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Lisa's story

I started dating my husband in high school. I had my first surgery to remove endometriosis in 2005 when I was 19. We found out then that I was only born with one ovary, so we knew we could have trouble conceiving from the start. My gynaecologist told us we should start trying for kids then. We were both at Uni and in no position to be parents.

After 9 years of being together we got married in 2012. In November 2013 I had my second surgery to remove more endometriosis. At this stage we also decided to get my husband’s sperm tested and the results were not great. Our gynaecologist referred us straight to Fertility Associates and said we would need more help than we originally thought.

We ended up privately funding our appointments at FA to get things moving quicker. More tests revealed at the age of 27 I had an AMH of 3.4 and my husband’s sperm was 95% covered in antibodies. Our only option was IVF with ICSI. Since we hadn’t officially been trying to have a baby for long since I was always on the pill for pain management, we didn’t qualify to go on the list for public funding yet. So we decided to privately fund a round of IVF. The doctors guessed we had a 20% chance of success.

In August 2014, we started with a long cycle on the maximum dosage of Gonal F. We collected 5 eggs, 3 were mature and fertilised. At day three we put back one bad quality 5 cell embryo. That cycle was over and we were down $14,000. We struggled. We thought IVF was a magic bullet and it would work first time. Didn’t it always? All the stories we had read said that that was how it went.

Because of my low AMH, the doctors told us that we didn’t have time to waste. We didn’t have time to wait for public funding. Some family helped us out with a loan to fund our next round. In May 2015 we started our second privately funded IVF cycle. This time we added testosterone patches and upped the ICSI to IMSI. Amazingly we collected 12 eggs. 8 were mature and fertilised. 1 embryo made it to day 5. We were amazed. We thought this would be it, it only takes one right? Amazingly we got a positive pregnancy test. But we didn’t realise at the time that the HCG number was very low. 2 days later we lost that pregnancy. It broke my heart when the doctors called it a chemical pregnancy. It was a baby to us, but referring to it that way makes it seem like it wasn’t a baby to the doctors. This was the closest I had ever being to being a mother and my heart was getting more and more broken as time went on.

We had finally made it on to the public funding list. And made it to the top of the list in January 2016. Another round. This time we collected 12 eggs, 7 were mature and fertilised. 2 made it to day 5. One fresh transfer, and another negative test, but we got our first ever frozen embryo. This was supposed to be my last chance to have a baby before I turned 30. The plan was to have had two kids by 30. I was broken. Everyone I knew was having kids. I had to unfollow everyone on social media. I became very bitter. I couldn’t help celebrate with others starting their families. I just wanted to cry and run away. I worked super hard and lost 20kgs. We had put our lives on hold for so long. We decided to start spending our money on something other than heartbreak and started to travel.

I am so lucky that my husband and I still had a great relationship. He saw how broken I was. He held me when I cried. And I know he hurt as much as I did. However the relationship between our extended family did not fare so well.

We decided to put back our one and only frozen embryo at the end of 2016. I had to advocate for myself with Fertility Associates. I wanted a scratch and to do the Colorado protocol. On the 14th of November 2016, the same day as the big Kaikoura earthquake and my 30th birthday, I had a scratch done by myself. My husband was trapped at home from the flooding and slips after the earthquake. When I got home I spent the rest of my 30th birthday in tears on the kitchen floor. On black Friday we booked grab a seat flights to America for Christmas. If the transfer didn’t work we could have something to look forward to, and could avoid my broken family.

In the middle of December or precious embryo survived thawing. 3 days before Christmas we got our first positive test. This time our HCG was higher and more viable. But we couldn’t have tests done from America, and over the holiday period. We spent an amazing 6 days in America, I was testing on home pregnancy tests morning and night. I spent so much time googling the different tests and the darkness of the lines on the tests.

The story of my pregnancy is a whole other book. The anxiety was crippling. I thought we were going to lose it the whole time. I had a spreadsheet with the chances of miscarriage by day. A massive bleed at 5+1weeks and we thought it was over. We cried so much. Amazingly the baby survived, but the sickness began. I suffered hyperemesis gravadium. I was admitted to hospital for dehydration three times. I spent weeks in bed or crying on the bathroom floor. I finally stopped throwing up at 27 weeks. At 29 weeks I went into pre term labour. My OB managed to stop it and after another week in hospital I was allowed to go home. On 9 July 2017, at 32+3 my waters broke. After a speedy 5 hours, baby Chelsea Nicole arrived 7 and a half weeks early, but she was perfect. She spent 23 days in hospital and on 1 August 2017 we got to take her home a whole month before she was due to arrive.

Infertility broke us. While Chelsea has healed my heart a little, I don’t think I will ever truly forget the pain we went through to get her. Unfortunately Chelsea will be an only child. I am not emotionally strong enough to go through IVF and pregnancy again. I can’t bear to set my heart on a second child and have to go through all of the heart break of IVF again. And since we do not get any more public funding, we are not prepared to spend another $45k trying again.

Infertility has left scars on me. My hope is that with time the pain will lessen.

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