My husband and I had been married for 5 years before we decided to start a family in 2009. I was 32 years old at the time and it never crossed my mind that we may struggle to fall pregnant. After a year of trying with no success we started to become concerned especially since I was getting on in age. We went to see my gynae to discuss what we should do. He referred us to Medfem and suggested that we both be go through a fertility work up, due to both our ages (my husband is nine years older than me), which we did. All the initial tests came back negative and so we assumed that the problem was our lifestyle (stress, bad habits and general health), so we took measures to remedy all of this. Every month thereafter, I would be convinced that this would be the month we would fall pregnant only to be disappointed each time.
As a last resort it was suggested that I undergo a laparoscopy to check for endometriosis. This seemed a little extreme as we felt that we should first try artificial insemination before going the surgical route. So on the 4th of March 2012 I underwent artificial insemination for the first time which is a fairly simple procedure and is performed in the doctors rooms and on the 21st of March my blood tests showed that I was pregnant! I was so excited and remember that we had to wait a whole day to get the official blood results back as we had to attend a family function and could not wait at the lab for them but had to collect them later. I immediately called my parents and siblings to share the wonderful news, even though I knew it was better to wait until the first 12 weeks had passed. Our happiness only lasted five days as on the 26th March 2012 I was sitting in my office when suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my stomach which progressively got worse. I broke into a cold sweat and remember lying in a ball on my office floor in a tremendous amount of pain. After a while it eased and I had my dad collect me and take me to the gynae who I had pre-warned of the situation. My gynae concluded that it was a corpus luteum cyst and that this was a normal occurrence in some pregnant woman as it was my body’s way of releasing progesterone to carry the pregnancy. I was not happy with his diagnosis and just knew something was wrong as the pain did not feel normal.
The following day I called several alternative gynaes as I wanted a second opinion. Not one of them could or would see me. They were all either fully booked or thought it was unethical to take on a patient who already had a gynae. I was in a complete panic as I knew something was desperately wrong and needed a second opinion. In desperation my husband called a friend of ours who’s dad is a doctor and asked him if he could help us and fortunately he managed to get us an appointment with a colleague gynae of his the following day. The appointment showed that I was five weeks pregnant. The blood tests showed a normal pregnancy yet in the ultra sound the gynae could not see a sac. He arranged a follow up appointment at 6 weeks. That appointment yielded exactly the same results as the previous appointment at which point he informed us that he suspected it could be an ectopic pregnancy. We were devastated but hopeful even though at this point the he explained to us that there was a risk that if it was an ectopic pregnancy and if we waited too long to confirm this, it could rupture and I could bleed out. The problem was that the only way to confirm that it was an ectopic pregnancy was to undergo a d & c, which if performed would mean potentially losing a healthy foetus if the pregnancy was not ectopic. We thus decided to continue with running weekly blood tests and having scans done until I was 8 weeks pregnant at which point my gynae advised that we do the procedure as he was almost certain that the pregnancy was ectopic and that we were heading into dangerous territory. He was unfortunately correct and we lost our first baby on the 12th of April 2012 at 8 weeks as well as my left fallopian tube. We were devastated about the loss and it felt like we would never get over the sadness we felt. I kept picturing what the foetus looked like as I had pictorially followed its development from 5 weeks and this made it so much harder to accept.
A few weeks later at my check up my gynae advised that if we wanted to try artificial insemination again we should try immediately as. This was difficult emotionally as it felt as we were just moving on but if our chances were better than we needed to try and so we did twice on the 28th & 29th of June 2012. I fell pregnant immediately (17th July 2012) which was an absolute surprise as my chances of falling pregnant since my ectopic pregnancy had been further reduced as I could only fall pregnant if and when I ovulated on my right side as I had lost my left fallopian tube. Unfortunately, I started spotting almost immediately and went for a check up only to be told that it was highly likely that this pregnancy was also ectopic. On the 23rd of July at 6 weeks pregnant I underwent a second d & c and lost our second baby and my right fallopian tube. At this point I was an emotional wreck and so my husband and I decided to take a break from falling pregnant to recover from the loss and trauma as well as deal with the fact that falling pregnant naturally was now completed impossible as I no longer had any fallopian tubes left.
After sometime had passed we began discussing our options with regards to falling pregnant. Fortunately, we still had options one of them being In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) but we decided we would only pursue this option the following year as we both felt we needed time before taking this next step. At the same time, we also had some big decisions to make regarding whether we proceed in building the family home we had designed because it seemed a bit silly to pursue this without the family we had hoped for. Needless, to say it was a very difficult and trying time for us.
We started the journey of IVF with Medfem on the 14th January 2013. It was daunting and for anyone who has ever been through it’s a very challenging process to go through both emotionally and physically. However, the doctors and staff at Medfem were very understanding and supportive. I thus did my best to remain positive as I truly believe that your body and psyche need to be in tune and that any negativity would be to the detriment of the process. This was very difficult as, as much as I hoped and wished my mind always reminded me of the reality that the process may not work. As the time drew closer for my eggs to be aspirated (extraction of my eggs) I became more and more hopeful as the scans showed that I had developed about eight nicely sized eggs. On the 30th of January 2014 all eight of my eggs were successfully aspirated while I was under anaesthetic. We were then told to call the lab the following day to check how these eggs were doing as they would only be transferred back into me five days later and we thus needed to follow their progress. This period was an emotional roller coaster as by day two only four out of the eight eggs had survived. On the day the eggs were scheduled to be transferred we were told to first call the lab to check whether there were any surviving eggs which could be transferred and were told there were only two. Two had survived out of eight and they would be transferring both to optimise our chances of one fertilising successfully inside of me. On the day of transfer my husband was unfortunately, unable to come with me but my mom was with me and got to see the embryos on the monitor before they implanted them. It was an amazing experience potentially seeing my unborn child/ren as little eggs. The 13 days leading up to the pregnancy test were long and a bit of a blur but finally the 15th of February 2013 arrived and we waited anxiously in the waiting rooms at Medfem to hear the outcome. As we tried to read the outcome on Dr Rodrigues face we held each other’s hands tightly as he told us we were pregnant!
I was apprehensive for our first scan as with the previous pregnancy all the blood test showed a normal pregnancy but it was the scans that indicated abnormalities. However, nothing could prepare us for what came next! The scan showed two sacs and we heard two heartbeats-we were pregnant with twins as both eggs had been fertilized and attached themselves successfully to my uterus. Our first round of IVF which subsequently changed into a process called Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (This is where the sperm is injected straight into the oocyte or egg) had been a success!
Every scan thereafter was nerve wracking but also exciting and I was very fortunate to have an easy pregnancy. The only hiccup looking back was a bit of morning sickness that resulted in me fracturing my arm when I fell running to the bathroom. I carried our twin daughters, Jordan Reece and Jamie Tate to 38 weeks and they were born at 2.5kg’s and 2.67kg’s on the 9th of October 2013. Without the help of the doctors at Medfem we would never have experienced the kind of happiness that the girls have brought us and we will forever be grateful to them.