My journey with infertility began in 2004 and has led me on an unimaginable path to find meaning, gratitude, and fulfillment through academic research and raising awareness. My husband and I were devastated by our diagnosis of infertility and were further negatively impacted when our fertility treatment journey ended unsuccessfully in 2010. Following our final attempt at IVF and ICSI, I found myself feeling as though my life held no meaning and I sought help and guidance from a psychotherapist. With an incredible amount of support from my therapist, husband, friends, and family, I began my path to healing from the trauma of unsuccessful fertility treatments. While this path has been long, I’ve discovered the healing power of sharing my story through academic research and raising awareness of involuntary childlessness.
Having always wanted to earn an undergraduate degree in voice performance (I’m a self-employed piano and voice teacher), I decided to enroll in an Honours Bachelor of Music program at the age of 31. During my final year of university, I discovered a passion for research on the impact of sex hormones on the female singing voice. Although a large amount of research has been conducted on the impact of hormonal shifts and interventions on the female singing voice, I discovered a gap in the academic literature on the impact of fertility treatments. This discovery led me to conduct a research project on the impact of fertility treatments on singers’ voices that revealed a need for further research in this field.
I enrolled in a Master’s of Music Education program so that I could further my studies and continue to fuel my passion for research. My research interests evolved to include women who are involuntarily childless, not necessarily through medical infertility. This evolution coincided with my diagnosis, at 34, of Remitting-Recurring Multiple Sclerosis. At the time of my diagnosis, my husband and I had been thinking of attempting fertility treatments again, but I was told that I would have to discontinue my MS medication if we were to try again. And, so, my childlessness became a “choice” between my physical and cognitive health and trying to conceive. I chose my health and continued on to conduct my Master’s thesis research titled “The Impact of Infertility on Female Vocalist Identity.” Through research presentations at academic conferences, I met a number of men and women who shared their infertility stories with me. These interactions were incredibly powerful and fueled my continued research journey.
Following completion of my Master’s degree, I enrolled in a PhD program in Music Education, where I’m currently a PhD candidate in my third year. I continue to present my research and raise awareness for involuntary childlessness through academic presentations and social networking. My dissertation fieldwork will take place this coming year as I explore the ways in which involuntarily childless women build community and develop self-empowerment through singing and songwriting with the Childless Voices Choir.