CTV The Social’s Melissa Grelo Shares Her Struggle With Infertility And Encourages Women To Be Open And Honest With Their Partners
Education and Advocacy Melissa and her husband were faced with infertility issues when they decided it was time for them to start a family. Melissa is now a proud mother who is eager to share her journey with other families that are struggling to conceive.
Mediaplanet The Social gives you and your co-hosts an opportunity to mix fun conversation with meaningful health discussion. Why has this approach endeared you to Canadian women?
Melissa Grelo I feel that The Social is a representation of what women across the country do every day with their friends and family – have conversations. Oftentimes, those conversations are about everyday news, celebrity gossip or careers. Sometimes, those discussions are about very serious topics like world politics, election campaigns and health issues.
We reflect the same real dialogues that women are having all the time with one another. Watching at home, you’re probably talking to us, too, siding with one perspective over another or strongly disagreeing with someone’s points. The conversation transcends the television set because we get people thinking. I think that’s what has created, built and sustained our loyal audience.
MP You and your husband have been outspoken about your past struggles with infertility. What issues did you face and how did you ultimately overcome these challenges?
"My husband and I, like most newlyweds, thought we’d take our first years as a married couple to enjoy married life with one another and would talk about children in the years ahead."
MG My husband and I, like most newlyweds, thought we’d take our first years as a married couple to enjoy married life with one another and would talk about children in the years ahead. When that time arrived, we had been married for five years, I was five years older, and we started to actively try to start a family. At the time, I was still living a very hectic lifestyle, with my job as morning show host on CP24 Breakfast getting the lion’s share of my energy.
I was working challenging hours, waking up at 3:30 a.m. Monday to Friday, and attending or hosting numerous events around the city. I was averaging four to five hours of sleep each night. After trying for six months to conceive, we decided to visit a fertility clinic for some guidance. The doctor told us to keep trying naturally for another six months.
Six months later, we were back in that office. We started cycle monitoring and blood tests to ensure I was healthy, while my husband was tested to ensure the same. We were. This was the beginning of an over two-year journey undergoing fertility treatments like numerous intrauterine inseminations (IUI) and drug interventions. After repeated disappointment, we decided to take a break and reassess our journey. It was at this time that The Social was preparing to launch and rehearsals began in earnest. It’s also when I started sleeping more due to a modified morning show schedule that allowed me to start on air two hours later in the morning, which meant a 5 a.m. wake-up call.
Lo and behold, two weeks into my new work schedule, I unexpectedly, but happily, became pregnant! We were able to get through the constant disappointment and frustration by keeping the dialogue open and honest between us, and never hiding how we were feeling. We also asked each other, what is the worst-case scenario, and could we handle it and still be happy? The answer was a resounding yes, we could handle it and still live a happy, full life together. Once we knew and accepted that, we were able to face whatever came our way.
MP What is your advice to women and their partners who are struggling to conceive?
MG My advice to couples struggling to conceive is to promise each other that you will be honest about your feelings, always. Resentment and frustration are ugly emotions that can be toxic to a relationship if left unchecked, especially when struggling with infertility. In the blame game, nobody wins. Also, ask and answer the following questions honestly of yourself and each other: What if we cannot conceive a child naturally? What options can we or are we willing to entertain?
If we ultimately do not conceive, even with treatments, then what? Is adoption or surrogacy an option? Can we still have a happy, full life without children? Will I live with regret if we do not have children? Answering these questions will help couples honestly assess their situation and guide the next step.
MP In 2014 you gave birth to a baby girl. How has motherhood impacted you and enriched your life?
MG As the saying goes, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Plan A of conceiving hadn’t worked and I was forging ahead in my career when I had stopped trying for a baby. I was about to metaphorically give birth to a new baby – a brand new national talk show – when I got the surprise of my life, a baby! Nothing could have prepared me for the seismic shift that occurred in my life.
I’m not going to lie; launching a new talk show, giving birth, then returning to work after only 12 weeks, was a whirlwind that I’m only now recovering from, but I couldn’t be happier. I am a proud working mother of a daughter who only makes me want to work harder to provide a good life and a good example. I don’t think that the constant guilt pangs will ever ease but they are balanced by the passion I have for my career.
My daughter pushed me to be a better version of myself. I want to live a life that exemplifies passion, love and ambition. That has only been heightened since becoming a mother.
MP How do you find balance between your demanding broadcasting career, family time, exercise and a few moments here and there to yourself?
MG I don’t believe in balance. I believe that we are constantly juggling all the elements of our lives as best as we can, knowing that we can likely only focus well on one thing at a time. My father says, you can’t have it all in one pocket. It’s true. When I’m at work, I am focused on doing the best job I can.
When I’m at home with my family, I try to put work aside and relish in the sweet moments. When I’m exercising, I go hard, turn off the phone and turn up the music. This could not happen without an amazing family unit and network that includes a wonderfully supportive husband, phenomenal parents and sister, and amazing caregiver. It takes a village! Finally, go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
MP What is your favourite way to unwind after a busy week?
MG After a busy week, I like to unwind either by hanging out and catching up with my girlfriends, who are almost all new moms too, or watching a movie with my husband while enjoying a great glass of wine. If you don’t give to yourself, you won’t have much to give others.