I thought I would start with a bit of a background on where we have come from and where we are at right now. I’m normally a pretty private person. I don’t like to share too much about myself or talk about sad stuff because I would rather focus on positive things. But I think it’s time for the taboo about infertility to go away and for it to be something we can all talk about easily and without judgement.
I’m not sure how to deal with all of this. It’s literally a roller coaster of emotions. One second I’m feeling okay and not too worried about the world. And then the next I’m in tears and I don’t know how I’m going to even brush my hair.
We have been on this journey of trying to welcome a baby into to our family since I was 25. I’m now 31 and almost 32. That makes it almost 7 years to try and start our family. 7 years! We could have had 9 kids in that time – almost. Instead we have now had 6 miscarriages and many failed cycles.
It all started with our first miscarriage when I was 25. We weren’t planning for a family but we had the approach that when it happens it happens. So when we found out we were pregnant we were shocked but so excited. Scott’s father had recently passed away so this new life had brought us new hope.
Unfortunately on Christmas Day I started having stabbing pains in my tummy. So we went to the emergency department at the hospital. We had to wait there for ages and were quite entertained by the guy that had almost chopped his finger off while cutting the turkey after a few too many drinks. That helped ease our worries as we talked with him and his family about their festive day. We were sent home a while later and all seemed okay until New Years Eve. By 3 am we were back at emergency with excruciating pain and bleeding. After an overnight stay for observation we were released back home to try and relax. Yeah right! 2 days later on the 3rd of January, on my 26th birthday we lost our first angel to heaven at around 7.5 weeks. Nothing can describe the loss, heartache and physical pain that we went through.
In the years that followed, we had another 4 miscarriages all between 5 weeks and 7 weeks. We were never investigated properly by any of our doctors or sent for further testing, despite our concerns being raised. One doctor (who has ironically since been discredited as a doctor) even told me “no need to be so dramatic it’s just another miscarriage” when I asked if she could refer me to a specialist for testing after our 5th loss. After that loss we decided it was time to move from an outback country town to a main city so we could get some help and investigation.
It took us about 6 months to find our feet in our new area and I finally found a great doctor who sent us for testing and to a specialist who did lots of testing and exploration surgery to check everything was fine with me. Hubby also had lots of testing. All results came back fine. Great. No problems.
We were put on clomid to try for 4 cycles and if we weren’t pregnant by the end of that we were to go back to our obstetrician. Clomid is evil!!! It’s horrible! The things it makes you feel or think is terrible! I remember visual disturbances at night after I would take it. Felt like I was high as a kite. And would make me have such bad mood swings too. Was a very scary feeling and doing that to my body just felt wrong but we persevered in the hope of a child. In each clomid cycle we had to time sex well to do it at the right time.
While we were cycling on clomid Scott had a job working night hours while I worked day hours. We would cross paths for about half an hour every morning. So timing ‘the deed’ was very hard (pardon the pun) and really took any romance out of it. Either I would have to wake up in the middle of the night at 2/3am or he would have to wake up extra early before I went to work. Those four cycles were tough work with no rewards. And the clomid headaches were horrible too. But we tried it. We have it our best shot.
We went back to our fertility specialist in our 5th month to see what next. IVF was the recommendation so we got our referral for an IVF clinic. Looking at the cost of IVF is enough to freak anyone out, especially those of us living pay-check to pay-check with a mortgage. I’ve heard many people say that if you can’t afford IVF then you can’t afford a baby. This is a saying that makes my blood boil! I am usually a calm and peaceful person but this makes me want to slap whoever says that in the face! Because it’s so far from reality and anyone who says that clearly has no real comprehension of the cost of IVF (or the cost of a child). It can cost anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 per cycle. That means every 28 days, if you have a 28 day cycle, you have to find that sort of money. Sorry but a baby does not cost around $10,000 every 28 days. Many of us have to go through multiple IVF cycles with additional medications or additional scientific intervention to give us a chance at a child which all adds up the price tag more.
Anyway, we decided we simply could not afford IVF. This was in February of 2015. I was in a few trying to conceive social media support groups and thought I would ask for a contact for the new bulk billed IVF clinic that I had seen on the news in late 2014, well mostly bulk billed. Some girls were kind enough to give me the place’s name and contact details. I made the call and managed to get an appointment the very next day!
We went to this appointment and we were sent away for further testing. In a months time we were to go back and see the fertility specialist.
So we went away and had all of our testing done on exact days in the cycle and had the ultrasound on the exact day, blood work urine analysis. You name it we had it.
A month later we went to see our fertility specialist. Results all came back fine but due to previous history of the 5 miscarriages she wanted to send us for further testing. After our appointment we went to the blood collection at the clinic and had many bloods taken. I had 38 vials of blood taken.
We had to wait for the results before we could see our specialist again. So a month later we went back to see her. Everything had come back normal so we were approved to start our first IVF cycle. And as luck would have it (finally on our side) my cycle had just started that day. Our first IVF cycle was starting right then, in April of 2015. We were so excited. We were fast tracked to see the nurse to learn how to inject needles into my leg. Most people inject into the tummy but as I’m a thin person there wasn’t enough excess there to inject.
Scott was the hero in this situation. He paid attention to the administration as he knew my extreme phobia of needles gave us no hope of me injecting myself. I had always told my parents when I was younger that they had nothing to worry about with me – I was terrified of needles and couldn’t swallow tablets. I had no chance of being a drug user. Well now I was being forced to inject and the only way that was going to happen was with Scott doing it!
Before we could pick up our medications we had to have a day one blood test. So we went and had that done. We would then go home to wait for the call to give the go ahead to pick up medications. We picked them up the following day after our call and that night started with our first injection. At the last second I decided to try my tummy because that’s what all the ladies were doing in the support groups that I was part of. Well that was a mistake. It hurt so much and still hurt the next day. I really didn’t have enough padding! The following night at exactly 7pm it was medication time. This time we tried the upper thigh and it wasn’t as bad. 7pm became our injecting time every night.
Injections continued for a few days until it was time for my blood test monitoring and internal ultrasound to monitor the follicle growth. To get to the city for a 7.30am appointment we had to be on the road by 4.20am to catch the train. After these appointments we would then have to go to our work places. Thankfully Scott’s job had changed to day time shifts by this stage which was a huge relief.
The blood work and ultrasounds continued every second day for me for a week and a half. Part of the way through it was time to start injecting our second nightly needle. Two needles every night. Eek! Scary! The second one would hurt more as the needle was bigger.
Soon it was time for our third needle – the trigger. This one was a once off (not a daily one) thankfully. And it has to be timed at exactly the right time so ensure at egg collection in a few days my eggs would be ready for harvest at exactly the right time.
After trigger you get a day off from any injections. Woo hoo!
36-48 hours later it would be time to go in for day surgery to have eggs collected (and of course more needles) and sperm solicited so that the scientists could do their thing with our things. 😉
My first egg collection went well and I had slight bleeding for a few days afterwards. In the following days there was some pain but it was bearable. You’d think after egg collection the hard work is over. But it isn’t. Then you wait to find out if your eggs and and sperm make friends or not. I had 19 eggs collected which put me at risk of hyper-stimulation which can be very risky. Of the 19 eggs 5 fertilised. That was a bit of a disappointment but we knew there were no guarantees any would. Or that each follicle even had an egg to collect.
Five days after egg collection we were booked in for a transfer because my blood test came clear of complications. Woo hoo! Transfer was on a Saturday morning and Scott couldn’t have time off work. As I lay there having an embryo placed inside of me it dawned on me that if this worked we could say to our kid that their father wasn’t there at conception. Haha. That made me giggle. Transfer was done and the two week wait began. I used to think this part was the hardest. But I don’t think that anymore. I’ll tell you why later – the hardest part is the weekly wait in pregnancy, more on that later.
After two weeks of inserting the dreaded crinone gel morning and night (at exactly the right time to be 12 hours apart) into a place you really don’t want to be inserting anything it became clear this cycle had failed. And what’s worse none of our fertilised embryos had made it to freeze. As if failure isn’t bad enough, it’s a smack in the face having the period return just to remind you how much it hasn’t worked. Plus there is that pregnancy blood test which I knew would come back negative.
A month later we were booked in to see the fertility specialist again to see where to next. We were approved to start another cycle. So the forms were signed and the many blood work forms were given to us to use during the cycle.
Day one came and we had our blood test. The call came to say we could pick up our meds and start our injections. Round two went very similar to round one, until egg collection. This round my medication dose had altered slightly so that I wouldn’t produce so many eggs. Same number of needles but less liquid to inject. We had decided to do ICSI this cycle rather than straight IVF. That means the scientists insert the sperm into each egg to make them fertalise.
Finally after the monitoring blood tests and ultrasounds my follicles were ready for egg collection. So it was another day surgery procedure. This time I had some nasty complications. When I woke up after the surgery I had terrible cramping that only got worse and worse. The nurses had to wheel me back into recovery and pumped me with multiple pain meds and whatever else they put into me. When I was finally able to leave and go home the pain only continued. It was so bad that I couldn’t use the toilet. Not one of the things I ever expected from IVF. This pain went on for about a week. The worst pain I’ve ever been in. I can’t even begin to describe. The weird thing was the pain was in my bowel and tummy. We found out that a complication from egg pick up can be a perforated bowel because all of those parts are so close together down there and the needle can go through that little wall. The potential complications from that caused considerable pain for about 6-8 weeks. And of course lots of time off of work.
We had 8 eggs collected and this time 7 fertilised. Five days later at egg transfer they told us that one was ready for transfer and one needed another day to see if it could freeze but the others hadn’t made it. This time Scott came for the transfer as he had changed jobs again. A much better workplace that understood this journey.
And the two week wait started again. And in 14 days it ended again with another period. And another negative blood pregnancy test. But we received a letter saying that our little one had survived to be frozen. That was a relief. I cried when I got that letter. The thought of not having to inject every night was such a relief.
So back to the fertility specialist to book in for round 3 – a frozen egg transfer. We had the option of a medicated cycle or a natural one. We chose natural as it gave my body a chance to be clean from the meds. We still had to have many blood tests to monitor my cycle so that they could time my ovulation with the transfer in the days afterwards. We also had to have another two ultrasounds to track the lining of the uterus. This also meant days off of work due to the time of the ultrasounds.
I had to start the pessaries morning and night and they had to be timed exactly 12 hours apart. Plus I had to lay down for an hour after each one so that they could be absorbed by my body. Pessaries are progesterone medications to support pregnancy. Many people either don’t get pregnant or they miscarry due to not enough progesterone. So this is a standard thing when doing an IVF cycle. The pessaries were very tricky to time. Getting up extra early to fit it in before work. This would continue well into pregnancy if I got pregnant (like at least up to 12 weeks). Finally we were ready for our transfer. And then the two week wait began.
9 days after a 5 day transfer I did a home pregnancy test prior to the bloods to prepare myself for the outcome. It had two little lines. Two lines that we hadn’t seen for almost 2 years now. And our blood test confirmed that we were pregnant. At last!
We were booked in for a scan at 6 weeks. However before we could make 6 weeks my body started having heart problems. I had a heart rate of 247 and had to be taken by ambulance from work to hospital. Now that was embarrassing. And then a few days later it happened again and had to go to hospital again. I had to have many days off of work while we tried to find out what was wrong with my body. And to make sure the baby was okay. All seemed fine. And our 6 week ultrasound confirmed a little baby with a little beating heart! At long last! 🙂
We saw a very specialised specialist in immunology and fertility who put me on nightly Clexane injections (wow do these sting!! And the bruises! IVF needles were nothing compared to these!), prednisone to make my body not attack the embryo, and low dose aspirin to also thin the blood. I still had to do the twice daily pessaries along with the laying down inconvenience, plus the pregnancy multi vitamin and an extra foliate tablet. Yes, I had to learn to swallow tablets. On top of all of this was the salafolk suppositories for my ulcerative colitis. I felt like I had meds going into all holes at set times!
Each day was a blessing and each day we got closer to getting past our previous miscarriages dates/weeks. We had another scan at 8 weeks and our little one’s heart beat was nice and strong. The shape was starting to take place. We finally had our little miracle. I had a check up with my obstetrician at 9 weeks and all was fine – the little heart beat was a cute little flicker on the ultrasound screen.
We finally reached 10 weeks. Every week when we got to a new week on the Tuesday in the pregnancy we celebrated together, Scott and I. We were so excited and so in love. And then in week 10 on day 2 I experienced some pink spotting. I was so worried but remembered that it can be normal so tried to take it easy and not worry. The following day at 10 weeks 3 days the pink turned to red blood. I left work and went straight to the emergency department. An hour later Scott came to be by my side. What a relief. After many hours at the hospital they finally did a tummy scan. It showed our little one and they thought they could see a heart beat. What a relief.
Thankfully we had another internal scan already booked at our IVF clinic the following afternoon. I had the day off of work for bed rest. So I rested and tried not to worry. The bleeding had stopped so I wasn’t too worried. But then it returned. I cried for a few hours until Scott got home to take us to the city to our clinic.
We arrived at our clinic and waited to be called in. Our favourite sonographer was on and thankfully she called us in. When we walked through her doors into the room I had some tears in my eyes and she immediately asked what was wrong. We explained what had happened the last two days. She was so lovely and tried to reassure us that she would get straight to it and tell us straight away how everything was. I was half expecting her to immediately find that little heart beat and tell us everything is going to be fine. We would probably cry with relief and everything would be fine.
But that wasn’t the case. She did her usual scan and was particularly more quiet than her usual happy self. Then she turned to me with tears in her eyes and a trembling voice. I instantly knew. She said she was so sorry but there was no heat beat. The scan showed the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks. It was over. Our miracle had died and was not going to be joining our family. She went out to arrange an urgent meeting with our fertility specialist and gave us some time to grieve together in the ultrasound room.
We were lead to a quiet waiting area where one of the nurses came and talked to us. She also had tears in her eyes as we tried to stop ours from flowing. We saw the fertility specialist and we discussed what/where to next and possible testing of the embryo. She was also visibly upset too.
And now we wait for the miscarriage and the pain to come. If it doesn’t pass on its own then we will have to have a d&c next week – which would be better for the testing to happen.
Devastating. How do you say goodbye to someone that you have prayed for so long and so hard to be able to meet. To say hello to. And the confusion sets in. Why again? What did I do wrong? Will we ever have kids? Do we really have to start another IVF cycle again? How will we get time off work to go to all of the ultrasounds and blood tests required for another cycle? How many cycles will it take? Why did this one die???? Why won’t God get out of bed to answer us knocking and pleading at his door?? Why? Do we give up now?
For now we have to deal with this one. We have to grieve. Say goodbye. And somehow try not to lose ourselves in this grief.
I do describe the infertility journey as a roller coaster. So many highs and so many extreme lows. We can go from such excitement to suddenly loss. A loss of our baby and a loss of hope. And then anger. Why won’t my body do what it’s meant to? Anger that surrogacy is so expensive in Australia. We have had dear friends offer to carry a baby for us but due to our country it’s even more unaffordable than IVF. So how do we plan anything from here?
And then there’s adoption. Well to adopt we would have to cease trying to have our own child for at least 12 months before we are even allowed to apply. And then that would pretty much mean we can’t attempt our own family. Plus the legal fees and regulations involved… it’s full on.
This is why when people say to us “why don’t you adopt?” I also feel like smacking them in the head! I’m honestly not a violent person but there are a few sensitive things that make me get cranky so fast and it’s usually due to naive people meaning well but actually saying the dumbest things. Do people really think that when someone has been on this journey this long, suffered so many losses and bared so much pain that we wouldn’t have already exhausted all other options? Do they expect us to go “oh wow what a great idea?! I hadn’t thought of that! I think I’ll go adopt a child this week!” Because it’s that easy! And inter-country adoption is even more difficult than Australian adoptions. Yes we honestly have exhausted all other options! If we had the money then we could probably accept we can’t have kids and put the money into adoptions. But we simply don’t have the cash required to do this. And that doesn’t mean we can’t afford kids, again kids don’t cost you $20,000 in fees to consider having them before being approved to have them do they? For most people they just happen and you then have the same child costs as anyone finally with a child.
So how do we deal with another loss? Our 6th baby to never be born as a child for our family. Well I don’t know. I don’t know how to deal. One moment I’m okay. And the next I’m a complete mess in tears.
Is this the end? I don’t know. So I will cry. I will laugh. I will probably get very mad and angry. But I will not lose my positive spirit, well not forever. I will be strong at times and a mess at others. And I will prepare for the excruciating pain that I know I’m about to experience as my body starts to recognise this as a miscarriage. Going through labour pains is something I was looking forward to so that we could bring our child into this world. But going through labour pains only to bring our now dead baby just feels so pointless.
And so the wait starts. Feels like this journey of full of waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for my body to release the baby.. Waiting. waiting. waiting… waiting for our miracle… if he or she ever becomes a reality…
So I’ve decided to create this blog so that when we go through our next round I can document it, share it and if it results in disappointment then we don’t have to verbally tell anyone – it will all be here. Harder than the grief we feel inside is having to tell others that there has been a loss, or a disappointment. It’s also a way for me to get out my thoughts so they don’t eat away inside of me. I’ve never really been a big writer but I am a thinker. I over think everything.
Right now I am feeling broken. Shattered. Numb. Empty. I know this won’t last forever and I will pick myself back up soon. I will cuddle my dogs and they will make everything feel so much better.
Hug your children. If you are pregnant, smile and enjoy. Love your partner. Love your pets.