THE IVF JOURNEY
Infertility was something that came along unexpectedly and it came very close to breaking me. When I found out that conceiving naturally or without medication was out of the question, we had to have a very frank discussion about what the next steps would be. My partner and I knew how much we both wanted children and although IVF could bring us a child, we had our limits, both financially and emotionally.
I suffered from endometriosis as a teenager and young adolescent. I had multiple operations and after my last one in my early teens, I had the contraceptive ‘Implanon’ implanted into my arm. This had many benefits and helped reduce much of my symptoms including heavy or infrequent bleeding. In fact, for the next three years I never had a period. When it reached its expiry, I had it removed and then another implanted in the other arm. This gave me another three years pretty much period free.
Little did know, Implanon or not, the last operation I had caused significant scar tissue damage to my endometrium and my periods were almost non-existent. I just didn’t know for years. Scar tissue on the wall of your uterus creates a bad environment for an egg to implant and therefore any time we tried to conceive, it would fail.
The IVF process is such a long, drawn out emotional roller coaster and can really break a couple, along with the bank.
We knew that IVF, although scientifically precise, would still have its hurdles. The IVF process is such a long, drawn out emotional roller coaster and can really break a couple, along with the bank. We decided to give it three goes and then investigate adoption.
Leading up to IVF, I wasn’t in a good place. I was very disheartened and I didn’t feel like it was going to work for us. I have always been a worrier and this took it up a notch. In all honesty, I was not looking after myself and drinking too much after a hard day at work or after yet another negative test. I was absolutely depressed. Although my husband was going through this too, he was the one who supported me when he probably got very little back. I felt ripped off that I may never get to have a child and angry that my fertility was stripped of me.
My specialist had a game plan. Considering my situation, I was booked in for yet another operation – the same procedure that put me in this mess to start with. My scar tissue would be removed in the hope that it wouldn’t all return and possibly create somewhere for an egg to latch. The next month we did our first IVF cycle.
One morning I got up for work, grabbed my first test and went to the bathroom. It was only early so after I took it, I put it on the floor and didn’t look at it much. On the way out I picked it up and to my disbelief, there was a faint line. I watched it get darker before my eyes. I walked back into the bedroom where Paul was sleeping and crawled back into bed and curled up to him. He turned over and looked at me and said ‘you are pregnant aren’t you’? I didn’t have to say anything. It must have been my smile. I was late to work that day.
CONCEIVING NATURALLY AFTER IVF – A SIBLING FOR HARVEY
We’d been trying to fall pregnant again for a while but got the distinct feeling we were wasting our time. We decided to wait a year before we did IVF again. We wanted a sibling for Harvey but there was less pressure this time and ultimately, we would have been very happy with one child. I’m not sure of the stats on conceiving naturally the second time around after you’ve had a baby via IVF, but you do hear of it all the time. You just never think it would happen to you.
The moment we stopped trying it happened. What a mix of emotions it was! I had just got a new job, holidays were booked when the baby was due and just the disbelief that it had happened without trying. It took us some time for it to sink in and we cannot believe how lucky we were. As I write this I’m 18 weeks pregnant with our second child.
It did leave us with one question though. HOW!?
I’m often the most sceptical of people but never once did I doubt my fertility specialist and her original diagnosis of infertility. I loved her frank, no-BS attitude and she gave us plenty of support and options before we went down the IVF route.
There is no answer why we conceived naturally the second time. Some people say it’s because the womb was rejuvenated after a full term pregnancy or because there was a change of hormones. I wonder if it’s because I had just got a job and life had taken a great turn for me? Or because we just stopped caring at that time and focused on other things?
At school we are taught sex education in an attempt to prepare us with the information we need to make good decisions about our sexual health, delaying sex, limiting our sexual partners and safer sex. But ultimately, we were warned that if you don’t use contraception, you will get pregnant. Now, the odds of falling pregnant are pretty high for a 17 year old with raging hormones and high fertility, but what happens when they reach adulthood and decide they want to procreate?
I think there should be more education for young adolescents on how difficult it can be for some people and the problems you may face. If only just to prepare you for possible challenges or infertility.
LESSONS FROM MOTHERHOOD
Since I became a mother and surrounded myself with other mothers or those planning to start a family, my eyes have been opened up to the amount of loss that occurs in pregnancy. Nobody can prepare you for loss but maybe with more education on something that happens more frequently than many realise, couples could be armed with a better head space when they decide to start a family. Or, if only for everyone else to be a better support to those around them that are going through the loss of a child. Some of my dear friends have gone through this and for someone who usually has so many words, I had very little.
What I learnt from going down the road of IVF is that your relationship is the most important thing. Nurture it through the roller coaster of IVF and don’t be each other’s punching bag. It’s such an emotional time and both parties will handle it differently. Because I was the one with physical issues preventing us from conceiving, I handled it worse that my husband. And often – admittedly – probably neglected his needs too. If you are not successful, you’ll still have each other. And although you may not have a child ‘together’, there are other options
The adjustment to parenthood as a whole has been my biggest challenge. I’m someone who likes to be in control. I’m a planner. I like to have things the way I like them and I’m not very flexible. I like a clean house, a hot dinner and so on. Becoming a mum has taught me to take a breath and go with the flow a lot more. I now have the ability to look at a pile of washing and say “stuff it, it will still be there tomorrow”.
I never knew I would, or could love someone like I love Harvey. No matter how hard shit gets, I never get angry at him. Like most mums, I will put my child absolutely first and myself completely last. There’s no being selfish as a mum and that’s okay, because our children are entirely worth it.
Adele is mum to Harvey, and soon-to-be baby #2.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Adele, aka The Real Mumma, is from Melbourne, married and a first time Mum to Harvey. Adele started her blog The Real Mumma when Harvey was 5 months old; she needed a space where she could share a very ‘real’ account of her life and create an environment that helped other mums relate, share their experiences and tips, in a space that was safe from judgement.