“IVF has helped us fulfil our greatest wish. Since I always found it a consolation to read about other people’s experiences, I would like to offer you my own story. I hope it will give you some encouragement.”
This story has been generously supplied by Verein Kinderwunsch Switzerland www.kinderwunsch.ch
Myriam found that she couldn’t bring a pregnancy to term, suffering 2 miscarriages before deciding to seek medical support.
“For my husband and me it was always clear that we wanted a family. After 5 years together, we therefore married in 1997 and I stopped taking the pill. A year passed, and nothing happened, which eventually started to unsettle us. Then in October ‘98 I became pregnant! We were overjoyed. But unfortunately I started to bleed heavily in the 6th week and lost the baby. We were devastated. But at least I knew that I was able to get pregnant.
And in fact I did get pregnant again almost immediately in January ‘99. This time I was pretty anxious that I might lose it again. Sadly everything repeated itself just as before, and I lost the baby in the 7th week. We were both indescribably down. The gynaecologist was also far from understanding, and simply said that it was not normal practice to investigate thoroughly until after 3 miscarriages.”
Infertility can prompt some strange but understandable behaviour: avoiding friends who have children for instance. Today, with planning and support, it can be easier to face the realities of infertility without risking friendships.
“My husband and I tried not to get too down-spirited, and we kept trying. We took a long trip abroad and gave a lot of time to each other. But still I just did not get pregnant again. In the meantime, the grief over the two losses had eased a little, but the desire to have children became ever more acute. Every month I descended into a deep gaping hole. I saw pregnant women wherever I looked and I even broke off contact with a number of good friends because they had small children. In retrospect, I must say that was the right thing to do. I spoke openly with most friends about our situation, so they could understand me up to a point. In difficult situations, one has to protect oneself and not expose oneself to further cruel situations.
After a year, at the beginning of 2000, we decided to go for an examination.”
Just as no two couples are the same, no two doctors or fertility specialists share the same outlook or personality. As Myriam found out, this led to frustration and disappointment.
“We found a nice doctor, who carried out the first tests. My cycle was regular, the hormones were OK, and everything was also OK with my husband. The doctor suggested that first we just keep a close eye on the cycle, so that we could make sure we had intercourse on the right days. After a few cycles, the doctor unfortunately moved away from the area, and his replacement was much less modern in his working methods – he said I should measure my temperature curves. After a few cycles he felt we should try clomiphene, because my eggs seemed a little too small. The whole story with the temperature measurements visibly stressed me, and I found the doctor too was not so nice. So, after 3 clomiphene cycles, I took a break.
In the meantime I had already pretty much given up hope. The doctor did not seem to take me seriously and was also not prepared to test the patency of the fallopian tubes because I had already been pregnant in the past. I tried to take my mind off it and became more involved in my job, which I enjoyed.”
Try to find a specialist that you’re happy. They will be the ‘in-house expert’ on your team, so it’s important that you’re confident and trusting in the specialist you choose.
“Eventually we looked for a new gynaecologist. This time I wanted a woman doctor, and one who would also do IVF. And with her, things finally started moving quickly (I was already 30). An x-ray of the fallopian tubes, a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, and further detailed tests on my hormones and on my husband’s hormones by the urologist did not reveal any problems. I was slowly beginning to wish that they would finally find something wrong. But everything seemed ok. I was often afraid that it could all be just in the mind and also visited a psychiatrist for this reason. But the consultations with him did help me a lot. I became calmer and less inclined to blame myself for everything. Fortunately, all these problems had brought my husband and me even closer together, but it still did me good to have someone else I could discuss things with.
Over time, I became increasingly confident of my doctor. We performed 3 inseminations, all unfortunately without success. Our doctor now recommended IVF.
My husband and I had a few consultations before we were quite sure we wanted to go down this path. First we treated ourselves again to a 3-month trip and then started the first IVF cycle in January 2002.
The whole course of therapy with the hormones, the egg which first refused to grow, and the frequent absences from work were an emotional strain in particular, so I was happy to have my consultations with my psychiatrist.
Physically, everything went well, and 8 eggs were taken from me, of which 6 were fertilized. Two of these I had re-implanted, and the rest were frozen.
Then came the great day of the transfer. Both my husband and I were somehow really euphoric - at last the chances were high again (20-25%).
It was good to know that we still had some frozen fertilized eggs for the next attempt.”
The dreaded ‘Wait’ and the perfect result. “The two weeks of waiting were unbelievably hard. I watched out for the slightest twinge in my stomach. At work, there was a lot of stress at that time, and I refused to let myself get worked up. Without my husband, I would never have withstood those 2 weeks. But finally the blood test was there and I could call up the next day. I was so nervous that I could not get a sensible sentence out on the telephone. When the doctor said I was pregnant, I just cried. We were overjoyed. It had worked at the first attempt. Something we would never have dared to hope for. But at the same time, anxiety reared its head again with the fear of a miscarriage.
From this point on, I’ll keep it short. The first ultrasound showed that both embryos had become implanted. We were so overjoyed, only now I was even more anxious because with twins of course the risk was generally higher. The anxiety lessened a little once the first 3 months were past, and became even less still once the 26th week was past and the babies were, in principle, viable. None of the symptoms of pregnancy disturbed me as much as this anxiety. Towards the end I took things very, very easy so that the babies would stay inside me for as long as possible.
Finally on 9 October 2002 we became the parents of two healthy little boys.
Sometimes, even today, I can hardly believe our luck. I always feel sad for those couples who suffer from an unfulfilled desire to have children. I do hope my experiences will help to give someone a little encouragement.”