IVF Diary - an emotional ride through IVF
Claire Stuart kindly opens her journal to share an emotionally charged rollercoaster ride through IVF to motherhood.
Kenny and I meet at intermediate school and quickly became best friends. We've been inseparable ever since. Eighteen years later I still consider Kenny my soul mate. We always knew we wanted a family and started trying when we were 24, a year after our wedding in 2003.
Years passed and while it was frustrating not to get pregnant straightaway we were not too concerned about it.
I'd already seen a specialist regarding strong pain and heavy, irregular periods but was never diagnosed with anything. We were still young so there was no huge hurry. Never in a million years did we think there would be something wrong!
It wasn't until I was nearing 30 that I became worried about my biological clock. We were obsessed with trying to conceive and I became depressed when each month turned up a negative result.
We decided to see a fertility expert to get a professional opinion. I left that first appointment feeling shocked, upset and incredibly inadequate as a woman. The specialist said he was 99.9% sure I had endometriosis and that I would need surgery. He advised us that surgery alone would not enable us to conceive and at this point we were each given a raft of tests to complete and were put on the waiting list for IVF. He advised trying IVF immediately because the endometriosis was likely to grow back. I was devastated that the root of the problem was me.
In the meantime we struggled with watching all our friends get pregnant. Baby shower after baby shower, we were envious of their joy, and heartbroken that it wasn't us.
In February 2011 I had a laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis and remove the endometriosis. In recovery I was told that I had severe endometriosis and would require a further surgery.
My second surgery took place in April of last year and was a success.
But then Kenny's test results came back not so good. Who would have thought that for all these years we both had fertility problems we were not aware of!
During my recovery, I started weekly fertility acupuncture because we wanted to do everything we could to help increase our chances of getting pregnant. We waited 10 months for IVF which, as it was our first round, was free.
The following diary captures my thoughts and feelings throughout our IVF journey. Writing about our experiences helped me cope and I hope it may help you too - whether you're going through fertility treatment yourself, or as a way to help others understand what an emotional rollercoaster it can be.
Monday, 27 June, 2011
Today is day 21. It's official, we are starting the IVF process today. We've had texts and phone calls this morning and last night from friends and family wishing us well. I can't help but feel nervous and excited at the same time. When we walk down the clinic corridors we are surrounded by hundreds of cute, smiley baby photos, this makes me feel reassured that it could actually work.
At the injection lesson I can't bring myself to pierce my skin with the needle, my hand is shaking and I cry, but I take my time about it and with the support and encouragement of Kenny and the nurse I give myself my first Buserelin injection, and I realise I'm okay and I can do this.
At the counselling session afterward, reality hits me like a ton of bricks - it's all happening. I'm going to try my best to stay positive, and celebrate every step that brings us closer to our goal. I feel very lucky to have Kenny and I know we can get through this together. The journey finally begins.
Sunday, 17 July, 2011
Things are going really well. I started the second daily injections (Gonal F) three days ago, on my birthday. As with the Buserelin injection I felt a bit scared doing the first one, but Kenny encouraged me to do it and again I realised I was okay. There have been a few times where I've burst into tears both at home and at work, but other than that I've been pretty good. Just a few minor side effects - headaches, hot flushes, dry skin, tiredness, dizziness and a very painful bleed a week before I started the Gonal F injections.
Kenny has been right there for me through everything. He's my rock! Every night we sit down together to do the injections. He measures the dosage out and loads the syringe, then if I'm struggling to inject, he encourages me to do it. I didn't think it would be possible but this whole experience so far has brought us even closer together. It's pretty amazing to think that I'm in the process of producing the eggs that could be our baby! Not long to go now!
Wednesday, 20 July, 2011
Today was a pretty bad day. It started at about 3.30am this morning when I woke up with intense pain in my abdomen. At my scan I was told I have 15 to 20 follicles on each side and my bloods results came back too high. The nurse said the usual number of follicles at this point is six! For now my meds have been adjusted, but I've been told there's a possibility I may have to stop treatment due to over-stimulation. I can't believe it; I'm so close yet this could all be for nothing! I'm pretty upset right now.
Friday, 22 July, 2011
It's been a really tough week emotionally and physically - the hardest one yet.
Due to possible over-stimulation I have been closely monitored, which means I've had to have extra scans and blood tests. So far this week I've had two scans and three blood tests and I have another scan and blood test tomorrow. My blood results are still very high. It may be too dangerous to carry on.
Saturday, 23 July, 2011
Mum took me to my appointments today. It was nice to share a bit of what we've been going through with her. Today they'll decide if it's safe enough for me to proceed to the next stage.
I found it hard in the waiting room, staring at all those cute babies on the wall, I started crying and so did Mum, and then I cried through the scan as well. The nurse was so lovely she told me not to apologise for being upset and that I was doing a great job.
It was a nerve-racking day, having my scan and waiting all day for my blood results to come back. I got the call at 2pm. We'll be proceeding with the egg collection on Monday. I'm so happy and excited! After four weeks of treatment including 36 injections, I gave myself the final two injections tonight.
Monday, 25 July, 2011
Egg collection day, I can't believe this day has finally come! I'm so happy, excited, and nervous! When we were driving to the hospital we saw an enormous beautiful rainbow - a good omen. At the hospital we were advised that due to Kenny's results we would be doing ICSI, which means one sperm will be chosen and directly injected into each egg. I had 13 good-sized eggs for them to retrieve! Kenny was awesome today. Despite his fear of hospitals he came into theatre with me and watched the whole procedure. I know he found this really hard and I'm so proud of him.
Tuesday, 26 July, 2011
The embryologist just called to let us know that out of the 13 eggs they collected, 12 were mature enough to inject and overnight all 12 have fertilised! I'm so happy. This is amazing, I can't believe it!
Saturday, 30 July, 2011
Today's the day! It's been a really tough week, I've been in a lot of pain from the egg collection but I'm so happy to finally be at this stage. We went to the hospital early for an acupuncture session first. It's meant to increase our chances. The transfer was just incredible. Kenny held my hand the whole time. We watched on screen as they transferred the embryo back to me - it was amazing, like a little firework going off. I cried when I was handed our first picture. Ten days to go until I can test.
Sunday, 31 July, 2011
Kenny sent me a text message today and it's something that just made my heart melt: "I love you and our little spark."
Wednesday, 3 August, 2011
All this waiting isn't easy! It's so hard not to think about it. We've already made a list of baby stuff we want to buy and have even visited some baby stores. I know that we shouldn't be doing these things, it could lead to further heartache if this doesn't work out, but it's so hard not to. I got a distressing text message from Kenny today. He had an anxiety attack at work. He said his nerves are getting to him. Six days to go.
Monday, 8 August, 2011
All this waiting has been so hard, we just want to know now! Kenny and I met up at lunchtime today and decided to buy a home pregnancy test. We did the test tonight and it was positive! What an amazing feeling, after a very emotionally and physically challenging year we have a positive result!
Kenny had tears in his eyes as he looked at the result and read it out to me. Two more sleeps until we can have this confirmed with a blood test.
Wednesday, 10 August, 2011
It's official, we are going to be parents! I had my blood test at 8am this morning and then nervously tried to get through the morning at work. Kenny and I both had a half-day at work so we could be home together to take the afternoon call.
The nurse called and I put her on speaker, my blood test was positive and I am four weeks and two days pregnant! I couldn't manage to respond when she told us; I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Kenny and I sat on the couch stunned, crying tears of joy and disbelief.
I'm trying to absorb the news, it's been such a long and challenging journey, but we've made it!
Wednesday, 31 August, 2011
We had our very first pregnancy scan today. It was such an incredible experience! We got to see all 0.97cm of our little spark on screen. We were told it is growing in the right place and is healthy and strong. On screen we could see its heart flickering away, then they turned the sound on and we heard its little heart beating! We both cried when we heard it. It was an amazing sense of relief and joy to see and hear that our baby was there, and was doing well. We were then discharged from Fertility Plus and given information for the next steps. I found it hard emotionally saying goodbye to Fertility Plus, they have been incredible, and have given us such a precious gift.
Monday, 21 November 2011
Finally! Its anatomy scan day. Looking at the screen I could tell straight away we're having a little boy! I'm so excited! I can't wait to meet him and hold him and look at him. I feel as though we already have a strong bond. He is healthy and strong and doing really well. We have decided to call him Micah. We couldn't help ourselves - we had to stop on the way home to buy something blue!
Friday, 20 April, 2012
Today's the day! I'm five days overdue and have been having contractions on and off for over two weeks now. I'm scheduled to be induced at 8.30am and I can't believe this is it - we'll get to meet our precious little boy before the day is through. At the hospital, my waters broke just before I got into bed. Looks like our little boy was meant to be born today anyway! I would have preferred a natural labour but after six hours I had reached 9cm and our baby wasn't going anywhere. Things became serious when his heart rate dramatically dropped and before I knew it, we were in a large room full of medical staff waiting to perform an emergency Caesarean section.
It was such a shock that our situation had changed. Kenny was in tears with worry. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. Kenny held my hand as they started the surgery. Within minutes our beautiful little boy had entered the world. I was desperate to hold him, but had to wait for 20 minutes while they made sure he was okay, and finished stitching me up. It felt like an eternity! I finally got to hold him in the recovery room, and what a magical moment - my baby on my chest and my husband by my side. I felt complete.
Friday, 20 July, 2012
Looking back now, I'm so incredibly proud of everything we did. Micah is the best thing that has ever happened to us. Every day I look at him and I can't believe he's ours and he's so perfect. We feel so lucky that through IVF we could have this amazing opportunity, and are so grateful to the people who helped us on our journey to parenthood. Life is wonderful!
Kenny, Claire and Micah live in Auckland. On the first anniversary of the embryo transfer, the couple returned to Fertility Plus to deliver a thank-you card, morning tea and a photo of Micah to proudly display on their wall.
Claire and Kenny would like to thank: "Our amazing family and friends; Everyone at Fertility Plus; Dr Vitalis, Fertility Acupuncture; Petra Tip, Pregnancy Yoga; Noreen Matthews, midwife; Dr Sunil Pillay and Dr Neil Buddicom at Fertility Associates."
Photography: Emma Stanaway
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 20 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW