Murray and I were married in November 2005 and decided to wait six months before we started trying for a baby. I was so immensely clucky at the time, and although Murray had a few reservations about trying to conceive so early in our marriage, he was happy for us to see what happened. I had my contraceptive implant removed in June 2006 and that was the beginning of what we now know to be a long journey!
Unfortunately my cycles were all over the place, and by January 2007 I knew that something wasn't quite right with my body. I saw my GP who ran some tests, which found that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. My cycles were all over the place, I had insulin resistance, was obese and had the textbook 'string of pearls' on my ovaries. A quick semen analysis also confirmed that Murray had very low sperm motility - around 3 to 5 percent, when the normal parameters are over 60%
With all of that information, we were referred to a fertility specialist, Doreen Yeap, at Fertility Specialists WA, a relatively new clinic in Perth. Doreen recommended that we use IVF to try and get pregnant but there was something I needed to do first. I weighed over 120kg at the time and I needed to get my BMI below 35 before the clinic was willing to treat me. That meant I had to put a huge effort into exercising and eating right, and doing everything within my power to get the weight off. I managed to lose 12 kilos in three months, and so we started our IVF journey.
Our first cycle was a disaster - I started on a really low FSH dose and understimulated, leading to the cycle being cancelled. It was so overwhelmingly devastating to do all of the injections, get it into your head that this will get you pregnant, only to have it cancelled on you.
We then moved onto an 'innovative' or experimental treatment called In Vitro Maturation where your ovaries aren't stimulated as much to avoid OHSS. Our first cycle was unsuccesful, and our second IVM cycle resulted in no embryos making it to blastocyst stage.
We then headed back to traditional IVF, but I ended up with severe ovarian hyperstimulation and in hospital for three nights. As a result all of our embryos were frozen for later use. We did four seperate frozen embryo transfers with two negative results, one bio-chemical pregnancy and then - BINGO! A positive result - we were pregnant!!! The moment we had been waiting for had arrived and we were thrilled. But from the beginning the beta results were low and at our first obstretician appointment, the baby had no heartbeat. Our little Vanilla wasn't going to come into this world and I had a D&C.
After a break we tried IVF again only to have no embryos make it to blastocyst once again. We decided to try one last attempt at IVF, and this time transferred two embryos on Day 3 to make sure that we didn't lose them all before blastocyst stage. Unfortunately this was also a negative result.
Murray had a SCSA test done before our last IVF attempt which came back with more devastating news. Not only was Murray's sperm motility worse (Zero percent motility), but there was also significant DNA fragmentation and damage - 35% - which meant that our likelihood of falling pregnant using Murray's DNA was highly unlikely.
We have decided as a couple that we can raise children aren't necessarily biologically our own, and whether that means using donor sperm or following the adoption path, our mutual desire to be parents outweighs any need for a genetic connection.
We were on the waiting list from January 2010 and in April we received the call that we were at the top of the list! We chose our sperm donor to continue down the IVF path and began cycle #11 at Concept. Unfortunately my hormone levels rose too high too fast and we had to cancel the cycle before my egg collection. Another attempt at IVF resulted in my hormone levels once again went crazy and the cycle was cancelled.
In February 2011, I underwent Ovarian Drilling to help regulate my cycles and hopefully stop my hormones from going crazy during IVF cycles. We were also approached by a work mate who offered to be our donor for our next IVF cycle.
We finally got to egg collection in the second half of 2011, but although the eggs fertilised, they didn't divide, leaving us with no embryos to transfer. We tried two rounds of donor IUI at the end of 2011 just to throw something different in the mix, but both were unsuccessful.Then we tried a couple of donor embryo cycles which were also unsuccessful.
We also applied to adopt locally in Western Australia, however we were dealt a huge blow, as they there is a BMI limit for prospective adoptive parents and I was over that weight limit. At that stage we were rejected from proceeding further with the process.
I had gastric sleeve surgery in September 2012 and lost over 50kg which was the start of changing my life. We re-applied for adoption and were approved for local adoption in WA in November 2013, and re-approved at the two year mark in November 2015.
Unfortunately the weight-loss hasn't helped us to fall pregnant, but we finally became eligible for fully-funded IVF through the public health system, which we did in November 2016 and May 2016, both unsuccessful, which ended our chances of falling pregnant.
Then we got the call. The call that said we had been chosen to parent through adoption. Our whole world changed in that moment, and now we have our little boy J.