Amy and Tom's story
Amy* reflects on a long journey waiting for her and Tom's miracle
We started trying for a baby over 5 years ago, initially it was “I’ll just go off the pill and see what happens”. After 6 months we went to our GP and she laughed, told us to wait another 6 months and come and see her again… which we did. She did basic bloods on us and semen analysis on Tom and all came back fine. She told us to start tracking ovulation. I also began regular acupuncture. Not long after this we had discussed moving from Aus to NZ (as Tom is from NZ). This caused a bit of stress as I am a huge family person and the move scared the crap out of me. We then moved about 9 months later. I put the fact we hadn’t conceived down to stress of all of this. We had been in NZ about 3 months and I went to a GP here who referred me straight to a fertility specialist. It was revealed through a simple blood test that I had extremely low AMH (egg reserves). Which basically means HURRY UP as you will most likely go through menopause early etc. No pressure of course…. Tom also had a number of other sperm analysis’s done, all fine. I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) a couple months later which was clear. I then went onto a 3 month wait list for a Laparoscopy. Which was also clear. We did fall pregnant naturally early 2018 but my period arrived shortly after, so we believe we miscarried very early on. About a year after arriving in NZ we began IVF. Due to all our tests being fine, we were not eligible for public funding (low AMH doesn’t count!!). Our first round we ended up with 2 embryo’s at the end. We froze one, and transferred the other. It took! Success finally! At our 8 week scan we found out that bub had died at 6.5 weeks… it was a horrible day. Roughly 10 days later I had a D&C. We were devastated. I took about 2.5 weeks off work as I couldn’t face the world. I continued to get weekly blood tests following this to ensure my hCG was dropping. We waited for my period to arrive and my body to heal and we did another round of IVF to “freeze all” in the hopes we could get ahead for a round in 4 months’ time following our wedding. We completed another round and only got 1 embryo this time. We were pretty deflated from this result as we were expecting a couple but we couldn’t dwell too much on this.
After the wedding we tried again with a frozen embryo from our first cycle. It took! This was it. Our 8 week scan was booked for my 30th birthday, how amazing. We went in so excited, and once again were told our baby had died at 6.5 weeks. Guttered is an understatement. We were so deflated and sad. A week later, once again, I didn’t miscarry naturally so I decided this time to take the tablets that encourage your body to miscarry. I was in horrendous pain about 6 hours later, Tom took me to Emergency and they put me on some amazing drugs and kept me in overnight to monitor me. I did not lose the baby overnight so I had another D&C the next day. Emotionally healing this time wasn’t as difficult I thought. Our innocence had already been stolen with the first round that this was almost becoming the norm which is so sad. I became depressed. I cried all the time. I blamed myself that we had lost our babies. I wasn’t my bubbly self anymore. I was moody, tired & pushing people away. I knew I needed help but it wasn’t until Tom and some girlfriends told me that I actually looked into it. I started getting counselling - the first session was good but I was still feeling blah & annoyed it wasn’t an instant fix. I decided to press on none the less. After a few session I felt so much better! It gave me a new confidence & helped me realise that losing our babies was not my fault. We are now currently in the midst of our third privately funded cycle in a much better mind set than ever before. I am also getting regular acupuncture and have made loads of lifestyle changes. We are hoping this is our baby. We have just past 5 years of trying. We may be eligible but the wait list is minimum of 16 months from what my IVF pals tell me, so I feel like we would pay anyway as the wait for us with low AMH could mean the difference between having babies and not.
One of the greatest challenges we have faced along the way has been not realising what is involved until you’re in it. We were so naive. Constant blood tests, sperm tests, constant scans or operations, constant disappointment, patience waiting for the next step, next result or your period, so many days off work, pouring out money you have worked so hard for, jealousy of people who don’t have to try or pay so much to have babies, lying to friends and family who are asking what stage you’re at because you can’t handle updating everyone on every little or big result that arrives. We thought we would be like all our other mates and just fall pregnant… how wrong we were.
The biggest challenge is being surrounded by family and friends who have been trying as long as you and have 2 or 3 beautiful healthy kids… and you still have none. Being the only couple showing up to a BBQ with your dog because you still haven’t had the baby you long for. That is honestly the hardest part. It is so isolating, we are often excluded from an invite to a catch up cause we don’t have kids. Our friends don’t even mean to half the time. I’ll ask what they’re up to on the weekend and they’re all headed to “such and such’s kids birthday”… which we don’t even know about because we don’t have kids… so we don’t get an invite. And even if we did, we would rarely go, because its heart wrenching to be surrounded by so many babies and kids. We don’t hold grudges against them as they are all amazing parents… it’s just hard.
Fertility is consuming!! It consumes your whole life. We have both cut back on alcohol. I am now that wife out to dinner with friends that says “Babe, you have hit your quota”, like some nag. I never cared how much he drank but alcohol effects sperm. So now we are both these people that have had to cut so much out. He can’t wear tight jocks, he can’t have spa’s or baths, he can’t even have that once every couple of months blow out with the boys. He has to watch what he eats and cannot consume too much caffeine. He is on 7 supplements an evening to help boost sperm, I am on 8, plus injections during IVF. I have completely cut gluten as it causes inflammation and I wonder if that was a factor in our loss. I have cut right back on dairy, alcohol & sugar and don’t even touch it when I start injecting. The 2-3 injections a night during a round are bearable for me, but not for other girls, but the progesterone “fanny lollies” (as us IVF girls call them) are horrendous. You get to insert 2 capsules, 3 times a day leading up to a transfer and for 12 weeks after. They impact your sex life, exercise & work life to name a few, because you are constantly wearing liners as the progesterone slowly seeps out all day, not to mention the thrush that can sometimes come along with it. None of the above are a “big deal”. But when you have been saying “no” or “sorry na I can’t” for years because of all these things happening, or that you’re avoiding, it begins to take its toll! We have tried every natural or possible miracle remedy under the sun. Standing on my head for 5 mins after having sex, fertility tea, acupuncture, naturopaths, taking a break from trying, having sex 3 times a day, herbal pills, cutting out all toxins in your life/house.. you name it, we’ve tried it or are still trying it!
The next would be support. Fertility is so isolating. I am not on facebook/insta/snapchat anymore as it was full of everyone’s beautiful kids, and I couldn’t deal. So now I am even more isolated cause I miss out on all the snipets of people’s lives.
There have been no support groups in the Bay of Plenty until now. This I believe is purely as there is no funding for this so women are having to run the groups of their own back. I was never on social media, but have since joined just so I can join the support groups, and this has been amazing as I have met likeminded men & women also battling through it. Our friends feel for us and we know this, they also try to be supportive, but the comments of “just relax and don’t stress” or “it will happen, be positive” definitely do not help when you have tried every remedy under the sun! it is especially frustrating from the friends who “accidently” fell pregnant or decide to have another and fall pregnant the next month with no issues. They have no idea what it is like, and frankly their opinion or advice, is not wanted. This is harsh as I know they are only coming from a good place. But I can tell you right now “bloody hell, that sucks” “I’m here, what do you need” “here is dinner I prepared for you and your hubby so you don’t have to worry” are the better options for someone going through infertility!
We felt the clinic we used for our first 2 rounds was a horrible experience for us, we felt like we were at the meat works. In and out, hurry up the next client is coming in. They don’t care. They didn’t even follow up with us after our second loss until 2 weeks later. We have since changed clinics, which means a 7 hour round trip to Auckland up to 3-4 times a week during an IVF round, but it’s worth it. Our new clinic treats us 100 times better then where we were treated previously. I honestly believe the frustration from them, lack of empathy & the constant follow up for an outstanding $100 out of a $19k IVF bill contributed to my decline into depression.
I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone. Nor losing a baby. If there is one positive we have learnt, it is how strong our relationship is & how strong we are individually. I have met a few couples who don’t fare so well during the IVF battle, and some who have broken up. Although we have our disagreements, and the injections, appointments, hospital stays, travel, time off work, financial pressure, mood swings from all the drugs all take their toll. We are strong and I love that about us. We have now spent around $50k on IVF so far. Thankfully we sold our home in Aus which has bank rolled this and we both work full time. If we hadn’t made good investments early on in life, there is no way we could try to have a baby without begging family for money. Another personal opinion of ours is that we are open to adoption… but it is so difficult. You basically cant adopt in NZ. You can wait up to 5 years and still not get a baby as babies/kids from parents who can’t or don’t want them get given to other family first. So we then began looking abroad. The hoops you have to jump through & money you have to pay is too much for us at the moment with IVF, work and life. Should we get to a point where we have done as much IVF as we can handle and still don’t have our baby, we may put more effort & funds into this avenue.
*not their real names