7 egg collections, 11 embryo transfers, 2 ectopic pregnancies, but one miracle baby girl!
This is my journey through the ups and downs of infertility and IVF, including a dramatic pregnancy with 10 weeks of hospital bed rest!
I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 16 years old, and always knew that having children might be difficult. Becoming a mum was everything to me. I loved playing with dolls, and always wanted to hold babies.
I got married to my high school boyfriend when we were both 23. We started trying for a baby at 24.
I was monitored by my GP, and I was not ovulating. When my AMH level came back a ridiculously high 140, it clearly indicated I had PCOS as well. I was referred to my gynaecologist.
He has been treating me since I was 16, but being that I live in a rural area, I had to travel 700kms to see him.
We went to see my gynaecologist thinking maybe we could try something like Clomid. But, because of my super high AMH, he said it would be too risky and IVF was the best option for us.
“Do you want to start IVF today?” He said.
Because I lived so far away, we decided, why not!
I was actually a bit excited. Being so young, we had high hopes that IVF would work.
I understood IVF doesn’t always work the first go, but surely by the 2nd or 3rd go it would work. That means I should have a baby by the end of the year!
How naive I was.
We went straight to the nurses who explained the whole ivf process. I remember her talking about blastocysts, E2 levels, hcg levels, progesterone pessaries, this injection, these tablets… it was all so overwhelming!
Then she explained all the costs, it was about $9800 upfront, which we were to pay that day! With about $5000 out of pocket costs after the Medicare rebate.
We went home, with our treatment plan and cooler bag full of medications. I explained to work that I needed a few days off (again at this point I had no idea what was to come).
I flew to Brisbane a week later, for my scan, I was excited, but nervous!
Sitting In the waiting room with 10 other ladies, there weren’t any smiles. Everyone was nervous. I thought IVF was kind of exciting- we were all here to make babies weren’t we? But little did I know how difficult the journey would be!
I saw a lady come out of the office tears in her eyes and I wondered what had gone wrong. Then it was my turn and I too came out of the office with tears in my eyes. No follicles had grown. I had to increase the dose a couple times, meaning more time in Brisbane and more time off work.
Then I started to get really sick and my belly grew massive.
My ovaries had gone crazy with the dose increase, and I now had developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
The whole cycle was cancelled. I was so sick I ended up in hospital for a week.
Wow what an introduction to IVF!
IVF 1 through 11
2 months later we were ready to try again. This time I was not excited, I was terrified!
We had to try a lower dose because of the risk of OHSS again. I went into my first egg collection and got 3 eggs, but only one fertilised. “It only takes one” everyone would say.
We transferred that embryo, went home and prayed and hoped so badly!
But 2 weeks later, I had my blood test and got that phone call I would soon hear so many times… “Hey Kim, I’m so sorry… it’s a negative result” $5000 down the drain.
We signed up for the next round straight away.
This time we got 8 eggs and all 8 fertilised, and we got 3 embryos! How amazing! I was so happy! Surely one of these 3 embryos would become our baby! We transferred the best one, but again 2 weeks later, it was a negative result. I cried and cried!
The next month we did a frozen embryo transfer, and a few days later I became a serial “early tester”!
I saw those 2 lines appear on a pregnancy test! It worked!!! I’m actually pregnant! I couldn’t believe it! I had so much relief and joy!
But I started bleeding a few days later. I was so scared, but my blood levels looked great. So it was the wait and see game.
My next blood test shows the level had dropped, I was told that a miscarriage was inevitable. It felt cruel that I was waiting at home to pass my baby.
Then a week later my blood test showed the level that actually risen! Maybe this was all a mistake, maybe everything will be okay I hoped. But the scan showed that I had an ectopic pregnancy and I was rushed into surgery to remove my pregnancy and fallopian tube.
I honestly remember asking ‘can’t you just cut it out and put the baby back in the uterus?’
My baby even had a heartbeat. I was 7 weeks pregnant. I cried and cried when I was wheeled into surgery. This is just not fair.
Recovering from the operation meant more time off work. My mental health really started to decline by this point as well.
We had one more frozen embryo left. So we crossed our fingers and transferred that embryo. But again, another negative result.
I remember sitting in the hallway sobbing uncontrollably!
How could we afford to do another whole cycle again? I think by this stage we had already spent over $20 000. We had used our savings and would now have to draw back on our home loan.
How could I keep having all this time off work?
Let’s try one more time we decided. We hoped that we can get another 3 embryos. By this stage I actually decided to quit my job, and just become casual. It was just impossible to keep having time off work.
This time we got 7 eggs, 4 fertilised, but only one made it to an embryo. What a roller coaster of emotions. I was so disappointed to only get one embryo, but we prayed for a Christmas MIRACLE.
5 days after the transfer, I saw those beautiful 2 pink lines again! I was pregnant! Hooray!!!! Best Christmas present ever! But sure enough I started bleeding, I had to go through the wait and see game again. Having blood tests every 2 days, which weren’t rising like they should.
Surely I couldn’t be that unlucky to have another ectopic pregnancy.
But apparently I was a New Year’s Eve a scan showed that it was in fact another ectopic pregnancy. I was again rushed into theatre and had my baby and my only remaining fallopian tube removed.
It just seemed like a joke, like a bad nightmare. Was it time to give up? Will I ever become a mum? How much more can we afford? Everyone told me that I should have a break for my own mental health, but that didn’t help at all.
Every day that passed all I could think about was the terrifying thought of possibly not ever having children.
There was no chance of ‘going on holiday, relaxing and a natural miracle happening’ now that I had both tubes removed. IVF was my only chance.
We looked into adoption – pretty much impossible in Australia. We looked into surrogacy which was about $50,000 and obviously needed someone willing to carry a child for us. We also looked into egg donors, and this seemed like our next step. But my specialist reassured me that he was confident that I would have a baby of my own.
We decided to change clinics to one closer to home. We tried immune therapy taking aspirin, steroids and a bucket full of vitamins. I had a hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy and lipiodol flush.
The new doctor seemed confident as well, so here we go again.
IVF 6 & 7
IVF #6 here we come.
This time we got 3 eggs, 2 embryos. We transferred the best one…. negative again.
The next month we transferred the last frozen embryo…. negative again.
I was a mess, but I felt like I couldn’t give up. I had come this far. Let’s try again with a higher dose. Are we crazy?
IVF 8 & 9
5 eggs, 2 embryos. This time we begged to try transferring 2 embryos. Surely one would take.
But again, it was a negative.
Desperate for answers we went back to my original specialist in Brisbane and I had a laparoscopy to see what was going on. Endometriosis was removed and I now felt hopeful that maybe this was the reason it wasn’t working. Maybe now that it had been removed, we had more of a chance.
We only got 4 eggs and one embryo. Which again was a negative.
By this time I had lost hope and I was making plans to move forward with using donor eggs from my sister.
But specialist suggested we try again this time with a much higher dose. Although we were scared of getting very unwell with hyperstimulation again it was worth a try. ONE MORE TRY.
This cycle was really hard, the medication made me very unwell. I was continuously vomiting and couldn’t get out of bed. But it paid off, we got an unbelievable 15 eggs and all 15 fertilised.
We ended with an amazing amount of 9 beautiful embryos. That meant nine more chances of having a baby.
It was Christmas time and again we were praying for a Christmas miracle.
Our dreams came true! I was pregnant! My blood levels were amazingly high. We had our first scan just before Christmas and there was our little jelly bean baby with a beautiful strong flicking heartbeat!
I couldn’t believe it! I was too scared to get excited. I was terrified I would miscarry. But the weeks went on and the baby kept growing. I was incredibly sick, vomiting all day, but so grateful!
Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I hope it inspires some of you to keep trying and not to give up hope. This beautiful image was created for me by @thenewbornstudio
It represents the 11 embryos, the ups and downs, the sparks of hope with the ectopic pregnancies, and then ending in a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch a video of my IVF journey here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh0tI17uBnk
Or follow my daily life with my little miracle on Instagram @mumtomia
If I could give you any advice to people struggling with infertility, here are my top tips:
- Share your story, don’t fight this battle alone. You will need all the support you can get. Help others around you understand what you are going through.
- Find a good specialist that you trust.
- Don’t give up. Look at me, 11 transfers later and I now have a 2 year old
- Don’t be afraid to use donor eggs, the moment they put that baby on your chest it wouldn’t matter if she was genetically mine or not. The love is instant!
- It’s okay to not be okay! IVF is hard! It’s okay to not always be strong. It’s okay to cry! Reach out and get support!
- Keep a journal and take photos and videos of your journey to look back on.
My story doesn’t end here…
Stay tuned for the story of a very dramatic pregnancy including severe morning sickness, threatened miscarry, pre-term labour, and a very long 10 week hospital stay!
Kimberley is 29 and is married with a 2 year old girl called Mia. They live in Rockhampton, Queensland in Australia. She loves renovating their house, and planning fun activities to do with her daughter. Follow her everyday life on Instagram @mumtomia