I’d had a dream run at having children. “It’s all so easy” we thought. We had done it without any effort at all. Twice in fact.
Our first daughter was conceived when I was 22 years old. We’d been living together for six months and were planning a working holiday overseas together. After that, we planned to come home, settle down and have children.
It was then that our first little bundle of pink joy was conceived. A dream pregnancy, only finding out at 12 weeks made for a very short pregnancy indeed. She was born via caesarean (breech) into welcome arms by my husband and I. We adored being young parents and she was a delightful baby and toddler.
Eighteen months later we lost a baby early on, this pregnancy went unnoticed by me again, I really needed to start listening to my body more. The miscarriage was early enough that I didn’t need any medical interference and we moved on with our lives in our loving little family.
When our daughter turned 3, and I turned 25, we thought it was time to plan for a little brother or sister for her. And just like that, we were pregnant. Maybe two or three months max. Our second daughter, also a breech caesarean, was incredible. In fact we loved and enjoyed her so much that we knew in our hearts that she was to be our middle child. There was another Messer waiting to join our family. We just knew it.
Another couple of wonderful and happy years went by and our beautiful girls were 7 and 3 and I was now 30 years old. We discussed it, and we agreed that we were ready for baby number 3. The final piece in our family’s puzzle.
However, a year went by and I didn’t fall pregnant. We were patient, waiting every month for the two little red lines on the pee stick to appear. We bought an ovulation test that gives insight into your best fertile days. That thing worked wonders for my girlfriends, but for me, it seemed my best days for conception were all over the place.
It was hard not to dismay too much when it seemed everybody around me was falling pregnant with babies. I got very used to hearing that at least I had two children. And that maybe that should be enough.
But, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough for me, it wasn’t enough for my husband and it wasn’t enough for my two beautiful girls who desperately wanted us to have another child.
We made the decision to see a fertility doctor around the 13-month mark. He was a character. Hilarious and jovial, yet understanding and absolute in his dedication to helping us make the baby that we so desperately wanted.
We started with an Ovulation Blood test. The results of this test were undeniably depressing. At 31, I had the Ovarian Stores of a 45 year old woman. Now, it’s widely known that a female is born with all of the eggs that she will ever have. We as women don’t rejuvenate our stores over time. We release them monthly, sometimes more than one.
Although it was hard to hear that my reproductive system was aged further than I’d thought, I was assured that we could still fall pregnant. It really was a stroke of luck for us that we’d started our family young.
We started with timed intercourse with our doctor scanning for eggs, then we moved onto ovulation injections with timed intercourse. Then artificial insemination was tried. The hormone inducing drugs and injections that were required sent me bonkers. I felt like a crazy person.
Not only did they physically pain me, but I was a moody beast for most of the month. Month after month! A big kiss to my amazing husband who not only put up with me, but who encouraged me, picked me up and supported me month after month.
When these trials weren’t working my doctor sent me off for tests on my fallopian tubes. It is highly probable that this was one of the most painful procedures I’ve been through to date. Resulting in the news that my fallopian tubes were like cobwebs. Cobwebs. At 31 years old! Perhaps the infection I’d had after my second caesarean damaged my tubes it was decided. We’d never really found out. But the fact remained that one tube was completely blocked and the other was webbed. The doctor tried to blow the ‘cobwebs’ out and flush the tubes with dye. Sheesh! That was seriously painful! And sadly ineffective for me.
IVF was discussed at this point. We were gently and respectfully told that we were good candidates for the use of this procedure. We left our doctor’s office deflated. How were we going to fund this baby!
As Australians we are incredibly lucky to have Medicare on our side. But still, the out-of-pocket fees after the Medicare rebate and the fertility drugs are truly expensive. We spoke about it. We discussed putting the dream of having another baby to rest. Neither of us could. This baby was going to come to us. We would make it. In Vitro Fertilisation. This was the answer.
Money comes, money goes. Sometimes you have lots, sometimes you don’t. We found the money for the first round of treatment from our girls generous grandfather and our own fertility doctor commissioning an oil painting from me.
My first egg pickup using fertility drugs brought on 21 viable eggs! This was incredible. And with half IVF and half ICSI (direct injection of sperm into egg) we had 17 embryos! We made the decision to transfer two eggs back into my uterus. We figured that the elation of becoming pregnant with twins was far greater than the regret of putting one back and having a negative result.
This first month was unsuccessful. Far out … did I have to take those fertility drugs for another month? If I wanted to have a baby … yes. So back to back we started again with the very next cycle. This time again two embryos were put back, frozen and defrosted.
A slight rise in my pregnancy markers, but then a rapid fall. I wasn’t pregnant. I needed a break. I was wrought with hormone drugs. My girls, so patient and ever loving were supporting me in the only way they knew how. Our eldest daughter knew a little about IVF, our younger one didn’t, but quite enjoyed dosing out my vitamins every morning. I took a month off and then went back for another round. Halfway through this cycle I needed to quit. In fact I recall ‘quitting’ after every month. I was finding it quite impossible to cope.
At this point I couldn’t talk to my friends about this anymore, they didn’t understand why I was “doing this” to myself. Why couldn’t I “be satisfied with the family I had”. It was quite lonely.
Fortunately I found an IVF buddy. She became my confidant and we spoke often about our journeys and supported each other over the phone, as she lived in remote QLD. My life went on a month or two, saving for the next round. Suddenly, I was pregnant! Naturally! My joy was tremendous! I was well and truly convinced that this was a miracle. Being pregnant for only a week or so I started to miscarry. The pregnancy was ectopic. On Mother’s Day 2011, I was admitted to hospital to have my ‘good’ tube removed along with my pregnancy.
Complete and utter devastation followed. My life as I knew it fell apart inside of me. My smile was false, cleaning and cooking were too hard. Sadness encompassed me. My loving and caring husband took it upon himself to send me to visit a counsellor. She listened, she observed and then she told me what I needed to hear. I was grieving. I’d not considered this before, I am always such a strong person. I overcome everything and remain intact and happy. Those words healed me. It was going to be OK.
Another few months flew by and we were ready to go again. It was October 2011. Time to defrost another two little embryos.
Another cycle was started and I was feeling confident and hopeful, but scared also. Thanks be to God, our little Embryo took and our son started to grow inside of me.
My husband could not bring himself to rejoice with me until I’d reached the second trimester. Even then he was living with the constant fear of loss. Developing Gestational Diabetes was a struggle, but I was really so happy to be pregnant at last.
The day had arrived to deliver my third breech baby via caesarean.
Our son’s birth was possibly the best day of my life. Certainly the five days we spent together in hospital were the happiest and most blissful days I can remember. The true joy of holding my baby, my boy, was overwhelming. He was amazing, and watching him bond with our girls and his daddy was incredible. Our family was now complete. Our girls, my husband and I are grateful of him every day. All the five of us together at last.
When he is old enough, I will be telling him about the extra special way in which he was conceived. I feel strongly about sharing our family’s journey with him. This is the very reason I decided to write a children’s book on IVF.
Speaking later to my IVF buddy, she was trying for her second child through IVF. She had had an unsuccessful cycle and called me on the phone to debrief her sadness and loss. She told me that she had sat in our doctor’s office and listened when he informed her that she wasn’t pregnant. She said the very thing she was expected by those around her to say, “At least I have our son”. He looked up and said to her that she was wrong. He said the loss was indeed greater for those who were already mothers, as they had known the feeling of joy at holding their newborn baby in their arms.
I am a testament to this and I would have moved heaven and earth to find my last baby.
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