Emma Siossian is a radio journalist. I was working with Emma when she began this rollercoaster ride to motherhood and I remember watching in awe as she dealt with setback after setback with grace and dignity.
We were travelling in the ruggedly beautiful Kimberley region in Western Australia when we made the decision. After years of sitting on the fence and peering nervously over the other side, we were finally ready. It was time to start a family.
My husband Adam and I were already in our early thirties, but until now we had always wanted more time together as a couple, more time to travel, more time footloose and fancy free. We also carried the naïve belief that once we decided it was time to have children, I would simply fall pregnant.
As it turns out I did fall pregnant relatively quickly. Things did not go well however and at about 9 weeks, suffering severe pain, I ended up in hospital for emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube. I was also told my left tube was in very bad shape with a lot of scar tissue.
It meant our best chance of having a baby would be IVF. I felt my previously ordered world shatter to pieces. I grieved the loss of my baby and the loss of my ability to conceive a child naturally.
A few months later we started IVF. Each stage of the process was nerve-wracking and physically and emotionally draining. There was much anxious waiting, testing and injecting and sniffing drugs, while always hoping we would get at least one embryo to transfer.
We ended up with two healthy 5-day embryos at the end of the process but sadly the cycle was not successful.
A couple of months later we had our frozen embryo, ‘Frostie’, transferred and this time after the ‘two week wait’ we received the exciting news that I was pregnant! Adam and I were thrilled.
We saw a beautiful heartbeat at our 8 week ultrasound, but our next scan at 10 weeks revealed our embryo had stopped growing a week earlier. It was a devastating blow.
A few months later we were preparing to start our next IVF cycle, when I discovered I was pregnant! We felt scared and in shock, yet thrilled we had conceived on our own, something we had been told was virtually impossible! Obviously it was meant to be and we nicknamed our baby ‘Hope’.
With each passing week our confidence grew and when the time came for our 10 week scan we couldn’t wait to see how much our baby Hope had grown. By now we knew what to look for at each scan and our main focus was seeing that flickering of a heart beat. We held hands as the sonographer began the scan and stared expectantly at the screen, our hearts standing still. The sonographer moved around my belly and stared at the screen for some time without saying anything. It was then we knew. There was no flicker on the screen, no sign of a heartbeat. Our miracle baby was lost.
My grief and anger consumed me. As the months rolled on I lost my sense of identity. I felt defined by trying to have a baby and my pregnancy losses and floated in a painful limbo. Dinner party conversations became an effort. My main focus was of little interest to others, who simply couldn’t understand our situation. Shopping centres were full of pregnant women and tiny babies. I stared enviously at both.
Further tests revealed I had an auto-immune problem which could be causing my pregnancy losses. My Infertility Specialist recommended that at the time of my next embryo transfer I start daily Clexane injections to try and treat the auto-immune issue.
It felt like a breakthrough, but not long after that I became ill and was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a thyroid disorder which can also cause fertility problems. Our attempts at having a baby had to go on hold. It was yet another hurdle.
After nearly 12 months we were given the medical green light to start trying for a baby again and decided to resume IVF. In December 2010 we received a positive pregnancy test. It was the most perfect Christmas present in the world.
Throughout the first trimester we took things week by week and held our breath. It wasn’t until we passed the week at which I had lost the other babies that we exhaled, just a little, and I started to really enjoy the pregnancy.
Due to some complications our baby boy came into the world via an emergency caesarean at around 35 weeks. Aidan James arrived late on August 1st 2011. We cradled our beautiful, tiny 2.1 kilogram bundle, our hearts full of overwhelming love.
Aidan is now a delightful and spirited toddler who has brought immeasurable joy into our lives and a love beyond words. I will never forget our painful journey, yet can now view it as a stage in our lives, one which taught us to never take our child for granted and enabled us to have greater compassion for others who have fertility struggles.
Have you overcome fertility struggles? How did you cope?