Isn’t it amazing that when you are younger, so many adult sayings you just don’t understand, and then all of a sudden, you are an adult, and these sayings do make sense! Like, “her biological clock must be ticking!”
This is how I felt when we started on our journey to have children and our journey was full of many obstacles that others were not experiencing. You can’t understand how this feels unless it has or is happening to you.
Having children was never on our radar for my husband and I, until one day, not that I could tell you which day, things started to change. Both my husband and I started to look at couples with children differently. One of those sayings was beginning to make sense, in particular, about a woman’s biological clock starting to tick! Something was missing in our lives.
So our journey for children began. It was February 2003, my husband and I were now both 30 years old and we had just returned from our OE. We thought we may have some difficulty in conceiving as in 1997 I had a ruptured left ovarian cyst and had a diagnostic laparoscopy which revealed that I only had a left ovary (I was only born with one ovary but never knew) and my right fallopian tube was clubbed so didn’t work.
After a year of trying to conceive, I was at North Shore Hospital Emergency Department being scanned for what I thought was another ruptured cyst on my ovary as the pain was very similar to what I had experienced before, only to find out that I was 5 and a half weeks pregnant. I had used pregnancy tests at home, but they had all come back negative. This joy was short lived as in the next couple of weeks to come I was to learn that the pregnancy was in fact an ectopic pregnancy and I was also starting to learn what it was like to feel the pain of not having a child when people around you were.
Another two years of not conceiving went by before we met with one of the lovely doctors at Fertility Plus and were accepted for publically funded IVF due to a result of what they called tubal disease. Disconcertingly as well, I was known as having secondary infertility due to my previous ectopic pregnancy.
This time of continually trying to start a family was very hard and this is where I say, unless you have experienced this, understanding is very difficult. Friends were falling pregnant easily, some would say “without even really trying”, some were even on to their second successful pregnancy. I would avoid situations where I knew I would come in contact with people that were pregnant or had very young children. My husband and I spent three years putting our lives on hold because “we may be pregnant then”. Most people would just say “It will happen when it’s mean to be” which I just didn’t want to hear and it never made me feel better, worse in fact. How would they know and if that is the case then I should be pregnant now because as far as I was concerned, it was meant to be, my husband and I were meant to be parents!!
My story is told to give hope and sympathy and for people to realise there are many others going through similar struggles. The hope is that my story does have a happy ending. After I was accepted for IVF I was lucky enough to have 6 blastocyst embryos. One was implanted in November 2006 and the other five were frozen. Sadly, however, I did not become pregnant. Two more embryos were implanted early the following year which resulted in the birth of my first son.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first son that the loss I suffered through my ectopic pregnancy hit home, together with the loss of two further embryos through them not implanting through IVF implantation. Because the embryos that my husband and I had created together had grown to the blastocyst stage and had the potential to continue to grow into a beautiful baby once implanted in me, I felt they were already a life. I realise this is something that many people view differently, but I also know there are a lot of people out there who believe the same as me.
I went on to have my second child, a daughter, through IVF implantation and then also fell pregnant naturally with my third child, another daughter, even though we had thought it impossible.
My story, as beautiful as it is, does not end there. I struggled endlessly with the thought of my two remaining embryos still in storage and what was to become of them. It came to a point that the thought of what would become of them consumed me day and night. I, like many I am sure, continued to pay my invoice which was sent every year to continue to have them stored for me.
I was exceptionally lucky in the fact that my husband, although not of the same view as me, could see the pain and sadness that these remaining embryos were causing me and agreed to them being implanted in me to give them a chance of life, and to potentially be a five child family.
Sadly this was not to be, as the first implantation was another ectopic pregnancy and the second implantation did not implant. As devastated as I was at the loss of these two embryos, I no longer suffer the struggle of what will become of them as I know I gave them the best chance.
This is something that I am sure is a struggle for many, not just me. The reason I have shared this final part of my story is in the hope that one day, there will be a support group available for those suffering the very real pain and dilemma regarding remaining embryos.