Age stories

An older couple's journey through IVF

We’re sharing our journey in the hope that it will encourage those of you who are travelling the same road and give courage to those couples who are considering embarking on the journey, especially the older ones.

My name is Will and our journey started when my wife, Laurel, discovered she was menopausal in her early 30s, long before we were married. After knowing each other for a while and with the relationship looking like it was going to be more than a friendship, Laurel told me her sad news.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for me and a distressing moment for Laurel. Although I greatly desired children, I realised that marriage was far more than just for bearing and raising children. I laid my hope for children to rest and married the most wonderful woman I have ever met. For both Laurel and I it was our first marriage. We believed at that stage that we would never be able to have any children. Together we grieved over that fact.

In mid 2004 we found out that one Laurel's friends had fallen pregnant through IVF. We were further surprised to find out that she had required both an egg and sperm donor. Together we discussed this and whether or not we wanted to get our hopes up again, possibly just to be dashed. As Laurel was now almost 49 years old, we decided it was now or never.

We contacted the clinic and arranged an appointment to discuss our options. Over the next few weeks we met with counsellors and nurses who spoke to us about physical, emotional, psychological, financial and legal issues surrounding our proposed journey. We now realised that we still had a real chance of becoming parents, but we would have to move quick as the cut off age for women was 50 years old.

We advertised for an egg donor through Sydney's Child and then sat back and nervously waited as the days and then weeks passed with no calls. Three ladies responded to our ads, one of whom became our egg donor. It is amazing that there are wonderful ladies out there that are prepared to go to such lengths to make someone else's dream of having a family a reality. They are true treasures in our society.

We approached our first cycle a little starry eyed and optimistic about the possibilities. Only one embryo managed to go the distance and was implanted late in 2005. Laurel was extremely careful looking after herself to give us the best chance of falling pregnant. On the day of the test we were nervous but excited as we waited for the results. We phoned the clinic, and were totally deflated when they told us that the embryo had not taken. We spent that night consoling each other and were still upset the next day.

Our donor was somewhat more upbeat about the situation, wondering when we were going to try again. After talking the situation over we decided that we would only have enough time left before the cut off age for one more try, so, with a revised, more realistic outlook, we started on cycle number two.

Equipped with information from the first cycle, it was decided that our donor needed to be more stimulated to produce more eggs. This tactic worked quite well and we obtained 19 eggs, 15 of which were fertilised. Of the 15, only two made it to the blastocyst stage.

In early April, Laurel was implanted with one of the embryos. This time we were somewhat more anxious, not wishing to allow ourselves to be too optimistic for a positive result. We didn't want to go through the same grief as we did last time.

On a sunny day in the middle of April, overlooking Newcastle beach, we found out that we were pregnant.

We instantly experienced a whirlwind of emotions from absolute joy to "oh my gosh what have we done!" and everything in between.

Over the next few weeks life began to change for us. Laurel was banned from anything strenuous; including most housework and any lifting that was awkward or heavy (yes I hear all the ladies cheering!). Her job was to grow bubby and my job was, well, everything else. I also was doing all the cooking (we both cook normally, so I am not scared of this). Laurel also seemed to take a dislike to most things that I cooked for dinner as she would regularly deposit it in the porcelain receptacle. Funny thing that morning/evening sickness.

At our eight week visit to the doctor we had an ultrasound to check on the progress of our bubby. We were so overjoyed to see our baby's heartbeat. We had further ultrasounds at 12 weeks and 20 weeks, the later being the morphology scan. Having had everything else so structured and clinical in the pregnancy we decided that we didn't want to know what we were having. There just had to be something left for a surprise.

On Fathers' Day I received the best present that a first time daddy could get, and that was to feel the baby move for the first time. It is an amazing feeling.

Another ultrasound was organised for us at 35 weeks by the doctor as he wanted to make sure everything was progressing OK. He was more nervous than we were as he hadn't had a pregnant patient that old before. Unfortunately, the 35 week ultrasound failed to show a stomach on bubby. Having seen a stomach on an earlier ultrasound, coupled with Lynette having excessive amniotic fluid, they decided to admit Laurel to hospital for bed rest and observations. Five days later on the 8th December 2006, shortly after 2pm, our beautiful little son, Nathan, was delivered via emergency Caesar. He weighed in at 1,802 grams. Numerous doctors including paediatricians and neonatologists were present due to the possibility of unknown complications. Nathan was whisked away from us almost immediately for tests.

Shortly after, we were informed that his oesophagus was not joined to his stomach and that it would require surgery at a later date to join it. Apart from that he is a healthy, happy and hungry little boy, fed by a tube into his stomach. He will remain in Neonatal ICU until the time of his operation, scheduled for mid February.

Would we do it all again, knowing what we do now? In a nano-second!

Nothing compares to the joy of holding your special gift from God (the meaning of Nathan) and having him look straight into your eyes.
Miracles do happen!

This is a real Genea patient story (some details have been changed for privacy reasons).

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