What it's like having a baby after years of infertility and loss

Morwenna Trevenen and Kyle Collins struggled with infertility for years. They finally had a baby and are learning how to deal with their family's new challenge.

Life with a newborn throws this Winnipeg couple a curve after years of struggle

New mom Morwenna says even after years of trying to have a baby, she and her husband weren't prepared for the disorienting turn life took when their son Ryker was born. (Morwenna Trevenen)

For years, Morwenna Trevenen and Kyle Collins struggled with infertility. They tried everything from hormone treatment to adoption. By 2020, they felt they had exhausted almost all their other options. Through it all, they coped by finding moments of silliness. Morwenna shared her story with Now or Never in September. Click here to listen and read about how they dealt with the many heartbreaks and disappointments. A month ago, their son Ryker was born. This is how they're coping now. 

What happens when you spend years struggling and working toward a goal, and then you actually get it? 

I must say it's disconcerting. 

You can't help but stand there, hands on hips, with a "Now what?" expression on your face. 

You may also be somewhat thankful that during this pandemic, no one is there to see you flail around like a lost octopus in a wind tunnel. 

My husband and I spent seven years doing everything possible to start a family. There were seven years of devastating failures and losses, peppered with singalongs and blanket forts in an effort to find joy through it all.

When we tried our last-ditch attempt at in vitro fertilization (IVF) we never expected our one embryo to work.

Plot twist — it did. 

Some higher power must have ordered me the full-serve pregnancy platter, because I experienced every single pregnancy side effect. While the stowaway in my belly grew, he developed the habit of trashing his hotel room like a drunken diva rock star. To top it off, COVID-19 restrictions meant my husband couldn't be there for all of the appointments and ultrasounds. 

Even after years of preparing for this and wanting it so badly, we still weren't ready for the sharp and disorienting change that life takes.

In spite of it all, we tried our best to cherish what we could from our isolated little bubble. I had to keep reminding myself how lucky I was to have the experience at all. 

We played music at my belly to provide soundtracks to the dance party happening within. We went for waddles around the neighbourhood. We listened to funny podcasts and became experts at puzzles, which is harder than you'd think when your belly regularly knocks over the pieces.

Fighting for joy and silliness still remains a theme in our house, but we've also added finding balance to our mantra.

Morwenna Trevenen and her husband Kyle Collins constantly try to make each other laugh while dealing with struggles of infertility. (Kristen Sawatzky)

On top of the whole lost octopus feeling, the isolation of a pandemic, and general anxiety of having a newborn is hard. Yes, we were warned the first six weeks would be a hellish blur. But even after years of preparing for this and wanting it so badly, we still weren't ready for the sharp and disorienting change that life takes. 

The mix of joy and terror is real. 

Finding balance

As the days and weeks go on our joy grows. A major help (other than blissfully exhausted delirium) is telling ourselves to find balance. 

There are so many rules to raising a newborn nowadays, and so much conflicting advice. There's also the pressure on new moms to be happy, especially if you've struggled with infertility and/or lost children. It's unfair that you're expected to be in a constant state of bliss.

Newborns are tiny dictator overlords and it's okay to be upset some days.
On their last attempt at a round of IVF treatment Kyle and Morwenna had baby Ryker, a dictatorial overlord in between naps. (Kyle Collins)

Realizing that I'm not a bad mom for having ups and downs has been a game changer. I'm allowed to feel my feelings. 

Finding that balance, has helped me rediscover who I am and who I will be as a mom: I will be strong, I will be loving, I will be open, I will be silly, I will be thankful, I will love my son fiercely, and I will allow myself to mourn the loss of my freshly cleaned…anything, really. 

When it's 4 a.m. and my "blessing" just peed on me, then poops while I change him, then spits up exorcist-style all over the place, then refuses to sleep, I will give myself the grace to understand that this moment sucks. 

But I will also remember that it's fleeting, and that my love growing everyday for this little creature is a freaking miracle. When I acknowledge this is hard, it doesn't mean that I don't love my child, or that I'm ungrateful — it makes me a parent. I will make mistakes.

This journey will be messy, but we will figure it out as a family – goofy singalongs and all.