Kirstie's motherhood story - How IVF affected me
After trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby for what felt like a lifetime, we went straight to the top. I never really had regular periods, so while it was a bit of a shock to not fall pregnant, I wasn’t that surprised. I’m not the type to waste time, or put things off either, so we made the decision, made the call and made the appointment.
After some initial testing for both of us and a bit of surgery for myself, we were given our diagnosis: ‘You will have a baby, but you will need IVF…’ (and an enormous amount of money!).
It was March 2015. We got our police checks (mandatory requirement here in Victoria), saw the finance team, I learnt how to give myself injections and then we jumped in the deep end. I don’t remember thinking it was awful at the start, probably because I was just so excited to make some babies. We thought it would just work straight away! I do recall the weight that I gained in that first few weeks though. WOW! After just 12 days of injections I had grown over 25 egg follicles and at least 5kg around my stomach and butt.
We went in for egg collection, they put you under a light anaesthetic and go on in there (yes, IN THERE) and retrieve the eggs. I had 23 eggs taken, and 16 of them were mature enough to use. We did something called ISCI, where they select ONE good sperm and ‘introduce’ it to one egg. Of the 16 mature eggs, 10 of them successfully fertilised.
5 days after my egg collection, 1 beautiful little embryo went back in. During an Embryo Transfer, they transfer the embryo back into the uterus, no anaesthetic this time – it doesn’t hurt – just using a thin flexible wire type thing. We also froze 6 of the other embryos (3 weren’t good enough quality).
So then the wait begins. I started bleeding about 8 days after my embryo transfer and home pregnancy tests confirmed that this little embryo hadn’t stuck around. I was still taking all of the medications that you have to after transfer. It's completely awful and one of the WORST things about IVF. You have to stay on these medications until the blood test confirms the cycle hasn’t worked, usually around 12 days post transfer.
Having frozen embryos available to us meant we could do a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle straight away. Different medications this time and different monitoring by the doctor, but the same sort of idea. Once the body was ready they put the embryo back in and hope that it sticks.
This little embryo did stick! This little embryo became our beautiful son Jack. We didn’t realise at the time, but we were some of the lucky ones! We had only been through IVF heartbreak once before receiving our miracle.
Our beautiful son was born in January 2016. He was diagnosed with Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula and Oesophageal Atresia (TOF/OA) at birth and underwent surgery at less than 24 hours old. This condition has nothing to do with the fact that he was conceived through IVF. He is now 2 and has undergone 2 major surgeries and 13 smaller ones. He is perfectly healthy in every other way and such a strong little boy.
When Jack was 6 months old we begun to cycle again. Our first transfer didn’t work at all, timing for us wasn’t right. Jack was in hospital for a full month right around this time with his second major surgery. When he turned one we went back again. We did 4 cycles in 2017. They transferred 3 embryos over 6 months, and saw those magic 2 pink lines each time. But sadly, none of them stuck around for long enough for us to celebrate. It was heartbreaking and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We tried different protocols, different medications, but it just didn’t work for us.
For our very last embryo we took a bit of time to prepare. I had just had a D&C (from the last loss) and I’d been working out and eating all the right ‘fertility’ foods. On the day, as I was walking to the clinic to have the embryo transferred in, my FS called with the news that the embryo had not survived the thaw process. Our last embryo, and it didn’t even get chance. To say we’d hit rock bottom was an understatement.
Throughout all of 2017 I found support and strength ‘speaking’ to other women going through the same thing on Instagram. I had an anonymous profile set up (because we didn’t share our journey with people outside of our immediate family in real life). It was an unofficial community where we could vent, find out what others have experienced, and to celebrate the little wins. It was an outlet, when I felt like I had no one else to talk to.
This year a fellow infertility/IVF warrior decided that there needed to be an official support network available to women and men, here in Australia. One that is not funded by a fertility clinic (or clinic bias) and that is a network that is not for profit. Fertility Support Australia was created. There has been so much work done behind the scenes, but it really is in its infancy. We hope that it can assist and support Fertility Warriors in their pursuits to create their families.
Crazy perfectionist, doing my level best to stop my son from inheriting that trait!
Children: One son - Jack
Motherhood in 5 words: Wanted, Exciting, Scary, Overwhelming, AMAZING.
Fav family friendly place: Our local cafes; Mint Jam and Marmalades.
Coffee order: Medium flat white (although I’d usually love it to be a large!).
Community: Fertility Support Australia (FSA)
We are a non-profit association, created for women and men facing the challenges that come with the journey of infertility. We aim to provide a safe place for people to find others going through the same thing, to have support, to be able to ask questions, and even provide answers and experiences to others who might also be struggling.
This is a place where you can connect with Melbourne mothers to share the good, the bad and the topics that we don't talk about but really need to.
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Share your motherhood story.