“I’m grateful this is happening to me.” These are words I never thought I would say while reflecting on my fertility journey thus far. I mean, why would anyone want to go through the pain, grief, and uncertainty that comes with IVF? But the truth is, I wouldn’t change the cards I have been dealt because it has completely changed my outlook on life for the better.
I had the fairy-tale picture in my mind when I married my best friend and came off the birth control pill. I started talking about baby names, character traits and even forecasted what horoscope my child(ren) would be. Being a type-A personality, I planned to get pregnant right after my 30th birthday soon after our wedding. Fast forward several years, and we have since had multiple IVF cycles without any success.
Living with PCOS, blocked fallopian tubes, and my husband’s poor sperm motility means IVF is our best chance to grow our family. I have been no stranger in the past to the world of pap smears and stirrups; I suffered from abnormal cells and have had many laparoscopy procedures since I was 18 years old. But unlike any other challenge I have faced in my life, growing our family is the only hurdle I have absolutely no control over and feel like I am failing at.
I have spent more than a decade working in the Australian media industry as a television journalist, producer, and presenter, and I am now the owner of a successful production business. I am used to the spotlight as a media personality in Perth, and I have always made it my mission to live an authentic life. I have interviewed incredible individuals and traveled around the world, sharing peoples’ stories of struggle and success. While I have always been transparent, I never thought I would be sharing my own fertility journey with the world. But when someone tells me I can’t do something, my personality is to fight for it even harder.
What started as a bruised ego is now a bruised belly, but IVF has also changed my life for the better in so many ways. It has made me a more empathetic friend, daughter, sister, colleague, and wife. And ultimately, I believe it is going to make me a better mother, one with a deep awareness of what others might be going through.
Believe me, I have cried through the park as I ran by strollers and mothers’ groups, feeling alone and lost. But infertility has also given me the ability to change my internal dialogue and recognize my self-sabotaging behavior, and it has made all the difference. Now, instead of being jealous of moms at the park, I look at them, smile, and say, “that will be me very soon.” I used to wish there was a different button other than “like” as people posted their baby announcements on social media. But now, their exciting news fuels my hopefulness.
I have run out of responses to unwarranted comments like “everything happens for a reason” or “maybe a vacation would do you both some good.” For anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility, sometimes just being there is the best support. One thing I have learned is that I may feel lonely, but I am not alone. Whether it’s an early miscarriage or unsuccessful implantation, I have experienced so much loss and grief on this journey, but I have learned not to measure it against the joy of others.
Someone wise once told me, “when you’re heard, you start to heal,” and I truly believe in the magic behind that phrase. My marriage is stronger than it was when we started trying to conceive. We have had the Carrie and Big 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 on how they can best support me instead of being a hero and pretending I’m okay when inside I’m struggling.
Going through IVF and running my own business has also taught me the value of balance and priorities. I have learned that saying “no" is a complete sentence. My friendships are now focused on quality, not quantity. I have removed toxic people from my life and have created new connections instead.
Not only has my rollercoaster ride through infertility been a chance to overcome my fear of needles, but it has also allowed me to evaluate how I see my own self-worth as a woman. I have gratitudes written on my bathroom mirror, which reminds me every day that my body is doing incredible things. I have learned there is nothing wrong with being your own cheerleader. Infertility has redefined my definition of failure and has allowed me to use my journalism skills in a completely new way as host of the new podcast, “What To Expect When You’re Injecting,” a candid and personal discussion on IVF and infertility.
This project is allowing me to turn my 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. The truth is, I don’t know if I will ever be a mother, so for now my greatest achievement is to be a good human regardless of if I am able to create my own.
Cassie Silver is an infertility warrior and host of the podcast, ‘What To Expect When You’re Injecting,’ which is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. You can follow Cassie on Instagram at @cassiesilver.