By Imogen Rossam
It never crossed my mind that infertility could or would ever be part of my life! I have wanted to be a mom since I was young, and I just assumed it would happen easily when I was ready. I met and married the man of my dreams in 2013 and after our wedding we immediately started trying. We daydreamed and planned about the baby we were “about” to have and both assumed that within the year and our little family would begin.
Sadly that’s exactly NOT what happened. After about 9 months of no positive results, I went to see my gynae who said there is nothing to worry about as it can take some women up to a year to fall pregnant. I was a healthy 32 year old with no gynaecological problems and so I shouldnt worry! So I went home feeling slightly better, but something deep in my stomach was telling me something was wrong. A month later my appendix nearly burst and I had to have surgery to remove it. After the operation the surgeon came to us and told me that she had had a look around whilst in there and found that I had very bad endometriosis. “Endo what?” I thought. I had never even heard of the disease and certainly didnt know I had it.
I approached my gynae once again with these findings who suggested we do a lapscope immediately. He confirmed that I had severe endometriosis and that he had done his best to clear it during the procedure, but that it was most likely the reason I was battling to fall pregnant. He suggested we go straight for some Fertility assistance as it was quite severe. So in August 2015 we first visited the Vitalab.
It felt like a whirlwind death sentence – I did not know I had endometriosis? How can this be happening to me? I don’t want to have an infertilty problem! I don’t want to see a doctor to help us fall pregnant when its supposed to happen naturally! This was not part of my plan.
Fast forward a few months and our first attempt at IVF. The injections and hormones were completely bearable and I was slightly relieved at being closer than ever to having a baby. Our embryos grew well and we were able to implant two and freeze two. I was ecstatic! Then the crash came… Our blood test two weeks later revealed that I was not pregnant and after genetically testing the frozen embryos they were found to be genetically abnormal and therefore not usable. My entire world fell apart – I felt like I had had a miscarriage. Our marriage was suffering as both my husband and I were dealing with the process in completely different ways. How did we get here?
We decided to take a years break, where I focused on my health and I saw a Homeopath an acupuncturist. After the year, my hormones levels were nromal and I felt like to was ready to try again. We went back to the fertility clinic to pursue a round 2 of IVF, but after a scan it was revealed that I had a huge endometrial cyst on my right ovary that would make IVF impossible. So another lapscope to remove this and as much other endo as they could was scheduled for Nov 2016. Once that was completed, we began hormones straight away. And once again the rollercoaster of emotions and joy and hope and fear, was set into motion.
In January 2017 we had only four eggs from my left ovary removed as my right ovary was not usable due to more endometriosis. Sadly none of these 4 survived their first week. Devastation once again,
We are slowly recovering now and planning a third round with a bit more focus on getting rid of the endometriosis first. The worst part is, I feel so hopeless that getting excited for round 3 doesn’t even seem possible.
How does this happen? Why me? These are questions I deal with daily.
But I do believe that there is always a silver lining and light in all of life’s hardest lessons.This journey has brought my husband and I closer than I ever thought possible, we both realise that we are each others rock and without each other there would be no parents to love a baby anyway.
I have learnt that I am stronger than I thought, and that no matter what happens I will be ok and I am a good person.
I have learnt that laughter and moving forward, not dwelling in the past, is also essential to not letting this journey kill you.
Kicking my story off again where I left off last year, after our failed Jan 2017 egg retrieval we were raw with emotion and completely burnt out. But something told us not to lose hope and to try another round straight away. In Feb 2017 we began the process of hormones and a lot of other meds like testosterone and steroids to try and get some feasible eggs. As Dr J put it, we had one more shot and he was throwing the book at me to get a good result.
At that egg retrieval we got a beautiful 11 eggs out, and 6 fertilised and survived until Day5/6. We were absolutely ecstatic, but no celebrating yet as we wanted to genetically test them first and overcome the hurdle we first had (genetically non-viable eggs). The long two week wait resulted in the best news we’d ever had, 4 out of the 6 embryos were genetically perfect and were frozen! Jackpot!
In order to manage my endometriosis and basically send it off to sleep, I had to be given a long acting hormone for three months. So we could only begin the process of starting for embryo transfer again in June 2017 – excitement and hope was at an all time high. Again, the devastation came. Pregnancy test two weeks later came back negative, it hadn’t worked. Why the hell not, everything was tested and perfect???? Dr J felt that the hormones had potentially over grown my uterus and made it incompatible for transfer, and suggested we rather try a natural and unmedicated cycle next time. I didn’t even want to consider a next time, and felt like giving it all up right then and there. Enough is enough I felt, I can’t do this anymore. It felt like it was literally killing me slowly.
Fate intervened, or God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it. Because I did not want to try again, and Dr J said I had a lot of time and that I should perhaps think about taking the pill with my next cycle to try and alleviate the risk of growing more endometriosis. I was happy with that, but my period never came, and when I went back to see him he said that my hormones were basically zero from prolonged exposure to external hormones and that my system had pretty much gone to sleep. He said we had to take some hormones to induce a period, and while we’re there why don’t we just give one more embryo a try while we’re at it? My hubby agreed, I felt indifferent.
We tried an unmedicated, natural cycle in Sept 2017, I had absolutely nothing riding on it and felt completely unattached. I just couldn’t let myself get my hopes up at all, I had nothing left to give. Two weeks later on the day of the blood test, I decided to not wait around for the call but rather go off to yoga and “do my thing”, not allowing any hope to even remotely filter in. When I came out of yoga class, my hubby was standing outside waiting, with the biggest grin. “They’ve been calling and calling you – we’re pregnant!”. I was utterly in shock. Could this finally be true?? Has our dream really happened? Did it really work?
Today, I can safely say yes. I am now 22 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl. She is doing well and we are both feeling so good. My heart finally feels at peace and like it is fulfilled beyond belief. The last four years of tears and pain, disappointment and shattered hopes has disappeared and has been replaced with excitement, joy and the hugest amount of happiness I ever thought possible. IVF is a journey that will utterly break you down and ultimately lift you up as well – I truly believe that no matter what your outcome is, be it your own pregnancy, an egg or sperm donation, adoption or surrogacy, there is always a light at the end of this infertility tunnel, always.