May 9th to 15th 2016

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Rachel's story

We were fortunate enough to get married young – 22 years old. We enjoyed building our home together, holidaying and working hard to get a bit of a nest egg. Then came time to try for a baby. Friends around us were either well on the way or trying too. One by one our friends either had a baby or fell pregnant – i started to wonder. Despite only 6 months of trying – I had been to Natural Family Planning and was tracking my cycles so had expected it to go to plan. I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right, so went to see our GP. He ran lots of tests for me and my results came back fantastic, I was super fertile. Then to get my husband tested, hesitant at first he then agreed. I will never forget the day the GP phoned me, I was at home and he gave me the results directly for which I am very grateful – nowadays with the privacy act it could have been different, he told me not a single sperm was found. I was in complete disbelief and we retested. Again nothing. Not a single one. The GP suggested we go and see the local gynaecologist for further testing and information – however I couldn’t see the point, I got straight on the phone to the Christchurch fertility clinic and took their next available appointment when visiting Nelson.

I guess at that point I started to downward spiral towards depression.  I couldn’t bear to see anything about babies on TV, was so envious of any new mother including complete strangers in the supermarket buying nappies, holding newborns. And worse of all our friends. I had two girl friends whose baby showers I couldn’t face attending and who I actually just couldn’t face at all. With the grace of true friendship they completely understood - while I stepped back then our friendships are still strong today.  Further invasive testing through the Christchurch clinic did in fact prove azoospermia – absence of any sperm at all.  I was devastated. I did plunge into depression. I would sit at my desk at work and just cry, I couldn’t decide what to wear in the morning – I was bad, and went on antidepressants for 3 months which made such a difference. I had grown up one of four children and always just assumed I would get married and have children of my own – with my husband.

We knew that our options were donor sperm and adoption. I was young, healthy and there was absolutely no reason to believe I wouldn’t be able to have a baby so we decided donor sperm. To this day I am blown away by my amazing husband who was so supportive, so calm, understanding – yet it was him who the problem lay with, while I on the other hand battled depression. He was amazing. My husband’s family found it hard to digest – had they done something wrong for him to be like this? Had he been exposed to something as a child?  We found out he was in fact born missing part of a chromosome and it was nobody’s fault. We went on the donor waiting list. I was an obsessed woman. I phoned the clinic endlessly wanting information on where we were on the list.  I wouldn’t rest until this process was underway.

In the big scheme of things the wait was relatively short, 6 months. It certainly was interesting when we were given the profile book of donors, they had put some pretty random choices in there – however we chose a donor based on my husband’s physical characteristics and health history of the donor. We choose someone older than us and also someone who had no previous children of their own for personal reasons of our own.

We had IUI Intrauterine insemination which is much less invasive than IVF and I didn’t need to take a single drug, it was a completely natural cycle tracked by scans and blood tests. They day of the insemination was hard, my husband was quite detached from the whole process however attended with me. I was so fortunate to fall pregnant first time, I was so thrilled and announcing it to our parents was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. We had a beautiful daughter, followed by another 3 years later, so incredibly blessed. Both our girls our full biological siblings. They possibly have half siblings elsewhere in New Zealand which I would like the girls to have connection with later in life.

We have been open and honest with our children from the start too about the donor. To think there is some angel out there who gave us this most precious gift blows my mind. We share a children’s picture book with them and speak about it from time to time with them in an age appropriate way.

The journey was tough, but my goodness did we learn a lot. We stuck by each other, our families stuck by us – they all adore our girls, they have 4 sets of grandparents who love them all equally and whom they see all the time. It wasn’t our ideal process but it is our ideal family.