I feel SO lucky. I found the love of my life when I was 17 (he was 20), we got married in 1999 and have been a tight team ever since. Pretty lucky, that, because...
My husband, Steve, has a balanced translocation and whilst we seem to have no trouble getting pregnant, retaining a pregnancy has so far proven almost impossible.
After enduring three m/c's in a row in 2002, we did some testing and it was discovered then that Steve had this chromosomal anomoly. We went for genetic counselling, at which time PGD was still relatively new in Australia and they - the genetic counsellors at the IVF clinic - virtually steered us against doing it.
I had one more miscarriage before conceiving our first daughter, who chromosomally speaking was perfectly normal. She was born at 30 weeks and subsequently passed away from a combination of prematurity, a congenital heart defect known as Truncus Arteriosus and contracting a deadly virus called NEC while she was growing in the NICU. She was just 31 days old. So we had to start TTC again.
After two more failed pregnancies the year Ellanor passed ('04), I decided to try IVF - Steve had wanted to do it earlier but I had personal issues with it, it was a big decision for me. We had discussed adoption and looked into it extensively, also considering foster parenting at this time too. But because we had conceived and then lost our only child to date, it seemed far too difficult and rigorous an emotional journey for us to contemplate taking on. It seems, in hindsight, that IVF appeared the least strenuous (for us as a couple) option at the time, even though it took far more an emotional, angst-ridden toll on us than we expected.
We tried PGD twice in '05, yielded really average results - for PGD, where the more fertilised eggs for testing purposes, the better - and ended up with only one normal/balanced emby to transfer both times (only 3-4 eggs fertilised from 6-7 retrieved, both times, despite our high fertility rate naturally - I was also devastated I had not "performed better" - and of those, most were carrying the unbalanced translocation anyway). There were none to freeze, obviously. The second time, I had a chemical pregnancy and we decided we could do that on our own at zero financial expense! So we stopped IVF (we were going to do 3 cycles).
I fell pregnant naturally the following month with our only surviving child to date, another daughter. Our little Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb (aka Lolly or The LGBB) arrived in 2006 - and NO... she did not happen just because we relaxed OR because we tried IVF. Just so's we're clear :) She is a carrier of the same translocation as her Dad, but otherwise healthy in every way.
Since we had the LGBB, I have suffered a further four miscarriages. I can hardly keep count these days of years and months when they happen, but all told, we have had fourteen pregnancies together, Steve and I. Sounds like a story that would make a pretty interesting book....... ;-P
In my opinion, there was a lot of good to come out of our brief IVF journey including -
* It meant we would not always wonder or regret not attempting it if we found ourselves childless at the end of our years of trying to conceive.
* We made the most of the information that was gathered during our stint. The sperm testing was most important (they offered this as a free non-diagnostic test - as it was then in trial phase and so we would also be helping them with their studies into the accuracy of the data, etc.), as it showed my husband's own specific sperm quality. He was at his peak in health, including being on naturopathics to increase chances of the lower volume of healthy sperm being the ones to get to the egg so it was a very good indicator for us of our best possible chances with his genetics.
They found approx. 26% of the sperm was normal. It was consistent with what we had been informed by the geneticists the whole way through the process so it was good to have it confirmed, it was more than just general statistics. For us, roughly 4 in 6 pregnancies will be abnormal/unbalanced. We've had 13 pregnancies so far.
The decision to start trying again naturally in 2005 was hard and scary. But as we had no dependants and we were in our early 30's, we agreed that we would live with whatever the outcome (for us, an unbalanced child would result in varied high care mental/physical disabilities so a very serious consideration). That "whoever" came to us in whatever form, we would handle it.
So far, our lives are full to the brim with one miraculous daughter. Where Ellanor's unending light guides us, our only surviving daughter here on Earth shines her light to fill every corner of our world.
I have written a book of our experiences, including Ellanor's story and my communication with her both before and after she was conceived and born. I'm close to finishing and have begun sending out the manuscript to publishers and agents.
Our journey has taught me to learn from the big things, be open to sharing pure love more often, and to see everything and everyone as important/connected. I write here to expose the taboo of neonatal loss, miscarriage, infertility and parenting after loss of a child. I write here to set things straight in my own mind, to work out who I am, what I stand for. I write here to vent about being a mum, a wife, a citizen sometimes. I write here to hold onto my sense of humour and be silly. And I don't mind if anyone reads!
Come join me on this blog and take a look around, it'll be... changeable!
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