PARENTS

How One Woman’s Humour Is Helping Her Cope With Infertility

Wendy Litner channelled her energy into the web series "How to Buy a Baby."

09/26/2017 15:26 EDT | Updated 10/04/2017 17:04 EDT
Wendy Litner

Name and partner's name: Wendy Litner and Stephen Weir

Occupation: Lawyer-turned-writer, creator of the CBC web series "How to Buy a Baby"

Age: 37

City: Toronto, Ont.

Years trying to have a baby: Five

When the "mom gene" kicked in: My mother told me that she woke up one day in her thirties and didn't just want to have a baby. She needed to have a baby. That's what happened to me.

I spent all of my twenties certain that I didn't want to be a mother.

I feel like there must be some biology at play because I spent all of my twenties certain that I didn't want to be a mother. I was trying to make it as a writer and there were so many other things I wanted to accomplish and I was fearful that motherhood would hinder my ability, given my inability to multitask well.

I've since learned that you can hold two truths and pursue multiple things. [Becoming a parent is] important to me because I desperately want to love a child.

Wendy Litner
Wendy Litner and her husband Stephen Weir.

The infertility diagnosis: My husband and I hadn't been trying to have a baby the fun way for very long before finding out that we would need assistance. My husband happened to have a physical booked and his doctor suggested he do a sperm analysis just to be sure everything was in working order. It wasn't.

We called a fertility clinic the next day and after a round of uncomfortable tests, discovered that I have a low ovarian reserve. The doctor recommended we proceed straight to IVF with ICSI.

I had always assumed having children was just a matter of my choosing.

I had always assumed having children was just a matter of my choosing. I assumed that should I ever want to have a baby, I would just have sex like everyone else and have a baby. I want all those years on birth control back, please!

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The reaction: I am usually a pretty pessimistic person, but for some reason I felt pumped about starting IVF. It was like another adventure. Sure it [cost] a fortune and the chances of success were incredibly low, but I was so sure that we would get through it and come out with a baby on the other side.

I was sure that we would eventually laugh about my husband having to give me injections in my ass and when the baby cried we would joke about how much we paid for them.

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The plan B: My husband and I tried fertility treatments with donor sperm, which didn't work. We are now in the process of adopting.

The biggest challenges: It has been incredibly difficult sometimes to hold each other's pain. Because I was the one on hormones and my emotions were all over the place, my husband would have to hold me up a lot, even though he was grieving the loss of his biology as well.

It has been incredibly difficult sometimes to hold each other's pain.

I also feel like we've just missed out on so much time. We have spent years of our life giving and getting injections, wondering if or how we would ever be parents. I kept telling myself that parenting was going to be so hard, so my husband and I should enjoy this precious time together now, but I just couldn't. It was all we both talked about and thought about.

Wendy Litner

The high points: I cope with the hard stuff by using humour and this experience was no different. My husband and I tried to laugh at every step of the way. From making fun of one or two baby pictures on the clinic wall (I'm SO sorry!) to cracking jokes in the egg retrieval room, there was nothing about the experience that was too precious to laugh at!

There was nothing about the experience that was too precious to laugh at!

The bright side: My relationship with my husband has intensified in the most incredible way. So much so, that I can't regret our experience with infertility. It made me feel connected with him and in love with him in so many different ways.

Wendy Litner

How they cope: Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we eat pizza and drink wine. We try and be kind to ourselves and let ourselves feel our feelings.

Talking about infertility: When you tell people you are struggling with infertility, often times people feel compelled to give advice. It comes from such a wonderfully caring place, but I felt like I was working with a top fertility doctor and he had my protocol covered!

Sometimes though, infertility can't be solved. And people going through it just need someone to listen and to validate their experience.

I'm guilty of doing this as well — we just tend to want to fix the problem. Sometimes though, infertility can't be solved. And people going through it just need someone to listen and to validate their experience.

What she wants other couples to know: You don't have to feel hopeful. You are going through enough physically and emotionally, you don't also have to feel positive and cheerful while you're doing it.

Raising awareness of infertility with the series "How to Buy a Baby": When I was going through infertility treatments ... I felt so isolated and alone and like I wasn't supposed to talk about what I was going through when all I wanted to do was yell about it.

I'm just hoping that the more people who talk about their experience struggling to conceive and share their story, the more people will feel comfortable to reach out and get the support that can be so vital while going through treatments.

The more people who talk about their experience struggling to conceive... the more people will feel comfortable to reach out and get the support.

We are cultivating a strong community of incredibly strong people and I am honoured to share this story! I hope people love watching it as much as my useless ovaries and I loved writing it!

"How to Buy a Baby" will stream on cbc.ca/watch and on the CBC-TV app starting Nov. 13.

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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