By Angela Kelleher – IFAASA Director
In 2011, following a couple of years of trying to conceive naturally and four attempts at IUI, I finally walked through the door to a Fertility Clinic. I remember the sense of dread I felt and how overwhelmed I was to see others in the waiting room – was infertility this common? I had no idea of the statistics (one in six), and had never investigated infertility and was completely innocent to what was ahead of me. And I remember that day having the most comprehensive consultation I ever received in my life. I walked out of there feeling a hundred times better and knew exactly what the future held in terms of tests and investigations.
As I was suffering from premature ovarian failure time was not on our side. We needed to harvest whatever eggs we could as fast as possible. And so began IVF and I can honestly say I hated every moment of it. The hormones, the mood swings, the weight gain, the pure fear of whether my body would yield eggs, would they fertilise, would they implant, would I fall pregnant. Thankfully I had been seeing a counsellor specialising in Fertility, who was able to guide me through the process and help me get through all the hurdles. I was devastated to find out we had only one viable embryo and held out little hope for a pregnancy. But miracle of miracles happened and I received a positive pregnancy blood test 12 days later. Both Dr R and Sister H had looks of complete satisfaction/happiness on their faces giving us the news.
Roll on the six week scan and Dr R nearly fell off his chair – my little embryo had split and I was expecting identical twins. Dr R did warn me of the complications that could arise from identical twins but nothing could burst my bubble. I was over the moon.
Fast forward to the ten week scan and it was with great sadness that Dr R told me that it looked like our twins were developing some problems. I then had an emergency appointment with a fetal specialist who confirmed that my little boys had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and one of the boys had a condition called Prune Belly Syndrome – the outlook was dismal. If I could make it to 16 weeks pregnancy then there was a possibility of having surgery overseas to save the boys. Unfortunately they passed away at 14 weeks gestational age. During this time the entire Clinic team rallied behind me, sending me messages, answering my hundreds of questions, and finally offering what comfort they could for my tremendous loss.
A few months later I decided to try again. My AMH and FSH levels were worse than ever and I knew there was little hope of falling pregnant with my own eggs but I had to try. IVF #2 and #3 yielded such bad quality eggs that they barely made it past fertilisation – I never managed to do another transfer. Dr R had warned me of this and had also suggested to start investigating using donor eggs. During this period I spent a great deal of time discussing how I felt about using donor eggs with the counsellor. After my last IVF failed I had reached a point that I was totally comfortable with using donor eggs to help me build my family. My goal was to have my own healthy baby – not necessarily one of my own genes – just my own.
Again the staff were amazing, talking to me about the process, helping me to choose a donor, and giving me all the support they possibly could. Eventually, on the 28th June 2013, after my second IVF cycle using donor eggs I found out I was pregnant. I cried, the nurses were all teary eyed, it was just the most surreal moment.
My darling daughter is now nearly three years old and the most amazing gift I could ever have received. She makes my heart smile and laugh with each breath she takes.