Infertility 'challenging, heart breaking'

Last updated 10:00 23/12/2013

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When you are in your 20s and living life to the full, you are also often actively taking steps to ensure that you don't become pregnant. But when you hit your 30s, get married and plan the next five years of your life, children and your ability to have them are kind of taken for granted.

Not long after we got married in 2005, we decided to try to have a baby. We never imagined we would have much difficulty, we were both healthy and had no medical issues, so we figured it would happen relatively easily.

Six months down the track and no success, we went and sought advice from our GP. She sent us for tests which all came back normal and then referred us to Fertility Associates in Wellington.

Another barrage of tests and we were told we had unexplained infertility. That was an awful diagnosis. I wanted them to have found something, anything that we could have worked on or got medical help for - to my mind it might have made it easier.

In order to qualify for the two Government-funded cycles of IVF we need to go through three unsuccessful cycles of intrauterine insemination (IUI). These were not Government-funded and, while cheaper than IVF, were still financially challenging.

There is nothing romantic about fertility treatments. You become immune to embarrassment with seemingly endless people peering between your legs and using medical instruments to inspect your womanly bits and pieces, poke, prod you and hopefully get you pregnant.

Once the IUIs were unsuccessful we were put on the waiting list for IVF. Finally after about six months of waiting we got the call to say we were up.

I struggle to remember all that occurred during our IVF treatment. It was exhausting, being pumped full of hormones so the clinic could control when I ovulated and how many eggs I produced. Injecting myself daily and hoping that all this palaver was going to be worth it. Egg collection was painful and I was so disappointed days later when we were told only six embryos were going to make it any further.

So because of our ages they recommended one embryo be returned. They told us we were 'textbook'. We had the '1,2,3'. One embryo to be returned fresh, two to be frozen at day three and three to be cultured on to hopefully blastocyst stage.

The fresh embryo didn't take. The three embryos they cultured on hopefully to blastocyst stage arrested and were no good. All I was left with was two frozen embryos.

Frozen embryo number one was put back. I love student doctors and I think they should be able to experience all aspects of the medical profession while they are training but I don't know what possessed me to give the okay for a student doctor to put my frozen embryo back in me.

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I remember watching it on the screen and the supervising doctor saying, "No wrong place, back up and try again. No, not there - you need to aim for this position". I couldn't tell you how many times he told the student doctor that she was trying to put my embryo in the wrong place. I just remember walking out of the theatre and crying because I knew it was never going to work.

The waiting game was torture. It was December. Family were staying with us and I was trying not to talk about our latest embryo transfer because I didn't want to have to tell them about another failure.

We went for the blood test in the morning and then drove around aimlessly waiting for the call - I was sure would say it was not a positive test.

We parked up overlooking Scorching Bay and as the phone rang, I was already in tears. I made my husband answer the phone and just cried even harder when he told me we had a positive result. I was pregnant!

In September 2009 I gave birth to my gorgeous, astounding daughter who still continues to amaze me. She also has a sister who is 2, who managed to be conceived all on her own without any intervention - a lovely amazing surprise.

We did try to use our remaining frozen embryo but it was not to be.

Infertility is challenging, it is heart breaking and it will put more strain on your relationship than almost anything else. But if you are lucky, if you are successful, there are no words to describe what an amazing gift the staff in the clinics give you.

When you get to a point in your life when you have to seriously think about what your life would be like if you can't have children - it is bleak and dark. Then someone takes you on a journey with many twists and turns, highs and lows, light and shade, agony and despair and out of it all you end up holding a life, a child, a light in the dark, and your life changes forever.

The fertility doctors, nurses, and specialists changed our lives, gave us a family and gave us light and laughter.

I know now how lucky we were to get pregnant in our first IVF cycle. So very lucky. I hope that the New Zealand Government reviews the number of funded IVF cycles it gives couples and raises the number to three (like Australia) as soon as possible.

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