Infertility and the IVF Roller-Coaster – Carly’s Story

IVF and Infertility - Stories of Motherhood

“Hello? Hello? Are you there?” I was in complete shock, I couldn’t even speak, the nurse was on speaker phone and my husband and I were standing in the lounge room. My husband answered for me “we’re here, she just can’t speak, she’s in shock.” “You’re pregnant!” The nurse repeated herself. I shook my head from side to side with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was in utter disbelief. It was one of the happiest days of our lives, after 5 years of trying to have a baby and several rounds of IVF we were finally pregnant.

The nurses voice repeated over and over in my head, but still I had so much trouble believing it. Whilst I was experiencing some symptoms of pregnancy, I still really wasn’t sure. Every other time I had what I thought were symptoms too and then when the test came back negative, I realised it was just the medications and my mind playing tricks on me once again. I just couldn’t believe this time it was actually happening.

It was one of the happiest days of our lives, after 5 years of trying to have a baby and several rounds of IVF we were finally pregnant.

From the very first moment we knew our baby existed we loved it more than our own lives, we knew we would sacrifice anything for it. We talked constantly about the dreams we had for it- the dreams that we had previously been too scared to mention for fear of them not coming true, were now spoke of freely. We imagined what we would call our special little bub, if it was a boy or a girl, who they would look like, take after and grow up to be. We discussed our plans for surprising our friends and family with the news.

Within a few short days we brought out the boxes of baby clothes and furniture which had been carefully collected over the years and packed away, in hope that it would all one day get the chance to be loved and used. We lovingly stood in our future nursery and talked about the layout and decoration plans. We put items on lay-by and went to IKEA. We did all the exciting and fun things we had been anticipating for so long.

Infertility and the IVF roller-coaster
“The day had finally come where I was able to walk into the room and say ‘I’m pregnant!'”  Image supplied.

We were at our GP before we knew it, still caught up in a whirlwind, the day had finally come where I was able to walk into the room and say “I’m pregnant!” just like he had promised I would all those years ago. We discussed obstetricians, ultrasounds and prenatal appointments. I was booked for our first ultrasound and obstetrician appointment, and had also made a reservation with the hospital for maternity care. Everything was happening so quickly, you couldn’t wipe the smile from our faces.

We started to break the news to our family, we had planned to wait longer but just couldn’t contain ourselves. My sister in-law had just announced she was pregnant at the time so we had two little baby singlets made up and embroidered with ‘big cousin’ and ‘little cousin’ on them. We wrapped them up and gave them to her when we were out for dinner. For my parents we gave them a card which announced they were going to be grandparents. Everyone was over the moon for us. It was such an exciting time. It was everything we had imagined it would be. We were filled with joy, anticipation and overall relief that like everyone had said, “our time” had finally come. All the blood tests, appointments, scans, injections, medications, tears, pain and grief had made it all worth it, FINALLY. We were having a baby.


 

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As quick as it began, it was over. A routine blood test to check the rise in hormone levels came back and my nurse called with the results while I was at work. I stepped out of my office to take the call. I didn’t go back inside. I ran to my car crying my eyes out and drove, I couldn’t believe what was happening. Why? Why was it happening to us? We wanted this baby so bad. The nurse had explained that a miscarriage was inevitable, my hormone levels weren’t rising at the rate they should be, my body couldn’t support the baby. I was already taking a huge amount of medication to assist the pregnancy and it wasn’t enough. It was just a matter of time.

Was it all just a cruel joke? I would have preferred to have never been pregnant at all. They say that one is better to have experienced love and lost, than to have never experienced it at all. In this instance, I disagree. This was so unfair. I never got to hear my baby’s heartbeat, kiss her head, touch her, smell her, count her fingers and toes, listen to her cry, watch her grow. ‘HER’. Something I don’t know, but just feel, I believe our baby was a girl.

Medications taken during IVF treatment
Just some of the many medications Carly is required to take throughout IVF treatment. Image supplied

It was at this point I considered that we should never have told a soul about our news. In fact I felt terribly silly to have told anyone. We were so keen to share our happiness but couldn’t find the strength to tell of our misery. We called our parents who passed on the news to the other close members of our family so we didn’t have to repeat it over and over again. We sent the following message to our friends:

“Today we found out our happy news was short lived. We are going to lose our baby. We are of course devastated, I’m sorry for the text but couldn’t go through retelling this to each of our friends and family. I’m sure you will understand that we need some time together to process this and grieve our loss and don’t feel up to seeing or speaking to anyone at the moment, however we will need your support in time.”


 

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I sat on the floor, in the middle of our nursery, surrounded by boxes of lovingly collected items that had been passed onto us, a combination of family heirlooms and silly things we had brought over the years. I picked up and felt the soft wool of gorgeous handmade crocheted jumpers, I packed away an AC-DC onesie my husband bought, teddies, tiny socks, blankets, books- all things I had collected and hoped would one day be used by our longed-for baby. All now useless. I could have set fire to everything and sat there in the middle with it burning around me, without a care.

The days that followed were a blur. Doctors appointments, blood tests, waiting for ‘it’ to happen. I had no idea what to expect. How painful would it be? How much blood? Would it just suddenly happen and be over with quickly or go on for days? I just waited, not knowing when it would happen, no one knew. My GP was amazing during this time, unlike my specialist whose response was “1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage”, my GP was sensitive and supportive, he explained what he could and took the time to talk through everything. I was offered the option of a Dilation and Curette, I declined. I’m not sure why, perhaps I thought that there was still a small slither of hope, perhaps it might not happen and my baby would cling on, perhaps if I went through with a natural miscarriage it would feel real, perhaps I would be able to make sense of why it was happening. I wouldn’t want to do that again. The waiting was the hardest part, and when it was over it didn’t feel any more real, I couldn’t make any more sense of it.

Infertility and IVF
“My GP was sensitive and supportive, he explained what he could and took the time to talk through everything.” Image supplied.

What should have been our first ultrasound to hear our baby’s heart beat was instead an ultrasound to check that the miscarriage was ‘complete’ The sonographer’s words still ring in my ears “I see no signs of there being a pregnancy” NOTHING. It felt like it had never happened, our baby had never existed. I felt hollow; I didn’t feel grief, or sorrow, I didn’t feel anything. Emptiness. Vacantness. It was all a dream, or rather a nightmare. My body had failed me, yet again. Not only could it not fall pregnant on so many occasions, when it finally did, it failed again. I felt so removed from the situation, shocked, heartbroken, angry. Nothing seemed fair.

The following months were the most difficult of my life. A few people said to us  “at least you know you can fall pregnant” and “perhaps next time will be different.”  None of that mattered, instead of hoping to one day fall pregnant, now I was genuinely scared. I never wanted to feel that loss again, ever. I didn’t want to take the risk. The heartache was too great. It was easier to just give up.

 

A few people said to us  “at least you know you can fall pregnant” and “perhaps next time will be different.”  None of that mattered

 

Fate would have it that 6 weeks after the miscarriage I broke my leg- two operations, a plate, 11 screws and 16 weeks without walking. I stared the black abyss right in the face and for a long time it stared right back at me but eventually I turned and walked away, I walked towards healing. Healing took time, a long time, we took our longest break yet from IVF. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever go back. Eventually after 12 months off we did go back, we jumped on the IVF roller-coaster again.

I think about my baby all the time, what if she was our only chance at becoming parents? What if that was as close as we will ever get? Her due date came along and I thought about her constantly, it was also our 6th wedding anniversary. I thought about when she would have been 1 month, 2 months and 6 months old. Our baby. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I won’t think about her and what could have been.

 


 

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After seven years trying for a baby and riding the roller-coaster that is infertility and IVF, Carly Ellen Lee began her blog Little Miss Conception. Carly states that while not a lot of positives come from infertility, she’s on a mission to change that. By sharing her experiences, she hopes to offer support to other women who are facing similar challenges, and insight for those who may be supporting a friend or family member going through their own experience of infertility and IVF treatment. Pop over and thank Carly for sharing her experience with us on Facebook and Twitter.
This post originally appeared on Little Miss Conception and has been republished here with full permission.

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