do have siblings. I also think that because I never vocalized or announced that we’re trying to conceive or that I have PCOS, people just assume that we’re not trying to add to our family.
First of all, nobody deserves to hear the words that people have said to you, whether they are trying to conceive or not. People have a right to choose how many children are right for them! Siblings are no guarantee that someone will have lifetime friendship, companionship or support…and not having siblings is no indications that someone won’t. As adults, we all surround ourselves by the people we choose to have in our lives. The circles we create for ourselves generally come from the people that we are born related two and some we relate ourselves to with love. Your daughter will have lots of people in her life, no matter how they got there. Having a sibling will not make or break whether or not she can have a happy successful life full of love and support. Nobody should have a second child as a gift to the child they already have. People are not presents, and every single one of them should be born for the role they will play in their own life, not the role they will play in someone else’s…because that is never a guarantee.
That said, I do know how hard it is to struggle getting pregnant. Although I never had a huge struggle, it did take me nine months to get pregnant with my second child… It was very stressful and I cannot imagine what it would’ve felt like for it to take even longer. My heart breaks for people that have the struggle, and it breaks for you. So I sincerely hope that you do have a second child, and the third child if that too is what you decide you want! I also hope infertility options become more accessible, available, and affordable to everybody needs them!
As always, I love reading any comments from you, Jill. I agree with everything you said. Also, with having a preemie, part of why I was hesitant about even entertaining the thought of having #2 was that I was (and still am) scared of having another high risk pregnancy. We were so lucky with Little One. So many things could have gone wrong with her being born so early. Anyway, now that the fact that due to PCOS, we may not be able to have another baby, I’m all of a sudden wanting to have one.
Pat L says
As an only child I am very insulted by these peoples comments. We don’t NEED another sibling. Sure, we all go through the stage in life when we ask Mommy and Daddy “why?” or “when?”. I believe social media has given people the belief that they have the right to comment on everything and anything without thinking twice. Words can hurt and people should mind their business unless asked their opinion. Do what you and hubby feel is right for you and your family. God has a plan, if we can help it out, even better. Stay strong and positive. xo
Thank you, Pat! Couldn’t have said it better myself. xo
What a journey for you and your family (hugs). People who make comments like those are uneducated and disrespectful. Your little girl is a gorgeous miracle who is lucky to have loving parents like you! Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Thanks, Alyssa! You make me cry. Can’t wait to see you next weekend! Just think…this time next week we’ll be at BConnected!
I’ve said this before, but I think people who make comments like that are assholes. It hurts you, because you’ve been trying for a year to conceive, and you desperately want another baby. And why is it even any of their business? What if you CHOSE to only have one? How is that an invalid choice, on a planet as overpopulated as ours?
We had no intention of having an only child, but it’s how things worked out for us. We’re at peace with it. Yes, I think Maya is lonely sometimes. But there are benefits as well. She has our full attention, there’s no one to fight with, no one to share resources with, etc. Not saying only children are better off than those with siblings. Just that there are plusses and minuses to everything.
One thing you don’t mention in your post is the possibility of adoption. I’m sure you’ve considered it, and again, it’s a very personal decision.
J: The thing is, this person is someone I do not know at all, but who knows my husband. She saw me out and about one day and had this discussion with me. SO odd a comment to make to a complete stranger, right? Funny you mentioned adoption. That subject has come up with Hubby before. It’s definitely something we would be open to considering. So many children need a good family to belong to…
Every child is a blessing! I use to say “oh they are an only child, that explains a lot” But I have met many great people who have no siblings. But they have BFFs who are just like sisters and brothers. She will not be alone. I wish people would keep their comments to themselves. Becasue you never know what someone is going through.
I wish you all the best with your dreams and journey TTC. But if you end up having an only child, she still has the best mom ever. Hugs my friend xo
Gingermommy: I couldn’t have said it better myself. People really don’t know what’s going on in the lives of others. Thanks so much for your pep talk/comment. I worry that she will be alone if we don’t have a sibling for her, but you’re right…she won’t be alone. She is surrounded by a lot of love with so many friends and family members in her life.
I fully understand everything that you were going through and I am definitely a supporter of conceivable dreams. I myself have struggled with TTC for years, it wasn’t until recently I found out exactly why I can’t conceive. Everything you said about how it feels to be a woman totally hit home with me and I understand exactly how you feel when people say that this child deserves to have another sibling. People need to understand that some people just can’t and not for lack of trying. We ourselves have not gone so far as to try IVF yet and due to cost will never get the chance if its our last option. everyday my child asks me if he can have a sibling because he’s lonely and everytime I die a little more inside. I hope that you are able to conceive without IVF is it would be great to know the option is there for a lot less money if it is the way that anyone has to go.
You are a wonderful mother and you’re not selfish in anyway so don’t let people try to bring you down because its something that you can’t control.
Thank you, Aarica! That means a lot. Everything you said is so true. Sometimes people just can’t, even if they try and no matter how much they want to.
Here’s hoping that one day more Canadian couples will be able to access IVF if needed.
Deanna T. (@MapleLeafMommy) says
It’s always surprising how many people are TTC, often not a readily apparent thing. It’s a private thing, as you said. I wish you the best of luck Christine and I hope you find what you want you your family (and poo-poo on those who stick their nose where it doesn’t belong).
Thank you Deanna! Your last sentence made me smile! 😉
Jordana (@MamaKujo) says
Thank you for sharing your story. I have too many friends who have struggled/are struggling to conceive without access to real options. Every voice needs to be heard. Lots of love to you!
Thanks so much, Jordana! <3
You are so brave for sharing this. And so generous to ensure others understand the facts.
There are so many factors in how families begin and how they grow. That anyone would ever call someone selfish or judge a journey they aren’t a part of is outrageous.
You are a wonderful parent and person, and the three of you are a wonderful family.
Lex, have I told you how much I love you? I really, REALLY do! Thank you. Your comment made me both cry and smile. Next time I’m in T.O., let’s have dinner! Miss ya, lady!
paula schuck says
Christine: What I love about you is that you pour your heart into everything you do. This post is no different. You are an amazing parent. I can tell that from every single post you write and the photos you share and the tweets that you agonize over. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for being you and for sharing this space so that someone else struggling with the terms and the comments and the emotions of infertility finds empathy. All of your readers are there every time you post rooting for you and your family. I hope that the final budget this year contains funding for IVF. We have reason to believe it might because of the draft budget leak this week.
Paula, THANK YOU!! Thank you for being the one to encourage me to share my story. Thank you for your support and for your friendship. You are truly one of a kind. I hope the final budget contains funding for IVF too.
paula schuck says
Just a speedy update – That final budget did contain IVF funding. I am so happy that waiting patients will be able to access this program some time this year. Now we wait for the funding to turn into a program and we are happy also that many patients are on the team talking to the government about how this program should look. Should there be an age cutoff for instance? What would that look like? 42? 43? 40? Should there be one round fresh and two rounds frozen included? How will patients access the program? Will it be a rebate? All these things are being determined. My heart breaks regularly and knits itself back together somehow but it really hurts to read so many hard emotional stories of people longing for a child trying to reach this goal of becoming a family and then continually failing. I can;t wait to see pictures of their babies when this program finally is here this year.
Tammy @inRdream says
HUGS dear friend. You are the sweetest person I know with the biggest heart. Please know I am always on-line for you if you need anything. XO
Thank you, Tammy! Luv ya, my friend. Thanks for always being there. xo
Christine – what a brave post to write. Big hugs to you and hubby! Whether you have 1 or more little ones it will never change how amazing you are as a mom and person! I have no doubt that you sharing your story will bring relief to others out there. Thank you so much for sharing!
Amy, I cannot tell you how hard this was to write. I couldn’t even see what I was typing through the tears. I hope by spreading awareness, one day IVF will be funded and couples trying to conceive can get the help they need.
Thank you for sharing your story. We struggled TTC for 4 years as well. We went through countless months of chlomid treament, 4 COH-IUI procedures (one resulting in pregnancy that was a miscarriage) and as a last resort we decided to drain our savings to try one round of IVF. Three days (THREE DAYS!) before my appt. to start the IVF I found out I was pregnant. I was lucky to have a full term pregnancy and now have a wonderful 4 year old. We have been trying since he was born for another with no luck. We also get the comments- they hurt but we’re comfortable (now) with knowing that our family is done with the 3 of us. It wasn’t the original plan but we’re taking our blessing and running with it. Enjoy your beautiful daughter and know you’re not alone!
KC, thank you for your beautiful comment and for sharing your experience. We told ourselves that Little One is a miracle and we cannot possibly ask for anything more. We hare blessed. This said, I still hang on to the hope of having another baby. Little One wants a baby sister (ha! We said if she gets a brother she has no choice! 😉 ) I have to tell myself that I need to be okay with just the three of us if that’s how it is going to be. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. You made me cry.
I can only imagine what you are going through right now, and I can see why this post was hard for you to write and share.
I wish there was more support for IVF in Canada, so that couples who are having trouble getting pregnat can have some help in getting this procedure.
As for the comments you’ve received in regards to not giving your daughter a sibling, I’m not going to speak ill of them because I don’t know them, but I remember getting these comments after having my first child, and I was non-too-pleased with these comments. Why can an only child be happy without having other siblings? Before I had my other children, my daughter always had other children to play with, and we spent a lot of time together when she was not with friends. Just because people are able to have children does not mean that we should have to have more than one. I think whoever gave you these comments were coming from a good place, but it just bothers me when some people just think that having children is a simple thing to do, and that everyone should have them if they are in a committed relationship.
Sorry for rambling on…I just hope everything goes well for you, and your family continues to be happy whether you one or many children.
Lian, thank you! Oh, and you weren’t rambling! Feel free to write more! 🙂 I agree. It saddens me to think that people believe having one child is a bad thing. They say, “Oh. Single children are bad. They’re selfish and don’t know how to share. They’re privileged and think the world revolves around them.” Ummm…they obviously have no idea. My daughter is an only child and she SHARES better than many kids who have siblings do! She’s generous, empathetic, thoughtful, and kind. She’s around kids ALL the time. She’s not lonely. We have regular play dates with her friends and we have regular dinner parties with a bunch of families we hang out with. It’s like she has a dozen siblings!
Kristen @ My 3 Little Kittens says
Christine, you are an amazing mom. I know how much this weighs on you and how difficult it is. I want you to know I am always here to talk and listen. I don’t think life EVER turns out exactly the way we expect it to, but more often than not, it ends up being something altogether better….. I will be praying about this daily and I know you will get through this. Your Grandma is watching down from Heaven and you KNOW she is always smiling on you…….*Hugs*
Kristen, thank you so much for always being such a great friend. You seem to know the perfect words to say when I need it most. xoxo
BIG hugs Christine!!! <3 I know how difficult this must have been for you to write and I know you've been struggling with this. Know that you have a wonderful support system that surrounds you with love! It's so important that people have the chance to conceive and every opportunity to try. They shouldn't have to struggle because of money issues when it comes to starting a family, especially when the stress of infertility or struggling to conceive is overwhelming as it is. Thank you so much for sharing about Conceivable Dreams! xo
Brandi: I cried the entire time writing this post. I had to get my husband to read it before I clicked “publish”. It’s his story too, so I needed his approval. Thanks for being such an incredible friend and huge support…always. xo