Every Mother’s day we celebrate those who love and nurture, and we acknowledge those who long to be a Mother and those whos babies didn’t make it earth-side.
Through this year’s community casting call we are honored to share the story of Josy who is a ‘childless’ mother. We were struck by her story of heartbreak, grit and a yearning we know many of our community share on Mother’s day and beyond.
In her own words she shared with us:
It's our privilege to sit down with Josy and ask her to share her perspective on motherhood, in the lead up to Mother's day.
“I still count myself as a Mother even though I don’t have a physical earth side baby right now. The infertility gig is long and lonely and Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of what many woman long for - to be a mother in the eyes of the world.
The yearning mother is real and there are so many of us quietly battening this alone. The yearning mother is strong and powerful - we are full of grit, hope and determination. Qualities I hope to pass onto my baby one day. The yearning mother wants to be seen and heard.”
Josy, tell us about yourself, your journey and what led you to become the woman you are today?
I find it hard to talk about myself and as I answer these questions, I am very aware that I have hardly shared my ongoing journey to motherhood with many people.
I wanted to tell my story on Mother’s Day because I know my path will be like many others. Mother’s Day is a wonderful and extremely hard day for so many of us. My story is about fertility and struggling on the path towards motherhood, but I would also like to acknowledge that this is just a slice of what Mother’s Day represents and my love goes out to you if you find Mother’s Day hard for another reason.
Mother’s Day when you are yearning to be a mother or you are a mother but with no children physically next to you is a rollercoaster.
I am 33 and live with my darling partner Steve (34), we have been together just shy of 14 years. We have two gorgeous but completely silly German Shorthaired Pointers, Otto, and Eva.
We decided 7 years ago that we were ready to start a family – I stopped taking my birth control, I started taking pregnancy vitamins, tracked my cycle, went for a doctors check-up, took a romantic holiday away and told my friends and family about our new adventure – stay tuned mini Josy and Steve coming soon. But here we are all these years later with no baby in our arms. I look back at that first year and I love thinking about that version of me – I was so carefree and optimistic so full of love and hope. After our first year of trying a very close friend and colleague of mine suggested I go back to the doctor, I rolled my eyes at her and thought “What do you know”. Well, she knew a lot, her child was created with fertility assistance. I wrote her off for a long time thinking I was fit, healthy, fertile and young! I eventually did go back to my GP, ran a few basic blood tests, and was sent on my way for another year of trying to conceive.
As time went on, I became obsessed with trying to conceive every month. I was tracking my temperature, acupuncture, naturopaths, strict diets, exercise and time slots for sex – surely all of this would aid my quest. Nothing did. A couple more years came and went and I went to a different GP and we were immediately referred to a fertility clinic. I was overwhelmed and confused as to what we were doing at the fertility clinic – why did we need to be here? More tests, surgery to check for endometriosis (yes, lots of that and adenomyosis too), more tests and flushes and we were presented with our options. IVF. That was it – that was our option. I walked away from that appointment angry and frustrated – surely we don’t have to go to the extreme right away. Steve and I were put on the waitlist for public funding and while we waited we self-funded three rounds of IUI which were all unsuccessful.
We then decided to fund a round of IVF. Our first round of IVF produced one embryo, just one. That magical little embryo stuck around for the ride and I thought, easy we are done here – our first and only round of IVF has worked with a single embryo, what lucky ducks we were. That little baby was not meant for this world and as I went through the miscarriage and surgery my world went dark. Still no funding for IVF, we funded another round. This time by scraping the bottom of the accounts and going into debt – actively putting ourselves years behind financially. One embryo again, again I was hopeful and again it wasn't meant to be.
As I tried to keep afloat and make everyone around me none the wiser of our heartbreak our public funding was finally allocated. I was terrified. I did not want to begin – with the experience of my first two rounds being so unsuccessful and my body taking a hammering physically and emotionally I just didn’t know if I could. But I still want to be a mum I thought – and for us, this means assisted fertility treatment. I headed into my third round defeated, deflated, older and unhealthier than when I started 7 years ago but still with a glimmer of hope. 5 embryos – and we will have to stay tuned to find out how this round of treatment pans out for us.
Infertility is all-consuming – but my wish for everyone is to come out to the other end and not let this time define you. If you are at the start or in the thick of it right now – this probably will not resonate with you and that is ok. But one day mother or not you will be you again.
How do you celebrate or cope with Mothers Day?
I will celebrate by sharing my gratitude for my mum. I will celebrate my sister who has recently become a mum, who by the way, I am in awe of and want to be exactly like her when I am a mum. This year I will celebrate my little ones that are not earthside by acknowledging that they were real and still made me a mum.
I will also celebrate being a dog mum –those four-legged friends have been nothing but loyal and a source of joy during this time. I will reach out to my friend whose Mama has passed away and lastly, I will be checking on my friends who are yearning to be a mum – it is not an easy day.
Mother’s Day can be a charged day. Be gentle and take a social media hiatus if you need it!
Who and where do you look for support and solace on this journey?
I have some incredible support people around me but the biggest thing I have found is that I have had to turn inward and show up and support myself, this is an incredibly lonely path - even with the best partner, family and friends support from the sidelines.
But really at the end of it, I needed to be my own biggest cheerleader - even when I had days of being my own worst enemy. These 7 years have taught me to be gentle, kind and respectful to myself and my body.
I am not perfect and have bad days, but I always try to show up with the best intentions. I must do a shout-out to the Fertility Family NZ Facebook page. That page has kept me sane and calm in the thick of IVF.
There is so much knowledge and support that is shared in that private space that can instantly settle you or answer your most peculiar questions. And of course, Steve, I think he is the absolute best and I know I am enough and so loved by him just as I am.
What’s helped, what’s not helped?
Time and space to figure this wild situation out. It has taken me years to come to terms with our fertility challenges and years of work to give myself the respect and space I deserve. What is that saying? Times heals everything….maybe it does.
What hasn’t helped - oh the well-meaning comments from people who luckily have no idea what fertility struggles involve. The classic ‘just relax, take a holiday, my sister's best friends Aunty did this and they got pregnant straight away, oh IVF – how exciting, at least you can get pregnant, at least your baby died early.’
Gosh, these comments made me so wild – it has taken so much time for me to not snap and react. My advice is – do not offer advice and try with everything in your being to not start a sentence with ‘at least’. I can guarantee you a person struggling with fertility has tried it all – we promise!
Also if you don’t know the full story, telling someone to relax and that it will happen if they have no fallopian tubes or they have zero sperm motility isn’t helpful. As bystanders we don’t usually get the entire story, it is a heavy burden to carry let alone explain it to every well-meaning person. They will share if they are ready – again, another promise.
Words of encouragement you would share with those on the same journey?
You are not faulty. You are strong enough. You will get through the other end baby or not. This does not define you.
Something you love and admire about your own Mother?
Gosh, I think my Mama is just such a perfect human. She radiates compassion and kindness and is always there for my sister and me – even though we are in our thirties now.
My Mum’s first baby was born sleeping at full term and I know she knows exactly what I am feeling and going through – but not once has she compared our stories, not once has she said I know what this is like for you.
She believes every journey is the person's own and requires space and healing - it cannot be measured against another experience. She is just ever present with her wisdom and love trying to get her daughter through the trenches as best she can.
Saben Style – your favourite bag and what’s next on your wishlist
Naturally, I have been eyeing up the Milan carry-all with the baby accessory set – it has been on my wish list for years and I hope that one day soon I can finally add it to my collection.
The other bag in my immediate sight is the Coco Mini bag in a brownstone – what a classic piece.
Spoil them with Saben this Mother's Day - Shop Saben New Arrivals.