Josie Wiley On Her Journey To Motherhood, While She’s Still In The Middle (Part Two)
So many stories of infertility are told from the perspective of those who have made it out the other side. Who have survived the thing that felt unsurvivable. Who, at long last, have their baby. And while those stories can provide much needed hope and comfort, they can also be further alienating to women who are still unsure of how their story ends. I’ve heard Josie’s story a number of times and every single time it takes my breath away. It’s impossible to overstate the challenges she’s faced in pursuit of motherhood and I’m so grateful she wanted to share her story with me, and with you, in the hopes that it will bring comfort to anyone else “still in the middle”.
To read part one of Josie’s story, click here.
What course of treatment, if any, have you opted for to improve your chances of conceiving and what have been the biggest challenges associated with these? You’ve mentioned chemotherapy – are you able to explain the role this played?
To add salt to the wound, following the unsuccessful removal of the embryo I was told I would need the Methotrexate injection to terminate the non-viable pregnancy properly; a scenario we’d been trying to avoid by having the removal surgeries instead. I had done research into Methotrexate and the negative effects it can have on the body because it’s a chemotherapy drug. After so many months of trying to detox my body from general anaesthetic, prescription hormones and pain relief medication I was determined to avoid another intense drug entering my body. You’re also unable to conceive for a few months after you are administered Methotrexate as the effect on an embryo is detrimental.
The day the Methotrexate was administered I was so nervous. Only a select few specialists at the hospital are trained to handle and inject Methotrexate as it can cause burning to skin and clothing. The nurse came into the ward in full PPE and thankfully Jeff had a good poker face so I wasn’t aware of how big the needle actually was. I remember the next couple of weeks were rough: I experienced hair loss, extreme nausea, weakness and an overall sense of sickness and pain. I remember explaining to someone that it felt like my blood had solidified inside my veins. I already had social anxiety as a side effect from the general anaesthetic, but this exacerbated it massively. Jeff had to hold my hand walking into our local coffee shop otherwise I couldn’t go in. Anything that wasn’t my office or being at home became a challenge; if there wasn’t an escape route, I couldn’t go. This feeling of isolation and anxiety hung around for a very long time.
I’ve done a lot of research into holistic approaches to increase our chances of conceiving. I’ve done lymphatic drainage massage, meditation, visualisation, fertility teas, naturopathy, energy healing, acupuncture, fertility-focused nutrition and removing BPA (plastics) from my lifestyle where possible. I have also had numerous procedures – surgeries, invasive internal scans, hormone treatments and blood tests in the hundreds to depict hormone imbalances and any other possible underlying issues. The biggest challenge for us has been the financial impact – it’s near impossible to continue the upkeep of non-funded treatments. There is so much more I’d like to do however we just couldn’t make it work financially. In some countries lymphatic drainage is part of your hospital discharge post-treatment plan, and I think it should be free in New Zealand too.
What role has your friends and community played in supporting you during this season? Have you found it helpful to confide in girlfriends, or has it been something you’ve preferred to keep private?
I don’t think I would have made it through without the support we have received. My family and girlfriends have seen me at my absolute worst. They know when to check in with me before I even have to ask and I will be forever grateful for everything they have done for us.
Another invaluable gem for me has been going through this with my twin sister. Although our infertility journeys are very different, we have found solace and solitude in bouncing off each other when we have been left with unanswered questions or road blocks along the way. We understand the emotions, the waiting game, we do hours of research and share pieces of information if we think it could be relevant to the other. After the countless negative results and heartache it has been really special to have someone who has always understood, and is also in the middle of their own journey.
What has the emotional and physical toll of this journey been for you? And similarly, what has it been like for your husband? Have you ever thought about giving up on the possibility of carrying your own child?
Initially I was really open to discussing our fertility journey as I found it interesting. However, as time has passed I now find myself more deflated, less enthusiastic and I simply don’t have the energy to talk about it as often as I once did. I thoroughly appreciate hearing stories which have resulted in a positive pregnancy and I can imagine what an amazing feeling it must be to come out the other side, but I also find it exhausting to feel happy for someone when we still don’t know our outcome. These feelings of guilt, resentment and loneliness make me retreat into my safety bubble of home, and I find the social anxiety creeping back in. I think this will relate to a lot of women going through infertility at some stage during their journey. My sister said something that really resonated with me and made me feel more at peace with the guilt of those feelings. She said I give so much of my own energy to other beautiful pregnancies and babies, it’s now time to put that energy into me and my future baby.
One incredible outcome that has come from this season is teaching me to see the bigger picture in life. For so long I wasted energy worrying about what other’s thought of me. I’ve now learnt to relax and not sweat the small stuff and I’m hoping this will stay with me as we go into the next chapter of our fertility journey. We start IVF in May which is exciting. We have had to have the conversations around being potentially peri-menopausal at 33 years of age, surrogacy and egg donorship, should IVF fail. We have no idea what is ahead of us and I only hope there is light at the end of our tunnel. I am so lucky and grateful for Jeff, our family and friends and even strangers for their ongoing love and encouragement ,and I know we will have a family whichever way the Universe decides is best for us.