Fertility Friday has rolled around again, and not before time. I know from all your comments and messages that you are loving reading these stories, as much as I am enjoying sharing them.
Today I’m handing the blog over to my dear friend Kristin to talk about her journey. It is one I know well, as we shared a very similar path in both finding our blokes later in life and then having a rocky road to motherhood. Kristin’s dogged determination to become a mother has been equalled only by her love for her beautiful boy Joe. Here is her story.
When I was 12, I had my whole life planned out. In my naivety, I thought I would have successful career in Public Relations, a wonderful caring, attentive husband and two beautiful children all by the age of 25. Well best-laid plans and all that, at the age of 36 I found myself single and childless. I didn’t have a successful career in PR but I did manage a small team of business analysts (see the connection with PR? Me neither.) and I owned my own home and had a gorgeous fur baby, Charlotte.
Living in a regional town where most people got married young and who in their late 30s were either still married or on to their second or third marriage, I thought I was destined to remain on my lonesome. Then it happened, I was at a party and looked across the backyard and saw the man that was to become my husband. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight and he wasn’t my normal type but he was handsome and kind, although very quiet. I might’ve been a bit tipsy (read: drunk) as I made my way over to where he was sitting to have a chat and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years later we were married.
After our wedding we decided to try for a child. Surely, it would be easy. I had spent most of my adult life trying not to get pregnant because I always thought there was such a high chance that I could. After six months of trying with no results, we decided to undergo fertility treatment, especially as at 38 I was considered ‘geriatric’ by doctors! We went to a local ob/gyn who diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (you might know it as PCOS). It wasn’t really a surprise; I had always had very irregular periods and always tended to be on the chubby side. The specialist put me on Clomid and for two cycles, but it didn’t do anything except make me want to stab my husband in the eye with a blunt pencil when he left his shoes lying around the house. When the doctor told me he wanted me to try a third cycle, I burst in to tears. I couldn’t face the emotional and physical side effects for another month.
My good friend, Julie [editor’s note, that’s me!], suggested I try a fertility specialist in Brisbane who she had found to be excellent. And this was how I ended up under the care of Dr Warren De Ambrosis. He was unlike any other doctor my husband and I had met. His sense of humour was so dry but he was so caring and hell-bent on doing everything he could to help get me pregnant. He suggested that IVF was our best option, and so our IVF journey began. He explained that it might not work because my eggs were old, even though my PCOS meant I had the egg stores of a 20 year old. In his words, ‘there were lots of nuts on the tree but they were 39 year old nuts so you wouldn’t want to eat all of them’.
I started the hormone injections and religiously took the regime of vitamins, aspirin, steroids and blood thinners. I had bruises the size of tennis balls on my stomach but it didn’t matter because I wanted to be pregnant more than anything. Often you hear women undergoing fertility treatment say how upset they feel when they see women with babies, but I felt upset when I saw pregnant women because that was my first goal.
The day of my first egg collection came and went (well, I did have hyper stimulated ovaries so I could hardly walk on the day and every bump in the road felt like someone was stabbing me in the abdomen). Warren collected 13 eggs, I knew this because when I came too from the anaesthetic I had ‘13’ written in black nikko all over my lower legs. Over the next five days, we got regular updates from the lab on how our embryos were doing. We ended up with 4 embryos that made it through to blastocyst stage and had two transferred into my uterus.
I endured the 2 week wait and lo and behold, the pregnancy test was positive. I was so happy! One IVF cycle and I was pregnant. How lucky could I be?!? Three weeks later, my joy came crashing down around me. At work I went to the toilets and found I was bleeding. I went to my GP and she sent me for a blood test but suggested I see Warren as soon as I could. The blood test showed that my HCG levels were not rising as they should’ve been. Warren gave me an ultrasound and there was nothing in my uterus. He broke the news that it was probably an ectopic pregnancy. At seven weeks, the embryo was so small he could not see it inside the tube, as he said; it was like ‘trying to see a cockroach that had been swallowed by a snake’. I went home to wait out the weekend. I was hopeful, always hopeful, but things did not look good.
On Monday I travelled to Brisbane to be told it was definitely ectopic and I needed to have the embryo removed the next day. That night I was in agony and the next day I went under general anaesthetic for only the second time in my life, but this time it was to remove my baby. I woke up to find out that my tube had ruptured and had to be removed. So now my already low chances of getting pregnant had just halved! Even now the heartbreak I felt at that time brings me to tears.
I let my body recover and mentally prepared myself for a second round of IVF, when I found out that Dr Wazza was going to be off for a month due to back surgery. Secretly I was relieved because it meant a longer break from hormone injections and those dreaded blood thinners! I went about my daily life and enjoyed the freedom of being ‘hormone’ free. Then one day I was having lunch with one of my besties, and I started to burp. Naomi said to me ‘You’re pregnant!’ I responded with ‘No, I’m not!’ How could I be pregnant? My chances of falling naturally were less than 1%! She said, ‘I have only known you to have reflux one other time and that was when you were last pregnant’. I honestly believed I was not pregnant but I peed on a stick anyway and straight away there were two lines! I walked around the house stunned. I rang my husband and told him the good news. The conversation went something like this, ‘OH MY GOD I AM PREGNANT! OH MY GOD I AM PREGNANT!’
The next few weeks and months were filled with fear of losing this baby but also filled with wonder at the tiny human moving and growing inside me. On the 24th of May 2012 at 5:24am I gave birth to our son, Joseph Daniel. He is the coolest little man that I know. He is kind, funny and smart. He drives me crazy and he lights up my life. I have never known love like the love I have for him. He is truly our miracle baby.
Now I am 44 years old, my hopes of giving Joe a sibling are dwindling. The drive to have another baby is not so strong that I would ever go through the trauma IVF again. But every month a little voice inside me says, ‘Maybe this time…’