Our miracle IVF baby

5 June 2013

Our miracle IVF baby - the story of a couple with dreams of a family...

By Ruth Ruane direct excerpt from From HealthSmart Magazine December 2010

After 14 years together, and two heartbreaking failed attempts at IVF, Ruth and Martin Ruane’s dreams of a family finally came true.

You always assume you’ll fall pregnant naturally. When we first started trying, IVF didn’t even enter our minds. But honestly, at a certain point you start to think: Is this ever going to happen?’ It was important that we supported each other – when one of us was down, the other was trying to be positive – and if anything, our relationship and our marriage became a lot stronger as a consequence of what we went through.

Martin and I were married in Sydney in 2003, but we’ve been together for 14 years. We’d been trying to conceive for 18 months with no luck. We’d been to a naturopath for a natural alternative, with no result. We were then referred to an IVF specialist, who discovered I had a couple of polyps – but he didn’t believe they’d stop us from conceiving. The polyps were removed, and we were told to come back in six months if we still had no luck. I’d read that acupuncture might help so, in conjunction with the IVF, I saw a woman who specialises in fertility problems and IVF. It was frustrating, as the doctors could give us no reason why we weren’t falling pregnant. We were offered counselling at our initial consultation at an IVF clinic, but we declined because we’d seen a naturopath and tried acupuncture, so we felt we were both already doing everything we could from a health perspective to fall pregnant.

Martin got used to going to the clinic for his sperm collection, which is done immediately after egg harvest. No pressure! He went six times, with some collections to check the sperm’s motility (are they moving fast enough) and morphology (do they have normal form and structure).

We joked about it, which I think is the best way to deal with the strangeness of the whole thing. We were hopeful, but to be honest at times we did feel like giving up. At the beginning of a cycle you’re filled with all this hope and anticipation, only to be left disheartened and devastated when you don’t end up with a positive pregnancy test.

A close friend was going through IVF at the same time, and was successful just as one of our cycles failed. Of course I was thrilled for her – she and her partner had been through the same kind of heartache we had – but I also felt envious that it wasn’t us. It was very hard to deal with.

Luckily, our family was very supportive. I did tell close friends, but I didn’t tell anyone apart from my family when we were going through a cycle, as I couldn’t bear people knowing when we were going for a pregnancy test, wanting to know the outcome, and asking if it had been successful. It was heartbreaking when we were told a couple of days after the first egg collection that no eggs had been successfully fertilised. We felt that our world had fallen apart. The IVF specialist took a different route the second time, using ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), which is where they inject a single sperm into each egg. This was successful and we had two eggs that made it to Day 5 (an important pre-embryonic stage when a blastocyst is formed). One egg was transferred back inside me, the other was frozen. Sadly, the transferred egg didn’t take. After the second egg was transferred, I got my period during the two-week wait to find out if I was pregnant. Again, we were so disappointed and disheartened.

Elsie was our third attempt at IVF. I’d had no side effects from the daily hormone injections, and was fine injecting myself. The egg collection can be uncomfortable, especially afterwards, and can feel like bad period pain. The egg transfer is just like having a pap smear and can be a little uncomfortable. As with the previous attempt, I was convinced I was getting my period in the two weeks following egg transfer – I was having cramps and was very bloated – so my specialist brought forward the pregnancy test. I was shocked when they called to tell me it was positive, as I’d convinced myself it was my period coming.

When Elsie was born on July 20, 2010, I was filled with mixed emotions. My labour was very fast, so I wasn’t expecting her to arrive so quickly. I think I was in shock and amazement that I had just given birth to a healthy, beautiful little girl.

She was just so perfect. I was filled with overwhelming emotions holding her in my arms. I felt relieved that she had been born safely and was perfect. I also felt excitement at finally becoming a mum, and amazement that a tiny bunch of cells put back inside me could turn into something so wonderful.

Taking part in IVF has changed our life in so many ways. Over the past two-and-a-half years of trying, our whole focus was on getting pregnant and it consumed everything we did. There’s a sense now of completeness in our family.

IVF is an emotional rollercoaster, full of highs and lows. There were lots of times when I felt helpless; we were amazed at how many people were going through IVF with us, and in the clinic, during the morning blood tests and ultrasounds, you can feel like just another number. Definitely the most difficult period was between egg collection and fertilisation, when you’re waiting for that phone call. The internet and blogs just end up terrifying you, so we stopped reading them.

There were also times when we thought it was never going to happen. But now that we have Elsie, I couldn’t imagine life without her. There were ups and downs, but our relationship has become a lot stronger as a result. Honestly, I think if you can get through IVF, then you can get through most things!

With IVF births becoming more and more common, Elsie will be one of many IVF babies. She’s very relaxed and chilled out – just like her dad – but what brings us the most joy about being a family is seeing Elsie’s little smile. It makes everything we’ve been through worth it.

Source: http://www.readersdigest.com.au/our-miracle-ivf-baby