Nova Scotia·Point of View

Tour dates and fertility treatments: Jenn Grant's 5-year journey to start a family

Halifax singer-songwriter Jenn Grant is known for her haunting voice, whimsical lyrics and the way she can make the room stop when she's centre stage. But she's also a new mother, a five-year journey marked by music, fertility treatments and longing.

'For years, I felt like no one in the world wanted to be pregnant and have a baby more than me'

Baby Gus arrived on Dec. 11, the beginning of a new journey for Jenn Grant and Daniel Ledwell. (Daniel Ledwell)

I spent so long trying to decide whether to share this photo of me in the bathtub. I never quite decided but, amidst a few aches and pains, I knew I wanted to celebrate this big round belly; I was exactly nine months pregnant that night.

It took many years — about five — of wanting and trying everything to conceive, from using more natural therapies (all of them) to, eventually, a few rounds of in-vitro fertilization. (The latter while attempting to tour for my last record.)

Jenn Grant at exactly nine months pregnant. (Jenn Grant/Instagram)

It wasn't until the end of my pregnancy that I finally started to feel ready to share this part of that journey — and to say that I know it's not easy for everyone to start a family when and how they want to.

For years, I felt like no one in the world wanted to be pregnant and have a baby more than me.

But that's not the case; it's so common. There was no rhyme or reason for it not happening, just a deep longing.

The first cycle of IVF wasn't successful. We lost two embryos ('bunny and bear') very early on. I think that's what is called a very early miscarriage. It was actually the night before my blood test was supposed to happen.

Early or not, it was a painful experience, both emotionally and physically. But also one where I saw my husband really shine in his care for me. So after two days of laying on the couch and eating white bread and butter, I called the clinic to book our second cycle. We weren't giving up!

Balancing touring and treatments

Even though the first round of IVF didn't work, the experience for me was still a beautiful one in so many ways. We had created life, and I felt hopeful our baby was just hiding behind the stars.

We knew this second try would be our last. Partly because of the cost, and partly because it can take such a toll on your life.

One of the hardest parts of the IVF experience for me was wanting to tour more and often not being able to, because of the many appointments that go along with IVF, and then feeling down about not supporting my beautiful record and the people I work with in the way that I wanted.

Jenn Grant and Daniel Ledwell are partners in life and in music. They're shown here at a show in Ontario; they flew there immediately after the embryo was implanted in the second IVF cycle. (Daniel Grant)

I was on the highest dose of medications possible and just not responding well. I crumpled into a ball in the hallways of IKEA when the doctor said we might need to start looking into egg donors from the Czech Republic. I did this; I looked into all the possibilities I didn't want to face but that might bring us our family. Families come in all sorts of ways and I was ready to be a part of that — whatever it took.

We had several conversations with our amazing doctor, Dr. Mike Ripley, about whether we wanted to cancel our cycle. But in the end, we all agreed that we had come this far and to just keep going.

Being positive and not putting so much incredible pressure on myself to be perfect, well, I think that was something I was meant to learn, somehow.- Jenn Grant

We took hold of the experience and it made it a nice one. This time we did my injections every night in front of a cozy fire, watching Parks and Recreation (thank you Amy Poehler!) and celebrating with a bit of cashew ice cream. Laughing about the insanity of so many needles and the lengths we were going to try and make this finally happen.

We made it fun.

Not to say it wouldn't have worked otherwise, but being positive and not putting so much incredible pressure on myself to be perfect, well, I think that was something I was meant to learn, somehow.

Hoping beyond hope

On that last day, with my hormones amped up and our treatment cycle extended by several days — just hours before flying to Ontario to rent gear and play a show — we headed to the clinic hoping beyond hope that there would be a little embryo waiting for us.

Grant at five months pregnant, with her husband and musical partner shooting a photo to mark the occasion. (Daniel Ledwell)

Guess what, there were three! But there was one who was exceeding expectations and I just thought, 'Hurry up and get that in there!!' They said he looked like a little light and for months I was singing 'This little light of mine,' urging him to stay.

It was a big day when we got the "eight weeks go-ahead" to start our prenatal visits at the IWK, but I was crying saying goodbye to our nurse, Patricia Ferguson. They were such a huge part of the process and always made Dan and I feel so loved and cared for.

We are eternally grateful to them.

Awash in gratitude

The first time I felt our little guy kick was when I went off to make a new album in Portland, Ore., and the drums played for the first time. (I screamed with delight.) He is intertwined in that process of creation too, which is so sacred and special to me.

Now, with this sweet babe by my side and a record in the can, I'm feeling so many layers of gratitude.

And I want to say to any wanting-to-be parents out there: I understand a bit of your journey and I am sending you love. Anything is possible and whatever happens, you will be OK.

About the Author

Jenn Grant

Singer-songwriter

Jenn Grant is an award-winning Halifax singer-songwriter, known for her haunting voice and whimsical lyrics. Grant has recorded seven full-length albums in 11 years. She's also a new mother and is deeply excited about it.