The Light of our Lives
Cassandra Dreliozis (FNZ support volunteer) compares her fertility journey to finding the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
My entire life I have dreamed of being a mum. I have always been “that friend” that loves and adores everyone's kids. In 2012 I met the love of my life Alan and after 2 years we were so ready to start our family.
After 6 months of trying we went to the doctors who believed everything was fine and sent us on our way. 6 more months passed and nothing. At this point a referral was made to the hospital for me to see a gynaecologist. There were no obvious signs of anything wrong and we were told “you’re young & healthy, just keep trying”. After a while of still no luck we did a bunch of tests and a laparoscopy which found endometriosis. I always suspected PCOS but the doctor disagreed.
After the surgery we conceived naturally but sadly this ended in a miscarriage and D&C. We were absolutely gutted and could not understand why this was happening to us. We decided we needed to go to a clinic and see the experts which still to this day, I wish we did earlier.
They were amazing. We were finally being taken seriously; I was diagnosed with PCOS as I suspected. Our best option was to try ovulation induction but this never worked. Every blood test was bad news. Given this outcome we now met the criteria for public funding so went on the waiting list. While waiting we decided to try Ovulation Induction using injections rather than the pills. All the scans and bloods were looking good however the day before I was due to have my blood test to see if I was pregnant I got my period. The absolute high that I was living on was suddenly taken away in one trip to the toilet. Yet was I to know that this was going to be my future. Every trip to the toilet, every phone call from a private number, every blood test and every appointment... living in fear, uncertainty, emotional and physical pain.
We couldn’t afford to do any more private treatment so we waited for our funding to come through and in 2017 we started IVF. We had an amazing response and come egg collection we got 21 eggs! 18 fertilized and 13 made it to day-5 embryos. We were so lucky and once again feeling on top of the world.
Once things were ready we transferred our first embryo. After a few days I could not help myself and did a home pregnancy test which was positive but again after getting so excited and planning our future, a trip to the toilet ended everything when I started having a miscarriage. Bloods confirmed what we didn’t want to hear and after another D&C it was over. We were left broken yet again.
I started to feel like a giant failure, my body was not doing what it was made to do and I could not give the love of my life what we dreamed of together. There were times where I tried to convince Alan to leave me as I felt like it was all my fault but he insisted we were in this together.
At this point we were advised to do recurrent miscarriage screening to rule out anything further and surprisingly it came back that Alan has a genetic condition called Balanced Translocation. We were all left pretty shocked and unsure where to from here but very long story short we were able to carry out PGD testing on our remaining embryos and from this 7 were ok.
After a little break over Christmas and mentally preparing ourselves again we transferred our first PGD tested embryo. This time I waited and didn’t do a home pregnancy test as I just didn’t feel pregnant and I didn’t want to end the small glimmer of hope that I still had… but once again it did work and I was pregnant! We treaded so carefully in the first few weeks wondering when this one will end however it didn’t, well at least it didn’t yet. Everything was going so well until my waters broke at 19 weeks. There really wasn’t much anyone could do other than hope everything would be ok but the reality was nothing was ok and 2 days later I went into labour and gave birth to our little angel Rose who was born sleeping.
I was absolutely destroyed. Physically, mentally and emotionally destroyed. I was struggling so bad with everything and with a very unsupportive employer Alan and I decided it was best for me to quit my job and have some much needed time out. The added stress to have an income just wasn’t worth it.
Months later when we were ready we tried again, transferred another perfect wee embryo and got a positive pregnancy test but yet again another trip to the toilet ended the joy as I was having another miscarriage. My third D&C later I was done, I couldn’t do this anymore.
There were so many things in our lives we were missing out on, putting on hold, friendships that I distanced myself from and I could see myself falling into this horrible hole that no one wants to be in. If it wasn’t for the amazing support from a few special people in our lives and the clinic counsellors I don’t think I would have dealt with things as well as I did in the end.
After a review appointment with our specialist we thought long and hard about where to from here and decided we just couldn’t give up. We wanted a family so badly that we just couldn’t stop. Time helps heal and we just need some more time.
When we were ready again we did a hysteroscopy before doing another embryo transfer and found a lot of scar tissue in my uterus. This was able to be removed and then the following month another embryo was transferred and there I was, pregnant yet again.
We always suspected the reason Rose was born so early was due to me having an Incompetent Cervix so I was classed as high risk and was under obstetric care. This suspicion was proving to be the case as at 12 weeks my cervix was not looking the greatest so we operated and placed a cervical stitch to prevent us loosing this bubba.
I lived the entire pregnancy in fear. We had a few scares along the way and I was so thankful to have fortnightly scans as I was able to have my fears put at ease when everything was actually looking good.
Then our dream for the past 6 years finally happened, our miracle girl Maddison was born well, healthy and full term (6 days after taking the stitches out).
Our hearts are so full and as much as everything we have been through has been absolute hell on earth, Maddie makes it all liveable now. To think that we were so close to giving up, Maddie wouldn’t be here today if we did. She honestly is the light at the end of our very dark tunnel we were once in. She is now 4 months old and is the centre of our world.
During our journey we have met some amazing people and made life time friendships. I also had the honour of joining the Fertility NZ Wellington Committee as the support they gave to me over the years I could only return and do the same for others.
With four embryos left we can now look forward to the future and stop living in this constant fear, uncertainty and pain.