Monday, February 27, 2012

My IVF Story....The hurt, the heroics and the happiness......

It's not unusual for me to take shots of my locale on a beautiful day, then write a completely unrelated back story, like the one I did on weight loss tips that work here.  Today is another one of those stories.  It is one that is thankfully a distant memory now, but at the time it was all consuming and very very painful.  I may be over sharing here, but If my story helps one person, then it's worth it.   I am purely writing this because I want the Beach House Brat to read one day, what I went through to get her. I also thought some of you may be interested in one of the most trying times of my life and for anyone who is going through this now to take heart.  

At the time you are going through this, it is very difficult to see a happy ending.  They do exist, but not always....I tell you, I was that close to missing out on mine, but by some miracle, I just scraped in under the radar and got my second child.  So it is possible.

I got my first baby exactly when I wanted him.  We wanted to start a family and bingo, I was pregnant on the second try.  Although I had nothing to compare it with at the was an eventless pregnancy.....a horrendous birth,  which luckily we both survived and he was a fabulous baby....although being my the time I thought he was difficult..... Looking back, he was nothing of the sort.

As with most new mothers....I didn't know what hit me and found the whole thing incredibly difficult, but it slowly got better and better, until I was totally into it and absolutely adored my role as a stay at home mother.  So much so, that by the time the first Beach House Brat was one, Mr Beach house and I began to try again.  I had my first one when I had just turned 36, so I was 37 when we started to try for number 2.  Much to my surprise it didn't happen....I couldn't believe it...It had happened just when I wanted it to last time, so why not now?

After several months, I went to the doctor to see why it wasn't happening.  He told me it was completely normal for women actively trying to get pregnant, to have one pregnancy per year.  Not a live birth, that is one pregnancy, what ever the outcome, every 12 months.  He told me to go home, stop worrying and keep trying.  I can tell you I didn't feel normal, it had happened so quickly before, why not now?

But he was right, within the 12 months I fell pregnant.  So I thought I was home and hosed.  I told everyone at 5 weeks that we would have a new baby by August....done and dusted, here we go again.  Yippee!!!! It was Christmas day..we all met at my SIL's for Christmas father in law, a retired obstetrician, rushed over to the car on arrival and handed me a pudding, cause I 'was in the pudding club'.  A sweet gesture...but a fact that would no longer be true by the end of that day.

I went to the bathroom at 5pm after the presents had been opened and there was a small amount bright red blood on my underwear.  I didn't know what to make of it, as I knew this could happen and you could remain pregnant.  I just didn't want to believe it.  My FIL had left the party, so I rang him as soon as we got home.  He said just go to bed and see how it is in the morning.  I got my hormones tested and  they were declining, which meant it was over.  

It was such a complete sense of having your hopes dashed. A year of trying, raised hopes, a feeling that our family was growing........ I so wanted it and it was all over.  Back to the drawing board.  Days 10, 12 and 14 of my very regular cycle were greatly anticipated at first and then the chore of trying to have a baby set in.  I can't go into it as it's too painful, but it wasn't fun any more. 

At some point soon after that first loss, we began IVF.  I went straight to the top, no IA or less invasive procedures.  I wanted IVF and I wanted it now, as in my mind, that was the only way to 'fix' this. After hormones, copious scans, tests, questionnaires, hospital visits and lots and lots of $$$$$ being handed over, being prodded, poked and pricked endlessly,  it was finally time to have my eggs harvested under general anesthetic.  Funnily enough, I found the first round really mood swings, no reaction at all really, but I did think that if I had to do this lots and lots it would get harder and harder, which of course it did.  I should say at this point that we were probably the only couple in Australia that were doing this without having private health care ( that's another story in itself) but the Australian national health is very generous and I believe a very good system.

So I produced 6 eggs, 3 fertilised in the petri dish and only one was good enough to put back in. Apparently a good result. You walk into a room, they show you your little embryo on a screen.  It's perfectly round and just looks like a clear bubble.  The insertion is easy.  You get up straight away, drive off into the sunset and hope for the best.  I never took Mr Beach House to any of the procedures I could attend alone.  Looking back now, I didn't want to hassle him any more than was necessary.  Getting him to come across at the exactly right time. was taking it's toll and to have forced him to attend every gory procedure might have caused him to resist.  I was on a mission and nothing was going to deter me from doing my best to achieve it.  The truth is, he was quite happy with one child.  He had his boy and was fine with the way we were.  I am an only child of an only child and I began to call it the curse of the only child.  It was fine growing up, I never noticed, but it is now when all I have left of my old family is my mum, that it is more difficult. 

So I'd just completed my first IVF procedure.  By now my confidence was dented and I wasn't sure of a successful outcome, but surprisingly, within a few weeks, I was pregnant again.  Yay, what a great outcome, yes we'd spent a bit of $$$$$ and been through some drama but, it wasn't that bad and it worked.  I got through the dreaded first 6 weeks and was off to have my first scan at about 10 weeks.  The gel went on my tummy, the switch was flicked and my lovely IVF doctor's face dropped.  'What's wrong', I the way that's about the first thing I say at all my scans now.  'I'm sorry but there's no heart beat' he said...Well the feeling inside must be something akin to how it feels to loose a child.  It hurt very very badly.  I was devastated, but I remember not crying I just went numb....I'm like that...I begged him to check and check again but he was right the first time. 

By now there were other issues coming to the fore as well.  It seemed like everyone else in my cohort was having their second or third baby.  It was very hard to be around and although I was happy for them, in all honestly I was very jealous too.  But I made a conscious decision not to burn any bridges and be very excited for them.  Can you imagine turning up to see your friend's brand new baby when you're desperate to have your own.  I always took a gift and the lunch....gooing and garing over this gorgeous little bundle, when all the while wishing like hell that it was me in that position as well.  It was hard, but I decided very early on not to avoid these lovely, if a little not so lovely moments with my friends.   I was going to' fake it 'til I make it'.  I noticed that friends stopped telling me they were pregnant.  I began to find out through group texts, or through friends of friends.  Actually that probably made it easier on both me and my friends.  One gorgeous friend couldn't bare to tell me and just waited til I called around to her house for lunch one day, to be greeted by a very large baby bump.  She said she just didn't know how to break it to me and I so get it!!!!  She knew I was hurting.

I wore most of my pain on my sleeve, by talking alot about it to lots of my friends.  No one seemed to mind but I'm sure I was completely boring.  This only encouraged the free but well meaning advice.  Here's what not to say to a friend who's having trouble conceiving:
'Well at least you already have one'
'You're lucky you got one, considering the chemicals Mr BH works with'
' Oh yes I had a miscarriage between my 2, it's so common you know'
'At least you can get pregnant'
'when are you going to have a second?'
' What's the point of having a second, they are so far apart now, why go back to baby land?'
'Just relax'
'Oh I have a friend who stopped trying and she was pregnant within 3 months'

The worst part of all was the lead up to my 40th birthday party with yet another dead foetus inside me.  I couldn't have the currette until the Monday, so I was taking drugs to keep it inside and prevent a miscarriage at the party, which couldn't be easily cancelled.  Funnily enough, I had a great night at my birthday. It was a girls only dinner party for 20 at my house.  I did all the cooking and they all knew the situation and they were stupid sympathy, just lots of fun. It was all just making me stronger.  Soon after that my mum offered to pay for us to go to France on  holiday, which was very kind, I got pregnant again in the mean time, lost that one too.  So now I was up to my forth loss.  And can you believe for the three months before we went to France, we stopped trying ,because I wanted  to be able to eat all the unpasteurised cheeses and saussison and the travel insurance didn't cover you if the baby had been conceived by IVF.  That felt really weird....not to be trying.

France was amazing.  When we got back I had another embryo inserted that had been frozen from another round of IVF.  I got pregnant again and lost that one too.  I'd like to say that I could stop trying, but I couldn't.  I'd given myself 'til 43 and I was just 41 at this point.  It was then that we began down the Chinese herbs road.  I saw this hilarious Chinese lady in Surry Hills named Lily Liu.  The herbs and acupuncture was as expensive as IVF, but by now I was driven.  In her waiting room, was a wall of letters and cards, with photos of babies attached.  There were hundreds of them and I think I must of read every one.  Women who had been at the end of their tether, who had finally had success with Lily.  They were so grateful.  Oh how I hoped that a card from me with a picture of my tiny baby, would be up there one day.  

I remember walking through the streets of Surry Hills loaded up with two big shopping bags of  shaved deer antler, goji berries and Chinese dates that I was told to boil up and drink day and night.  I remember just laughing out loud thinking.....Oh my it has come to this, what am I doing?.   Mr Beach House had to take something called Golden Gun.  There were many other powders potions and liquids for me.  It all tasted terrible, but I did exactly as I was told.  Two weeks later, I was pregnant again.  To me it was just blah blah blah, absolutely no joy, because by now I was sure I'd lose this one as well.  I was still seeing Lily in the early days to try and make it stick.  At nine weeks, I was walking through inner Sydney to an appointment with her. My now 5 year old son was with me and I had a terrible fall, we were almost killed by on coming traffic as I fell from the footpath onto the road.  By a sheer miracle the lights turned red and the cars stopped just before my head.  I can remember my son standing at my feet just crying 'mummy'!!!!.  Some gorgeous man picked me up and helped me get my bag  and my son's packed lunch back together, whilst the traffic waited patiently for me to get off the road.  I gathered myself together, as I was well accustomed to doing by now.  I went to the appointment and I think Lily gave me something extra that day. 

The next week was my dreaded 10 week scan.  Of course there wasn't going to be a heart beat.  I'd had the fall and it would all be over again.  I knew that but I went through those well worn motions anyway.  I explained about the fall to the nurse.  She just said before we go any further lets go round for the scan.  The lead up procedure was the same....cold gel, the flick of the switch.  But this time was very different, I could see on the screen a bouncy little foetus with a heart beat as strong as an ox.  I just broke down and silently sobbed with happiness.  My baby was alive.  I was still sure I was going to lose it, but it was alive for now and apparently all normal for dates. I had a glimmer of hope.

That hope began to turn into a baby bump.  At 16 weeks I had an amnio.  I was a public patient but didn't want the risk of a student doing the procedure on me.  I did my research, found the best doctor in Sydney with the greatest success rate, to do it.  In the preliminary scan I pushed the sonographer hard about the baby's sex.  She said it was too early, but she thought she could see a penis.  So another boy, I would have been happy if I was told it was a chimpanzee by then.  Another boy was fabulous.  I adore little boys, they are so loving and affectionate.  When we got a clear amnio result ( I forgot to say that all the other miscarriages had been due to chromosomal abnormalities which was primarily due to my age) it was just bliss.  And I said to the doctor delivering the results.  It's a boy isn't it?''  She said 'Do you really want to know?' and I said 'Yes'.  She said 'It's a girl actually'.  I was just over the moon.

Again it was an eventless pregnancy...everything was just so normal, which was weird in itself.  When I got her, I couldn't quite believe she was mine.  It took me along time to accept that I wasn't going to lose her.

So who are the heroes in this story.  OK I'll put it out there.  One of them is me.  I went through hell on many levels and I got there.  Mr Beach House also .  Even though all he had to do was jerk off occasionally and lie back and think of England at other times, he did have to put up with the worst bits of me for over 5 years.

But the real hero in this story is my little baby girl.  She had to over come being the product of aging DNA. She grew normally and did what my 5 other little babies could not, she lived.  Our family is now finally all here.  She has a life that almost didn't happen.  I am just so happy for her as well as us!!!!

Today I'm partying here


  1. I found the link to your blog on Under the Table and Dreaming. What an incredible story. You are so strong. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. I never should have read this at work. I have tears streaming down my face and I'm pretty sure my mascara is everywhere. You are amazing! You have more strength than I ever could. I've actually given up. I don't like the person that I become on the hormones. It consumes me. We have an amazing little girl and that is good enough for me unless by divine intervention it happens at this point. Thank you so much for sharing. I understand the hurt and the loss all too well.

  3. Thank you both for your supportive comments. I appreciate you both very much. It was hard to write. I'm sure it was hard to read but it happened, it nearly broke me and I survived. It's out there and I'm proud of it.

  4. I didnt know all those, hugs to you my friend. What amazing faith, you go girl! n x

  5. Amazing story you have shared. Difficult to read and not be moved by your strength.
    Thanks for sharing such touching details. Here's a hug for you....Linda

  6. sorry to hear your sad story! it must have been a very tough time for you. glad everything worked out for you in the end and you have your gorgeous girl.

  7. Hi Carolyn,

    That was a very personal experience to share.
    And I'm very glad you did - I didn't realise all you had been through.

    Well written ... I'm not sure that I could have gone through all that.
    Having not even gone through pregnancy once it's all a mystery to me.

    You are all champions in my book.

    Love your blog X

  8. This story you told about your beautiful daughter's journey into the world touched my heart and bought tears to my eyes. Sorry I missed it when you first posted it.

  9. I just found your blog and am glad you shared your story. While mine is so different and my infertility story has just started I appreciate hearing your struggles and how you were strong through them. I just started my second round of IUI and feel like everyone around me is getting pregnant so easily. While I'm happy for my friends that are pregnant, I struggle to not be jealous everytime I see them. I can't imagine going through what you did. You are a strong woman! Thank you for opening up about your story and sharing your happy ending!

  10. Great story. I have never had trouble getting pregnant, but I did loose a baby at 21 weeks. My sil had her baby two weeks after I lost mine and it was so hard. Every time I held her baby I truly felt like running away with him. Amazing how these mommy hormones take over when we want a baby. Congratulations on your beautiful family. And for breaking "the only child curse". Yours is a great inspiring story about how things seem so bad, but it's all part of a better plan.

  11. What a heartbreaking story, it brought tears to my eyes! So glad it has such a happy (and adorable!) ending. Emma

  12. What a wonderful story, but after the heartbreak everything turned out so well. Yes, you are heros! Thank you for sharing at Potpourri Friday!

  13. Bless you, Carolyn - what a heartbreaking & uplifting story!!


  14. Thanks for sharing and helping others. I imagine that it would also help you by writing about it. I am happy to read that you had a second child.


  15. Thank you for sharing your story. After our four year old daughter died in 1995, it took my husband and I a long time to feel ready to try for another child. When we did, I had three miscarriages before I finally had a pregnancy that went to term. Our son will be 12 in two months. :)

  16. Oh Carolyn what an incredible story, thank you so much for sharing it with us. I could relate to only a small amount really as we lost three but we never had to endure the IVF. You are so incredibly brave, strong and inspiring, and that little girl of yours is so here for a reason after all you went through. Xxx

  17. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. IVF is such a hard thing to go through emotionally. I'm so glad your story has a happy ending! Happy Pink Saturday. ~Marti

  18. Thanks for sharing your story! After I turned 40 it's been one miscarriage after another. Five total. I'll be 43 in July and I just feel like it's not going to happen. Many tell me to just be thankful for the children I do have (and I DO have a lot, I'll admit) but each pregnancy is a new child, and I love them ALL. No matter how many I already have.
    Your story is inspiring. Thank you :)

  19. Your story could be my daughter's story (Gabi and Drew's mommy). Thank you so much for telling your story.

  20. How wonderful you have that little girl! My last was like that 10 yrs. later from his brother and I was 39. I almost didn't have him. Several miscarriages and I am also an only child. It just meant so much to have that baby. So happy for you happy outcome!
    Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  21. Oh how i wish our IVF story had a happy ending. Instead of being a mum I worked 20 years in child care not the same i know, but a great way to interact with children of various ages and get LOTS of hugs :-)

  22. All I can say is Wow! What an incredible story.

  23. I myself have gone through 5 fertility treatments 2 IVF and 3 egg donations with unfortunately no success, so it is so lovely to hear that it does work! although very stressful in between having your gorgeous children.

    Thanks for sharing your story, it did take me back to my treatment.

    1. Paula that is devastating. I wonder have you ever considered fostering little kids. There's so much need out there.

  24. I'm just weeks from starting treatment (clomid therapy to begin) and then we will see after having had two early miscarriages, had to post a comment even though its nearly a year from the time you first shared this story.
    Thank you! It has made a difference to my anxiety and fears of all the variables involved in hopefully having a healthy baby of my own one day xx. Love the "things not to say" section, so true:).

  25. I am touched with your effort. I am glad all the pains are over. Good luck with your family.

  26. I'm choking back tears having read you mission to have a second child. I'm so glad for you and your family that you were successful. My older daughter is struggling now to have a baby.

  27. What an incredible but teary tale. I had no idea you'd been through all of that. I know Lily Lui very well. She's hysterical! And she's been on current affairs shows because of all her successes. I was seeing her for my thyroid issues and I was also prescribed the Chinese dates - aren't they awful! And I had to eat a lot of dried mushrooms. What about the guy that makes up all the potions! Doesn't speak a word of English and not allowed to answer the phone that rings off the hook. My sister saw Lily when trying to get pregnant. Had her first at 42 and is expecting her second in October - she'll be 47 when that one is born! So glad your story has a happy ending xx

  28. oh it's such a rollercoaster isn't it, thanks yes you are awesome & very determined, inspiring indeed...i'm in my 3rd 2-week wait to find out if my embryo has stuck...& getting a bit of a sore tummy this morning, SHIT is that my moontime?! gawd i hope not. had 1 pregnancy to 10 weeks. just wanna baby so much...

  29. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I googled 'real life ivf stories' and yours came up. Our stories are very similiar in some ways.

    I too became pregnant very easily with my first child, on the first go. When he turned 2 we decided to start trying for another because hey, it was so easy the first time I'm sure it won't take long. It's now been 13 months. I have been diagnosed with a blocked fallopian tube. I've just undergone my first IVF cycle and got a negative result just two days ago. It's heartbreaking. IVF is such a lonely road. I honestly feel like I'm grieving. And everyone around me is falling pregnant at the drop of a hot.

    I don't know how you kept so hopeful and positive? I'm 37, have always declared that I don't want an 'only' child and here I am facing that reality. I admire your attitude of never giving up. I want some of that!!

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. I hope you stopped by to read this reply. Take heart in the fact that you are still nice and young. I was your age going through all this and felt devastated as well. But you may just get your happy ending too. I hope my story has given you some hope and comfort.

  30. Thanks for sharing the history.
    Do you think the herbs really helped you?

    I am 34, I have endometriosis. I am just starting to try but I am so scared of not be able to get pregnant.

    I went to visit Lily but it is too expensive and she is really busy that I feel she does not give the time to a patient....

    What are you thoughts about her....

    1. I was only on them for two weeks before I got pregnant. The difference this time is I kept the baby and now have a healthy 7 year old. So who knows but that was different to the other 5 pregnancies that I was not able to hold. Lily was great and did her best for me.

  31. I am going through IVF now and I just read this... I am currently in my first cycle 4 days after my first embryo transfer and going mad on the two week wait. Im not coping with this one cycle... I don't know how you went through so much... YOU ARE AMAZING and must be such a strong woman! I take my hat off to you.. thank you for having the courage to write this. x


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