My journey to creating my family has not been an easy one. When I found out that I was pregnant after 6-months of trying to conceive, I was so excited, and my journey was underway. I never expected it to be the beginning of 7 years of blood tests, scans, operations, and injections.
In January 2013, I found out that I was pregnant. In a typical manner, I did a test and told my husband. In February, I found out it was all over, and my world came crashing down. I went in for what should have been a normal 7-week dating scan, and I walked out crushed. I still remember them not being able to find the heartbeat. I walked out of that dark room and immediately turned to the wall, and I broke down in floods of tears. My health deteriorated, and my husband took me to the hospital with unknown fluid in my stomach. I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum, and I had a D & C surgery to remove the tissue from my uterus. It was over.
Months went by, and the saying “well, at least you know you can get pregnant” didn’t ring true. I turned to further medical assistance and booked an appointment with a fertility specialist. For the first time in months, I felt confident in the fact that a plan was underway. I started on Clomid and felt hopeful again. If only it were that easy! By November, I had surgery to remove endometriosis, and I was beginning to realise that IVF might be my only option. Early 2014 was spent taking more fertility drugs in a last-ditch attempt to avoid IVF. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. There would have been a 5-year wait until we would qualify for public funding before being added to the waitlist. A waiting list (depending on region) that is up 18 months long! It was crazy to think that if my pregnancy had gone smoothly, I would have a 4-month-old baby by now. March was the month we jumped on our first IVF roller coaster and decided to fund our cycle. You get good news, and your spirit’s soar; then bad news sends them crashing down. Our first cycle was a complete failure. I found out that my surviving day 5 embryos would need to be frozen only minutes before the egg retrieval. After 5 days in the lab, I only ended up with one embryo to show for $12,000, and we had one opportunity for a baby. In June, when the time was right, we transferred our only embryo. Did you work? Nope!
I had nothing to show for months of drugs, blood tests and injections. I was thankful that it was winter, and I curled up in my bed and refused to face the world.
In July, we went back to the fertility clinic to try again. Thankfully my doctor is terrific; he reassured me that we would try a different approach for a better chance of success. Fewer eggs were harvested this time; my drug protocol changed. When my best embryo was transferred on day 3, I was nervous, mainly about the amount of money resting on this microscopic embryo. A phone call 6 days after the embryo transfer gave me some hope as we found out that another embryo could be frozen.
August 11 will be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life; I found out by a phone call from my husband during a staff meeting that I was pregnant. I will never forget the words “IT WORKED”! I burst into tears instantly and struggled to contain my emotions as I made my way back into the meeting.
Pregnancy was easy compared with infertility.
My little boy was born in April 2015; he was 12 days early and 8lb!
I am angry that infertility stole my ability to feel like a normal woman, I am angry that it took away so much of my privacy, but most of all, I am angry that it destroyed so many of my friendships along the way. It tested my marriage, and it tested my willpower.
When the time felt right, we transferred the remaining embryo, and it didn’t work.
Onto the waiting list we went, there were setbacks before we finally completed another IVF cycle and retrieved 8 eggs. Due to a progesterone problem, we had to do a frozen embryo transfer, and in June 2018 (on the same day as moving house), we transferred a strong day 5 embryo. At precisely 5 weeks, while sitting on the floor folding washing, I felt a stabbing pain in my uterus; I went to the bathroom to find a tiny bit of blood. Blood results the next day were reassuring and showed my levels were rising nicely. So excited to complete our family with the baby growing inside me, we went on holiday with family to Rarotonga at 7 weeks. I spent time in hospital while in Rarotonga but still didn’t think anything was wrong. I headed home, and a couple of days later, I went to my 8-week scan appointment. While driving there, the song ‘I fall apart’ played on the radio instantly freaked me out, and I knew something was wrong. At 8 weeks, I was told that my baby hadn’t grown from 5 weeks and had no heartbeat. A D & C followed. I transferred the only viable embryo, resulting in a chemical pregnancy. Another surgery followed, this time a hysteroscopy which showed scar tissue in my uterus.
At the very beginning of 2019, we started IVF cycle number 4, 6 eggs and 2 viable embryos. Luckily this time, I was able to do a fresh transfer. At 7dp5dt, I was feeling a wee bit nauseous, so I thought I would test myself and find out what’s going on, and it was POSITIVE!! Beaming with excitement, I yelled for my husband to come to the bathroom and passed the wee covered test to him. My little boy Leo completed my family when he was born in October 2019.
I will never ask someone when they are having kids because they might be trying. They might have spent Saturday morning lined up in the cold waiting for the blood testing lab to open so that they could get their blood drawn before 9 am. They might have just avoided the baby aisle of the supermarket so that they didn’t have to look at the cute babies on the packets of nappies. They might have just declined an invitation to yet another baby shower because they can’t slap on a smile that day.
I’ve made the most amazing infertility sisters and grown my empathy and understanding towards others through it all. I’ve learnt how strong I am and can be. Infertility is huge and unexpected, but it can be beaten!