Thank you Sarah, for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
Infertility is a funny beast; it affects your life in so many different ways.
We had issues conceiving our first child, spent almost 30 months trying to conceive and had begun the testing process that had showed up a few issues. Miraculously I found out I was pregnant only two days prior to our IVF consult with the fertility specialist. At the time we were the first of our friends and close family to have a child so it was all new and wondrous and exciting for everyone involved.
Our second pregnancy was a lot different to the first and I put that down entirely to infertility issues. By the time we fell pregnant with our second child, our friends were having their firsts. Four friends, all falling pregnant within a very short time frame, yet here we were struggling after a year. Again. The pregnancy announcements were hard, but the avoidance of certain friends was harder, they didn’t know how to talk with us about their pregnancies.
Our second pregnancy, our daughter, was conceived on our first cycle of IVF. The pregnancy was easy, but I found so many people treated me differently. I asked a coworker why she treated me differently compared with our first pregnancy and she simply stated that it was because this was an IVF baby, so it was different. It made no sense to me, but people perceived IVF babies as more fragile.
Fast-forward and our daughter was my second emergency caesarean. I was devastated. My baby was artificially conceived and artificially came into the world. There was nothing natural in her conception or delivery and I had to get something back, so I breastfed her. The plan was to breastfeed our first as well, but nature had other ideas as my body went into shock after a very long and difficult labour and subsequent emergency caesarean.
The only reason I continued breastfeeding was our infertility struggles. THE ONLY REASON. There were so many times I wanted to quit in the first six months. She was a big baby (9lb 14oz at birth) and she was insatiable. I fed two hourly for six months. I dealt with some serious breastfeeding issues, but instead of giving in, like so many had recommended, I plodded along. My baby had to such a medical, impersonal beginning thanks to our fertility issues that I had to give her something natural. In the end, she breastfed until she was 15 months old and I was proud that I stuck with it.
We lost our third (natural) pregnancy to miscarriage at ten weeks. Again, people’s perceptions astounded me. I got comments telling me that obviously I wasn’t meant to have a baby naturally (despite my first son) and that it didn’t matter because we had embryos frozen & in storage. Charming, right?
Our fourth pregnancy was the result of a frozen embryo transfer, the embryo created at the same time as our daughter. We had a few scares in the beginning and because I had invested so much, time, money, love, I was terrified of losing this little being as well. I was on bed rest and refused to move, exactly as I was directed. I couldn’t bear to face another loss and our chances of having another pregnancy were already diminished with only two embryos left in storage.
The baby, our son, arrived by scheduled caesarean and again I chose to breastfeed him to give him something as natural as possible. At the time of writing, he is 13 months old and still breastfed, despite a postnatal depression diagnosis and subsequent medication.
Even though we have now completed our family I find that infertility still haunts us.
My children are no different to any others, they push buttons, they don’t sleep, they argue with each other and I am just the same as any other mum. There is a difference though. Having struggled to conceive all three and using IVF for two, I find it difficult to complain about even the most normal of childhood behaviour. I feel like I need to be grateful for everything they do, even the bad stuff, because I am lucky enough to have them.
I had a conversation with a customer at work one day during my last pregnancy. He asked how many kids I had & when I told him this pregnancy was my third he joked asking if I knew what caused it. My response was, “yes, handing over thousands of dollars to my fertility doctor”… If you can’t laugh about it, you’d cry!