Fertility stories: 'I would have died in despair'
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Darryl and I were just 27 when we started trying for that family that we all assume we will one day be a part of. It was January 1993.
I had advised my GP of our plans and he suggested that due to my previous gynaecological history that should things not go as planned we should probably seek medical help after about six months instead of waiting for the usual year.
After six months we went through all the usual tests and I was recommended for a laparoscopy, which I waited patiently for through the public waiting list. Ten months later I happened to start a job that included free medical insurance and covered existing conditions so I quickly had my laparoscopy and a diagnosis was mild endometriosis with no effect on my fertility.
Darryl was also diagnosed as 'normal' so we were in the unexplained infertility bracket.
About eight months later (after two years of trying) we started Artificial Insemination by husband (AIH) on stimulated cycles, the stimulation all went well and by all accounts we should have fallen pregnant but it wasn't to be and no one could tell us why.
After one year and five attempts we decided to have a holiday and went to England to visit friends, then came back refreshed to try IVF.
Our first attempt at IVF was a disaster as all of a sudden I did not react to the stimulation and my follicles were not big enough and plentiful enough to waste our money on the expensive IVF procedure. We switched to AIH again, and we were advised that my ovaries were not functioning properly. It appeared they were running out of eggs and would need much more stimulation for any chance of a result.
We then became eligible for three publicly funded IVF treatments in Auckland and spent a year concentrating on that. The first one went as well as can be expected but no pregnancy. In the second, our eggs were lost when the clinic had an incubator malfunction over night. We were granted a further publicly-funded treatment but it was extremely devastating at the time. The next treatment was another disaster.
At the end of the year on day one of my cycle we phoned to book in for our final publicly-funded treatment only to be told that we couldn't do it as the contract had been lost by the Auckland clinic. After much anguish, many phone calls and a lot of tears I was assured that due to our circumstances we would be allowed to do the treatment.
We didn't expect much after the past disappointments but felt we needed to complete the treatments available to us for our own peace of mind. We tried new drugs this time, (and boy did they hurt to inject) and managed to get a healthy looking embryo. I planned to live in cotton wool as I thought it was our last chance to have a biological baby of our own. It had been a long road and we weren't about it give up or talk about what was next.
It didn't work out so six months later, in 1998, we decided to try a donor egg. We went through all the necessary tests, we picked a donor, and I started having blood tests every few weeks to track my natural cycle as we were planning on doing the donor cycle about three months later.
While I was waiting for my second period it got a bit late, a bit later than usual so I did the usual thing and started making sick jokes about how I was probably pregnant. After about three days of jokes I did a pregnancy test and got a totally unexpected positive result. I screamed with shock at first then phoned Darryl immediately. We both didn't believe it, deciding it was to do with the fertility drugs still in my system from the last IVF. Even after consulting a doctor we refused to believe it and went to bed in a daze.
We rang the clinic back in the morning to organise a blood test and eventually we were given the heartstopping news that we were pregnant, five weeks pregnant. I'll never forget that day as long as I live. I went home as soon as we found out to start phoning immediate family. We couldn't quite take it all in.
There in started an extremely happy but nervous part of my life. Life was wonderful for five weeks, then on our second scan the unthinkable happened, we were told our baby hadn't developed past six weeks and I had had a miscarriage.
I really couldn't believe life could be this cruel, to taunt us with the promise of a child and then grab it away just when we were almost getting used to it.
We didn't have too many people to tell as we had tried to keep things a little quiet when we were pregnant, hoping to make a big announcement at 12 weeks, but it was agonising telling the few people we had to tell.
Everyone was wonderful and as more people found out so the flowers poured in.
As upsetting as it was, I don't regret it for a minute as I learnt something so precious from that pregnancy, I learnt what it was like to be pregnant, to be able to share the wonderful news with friends and family, to feel oh so hopeful.
Further IVF failed again. We actually took it all quite well, having got used to bad news around IVF cycles, and focused on the next cycle which was going to be a donor egg cycle, with lots of hope attached.
It was decided that we would commence the donor cycle early in 1999. All I had to do was wait for day one of my cycle in mid January to start tracking my cycle. Yet again, my period was late. I refused to take any notice. I was pretty sure I didn't want to be pregnant as was scared I would have to go through another miscarriage, and I really didn't think I was strong enough to do that.
Darryl convinced me I needed to do a pregnancy test as I was due to go out on a big drinking night with my sister. We tested as soon as he got home and I was pregnant again!
I cried, I tried to be excited, I felt so scared it made me sick. My immediate family and some of Darryl's were coming for dinner that night, so we decided to tell them all. Wow, that was hard. I choked on my words and confused them - they thought I was ill. When they worked it out it was pretty emotional.
We phoned a few more immediate family members and that is where it stopped. Not one more friend or family member was to find out until we knew more.
We then started on early pregnancy monitoring. Then I started to get morning sickness, just slightly at first, then worse and worse. I was ecstatic.
Then it was time for the first scan at eight weeks. We didn't sleep at all that night, with memories of the pregnancy screaming doom and destruction at as.
We got there early and cried in the carpark. We went in to the scanning room and I was shaking so much I had to be helped on to the bed.
The doctor was quick to look for the foetus and spot the heartbeat. I nearly screamed in delight, then started sobbing uncontrollably. It had got further this time, we had a real baby.
We left the clinic on cloud nine. I couldn't stop crying. Darryl phoned our immediate families to let them know the good news. There were lots of tears of joy there too.
Darryl asked me why there were so many tears when we were so happy. All I could think of was six years of waiting to see what I had just seen had released a floodgate of relief. I cried most of the day on and off.
We allowed ourselves to phone a few very close friends and tell them.
The morning sickness got worse and two weeks later we had another scan and we saw our baby, looking now so human-like. We fell in love.
We took each day as it came and almost allowed ourselves to start thinking like expectant parents. We felt like the luckiest people on earth.
On September 16, 1999 our gorgeous baby girl, Alana Morgan Yorke, was born. She was perfect. I think I cried with happiness every day after her birth, I still couldn't believe it was real.
We love parenting so much, it's lucky I didn't know during all those years of infertility just how wonderful parenting was, as I feel sure I would have died in despair.
We were totally overwhelmed when she was born with flowers, cards and presents; it was so humbling and made us realise how our infertility had touched so many other peoples lives too.
I had always wanted to be a mum from about the age of 8 and when it looked like it might never happen for us I was beside myself with fear. Now I feel so complete, so comfortable with myself, as if this really was what I was supposed to do.
We now have a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old daughter. Life is great. Parenting them has been the best experience of my life.
I started an infertility support group in Hamilton early in 1999 and I feel proud that I have been able to help others a little bit by starting the group. I really want to repay some of the good fortune we have had with Alana by helping other people through the pain of infertility.
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