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"We’d been trying for a baby naturally for two years when we decided to go to the doctor for a check-up. After a series of tests we discovered that my husband wasn’t producing sperm so it was suggested we try IVF.
The thought of IVF frightened me as it was so invasive and I’d had a childhood trauma that left me terrified at the idea of such physical intrusion.
It was 1999, and I was 29 years old and I felt like I was never going to hold a baby of my own. My husband and I grieved for five years. He wanted a child, but it wasn’t the be all and end all for him.
I realised it was for me.
I convinced myself that having a baby outweighed any fear I had of doctors so we decided to try artificial insemination.
We had to come to terms with the idea that the child would not have my husband’s DNA. Would we tell the child? Did we want records of the donor?
Finally, we got donor sperm with a record of whom it came from in case out child ever felt the need to find their biological father.
We tried three times with no success, and each time I bled it was devastating. We had viable sperm now, so why wasn’t it working?
The fourth time we tried, it was a success.
My pregnancy was a dream and we had a beautiful, healthy baby boy in 2006.
I wanted to give my child a sibling, and my body had done it once so it seemed reasonable to think I could have another child.
When my son was two years old, we began again.
We had some sperm straws left so we tried insemination again with no luck.
It was strongly recommended that I begin IVF. I begged them to please let me try insemination one more time before I started IVF. I was still scared at the idea and couldn’t get past my childhood experience.
They agreed and we fell pregnant with our second son.
It was another seemingly perfect pregnancy, but we had a hard year. There were six deaths in our lives during the beginning of my pregnancy and I was grieving deeply for one dear friend in particular.
I was so preoccupied that I barely noticed when my baby stopped moving inside me.
Our 20-week scan showed that our son had died.
I birthed him and the autopsy showed nothing. It was just a mystery. I wondered if I had done something?
Was it that cup of coffee I drank? The way I did the gardening? Was it me?
I was devastated.
I decided to start IVF immediately. I was 39 and now I felt like I had no time to waste. I was having grief counseling plus IVF counseling and I was dealing with the demons from my past as best as I could.
IVF wasn’t as bad as I expected but because I wanted another baby so badly I would have gone through pretty much anything.
I was eating organic foods, and I cut out sugar and alcohol. I would make bargains with the Universe to please help me have another child. If someone told me I needed to stand on my head all day, I would have done it.
After three cycles, we fell pregnant but I miscarried at eight weeks.
I underwent a battery of tests to see if there was an underlying issue with my body. There was nothing glaringly obvious. A small possibility of pre-diabetes, but no natural killer cells, no genetics blips, nothing.
I had one more unsuccessful cycle that year, and I continued trying for two more years.
August 2011 I registered a positive pregnancy test, but then I bled as normal. This is known as a chemical pregnancy. I tried two more times after that and then we were done.
From the very beginning of the inseminations I had done 21 rounds, and we were emotionally, physically and financially spent. I hadn’t been working because the endless rounds of appointments don’t leave much time in your schedule.
I’m so grateful for the son I have, and I’m grateful for the opportunity available to me to give it everything we had to try for another child.
I think after spending so much time at the clinic and becoming friends with the nurses they were as disappointed as we were at the outcome, but I know there is not a stone we left unturned, or a path unexplored.
This is just some people’s reality of IVF.
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