May 11th to 17th 2015

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Komal and John's stories

Heartbreak, Heartache, Devastation to Miracle….

Komal Appleby

Growing up, I knew I wanted children.  I didn’t know this path would be packed with heartache, devastation, despair, hurt, anger, joy, hope, fear and so many other emotions.  It took us 12 years, 5 rounds of IVF, multiple embryo transfers, numerous pregnancy losses (including a stillborn) to become parents.  I was young when we started trying – 23, nearly 24.  John is older.

After years on the pill, I thought baby making would be easy.  After all, I was young and most women around me were falling pregnant.  Well that wasn’t the case for me.  I remember the excitement when I saw the smiley face on my first ovulation kit.  Little did I know I would be seeing this smiley face for months on end with no result.  I was embarrassed that we weren’t falling pregnant as easily as I had hoped - and when we did, we lost our babies.  To hide my embarrassment, I used to go to different pharmacies to purchase the kit and sometimes would send John.  In those days, they cost close to $90 per kit and we purchased them for a good couple of years.

Every month my period arrived, I was devastated.  It was like I was attending a funeral, well I was; the funeral of our dream.  It took me a while to come to terms that IVF was something we needed to consider, again it was the shame of not being able to “do it” by ourselves that stopped me.

Those 12 years were the most devastating years of my life.  They were the darkest years of my life.  I was on the IVF rollercoaster, the biggest ride of my life with an unknown outcome.  My arms were empty.  My belly was empty.  I was barren.

It hurt like crazy - physically, mentally and emotionally.  It was soul destroying.  I struggled.  I was ashamed to acknowledge the reality of my situation.  I struggled also, as I was going places in my career; high performing (even outperforming); yet I felt a failure as a woman and a wife.  A part of me broke and died with each baby loss.  I had to keep going.

I remember my baby losses as if it were only yesterday.  It’s one of those things that comes back and bites you when you least expect it.  Small things remind me of what we could have had.  We could have had a house full of little people!  Each baby loss destroyed me.  There were medical terms given to my losses, but for me they were babies that I lost, my body lost.

I was on pregnancy number seven and nearly 14 weeks.  I was taken in an ambulance to Auckland Hospital.  The conversations were all too familiar and I knew I was in the process of losing this baby.  I was shattered, exhausted, covered in blood and angry that this was happening again.  I knew it was a little girl – our daughter.  We buried her and came home shattered, bruised and battered.  We talked a little.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  The next day we got on with our lives – groceries, cooking, cleaning, work, phone calls and emails.  The things ‘normal couples’ do daily, except we had just lost another baby.

Another pregnancy, I was pregnant together with my sister and sister in-law.  They went on to have their babies and we lost ours.  I felt torn between wanting to be absolutely happy and engaging with them to wanting to run away and hide.  Each step of their pregnancy reminded me of what we had lost.  I have watched these kids grow – my niece and nephew.  I have struggled to be an Aunty to them.  I couldn’t do things.  I feel guilty.  Every year we celebrate their birthdays; I think of our baby and wonder what he or she would have been like.  I will never know.

I delivered Kaden on the 18th of October 2009.  He was stillborn.  I felt numb.  I looked on as the Pediatrics team worked on his little body.  I looked at my Obstetrician – but I knew he was gone and there was no coming back. I was devastated, shattered even.  I should have been planning the arrival of our boy, arranging his nursery, buying a cot and a pram but instead we were left to buy a casket, flowers and a burial site.  We carefully selected his outfit; it was the only outfit we would buy for him.  I wanted it to be perfect.  We had a small funeral service.

Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter were reminders of what we didn’t have – children.  I felt alone.  People around expected me to “get over things”, I couldn’t.  I was hurting.  I was vulnerable.  I was sensitive.

Our miracle, Amarin, arrived on the 26th of October 2012.  I was over the moon to hear his cry.  He is a delight and each day I am grateful for what we have in our lives.  I haven’t forgotten my other babies.  A part of me still aches, feels lost even.

I am trying to rebuild my life after years of treatment and loss; it’s proving difficult but not impossible.  I would love more children but the fear of loss, blood, ambulance ride, heartache holds me back.  I still cry often for what I have lost.  I cry for me, for what I have lost, a part of me.  A part that will never return.  That sparky, energetic, curious, fun and adventurous girl in her early twenties who started trying for a baby is gone.  I am different.  I am a new woman.