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One mum shares her experience with infertility, including the exhaustion that came from constantly making major decisions.
Five years ago, my husband and I started trying for a baby. We were excited and hopeful but that faded quickly when after six months, there were no signs of a baby.
As I was then 35 years old and fertility nosedived after this time, I decided to book our first medical appointment. That would be the first of many decisions we would make in our fertility journey.
Lucille when she was pregnant. Source: supplied
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At first, the decisions were easy. The initial rounds of blood tests and pelvic scans (while not always pleasant) were low risk and low cost. I didn’t think too hard before proceeding.
But soon, the decisions got harder, a lot harder.
After eight months of medical investigations, there was no explanation for our infertility so we needed to move on. Our options were IVF or surgery.
IVF, as our fertility doctor explained, was diagnostic and treatment. IVF could uncover why our sperm and egg weren’t playing ball. With a bit of luck, it could result in a pregnancy too. But IVF was daunting. There were so many steps, drugs, risks and potential side effects. One round was $10,000 upfront and the biggest deterrent was the 70 percent chance of failure.
Surgery was laparoscopy, a keyhole surgery performed under general anaesthetic. The procedure would look for disorders like endometriosis. “If” endometriosis was found, it would be removed and this “could” improve our chances of natural conception.
Surgery delayed pregnancy and there were the usual risks of any operation like infections or allergic reactions. It was also $2000 out of pocket. As I didn’t have symptoms like severe period pain, the doctor recommended IVF.
Lucille now with her children. Source: supplied
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With a Type A personality, I’m a perfectionist, fearful of making the wrong decision. With infertility, decisions were often made on assumptions and best guess.
It was impossible to know what to do. Even with the biological clock ticking, I sought a second opinion and saw a psychiatrist to help me understand what was most important. I couldn’t fathom starting IVF without knowing that I was at my physical best. If endometriosis was not found, it would be knowledge that would allow me to move on with confidence.
I chose surgery.
Weeks later, “severe” or stage 4 endometriosis was diagnosed. It was treated and while that was seemingly a good decision, we were still not pregnant six months post surgery.
We started IVF.
In hindsight, IVF was the best decision we have ever made as nine months later, we brought home our daughter.
Adjusting to life with her was all consuming so there was little time to think about fertility. But just after my baby turned one, we were ready for another. We had two frozen embryos and I thought it would be as easy as picking up one of those and delivering a baby, 40 weeks later.
On return to our fertility doctor, he hit us with some big questions like how much we wanted a second and if we would be done after that. Our remaining embryos were of a lower quality so the possibility of losing both was real. The recommendation was a full round of IVF so we literally had more eggs in the basket. As I was older, future rounds of IVF would require stronger drugs which meant bigger, more painful needles.
For a decision as big as ideal family size, it was not something that my husband and I had fully discussed. Our plan was to start with one and “see how it goes”. But this lack of foresight could cost us our future children. We needed to decide.
We sunk into some deep soul searching. In the end, we agreed that we had more love to give and the means to raise another. We really wanted a second and were open to more, a revelation that even surprised me. To balance the toll of IVF with a reasonable chance of success, we opted to try with one existing embryo and if that failed, one more round of IVF.
Our “thaw cycle” ended devastatingly. Our round of IVF failed spectacularly. The embryos didn’t implant. None were good enough to keep. We were staring down the barrel of more decisions: another cycle or retrieving our last embryo.
I needed to sit on it, for at least a month.
In that month, I missed my period. For the first time, I bought a home pregnancy test. With IVF, I always went straight to the blood test. For the first time, I saw two tiny lines.
Three trimesters later, we held our son.
When I reflect on my fertility story, the needles were painful, the disappointment was heartbreaking but the most exhausting part was the impossible decision making.
Even after two kids, the decisions don’t end. With one more embryo, I don’t know what we will do yet. But for now, I will shelve the thinking, the analysis, the pros and cons list. Instead, I will concentrate on the decisions I have already made, the two beautiful children created with love, determination and resilience.
Kidspot is running a conception campaign all throughout November called Two Tiny Lines. If you have a fertility journey you’d like to share with us, please reach out via [email protected]
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