Life is Better When We Journey Together

05/18/2020

“I’ve had a lot of experiences that have made me strong. I knew I could do it alone,” Jo said, describing her journey through fertility treatments as a single woman. Jo was raised by a strong single mother. She’s also lived an adventurous and independent life of travel, excitement, and fulfilling work. Jo knew she had the strength and tenacity to pursue fertility treatments, and follow her dream of being a mother. 

Jo’s fertility journey began two years ago. She was in a relationship, and she and her partner began trying for a baby. She got pregnant straight away, the first time they ever tried. However, she found out that she was miscarrying on the very same day she discovered she was pregnant. After a month, they tried again, Jo once again became pregnant. She miscarried eight and a half weeks later. She’d had a missed miscarriage. “My relationship didn’t survive that,” she explained, finding herself single again following her second miscarriage. 

Jo was set on learning about her health and fertility even after her relationship ended. “I had already gotten a referral to a fertility specialist, and I was determined to still go through with that. I really wanted to find out as much about my own health as I could,” she said. “I didn’t want to get into another relationship, start trying again, and then start experiencing the same thing.” She wanted to learn as much as she could about her body. Her initial plan was to freeze some eggs, and then go back to dating. However, this changed when she discovered she had a low egg reserve. “The moment the doctor told me that, my plan changed,” Jo said. She knew she wanted kids, so she decided to take her control of her own life. She thought, “I can’t risk waiting. I’d rather be single with kids than be in a relationship but never have the chance to become a mother.” Around the same time, she found out that she had a blood clotting gene which could have been the source of her miscarriages. When she begins her transfers, she’ll be on blood thinners. 

Last August, Jo began collecting eggs to have them frozen. The plan was to have about 20 eggs frozen, so that she could potentially go back and have a second child in the future. After doing three rounds of retrievals, she ended up with nine frozen eggs. She decided to move forward with IVF instead of freezing more eggs. Her first round of IVF was cancelled, because they tried a down regulation cycle which didn’t work. Jo is currently in the midst of her second cycle, and hoping for the best! 

As Jo goes through this process, her strength shines through. “I think I’m a pretty strong person. I’ve done a lot of things in my life.” Jo said. She’s lived a full and exciting life as a social worker, nurse, and world traveler. She has the confidence to take control of her health and fertility. By sharing her story on her blog, she hopes to show other women that this is possible. “You are strong, you can do things that the world, not that long ago, told you that you couldn’t,” she said, describing how she hopes to inspire the women who read her blog. She recalls the story of her own great grandmother who was forced to give up her son for adoption,  because at the time, single women couldn’t have kids on their own. “That’s only two generations ago, that women were having their babies taken off them because they were single. And now, there’s a whole legion of women who say, ‘I don’t need a man to do this’, and set out to have children on their own”. Jo wants to share her journey to support other women going through similar things, and show them that they’re not alone.   

Of course, as in every journey, Jo’s has its ups and downs. This path is different than what she’d imagined building a family would be like. “I guess there’s a greif,” Jo explains. “There’s grief in losing my child, but also losing that picture of what it was supposed to be”. She initially imagined building a family with a partner, but she knows that everyone’s journey to parenthood is different. She believes there isn’t a set route to becoming a family. While Jo sometimes wishes she was going through this with a partner, she knows that this is the path she should be on. “There are times when I wish I wasn’t doing this on my own,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m happy I’ve taken control of this. I know that this is where I’m supposed to be in my journey.” 

Jo says that the fertility community has made all the difference in her experience. Having a group of people who really understand what she’s going through is comforting and empowering for Jo. “The community I’ve found online, whether it’s women going through IVF, or women on their single mother journey, they get it. My family and friends are fantastic, but they still don’t understand what it feels like to receive the worst news in the world while your body Is unnaturally pumped full of hormones,” she said. When Jo reflects on her experience with miscarraige, she remembers feeling very isolated. There are so many women who go through miscarriages, but they’re hesitant to open up about it. Jo believes this leaves too many women feeling alone. By coming together, they can support each other.  Jo’s blog tagline is, “Life is better when we journey together”. By coming together, the fertility community provides support and guidance for one another. Jo hopes that her blog serves as a platform where women can talk about anything they’re going through, and realize that they’re not alone. 

Jo believes there’s an alarming lack of education when it comes to women understanding their health and fertility. She reflects on how, when she was young, she assumed everyone could get pregnant in their 40s. She says, while she was ready to start a family early on in her life she thought she had time  to wait for the right partner while pursuing a career, travel, and achieving other dreams before she had to try to conceive. While she doesn’t regret any of her life experiences, she wishes she knew more about her fertility earlier in her life. “I had a career, I traveled overseas, I did all these things in my life. I had this full life, and that’s what we’re encouraging women to do - they should get to have that. But then they don’t understand their fertility at all. My egg reserve wasn’t just suddenly low at 35,” Jo said. Looking back, she wishes she’d done some fertility testing when she was younger. “If I understood more, I would’ve had all the tests to figure out where I was when I was younger,” she said. “Everyone’s different, everyone’s story is different. I just think that women need to be in control of their own health, and understand their own bodies.” One goal of Jo’s is to educate women about their health, and empower them through information about their fertility. Jo is an outspoken advocate for women’s independence, education, and equality. Through her fertility journey, she has exemplified how strong women really are.