A big thank you to Kirsty for allowing me to share her story on my blog and taking the time to write it while juggling the responsibilities of a first time mum with a newborn! I really appreciate it!
Kirsty finally achieved her dream after numerous IVF attempts. I hope her story inspires you as much as it has inspired me!
One of the first things that drew my partner and I together when we were in our early 20’s was the fact that we both didn’t want children. There are many and varied reasons behind this, too many to put into words but this all changed the day after my 30th birthday, when I was overcome with a desire to create a new life - It’s like a biological time bomb went off inside of me. I wanted to create our own family and give this new unit every opportunity to achieve the best that it could. To nurture a child of our own into the best that it could be and surround it with love and opportunity and moreover, love again.
Dear Partner took a little further convincing, but after quite a few months of deep relationship building (and eventually a massive ultimatum), we decided to come off the pill and ‘not try’, but see what happened. After 6 months of not trying, nothing had happened. In fact, my period hadn’t even really returned to any form of a normal cycle and I was already beginning to obsess over it. DP and everyone around me said we just had to ‘relax and it will happen’… how I got sick of hearing that one comment.
About a week before my 32nd birthday and almost 12 months of ‘not trying’, I finally convinced DP to go and get his swimmers tested. He, of course, was of the mindset that there couldn’t be a problem with him. I can still remember him giving his sample and me running to the other side of town with it in a freezer bag because he was too embarrassed. If only he knew what was to come!
A few days later, off we went to the GP to be dealt a fairly devastating blow in a fairly callous manner. The GP just stated matter of factly “there’s something wrong with your sperm, you need to seek fertility treatment, here’s a referral”. Well, happy birthday to me!
Before we knew it we were at the FS and having more tests. It turned out that I had mild PCOS, and DP had very high sperm numbers, but very low motility and morphology – there was a very slim chance of us ever conceiving on our own. Because of the issues with DP’s sperm we were told that it would be best to go straight to ICSI as they just wouldn’t be likely to penetrate the egg on their own. We walked out of there, our heads spinning, having just paid for our first cycle and still not actually believing that we had come to needing IVF.
Soon enough we were injecting each night. I can’t explain how exciting it was to actually be doing something to help us along the way to achieving our dream. I have heard so many horror stories of people’s reaction to the drugs, but can say that I was one of the lucky few who not only was not bothered by them, but also actually blossomed! Just a short couple of weeks after that, after countless early mornings for blood tests and scans we went in for our egg retrieval. It was a very exciting time. I sailed though the surgery (our clinic gives full sedation) and awoke to find a big fat number 9 on my hand.
For those who have been through treatment, we know about the ‘sweet spot’. The number of eggs that is considered good, where quality and quantity work in your favour. I knew that 9 eggs was spot on and I was happy. The following day we received a call to say that 8 of the nine eggs had fertilised and were looking good. Four days after that I took off to the clinic in my lunch break and had the transfer of a particularly healthy looking morula. DP wasn’t able to make it as he works in a factory and they can’t just take off for short stints. I remember walking back to work with this tiny secret inside of me… I was “pregnant until proven otherwise”.
The first week of the TWW flew by in a happy daze of positivity. Again, if you’ve been through fertility treatment, you’ll understand this. Then the doubt started to creep in. I just had a feeling inside of me that it hadn’t worked, so I tested at about day 8 or 9. Sure enough, no second line. I convinced myself that we were out and the tears began to flow. The next few days passed in a flood of tears and yet still no show of AF. The day of the blood test came and in I went, to have the negative result confirmed, as there was still no sign of AF. I then promptly went shopping with my DP to dampen my sorrows.
When we returned home there were a couple of missed calls on my mobile (possibly the first time ever I forgot to take it with me). I sent DP out to the bottle shop to buy me a bottle of expensive champagne to further drown my sorrows and then I called the clinic. Imagine my absolute surprise when she said to me “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” seriously, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I raced to the bin where the HPT sticks still were and discovered that I could have actually known a few days previously, if only I had waited long enough for the result to actually show on the test, because it was there as clear as day, two blue lines.
We managed to keep the secret from our family and friends for about a week and then I just had to tell. Everyone was so excited. While they didn’t know we’d done IVF, they did know how long we’d been trying.
For the next few weeks, I was exceptionally well, if just a little tired. Everything was going great… then we went for our eight-week scan. We walked into that room on top of the world and crashed within about a minute of getting on the table. The scan showed that our baby had stopped growing about a week before – it was just a matter of time before my body figured it out. So, life turned from the happiest to the most miserable. I was booked in for a D&C two days later. I can’t even begin to explain the emotional turmoil that we went through in those two nights.
A couple of months later when things were back on track, I was booked in for a FET; we had three embryos left from our previous cycle. Everything for this cycle also went well, although I was much more hesitant of getting a positive outcome. Imagine my absolute horror to receive a phone call at work, as I was just about to walk out the door to tell me that I needn’t come in as unfortunately none of our embryos had survived the thawing process. Emotional CRASH again. I decided at this point I was out!
DP and I talked for a while after the emotions had passed and decided to try again, only to find that our clinic was closed over Xmas and we would have to wait until the New Year! I had another melt down over Xmas when a close family friend announced her pregnancy and then stated to me “we only tried for one month, I don’t know what all the fuss is about”. This one comment put me in a dark place for quite a while.
Cycle number three resulted in zero eggs collected. This was too big a blow to even discuss.
Cycle number four resulted in one collected and one transferred but it wasn’t of a great quality and no big surprise, another negative result. By this point I was really struggling. All the drugs and emotional drama associated with IVF was really getting to me. At this point, we decided to tell our family and a select few friends. DP just couldn’t be the only one to provide me with the emotional support required to get us through – I wanted this a lot more than him, he just wanted me to be happy. We also got to the point where the financial pressure was beginning to show.
Cycle number five brought a big surprise where we had 15 eggs collected, then next day only 8 had made it to the next stage, but the odds were still in our favour, by transfer we were down to 5, but it was all systems go. The transfer went well and so did the TWW, I was comfortable that this was the one. An early HPT showed a second line and my spirits were way up. Finally the day of the BT arrived, along with AF type cramps. Crash again! I went in for the test anyway, and by the time they called to let me know the results AF had decided to appear to confirm them. This was DP’s birthday; the birthday gods just didn’t seem to shine on us.
Cycle number six was another FET, only one embryo survived the thaw and it already had some portions dying when they completed the transfer, but since it was our only hope, in it went anyway. What a surprise, again, another negative!!! On the day we let our family know this, my sister in-law decided it was a perfect time to announce that they were pregnant with their third child – an “accident”. The problem was that they told everyone except us, and we heard it through the grapevine. Wow, was there a big family bust up over that one! I would never begrudge anyone the happiness and joy of being able to conceive a child, no matter how they do it, but I really expected our family to show us some respect and deliver the news that could be hurtful to us, a) directly to us and b) on a better day. I spent a great amount of time explaining “I can be happy for you and sad for myself at the same time”.
DP and I sat down again a discussed what we would do. His parents had offered to pay for two cycles for us, so we knew that money wouldn’t be an issue, but my emotional health was. Also, the government had changed the way that IVF was being rebated and the cost was going to escalate dramatically after this attempt. We decided to give it one more crack but this was it. It’s hard to put a price, be it financial or emotional on the desire to have a family, but that’s the reality of infertility.
We went into the seventh cycle with a very relaxed attitude, it was all in the hands of the medical gods and we would accept whatever the outcome was. It’s hard to explain, but I had probably come to terms with the fact that it was unlikely I would ever carry my own child. Again, I reacted well to the drugs and was in my happy place, very much like the first cycle. When I went for my first scan, the sonographer started and exclaimed “hooley dooley!” It seemed I had A LOT of eggs in there, all of a good size. A few more days growing and they were ripe for the collecting. In I went again. By this point, I could almost quote what the nurses were going to say to me on the way to theatre.
Collection went well and I awake to a massive 29 on my hand, yep, that’s right, 29. No wonder I could barely walk by the time I got to collection. The next day they rang to advise they had actually collected 30, but only 11 had made it through the night. This goes back to the quality versus quantity from the first cycle. By day five in we trotted for another transfer, we were down to only five embryo’s at this point. They handed over the photo of our little bundle and then off I went, legs up and everything on display for our final transfer.
When they showed the embryo on the screen under the microscope I could see it had changed dramatically from the photo – the embryologist explained that the photos were taken in the morning and there was still growing going on. After the transfer DP dropped me back at work and called out “see ya mum”, we were so confident. I guess after seeing these little beings so often, we got to recognise what looked good.
Again, another agonising TWW, which was now nearly a three-week wait due to the changes in the clinics procedures. Again, the first week, week and a half sailed by and then of course the doubts crept in again and CRASH, down I went again! I really wanted to have a glass of wine to drown my sorrows, but I guess there was still a glimmer of hope, so I didn’t.
The next morning, after DP had gone to work and I had sooked in the shower I decided to do a HPT to confirm what I already knew, that way I could have a glass wine with dinner. So I peed on the stick, popped it on the bench and set about brushing my teeth and hair. I glanced out of the corner of my eye and then took another look… what the? There was that blessed second line, if only very faint! I screamed, I called DP – his phone was off! I called his mother! I called my friend, who had also completed IVF, but was also a scientist, so knows the intricacies of HPT’s. I got to work with that bloody test in a snap lock bag and asked one of my friends to confirm that there was definitely a second line there!!! Then I called the clinic and asked if I could come in earlier to confirm. They happily agreed, but still made me wait another two days.
I think I did another five tests in those two days.
Sure enough after the blood test, they confirmed that we were in fact pregnant.
I guess it’s hard to know whether, although in our hearts we had said no more, whether this would actually have been the case if we had of received another negative.
My pregnancy was relatively trouble free, some bleeding at the start, which was a result of dropping hormones, that we corrected with drugs, polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid – man I was HUGE) and onset pre-eclampsia at the end which resulted in me being induced at 37 weeks. Labour was relatively quick, but extremely painful as baby was spine on spine and I actually ended up with an emergency c-section as baby was a stargazer, rather than having his chin on his chest.
Now I sit with our gorgeous baby boy, Jameson, who is already ten weeks old and I think, “would I do it all again to get the same result?” and the answer is a resounding yes.