**trigger warning - infant loss and fertility trauma**
In this episode, I'm sharing a conversation with Leah Micallef. Leah and I met when she was my patient years ago. She is now someone who I not only consider a colleague in the fertility world, but also a friend. This is both an educational and fertility-story based episode. Leah is a social worker and mental health professional and has been for many years. Her own path to parenthood has inspired her to professionally offer her support to those going through reproductive challenges. And the fertility community is lucky to have her.
Today we are going to talk very honestly about her story and she is going to share some insights about mental health and the tools she found helpful along the way.
Leah Micallef’s Bio:
Leah lives in Milton Ontario. She is a mother and a Social Worker with a Bachelor and Masters degree in Social Work. She is a registered member of The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers and also the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals. Leah has been in the business of helping people for more than 16 years and has worked in community mental health, harm reduction and substance use programs serving homeless and economically marginalized populations in Toronto.
Parenthood began in the most challenging and painful way possible for Leah and her partner Brendan. In 2015, after struggling with fertility and using Assisted Reproductive Technologies for about 4 years by that point, Leah went into premature labour at 19 weeks and 2 days gestation and their first born daughter Aibhlinn (pronounced Ave-leen) died. After subsequent IVF treatments, their son Finnlay was born in 2016, and twins Charlotte and Adelynn completed their family in 2019. Leah is considering a compassionate embryo transfer for her two remaining frozen embryos.
Leah founded Conceive Resilience to meet an unmet need that she herself struggled with when she couldn't find the right providers or programs to support her mental health in the ways she needed it at the time. Leah is committed to ensuring Conceive Resilience helps to fill the gaps by providing one to one support, education and counselling and free and easy access to coping and resiliency support for people who are using ART to build their families.
These days, when she is not busy in a house full of noise and energetic kids, Leah is either talking with her own therapist or using her mindfulness tools to recover from her traumatic fertility related experiences. Learning to live with the grief of losing her first born child is a work in progress and for now, her hobby. That and learning how to grow a Square Foot vegetable garden with her kids and finding time to hike the beautiful trails in and around Halton Region.