Ahhh – I look at you now, and its so easy to smile, it makes hard to believe that for such a long time before you, the thought of having you was just that, a thought.
I had never even heard of the word “infertility” it wasn’t something that ran in my family and therefore it had never before crossed my mind. So when I was diagnosed with infertility it took me an awfully long time to come to terms with it, I just couldn’t understand – Why me?
I found a facebook group, ‘Let’s make it your year’ a group of woman struggling to conceive. I started briefly talking about my situation with some of the ladies and soon realised I was not the only one and the more people I opened up to the more people surprised me with their own story, experiences and advice. However sharing this publicly, was another thing, I debated lots, do I really want to share this personal part of my life? The debate; Reading people’s journeys while I was going through my own experience was the only thing that assisted me, none of those handouts the clinics give you could ever prepare you for what was the largest, scariest; upside-down roller coaster you were about to get on. Roller coaster is one word for it, actually its a rather tame word for what I would much rather use, but ill try keep this as PG rated as I can.
Anyhow, more recently I suffered a near death ectopic experience, literally minutes in question – this ones a story for another day, however point being, I searched for similar stories that would give me an idea on how to cope, but there was nothing similar to what I went through out there, however if there was, I’m sure it would have helped me or at least given me some insight. And that right there, was the light bulb moment for me, the winning line in the debate – why wouldn’t I share something that so many people go through, perhaps not yourself, but your loved one, a family member or a friend.
I suppose I debated about it so much because for a long time I was ashamed, I pronounced myself as a failure, I felt like I failed my partner who loved kids, failed myself and god failed me. Angry at the world, I would constantly compare myself to other people and slowly I was just becoming miserable. At the time I didn’t realise, but while I was going through the toughest period in my life I pushed away everyone who loved me, I didn’t speak to them about my feelings because I always felt like they had no idea how I felt, the argument – they could conceive so how could they offer me advice!? Totally fair, but if there is someone reading this and you are literally saying the same thing, don’t push away the ones who love you most, let them listen, HECK make them listen! Turning our thoughts into words gives us power over them, it allow us to control the situation, rather than our thoughts controlling us.
So my story is a little different from others who are writing about their experiences, mostly because a lot are still experiencing the heartache and are able to talk you through their every feeling and step, myself on the other hand journeyed through this 2,5 years ago, I had a successful IVF and have a beautiful miracle who draws on the walls and hides food under the couch – so my story is from a finalised perspective. A story of hope for some, the statistics for first round IVF success are against us, but it can happen!
I should probably start by warning everyone reading, this post will contain TMI (too much information, for those who are new to the lingo). I am not by any means giving advice, this is purely my journey. So if you don’t want to hear about the depths of my uterus I would probably advise not to continue:
Finding out –
My husband and I joined forces October the 19th, 2013, 6 months later we were proud owners of our first home. We both had jobs and were financially stable; however it was a good year before we even had a conversation about having kids, nothing serious but it was clear it was something we both wanted.
I remember the very first time when we were ready, the first month, I was 5 days late, never late and of course I was late now – I was pregnant! That’s how it works right, you do the deed and get pregnant, right? at least that’s what I thought, months went by and nothing. Same thing every month, hoping, waiting then AF arrives and I’d crash. Easily I read every article on infertility by then, how to increase your chances at conception, getting the right ovulation day, it became more of a job, one of those unhealthy ones that you think about all the time and it starts to stress you out. Then the opinions “when you stop stressing about it it’ll happen, just don’t think about it” – DO NOT say these words to someone who confides in you about trying to conceive, at the end of the day you never know the root cause of why someone is not conceiving and we’re definitely not qualified to offer medical advice, so instead offer support.
After the first few months I knew something wrong, but you’re required to wait regardless as the doctors wont even look at you unless you have been trying to conceive for at least a year. My partner was the first person I expressed my true concern to and like it was yesterday all I got was an OK, (There is a saying, which I live by, Women are from Venus Men are from Mars; and It allows me to understand him rather than get upset or frustrated with the words he uses, or lack of) hence, why the ok was enough for me, I knew that he understood and he’d support me in every way, at the end of the day he was going through this as well.
Fertility Doctor –
Finding a fertility doctor was the next hurdle, a thousand questions running through my mind, I mean at the end of the day I was about to spend a long time there so it needed to be a positive place, somewhere I could feel comfortable while my privacy was invaded. I found a private gynaecologist, who also worked for Monash IVF; Dr Thu Mai. Although I seen her for most of my appointments, when we started IVF most of the work was done through the nurses at the clinic.
Every test under the sun came back excellent, not one problem, so then I was referred to have a HSG – Hysterosalpingogram (Warning; sorry for the medical terms but I assume anyone going through the same thing will already be familiar with them). Pretty much radiographic contrast dye is inserted into the uterus through the vagina and cervix, if the tubes are open the dye will fill the tubes and spill into the abdomen. However prior to commencing, the sonographer advised she could not proceed, my tubes were so clearly seen on the ultrasound it was clear, they were the problem. I walked out with mixed feelings, was I happy I finally found the cause; yes, but was I devastated that this was the cause, now its real, I am the reason we couldn’t conceive and it wasn’t something that could be fixed with tablets or therapy.
The next month I under went a Laparoscopy which confirmed the damage and blockage in my tubes could not be repaired. I woke to the doctor and even though I already knew, it was something about getting the news officially from the doctor that made it more real, it felt like those movies “I’m so sorry, there was nothing we could do, we’ve left them but unfortunately it will prevent you from having children naturally, but there are options” and it was them words that hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I did so much research on IVF, but no amount of research could ever prepare you for the torment you were about to endure. Since my doctor worked for Monash IVF in Sunshine I proceeded with them, she was incredible and there was no way I was going to change her.
First came; The tests. The paperwork. The counsellor approval (here in VIC it is mandatory). The cost – this one was one of the toughest obstacles, not only do you have to pay so much, but it is mostly paid upfront, and if you don’t progress passed a stage, such as egg pickup, or don’t make it to transfer there is NO refund, just the financial stress you need to add-on to this stressful time (At the time we did IVF there were no low-cost clinics such as Primary IVF in Melbourne, for anyone looking into it now, there are many more options than just forking out 10-14k). The drugs – contraceptive pill, FSH (Follicle stimulating hormones), trigger shot, progesterone (which I used until week 20 of pregnancy). You will be moody, you will be bloated and you will gain weight in this process, all the benefits of being on this rollercoaster.
Stages of IVF –
First they make you take all the drugs, all which need to be done at specific times, then you’re required to grow follicles, that look like little grapes hanging from your ovaries and this part makes you extremely bloated, so be prepared for the “are you pregnant” question, because whats better than asking someone if they’re pregnant whilst they’re doing everything they can to get pregnant, right?. My scan showed 8 follicles but only 6 a good size so the following week they booked me in for the egg retrieval. Egg retrieval was at a day clinic and I was admitted with 3 other ladies whilst our partners did their part. I was put to sleep using general anaesthetic, where they then remove the follicles by placing a needle through the top of the vagina with ultrasound guidance. The procedure itself only took 15 minutes and I was back at work the next day, I recall being a little sore but nothing dramatic. 5 eggs were collected on the day, however prior to the collection we had agreed if we had 6 or under we would use the ICSI method – where they choose the best semen and insert it directly into the egg, the method was more expensive but in the situation we were, all we wanted was to have the best chance possible.
The day after retrieval we got a call, 4 out of 5 eggs became embryos. Day 4 was our next update, where they let me know how our embryos were developing – “2 embryos did not progress, so 2 left both ready to be transferred tomorrow, day 5 at 12” I heard everything she said, but I just couldn’t get my head passed the number 2, we were transferring 2 embryos (our doctor felt that toxins released from my tubes may impact the implanting of the embryos, hence the double transfer) so that meant if this didn’t work we would have to do the entire cycle again, we would have nothing to freeze, that meant this was it, this was the only chance we had, she hanged up and I just felt numb, I could feel tears rolling down my face but I couldn’t control them. I remembered reading success stories and i held onto the hope that it would happen for us too.
Day of transfer; entering the clinic, it was as full as my bladder, literally about to explode. The doctor did 2 attempts to transfer our embryos and on the third attempt they released, which apparently was a good sign – they were sticky. Again, it was wait time, the whole process is a waiting game, but the 2 week wait, this was the worst, they say its 2 weeks, and it is, but my god, it felt like 2 years. My doctor told me the most important thing was not to change my normal routine, shocking the body would make it concentrate on something else rather than putting its energy into nurturing the embryo. I kept busy, working, cooking and binge watching every episode of gossip girl.
On the 8th day I started spotting, it became heavier through the day to the point of needing a pad. I told myself it’s over, over and over again, I felt like a failure. I had never felt like this, even through the months of trying to conceive, AF would be late and I would be so sure that was the month, but then she’d be there within a day or two and I’d be disappointed of course, but not like this. There is so much more at stake with IVF, all the hard work has been done, all it needed to do was stick to the wall of my uterus. Then, came the day of the blood test, did our embryo/s implant or not, my bleeding had slowed down but I didn’t read into it like I usually do, I stayed devastated and just wanted to get the test over and done with.
That morning I was the first person in the waiting room and the nurse called me through as soon as I walked in. Straight off she asked if I was bleeding, I explained to her my situation in which she told me – “it’s normal for IVF patients to spot, it’s usually a sign of implantation”. Implantation spotting, how did i miss that – it was something I just didn’t read about, but it brought some hope back into my thoughts (yep, that wonderful rollercoaster full of ups and downs) so as per routine I waited for a phone call.
This phone call was it, 2 minutes of my life that would either lift me up or push me back down. Our conversation went something like “Hello” “Hi, am i speaking with Nadina” “Yep it is” “Congrat…” And that was all I remember im sure there was something else but literally, in that moment nothing else mattered. Every obstacle, every tear, everything was worth it. Nothing could compare to what I was feeling.
My HCG level was 109 and it grew at a good rate throughout the next 2 blood tests and later at the 7 week scan it was confirmed we were pregnant with a singleton.
Monash IVF looked after me until my 7 week scan, once they seen everything was ok. They also contacted me during my pregnancy to ask how everything was and after giving birth. I have to say, I was extremely happy with Monash IVF, from the nurses to reception everyone was extremely kind and prompt in returning calls, making appointments and short waiting times.
Please also note I do not consider myself a writer, but I did attempt to add everything I could remember from my experience; however If there is anyone with any specific questions, or if anyone wants more information I would be MORE than happy to assist.
Most importantly I want to give a shout out to anyone reading this who is still battling infertility, whether it is your first, second, third or fourth, we all feel the same. We have no idea how tough we become in times we want something, we pull out strength that we never knew we had and continue on, especially the couples who have done more than 1 cycle, because if I’m being completely honest I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do it all over again. A special thanks to those who supported us, thankful for our families and thankful for the technology that allows us to still hold on to hope when all other hope is lost.