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A few weeks ago, I touched on the whole fertility post-35 issue. For me, it became scarily personal around the age of 36.
After talking to that obstetrician about lifestyle choices and creating the best ‘environment’ for conception and an embryo to grow in, I dug a little deeper. I read a lot about boosting fertility. I stumbled across some amazing data about couples who took their fertility in hand, made some not-to-be-sniffed-at lifestyle changes and got pregnant naturally. I’ve since talked to many women – friends, family, other bloggers – who quietly put themselves and their partners on 3-month fertility detoxes and cleanses and got pregnant.
And, while I wasn’t obsessive about it, I certainly switched into health mode. We ate organic this. Full-fat that. Spent hundreds on Chinese herbs. Gave up my beloved bread (that didn’t last long) and seriously cut back on booze. I lost weight. Had regular acupuncture. Meditated daily. Did relaxation, visualisation, temperature tracking, ovulation sticks. Eventually we went for tests and more tests at a fertility clinic (nothing wrong with either of us).
About two and a half years after we started trying, I got pregnant. And almost as quickly – just seven weeks in – had a miscarriage. The letdown was enormous. I still don’t want to think about that sad time or the baby that wasn’t to be – and, it was a bittersweet turning point. I was convinced all the changes had helped us ‘crack it’ and I still believed, wholeheartedly, that with enough time, we could have conceived again. But after nearly three years trying, something in me didn’t want to gamble on a healthy lifestyle and a bit of hope any longer. We needed a little push.
According to this fertility facts video by the Queensland Fertility Group, the percentage of women giving birth over the age of 35 has increased to 23 percent, while 4 percent of women giving birth are aged 40+. Wow. I am part of that 4 percent.
I had just turned 40 when we started IVF. It had taken me three years to come to peace with the decision to hand my fertility over to the people who could help. It was the start of a new journey and one we fervently hoped would, this time, work for real. But I knew it wouldn’t be easy – and it wasn’t. There was a weekly schedule packed with medications to take at different times (lots of them). Needles (lots of them). Blood tests (I lost count, though my poor arm didn’t – only one arm worked in the end for finding a vein). Scans. More tests. It was hard and expensive and hormonally intense. If I could’ve turned back the clock and given us a few more years to try naturally, I would have. While also being so, so glad this technology exists and that it could help us.
And, having met many women who’d undergone multiple IVF cycles, who’d been on assisted fertility treatment for years and who still held out hope that the next time would be the blue line and the baby they wanted so badly, I am under no illusions as to how lucky we are that IVF worked first time for us.
The chicklet will be in the 1 in 25 babies that are born in Australia with the help of IVF.
And we already have a hot date with the nurses and doctors at the fertility clinic who, I think, really deserve one of the first cuddles with our precious bubba after he makes his way into the world.