I would like to start this post about our journey with infertility by saying I know how fortunate I am having a beautiful little daughter, and that I am currently pregnant with her sibling. It is not something I was sure would ever happen and I am so eternally grateful it did.
This post is not long enough to share all the details but I still wanted to share a bit of our journey to parenthood and send a bit of hope to all of those currently struggling with infertility. It is a hard journey for anyone to go through but I am sure you will get your miracle. If you are facing the anxiety of not knowing what will happen and if you will ever manage to fall pregnant I am sending the biggest hug. This far I haven’t suffered any pregnancy losses and my heart goes out to all of those who has. I can’t imagine what you would have gone through and I hope that I in no way make it out as if my journey has been a struggle of that proportion. This is just our story and at times it was a hard one for me. Yet it had a very happy ending which made it all worth it.
I found out that I was “infertile” when I was twenty three. I say infertile in quotation marks because it feels like such a finite word, where the reality is that I do have a toddler now and I am also pregnant so I’m obviously not incapable of having children, it just takes a bit more effort to get there. I realised that my trip to motherhood might not be a straight forward one when the words “come back to me when you’re ready to start a family” came out of the fertility specialist mouth while sitting in his crisp white office. After a long appointment (with me still not really understanding all the medical details, and still not sure I do!) it literally felt like someone dropped a small bomb on us yet out we went from the clinic to come to terms with the fact that we would never have children without some kind of medical intervention.
I was a hard pill to swallow but it wasn’t one that wasn’t entirely unexpected. I had severe anorexia in my middle to late teens and while I was okay now my doctor explained that my body perhaps never really recovered and hadn’t yet started producing enough levels of the necessary hormones. While I might have seen this coming hearing our new fertility specialist put it on paper made my mind race in an endless loop of “we need to have children now” to “I might never have kids” and “why is my body doing this to me”. My husband (then boyfriend) was good, calm and helpful about it but it’s not exactly what you want your girlfriend to have to go through or have on her mind as you are trying to be young and reasonably carefree.
We decided that we were going to get married before having children, and that marriage was a few years off still too. Not because it makes any kind of difference to be married prior to having babies really but we wanted to get married in Sweden, travel around without a worry in the world afterwards and then we would start treatment the month after we were back on the farm. I focused a lot on my health in the lead up to both the wedding and the start of our fertility treatment. I ate a lot of good fats, proteins and a ton of veggies. I did yoga and I tried to be relaxed, which I can honestly say I failed miserably at haha.
We started out first cycle in August 2016 and did five rounds of ovulation induction back to back. Somedays all the hormones were hard on my body but really it was harder for my mind. I had two hormone injections every day, something that sucked because I used to be absolutely terrified of needles. So much was the fear of having to inject myself that I made my husband do it the first time. But after a few times of him doing it I realised it was way easier for me to just do it myself (I don’t hold it against my husband but he really wasn’t any good at it haha) and though I still hate blood test I now tolerate them. And I learnt how to breathe through the injections and relax my body even when I really didn’t want to. Something that really helps today when I do blood tests too!
When doing the first rounds of treatment I did everything (apart from acupuncture) that you were “supposed” to do. I, to mention just a few things, ate pineapple every day from ovulation in the hope of aiding blood flow to the uterus, only ate warm foods and ate so much eggs and avocado I still can’t really stand that combination now. It was saddening to get those four calls that the cycles hadn’t worked. In hindsight it doesn’t sound like a lot of trying compared to people who have struggled so much more, have had losses and who might never be lucky enough to have children at all. My heart feels heavy for all those couples or for those doing it on their own without a lot of support.
I have to admit that I always feel a but guilty when I share my journey. Both then and now, it’s as if I feel like I never really had a reason to feel anxious and sad about us having to do treatment because while I doubted it at times I was still relatively young and chances were that it was going to work (my doctor was always super positive which helped!) but as my progesterone was extremely low I was on a lot of pessaries in order to not miscarriage a baby if I would fall pregnant. Those pessaries always made me feel incredibly emotional, tired and just plain sad. Out of all the drugs I’ve taken to try and have a baby it’s the one that seems to affect my mood most and in the worst way.
On the fifth go of ovulation induction we fell pregnant with Pippa in January 2017. The day we found out my husband promised me that if I wasn’t pregnant I would get to buy an adorable little mini sausage dog. So while he went in to see the doctor at the clinic I sat in the car scrolling though the ads of puppies, the first cuter than the second. Just when I had decided on a dapple grey little puppy when Brett opened the car door and said the doctor wanted to see us.
He looked pretty serious and I felt my heart fall to the ground. We walked through the door of the clinic and in the reception stood the two lovely nurses who had looked after me through all failed cycles and the embryologist who is an absolute legend. One of the nurses asked if “he had told you?” and Brett said that he wanted them to do it. With the biggest smile on his face and the embryologist told me that I was pregnant. Thinking back at it I get all teary. A hug party ensued. They probably thought we were a little silly, having seen people battled infertility for years being calmer than we were but it was such a special moment for us. And I loved how happy they were to share this joyful moment with us. I spent the next few days in a daze.
Four days after the initial HCG test I did another one and it came back as not satisfactory. The clinic prepared us for potentially loosing the tiny seed of a baby if the levels didn’t rise enough at the next lot of bloods. I cried my heart out and Brett was so upset. I will always remember how he said in a quiet voice “I really was so happy we were having a baby” and it broke my heart. We thought it was probably all over but a few days after that the levels had risen just as they should have and at the seven week scan we saw a little heartbeat, making me believe that maybe we would actually have a little baby that year. But I spent the whole pregnancy worried to my core that something was going to go wrong. The lead up to every scan made so very anxious. Yet everything went extremely well and Pippa arrived in the end of September 2017, completing us in ways we didn’t even know possible. She is our greatest love and I am so forever grateful we have gotten the opportunity to become parents when five years ago I just wasn’t sure it would actually happen.
When Pippa turned one we decided to start trying for a sibling for her and I did four more rounds of ovulation induction. After doing so many OI’s (the end number is nine) my doctor thought it best to try a new approach and we did our first round of IVF back in April. It failed. We did get a lot of beautiful embryos but the one we put in didn’t stick but I had our annual summer Sweden trip to look forward to and decided that perhaps it was for the best. I could now share a glass of champagne with my sister and eat all the delicious cured salmon and not worry one little bit.
We flew out of Australia and after a few weeks of being in Sweden I still hadn’t gotten over what I thought was jet lag. I was SO tired. I would have five cups of coffee in the morning and still feel the need to nap which is not like me. I was also just feeling off and my giant Buddha bowls of greens didn’t seem appealing. Neither did chocolate. We were due to do a frozen embryo transfer in July and I was about to start the preparing meds but I decided perhaps I should do a test just in case since my period was now about two weeks late.
When I did the test(s!) and beautifully strong +’s came up I thought there must be something wrong with the tests and that this was all a cruel joke. Luckily mum reassured me because I couldn’t believe it. I called my husband despite it being 2am over in Australia and he jokingly asked what Swedish hipster was the dad (haha) but he was so happy!
It still doesn’t feel real. Five years ago I never thought I would have a naturally conceived pregnancy (although the leftover IVF drugs in my system probably helped too!). It feels like it was all too easy and I have been (still am) so worried something would go wrong with this little blessing. But since having our twelve week scan and a few more I have started to believe that maybe it was all just meant to be this way. Infertility is a hard journey but it definitely helped me grow, and it made me appreciate the miracle that carrying a child is even more.
It’s “funny”, we spend so much time trying to avoid falling pregnant, not knowing that the window of actually doing so is rather minuscule in the scheme of things.