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Our much awaited pregnancy | IVF & Egg Donor

“We took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.”

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Your family

Our family is myself (44), my partner Rowan (39), Remi (3 months) and our cat Stevie.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

We started trying to conceive about 8 years ago. But after 2 years of trying, realized we needed some help. We spent a year on Clomiphene (Clomiphene is in a class of medications called ovulatory stimulants. It works similarly to estrogen, a female hormone that causes eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released)

Then moved to IVF early 2017. Two rounds only resulting in 2 embryos and 2 failed transfers.

We later moved onto an egg donor who was a friend of ours. Again, we did 2 rounds resulting in 3 embryos and again 3 failed transfers. The next step was to travel to a clinic in San Diego and use an egg donor there. We started this process in 2019 and then a few weeks out from booking our tickets, Covid hit so our plans were cancelled. Our private clinic shut their doors and so we were left with one other option in Christchurch. We got in to see a specialist and again got the ball rolling with a clinic egg donor and got on the waitlist.

During lockdown, I did as much research as possible and came across a test for repeated failed embryo transfers, called an ERA. This is where a biopsy of the uterine lining is taken during a dummy run of a normal embryo transfer to ensure the embryo is being transferred at the optimum time. I had this procedure carried out late 2020 and we decided while we wait for egg donor, to do another attempt at IVF using my eggs. We knew this was a risk due to my age (42) so we went ahead and unfortunately, none of the 3 embryos made it to day 6 and we were devastated.

Again, we picked ourselves up and waited for the call that a donor had selected us and finally in February 2021, we got that call! Things started to happen fairly quickly from here and we met our amazing donor. We had counselling and more tests were done, then we waited some more for her day 1 of IVF round 6 for us. Egg collection happened on Monday of Queens birthday weekend and we got 10 eggs which ended in 4 embryos the most we had ever had.

The next step was sorting a transfer date which we planned for in July and this time, we only told a select few people. 10 days later, we took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.

We knew were not out of the woods yet, but due to the young age of our donor, the main risk of miscarriage lessened. We had a scan at 7 weeks (we were still in lockdown so I had to attend alone which was rough) and there was a heartbeat. It still didn’t seem real!

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How was your pregnancy?

My pregnancy was textbook according to my OB!

The all-day sickness kicked in the day before we went into another lockdown at 5 weeks so I was lucky that I could work from home and take it easy. I felt better around 11/12 weeks and I started to feel like it was finally real.

We officially announced baby Bunting and the weeks started to fly by. Around the 30-week mark, I started to feel very uncomfortable and sore, suffering from restless legs and insomnia but other than that, I was fine.

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Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal?

I used a few apps, and read the great Dorothy Waide book ‘You simply can’t spoil a Newborn’ 

Birth story

We had already decided to have an elective c section due to a few factors so I was already under the care of a private OB and also a midwife.

The night of my 34 week date, my membranes started to leak so was admitted for a few nights as I wasn’t contracting and my cervix was closed so was sent home on the Monday with a plan to be monitored via outpatient’s and my OB.

Baby was fine and decent size plus he was very active! Come Wednesday morning, I went to the loo to discover I was bleeding, not much but enough to call my midwife who told me to sit tight. I had some breakfast; Rowan went to work and then my midwife called back after she had spoken to my OB who wanted me to go into her rooms to get checked just in case. So, we got there mid-morning and while we waited, I became really uncomfortable! Once in seeing our OB, she checked me and said I was having contractions so let’s go have a baby! I was in shock but she assured us it was the best idea, he was early and would be fine needing some special care but not to panic – I burst into tears of course!

We made our way to the hospital and while Rowan got a park, I called my sister and boss to let them know we were having a baby in the next few hours… because I had eaten, we had to wait a bit for the C section to go ahead. We got into a birthing room to get prepped and before we knew it, I was walking into theatre. Rowan waited outside while I had my spinal sorted then in came our OB and we got started.

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My midwife had my phone to take photos and I really don’t remember too much since I was in the zone, my midwife had said they had started and then we heard that first cry. Next, the drape was dropped and our OB was holding Remi up for us to meet him. He was perfect! He was taken over to be checked and Rowan was able to go and cut his cord. We also managed to do delayed cord clamping and then my midwife brought Remi to me for some skin to skin which was amazing. Our boy was finally here!

How was the first week?

Rowan went with him up to NICU while I went to recovery, where I got stuck for several hours! My midwife suggested we try to get some colostrum which rowan was then able to take to Remi (we had previously signed consent for him to receive donor milk). Rowan headed home for a bit to sort things and came back with McDonalds for me and then we headed to see Remi in NICU where he would spend the next 18 days.

Your little one

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you? 

We struggled to agree on a boy’s name!

We created a list while driving to Queenstown one weekend and Remi was a name, we both actually liked! Dakota, his second name, plays homage to his paternal grandmother’s home town of North Dakota.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

Because we were in NICU for the first few weeks, we were unable to have visitors at the hospital. Once we got home, and with Omicron rampant, we decided close family only and on our terms so only staying for an hour etc.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Because Remi came early, I felt a bit cheated that I didn’t get that time to prepare a bit more after I finished work (I still had 2 weeks of work left when he arrived!)

Being in NICU, meant I could recover really well from c section as I basically spent every day sitting and cuddling Remi. Not having to get up to a newborn every few hours was also good. It was really hard leaving the hospital each night, but he was in the best hands. Medically there were no issues, it was just a case of getting the feeding sorted and him off the monitoring and feeding tube.

So despite not having the normal start, I felt it had silver lining in terms of him coming home and me being fully recovered and able bodied.

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I found being home at first quite good, but I also struggled with not being able to do the things I normally would and your days just disappearing before your eyes! Remi slept in his own bed and we didn’t really follow a routine, just went with the flow. Definitely a challenge finding your new way as a parent and mother.

What were your must-have items?

Silverettes! And lots of comfy clothes, cloth nappies from Kmart and a freeze full of meals.

Parenting

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

Not as yet – once Remi is older I am sure this will change.

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

We don’t have a typical day yet but I am home for 12 months so we spend our days with a walk if its nice, we do a baby sensory class and usually a coffee date with friends in there too. We are still finding our feet with day sleeps, but evenings we aim for a bath then bottle and bed around 8.30 and we are getting a decent block of sleep (for now!)

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? 

Because this is been such a long road for us, we have a very strong relationship already having had so many heartbreaks and failures, it made us tighter and closer. It can be hard watching your partner go off to work each day knowing you are on your own with your baby for such a long time. We make it work with night feeds being bottles and sleep ins on days off.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Be open about your expectations of your partner
  • Make freezer meals when you are pregnant and have the energy
  • Say no if it’s not a good day to see / have visitors
  • Get out of the house with baby as soon as possible to ensure you don’t leave it too long and lose confidence even if it’s a just a quick trip to the supermarket or to get a coffee.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

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