Just the same as no two births are the same, neither are any two pregnancy or fertility journeys. After receiving such an incredible response in the birth story chapters, I wanted to take it a step further and delve into another aspect of family planning. Infertility may not be a first hand experience for everyone, but I believe that should not stop us from wanting to understand it ourselves and harnessing that knowledge to better support those around us who are having to navigate that path. As a collective, we should share a growing interest in the lengths many go to in order to finally cherish the family they have dreamt of for so long. And more importantly, release any stigma on the topic and celebrate their strength, sacrifice and courage for doing so. This series ‘When Love and Science Collide’ will offer a first hand look at IVF journeys for those who have achieved their breakthroughs and those still waiting for their medical miracles..
Age when you first began trying to start your family:
We started trying for a baby on our honeymoon – I was 23 and Nick was 31.
How long before seeking medical insight and assistance for conception?
Nick’s brother and wife did IVF to fall pregnant with their son so it was always in the back of my mind from early on that we may need to as well (as Nick and his brother both carry the same gene that makes them infertile). We began trying for a baby in October 2011 and knew by January 2012 that we needed to do IVF, after Nick getting a test done.
When did your IVF journey begin and at what level?
We first saw an IVF specialist in March 2012. We didn’t muck around and pretty much went straight into testing and getting everything done we needed to before we started IVF. IVF (ICSI IVF) was the only option for us. We started this in September 2012.
Did you have any idea you may have trouble conceiving on your own before?
As mentioned before, we knew that Nick’s brother carried the Cystic Fibrosis gene – absence of the vas deferens, which is the tube that carries out sperm. This can be carried on to other siblings so we had Nick get tested pretty early on so we didn’t waste any time.
What understanding of IVF did you have prior to beginning the process?
I am a massive researcher so I googled everything I could about IVF and the process. I knew there were a lot of needles involved. I also created a secret IVF account on Instagram so I could connect with other women around the world who were going through the same thing.
What major treatments/procedures have you gone through so far?
I had an egg retrieval in 2012 for our first round of IVF. I had a second egg retrieval in 2018 for our second fresh round of IVF.
Any major obstacles or health concerns along the way?
Not really, we were quite lucky with getting pregnant with our two daughters in that it was pretty straight forward for us both.
Have you received your miracle baby already? If so, how long was the process from start to finish?
We were VERY lucky and fell pregnant on our first round of IVF with our now 7 year old daughter! We then did a frozen embryo transfer in 2015 and subsequently fell pregnant on that round with our now 4 year old daughter.
We tried for a third baby in early 2018 as we had one remaining embryo left, so we thought – why not?! We also fell pregnant with that one. We couldn’t believe our luck! It was only a week later though that we miscarried.
We went through another fresh round of IVF and created 4 more embryos. We again fell pregnant with a rainbow baby but unfortunately miscarried that baby at 6 weeks. To say it devastated me is a complete understatement. I couldn’t get my head around why the first two were so easy and the third one was SO hard. We tried again in November 2018, however it didn’t work at all. We still today have two remaining embryos left and I have NO IDEA what we are going to do with them. It plays on my mind daily…
How much of a financial investment has IVF treatment been for you in total?
Oh that’s a tough question! In total we are probably over $15,000. Though Medicare gives such a good rebate, but I still think we would be out of pocket somewhere around the 15k mark.
What were the main or most intense emotions you experienced during any part of the treatment?
There have been two very different IVF journeys for us. The first one to get our two daughters was very positive. I remember when I fell pregnant with my first daughter at the age of 24, I was just so excited. I didn’t for once think that anything would go wrong. I was buying clothes at 5 weeks pregnant and just thought I was the luckiest person ever. Fast forward to my second pregnancy, I was more nervous and anxious. I for sure thought that I would lose her or that something bad would happen.
In regards to trying for a third baby, the whole thought of that heartbreaking time and even entire year makes me quite upset and emotional. I still can’t get my head around it and will never quite know how to process what happened.
What surprised you the most about the entire process?
How much strength I have. After losing two pregnancies three months apart in 2018, I honestly didn’t think I would feel happy ever again. Although I will always question it and never be 100% at peace with it, I definitely didn’t think I would be where I am today.
What was your partner’s take on the overall situation or specific stages?
Again, two very different answers! With our first two pregnancies, Nick was very onboard and obviously really wanted to be a dad.
With wanting a third baby, Nick was initially happy to go ahead with using the last remaining embryo. He always said if that didn’t work, then we wouldn’t go ahead with any further treatment. After we miscarried, it was very hard to convince him. It took a lot of discussions, back and forth, weighing up pros and cons. Nick was concerned about his age (he was nearing 40) and money. He obviously was devastated we miscarried and even to this day says he wishes our third baby came along, but he is now very much against any more babies. He shuts down the conversation straight away. ALTHOUGH in saying that he does say if I REALLY want to then we will. But it’s something I can’t get my head around – him not being on board 100%.
What is something you wished others knew about IVF or infertility in general?
That a baby isn’t guaranteed at the end of the day. You spend a tonne of money, inject yourself with a heap of different drugs, go through all the testing and the treatments… And yet, you still may not even get a baby.
All births and pregnancies are worth celebrating, and the stories detailing what many go through to get to that point alone are just as important, if not more so. We lift taboos by raising our voices. So if you have an IVF experience you would like to share, please get in touch and I would love to add your voice to the conversation we all need to hear.