No! I don't want to see/or know

No! I don't want to say it

No! I don't want to hear it

THIS IS MY STORY.

IVF is a lot more common than what a lot of people realise. People of all different nationalities, religions and ages are all turning to IVF more and more to make their family dream a reality. Infertility affects people of all ages.

I pretty much really didn’t understand how IVF worked until I experienced it second hand through a close friend of my husband who had been undergoing IVF for five years or so. So my understanding of the whole journey, the procedures, the emotional turmoil and the financial aspect was so limited until I really experienced it first hand myself.

What I have noticed since doing IVF is that its not really heard or spoken about as much as it really should be and I do believe it deserves a lot more attention in the public eye as it is becoming more common. I wish the government would take it seriously if someone in parliment is going through it or knows someone who is. The word IVF is kind of like the dirty word that you never say it out loud & if it is mentioned, then its really to only a select few of people (i.e. close friends and family).

Having a baby is easy.

Yeah sure for a big portion of the population that’s true. However, if you’re like me & you’re struggling to fall pregnant for whatever reason (I will go more into what my issue is later on in a future post) and you have tried every sex position in the book that “supposedly'” can help your man’s fellas target your egg – such as:

After the deed is done, straight onto your back and pretend you’re on a bike racing like mad for the Tour de France.

Peddle! Peddle! …PEDDLE!!

…FYI, its all a myth. The sperm knows where to go and no cirque du soliel acrobatic position is going to take help those fellas get going along faster or dive into position… but a hilarious vision for your man to witness nevertheless!

And just between you and I, I have done this on many occasions.

I know first hand the extreme frustration & heartache you experience each and every month of when that dreaded period arrives and you’re no closer to being pregnant.  It freaking hurts like hell! I have cried so many times every month when that bitch turned up (and I still do).

I started my IVF journey in April 2012 after miscarrying my first pregnancy in February of that same year.

After a few months of trying, my husband pretty much said we needed to go & see my GP and ask for a referral to go & see a fertility specialist. I was stunned. Never thought I would need one day to go & see a fertility specialist. I didn’t even know where to go and find one.  Who was I going to ask? My friends? Um, no because everyone around me I knew fell pregnant easily & and I didn’t want anyone to know that I was having problems. It happened once surely it would happen again…

How about family?? Hell no!  I definitely didn’t want any of my family knowing about my problem or be seen as the black sheep of the family (lucky for me all my family live over in Portugal & France). I just didn’t want anyone saying (or thinking) that I ‘failed’ in the DNA family line of reproduction. I already felt enough inner shame as it was but of course its obvious that these thoughts were only coming from me & not from what anyone actually thought or felt. I guess it was my way of beating up myself before anyone else could.

Where was I going to find a fertility clinic?

Well, the computer became my new best friend.

Correction.

The internet became my new best friend. The one I could turn to at any time of the day or night. The one who ‘told me’ all the information I needed. Google. Yep, that’s right. I ‘chatted’ with Google or as many fertility challenged women call it, “Dr Goggle”.

I typed in those two words: fertility specialist.  Now depending on your current location in the world, it brings up all the medical clinics & the names of fertility specialists that are near you or within the same state.  I went to an IVF clinic that is near my home and it was also just five minutes away from my work, and from what the reviews said – it came highly recommended.

The first appointment I had at the IVF clinic I saw a lady specialist & the first thing she had me do was a blood test to check my AMH and vitamin D levels.

Lately there has been quite a bit of media coverage (or controversy) concerning AMH tests as a few doctors are now starting to say that these tests are no longer reliable and accurate and should not be relied on. (cue in the cough)

When my test came back, the results were 7.1. Meaning low. My fertility specialist said that because I had fallen naturally pregnant the first time it really should happen again for me & that I only should come back in about six months as I was ‘still young enough‘. Mind you, I was 39 years old at the time. Anyway, she’s the fertility specialist, who am I to argue with or know better.

      I saw her at the end of April 2012.

I told my husband and he wasn’t happy with waiting for that long and demanded we see someone else. I rang the next day & asked to see another fertility specialist & because he was quite popular, there was bit of a wait to see this doctor.

I finally saw this fertility specialist early September 2012.   This is the exactly how the appointment went. I still remember it… word for word:

“Now why are you here?”

Er, because I’m having trouble falling pregnant so that’s why I’m seeing you.

“OK. How old are you?”

39.

“Oh, you’re too old to become a mother”

(QUE?? SAY WHAT?!)

I was shocked & stayed silent for a few seconds. Totally gobsmacked and actually muttered silently inside my head: “Alrighty then, at the same as your slapping me harder on the face with the knowledge that I already know ABOUT my age, you’re disrespecting me as a woman by saying I’m too old to become a mother. How about you help me as I’m paying you $150 for the 15 minutes that you see me, OK!”

“Have you fallen pregnant before”

Yes. First pregnancy. I miscarried 2 weeks later.

“Any health issues? Do you smoke? Drink?

No. No and no.

“OK. Lets do an ultrasound of your uterus and see how that looks”

Off we go over to the table, I take off the bottom clothes and he starts with the ultrasound.

“You have a beautiful uterus. A very very beautiful uterus.”

Again, I’m gobsmacked and lost for words & just muttered silently in my head: “OK. Sounds like you’re flirting with my uterus and that you want to take it out for coffee. Awkward much.” Feeling more so uncomfortable especially with an ultrasound contraption up my cervix .

“Everything looks very good in there. I don’t see what the problem is that you cannot fall pregnant. I will order a HSG test for you. This will check out your fallopian tubes to see that they are all OK.”

“You are healthy & fit woman, and still young”

Again I muttered silently inside my head (I tend to do that a lot): “Right! So now I’m still young! So I’m OK now to be a mother?!” (cue in my F words being said inside my head at hearing that comment as I’m getting dressed).

My appointment for the HSG test was done in mid-October 2012 & my husband came along for support although he was told to wait in the waiting room while they did the test.

I was told to lie down on the table on my back and bring my feet up into a “frog leg” position.

The doctor placed a speculum into my vagina & checked around my cervix. Afterwards  a soft, thin catheter was placed through the cervical opening into the uterine cavity or an instrument called a tenaculum was placed on my cervix & then a narrow metal cannula is inserted through the cervical opening.  The dye was slowly injected through the catheter into the uterine cavity. X-ray pictures are taken as the uterine cavity are filling & then additional dye is injected so that the tubes could fill & begin to spill into the abdominal cavity (its as painful as I’m describing it). More x-ray pictures were taken as this “fill and spill” occurred.

My right tube was performing well & the dye was running out, however the left tube not so much. They tried twice to inject the dye into my left side but it was the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced as of to date. I squeezed that poor nurses hand so hard that I think I may have fractured her hand.

They wanted to try again but they could see I was in so much pain that they didn’t want to risk it any more. When they finished the procedure, I started to shake uncontrollably & burst into tears because I was in that much pain. The nurse went & grabbed my husband to comfort me.

So right tube is good but the left not so good. Reasons unknown. Could have been born this way or it could have happened when I miscarried.

OK, so we decided to see another specialist at the IVF clinic as we were no closer to actually starting IVF treatments and we saw the man that owns the fertility clinic in Geelong, and after a long waiting list I finally got to see him in late December 2012.

IVF: a word I refused to say out loud & admit to myself

After seeing one specialist after another & first getting told I’m still young enough, wait a bit longer and then getting told no I’m too old to be a mother, when it came to finally seeing the third fertility specialist I  clearly remember being in that room feeling so down & withdrawn with all the stopping & starting processes done so far. It really was the beginning of the emotional roller coaster ride.  And through it all,  to be honest, I felt delusional.

Delusional in the sense that I didn’t believe that I needed IVF & that I don’t even know why we were there still here in the first place. I hadn’t yet come to terms with it. And honestly felt ashamed. There was no one really I could talk to about it all. I know that a lot of my own feelings where of my own doing: it was all my fault we were now doing IVF, beating myself up, making myself feel pathetic …and more alone. All I kept thinking was: OK so I wasn’t falling pregnant as easily again, sure it was taking its time but maybe its because I had miscalculated my ovulation date or we just weren’t “doing it” right – I really don’t know.

All I know was that I just hated that word: IVF.

For a long long LONG time I refused to believe that I needed it & to be honest deep down inside I felt so ashamed. Ashamed that I was failing as my duty as a woman to be able to fall pregnant and give my gorgeous husband a child. The fertility specialist had my husband and I do further more detailed blood tests & we were told to return back in mid-January 2013.

The tests revealed  my husband that he has super sperm. Yep, man of steel swimmers. They could populate the planet if it was required (cue in the joke!). And me, well, same old same old. My AMH levels were the same, 7.1 and everything else came up good apart from that fallopian tube issue. I finally started with my first IVF treatment in February 2013. The specialist had me on a starting dose of 150iui Elonva and Orgalutran.

Eight days later I had a blood test and ultrasound done to check on the follicles and uterus lining, and the news wasn’t good.

Not much was happening with my follicles and I was given another FSH drug called Puregon to help stimulate my follicles more. I was then told by the fertility nurse to come back in three days for another blood test and ultrasound to check on my follicles again.  I didn’t know what to think or feel. To be honest I walked around in a state of continued denial and blocked out any feelings.

I still continued on with my crusade of delusional thinking and I refused to say that word (IVF) out loud to my husband or my work colleagues (at that time I only told my work colleagues as I’m wanted them to know why I was taking time off work for appointments etc).

I hadn’t even told any of my own friends at that time. I was just ashamed & thought that if any one knew I was doing IVF they might think its because its my fault as I’m old or just weird. I just couldn’t admit to it. The anguish, the embarrassment, the frustration & heartache ate away at me daily. 24/7. I kept a lot of how I was truly feeling hidden from my husband and mother. I didn’t want them to worry or think I couldn’t handle it. Again that was my coping mechanism style. I can tell you that it tested my strength on every level imaginable. Mentally, emotionally and physically.

I returned back for my blood test and ultrasound. The nurse said they would ring with the results later that afternoon.  The fertility specialist rang. Not the third one but the first one (!!). The third specialist had someone else take over my case as he was too ‘busy’.

The fertility specialist said I only had two follicles on the right side & they were decent sizes but it was up to me to go ahead for egg collection but she recommended cancelling the cycle as I may get one or two eggs collected but I could also get none. My husband agreed with the specialist.

I didn’t.

The cycle got cancelled.

It was my first cycle and still to this day and I still wonder:  ‘what if?’

 

Man, did I put myself down something shocking. I constantly blamed myself. I even caused so many arguments with my husband, trying to push him away by always telling him to go & find a ‘younger’ woman who could give him the child that he deserved.

He always said, ‘I didn’t marry you to be an incubator. You’re the only one I want and if it happens that’s great, if not well it just wasn’t meant to be and we will live our lives together.’  To be honest, it took me such a long time. In all honesty I really started to believe it last year in September 2015. It took me that long to really believe that he meant it.

Also it took me over 18 months to really come to terms that I was doing IVF and that there was definitely no reason for me to to be ashamed, in actual fact I should be proud.  I’m just needing that extra bit of help to get pregnant and have a baby.

Once I finally came to terms with it and really felt it within my heart and soul, I was then  finally able to say it out loud and no longer feel ashamed or like an ‘outcast’

That was  around the time I gave myself a nickname: the ‘Warrior Queen’. This IVF journey you go on, there are so many ups and downs. The mental, physical and emotional roller coaster rides you go on really is no joke and do become a warrior because of all what you experience.  I’m now proud I wear the IVF Warrior badge.

What I started to realise is that women are truly amazing. Not that I of course didn’t know that (like hello?) and I’m not going on a ‘girl power’ movement here but with what women go through is truly remarkable. But seriously, women are so strong, we take on so much to get things done. We are created to fall pregnant (if you are blessed), your body expands to carry this baby in your womb for nine months and you give birth. We are our men’s tower of strength and give guidance. We are healers and nurturers, and just freaking amazing.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. There will be a continued series in up coming posts on my journey. Hope you will come back and be a part of it xxx