Birth Story: Mother’s journey with infertility and IVF

Posted in Birth Stories.

Tegan embracing baby Fletcher

Infertility affects around 1 in 4 women in Australia who are trying to have a baby. In an ideal world, we could all conceive naturally at a time that best suited us. Women in Australia are lucky to have access to IVF treatment to help with their dreams of having a baby. Each year thousands of babies are conceived through IVF.

Tegan shares her long journey with infertility and her IVF success story with Mum’s Grapevine.

Heating up at work

Tegan, Andrew and dogs Monty and Scooter

Tegan and her fiancé Andrew were both working as firefighters in New South Wales when they met. It was quick for the flames of love to grip them tight and they couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. They got together at the end of 2020 when Tegan was 29 and Andrew was 31. They both knew that they wanted to start a family and soon, so at the beginning of 2021, Tegan and Andrew started trying for their first baby together.

Tegan had concerns over her ability to fall pregnant ” I always had a feeling that it would be hard for me to fall pregnant, but I never thought it would end in IVF” she shared with Mum’s Grapevine. Tegan and Andrew continued to try for a baby for six months, each month bringing disappointment.

‘I made an appointment with the GP’

Tegan and Andrew holding 30th Birthday balloons

After six months of trying with no results, Tegan made an appointment to see her GP and some blood tests done to check her hormone levels.

“Everything came back all clear but I still wasn’t convinced. Even though 6 months is a short time and they recommend trying for 12 months before seeking help I’m so glad I trusted my gut and didn’t wait.

“I made an appointment with the GP at Adora Fertility who sent my fiancé and I for more tests, we then had an initial appointment with Doctor Atkinson. He made us feel very comfortable and confident in the process, he laid out all of our options with the pros and cons of each.”

Tegan was sent for a procedure called HyCoSy (hystero-salpingo contrast sonography) an ultrasound technique developed to assess whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. The results came back clear and they were advised to try for a few more months, coming back if they had no success.

The IVF Journey

Used syringes and medications needed on IVF journey

“We went back for an appointment in November 2021 with still no success in falling. With my 30th birthday coming up we decided to enjoy the festive season and dive head-first into fertility treatment in January 2022. We started with 2 back to back IUI’s (Intrauterine insemination) which didn’t work.”

Tegan and Andrew decided that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) was their best course of action so they started the process of egg retrieval.

“I had 12 eggs retrieved, all 12 fertilised with six embryos making it to day five. We froze five of them and did a fresh transfer with one which unfortunately didn’t work. We went straight into a frozen transfer the following month which again didn’t work.”

It was decided that Tegan and Andrew would take a month off trying for their baby while they had further testing to determine why the IVF was not working.

“It came back from these tests that I have a blood clotting disorder where my blood is prone to clotting. This can affect implantation and cause miscarriages. We went ahead with another frozen transfer the following month in June but this time I was having daily blood thinning injections and we got our little Miracle baby!”

‘I looked forward to labour’

Tegan and Andrew discovering positive pregnancy test

“I absolutely loved my pregnancy. I luckily had a very easy journey, I was able to still train at CrossFit for my entire pregnancy and felt really good the whole time which I am very grateful for. I had regular appointments with my physio throughout, this combined with my training I think is the reason why I have had a good recovery with minimal ab separation.

“My whole pregnancy I was really looking forward to labour. People thought I was crazy when I said I was excited to be in labour. I’m a very competitive person and I thought of it as a challenge that I wanted to conquer. I was pumped and I was very mentally and physically ready for it.”

“I had dreamed of a drug-free vaginal birth. I actually felt like I received a lot of negativity from people when I would say that I didn’t want an epidural. I would get comments like “Oh just wait, you’ll want one” which I found quite discouraging, it was quite rare that I got a positive encouraging response like “That’s awesome you can do it!” I have nothing against epidurals, it’s just not what I wanted for my personal birthing experience.

“I also wanted to avoid being induced. Being an IVF pregnancy there are a lot of doctors and midwives that will try to push induction before or on the due date. But the research and evidence on this is very limited. After doing our own research and getting as much information and opinions as we could we decided that being IVF was not a good enough reason for an induction and as long as our baby was happy and healthy then we were happy to keep him on the inside until he was ready. Our midwife was very supportive of this and was our advocate when it came to dealing with the doctors at the hospital.”

Baby was in a posterior position

Blue smoke erupting in gender reveal

Tegan’s due date was creeping closer and her little baby was in a good anterior position, ideal for labour. Tegan was doing everything she could think of to keep him in that position and prompt his arrival, following all the tips and old wife’s tales, however, her baby still decided to roll in a posterior position.

“You name it we did it, walking, bouncing, raspberry leaf tea, eating dates, acupuncture, stretching and mobility. And he was in a good anterior position basically the whole time up until about a week out when he decided he would roll over and be posterior.”

At 39+1 weeks gestation, Tegan began to feel mild contractions during the night. When she would awake the following morning, the contractions had stopped.

“We had an appointment with our midwife on Friday at 39+4, where we put the monitors on and the doctor checked the fluid levels around the baby. He had plenty of fluid and was nice and happy in there. I had been having small contractions all morning which were showing up on the monitor. We decided that if I didn’t go into labour over the weekend we would have another appointment on Monday at 40 weeks.”

‘I lost my mucus plug’

Tegan posing pregnant during walk

Monday arrived and still, Tegan and Andrew’s baby had not made an appearance. Tegan and Andrew attended an appointment with their midwife who performed a stretch and sweep on Tegan to try and get things moving along. Tegan was already two centimetres dilated and her cervix was feeling soft. Tegan was due to come back for another scan the next day to check the fluid levels around her baby again.

“I woke up on Tuesday morning 40+1 at 12:30am and I had lost my mucus plug. I went back to bed and woke up at 1:30am to a small gush of water which I couldn’t figure out if I had peed myself or if it was my waters. I didn’t want to bother my midwife in the middle of the night so I went back to bed and continued to get small gushes. After about an hour my fiancé made me call our midwife and let her know what was happening. She said it sounded like my waters and because they were clear she told me to go back to bed to try get some sleep and she would check on me in a few hours. At 5am we decided to go into the hospital to get monitored.

“The doctor asked about induction which we declined, we wanted to give him every chance to come on his own. Once again our midwife was our advocate for this, pushing back against the doctor who was quite insistent on induction. The doctor did an ultrasound and found that our baby was still posterior.”

Still no baby

Tegan and Andrew at baby shower

“All day Tuesday I continued to lose more of my waters. And I did absolutely everything possible to turn him back to anterior. I spent basically the whole day on all fours, using the peanut ball, doing spinning babies to get him to turn.

“I Woke up Wednesday morning 40+2 and still no baby so back to the hospital we went for another check. He was once again very happy, but this time on the ultrasound he was facing sideways. I had made some progress in turning him! Our midwife asked what we wanted to do about induction, leaving the decision completely up to us. We had a talk about it and decided that if we hadn’t come by Thursday morning we would come in to be induced, this would be over 48 hours since my waters broke and by this point, I was over it and just wanted him to be here. Again we went home and did everything possible to get him to turn anterior. I also had an acupuncture appointment”

‘I woke up with contractions’

Tegan pregnant at Christmas in front of tree

“Thursday morning 40+3 (induction day) I woke up at 4:30am with contractions. They were 20 minutes apart but very manageable and I was able to lay back down and rest between them. I called my midwife at 6:30am to let her know what was happening and we decided that we would stay home for a bit and see where things went. They were getting closer together 10-15 minutes apart. But between 8-9am they seemed to have stalled so at 9am we decided just to go into the hospital and go through with the induction so I called my midwife and told her we would be at the hospital at 10am.

“Almost as soon as we got into the car I started having contractions again and kept having them all the way to the hospital, which was a 30-minute drive away, they were about six minutes apart on the drive.

“We got up to the birthing suite and met our midwife up there, she checked me and I was three centimetres and she made sure that my waters were fully broken. I was continuing to have contractions while I had the monitor on and by the time we started the drip it was 11am.

“My fiancé went to get me something to eat which I’m glad he did because it would be the only thing I ate until 9am the following day. We made ourselves comfortable in the birth suite with my laptop set up with Netflix on while I breathed my way through contractions.

“The contractions started to ramp up and I matched my movements to the pain, using techniques I had learnt through Calm Birth classes and Birth Skills by JuJu Sundin. I swayed and stomped my feet on the ground. I put my TENS machine on which I kept on for the remainder of my labour. I also used a wooden comb that I squeezed in my hand during contractions.”

‘I was only four centimetres’

Tegan in induction at Birth unit

“I would spend the next 12 hours mostly on my feet, with the occasional stint on the toilet or kneeling on the bed leaning over the back of it to give my legs a bit of a rest.

“At 3pm my midwife checked me and I was only four centimetres dilated (cue absolute devastation). At this point I started to get a bit emotional and disheartened, I had worked so hard during my labour and I had nothing to show for it. But my amazing midwife calmed me down and I was able to bring my focus back to breathing calmly through my contractions. I reassured myself that it was ok and I was going to do this. This whole time my contractions were quite close together, mostly only having about a minute between contractions so not have much rest time.

“At 7pm my midwife checked me again and I was seven centimetres, not the progress I would have liked but at least we were getting somewhere! By this point, my contractions were very intense and still with not much rest between them. But I was so determined to do it without any pain relief!

“At 10pm my body started to push during contractions and I couldn’t control it. My midwife checked me and I was still only seven centimetres and my cervix was puffy as it was irritated from my body pushing before it was ready. At this point she recommended having an epidural to give my body a break and stop the pushing against my cervix to give it a chance to continue to open, it was either that or stop pushing (which I couldn’t). So as much as I didn’t want one, I was getting an epidural. I wanted to give my body every chance to get this baby out and avoid having a caesarean. In hindsight, should have just got the caesarean there and then.

‘I was happy with the epidural’

“The drip was turned off but by this time my body had taken over so while we waited for the anesthetist to arrive I tried so hard each contraction to not push, I would tense my whole body up which made the contractions more painful but I wanted to stop my cervix from getting irritated. We were told the anesthetist was on their way up but they got called back down to the theatre and another anesthetist had to be called into the hospital. While we were waiting for the epidural my midwife had to leave as she had been at the hospital for 12 hours and one of the other midwives came in who I had met before and who was equally as amazing as my midwife.

“By the time they finally came, it was 11:30pm and it was the longest hour and a half of my life. I don’t like needles at the best of times, let alone a giant needle going into my back while having contractions and having to stay dead still but the anesthetist was great! I was super happy with the epidural, one of the main reasons why I didn’t want one was I didn’t like the idea of not being able to feel or move my legs. But I still had movement in my legs and I could roll myself from side to side, I could still feel the pressure of the contractions just without the pain which I liked still being able to feel it.

‘I knew this was going to end a caesarean’

Fletcher born via c section

With the epidural now in place, Tegan and Andrew realised that the time was 11:59pm. They were advised to try and get some rest.

“Andrew who is 6ft 1” laid on a tiny two-seater couch and got the worst two hours of sleep he’s ever had while I laid there wide awake. Even though I was so exhausted I just couldn’t doze off.

“4am rolled around and my midwife did another check. I was eight centimetres, he was posterior and his head was on an angle, he wasn’t coming out. I knew straight away before anyone even said anything that this was going to end in a caesarean, which I was fine with. I always said I would do whatever I had to, to get my baby here safe and sound. The doctor came up to check the baby’s position and he confirmed that he wasn’t in a good position and that I would need a caesarean.

“Although I was ok with having a caesarean, saying it out loud just sent me into an emotional spiral. I was so exhausted and I just wanted it to be over and wanted my baby in my arms.”

‘He was so calm’

Andrew cutting Fletcher umbilical cord

“Despite a long labour, being in a bad position and having the cord around his neck when they pulled him out, our baby boy was so calm the whole time. His heart rate was a steady 145, he was just so happy on the inside.

“It was a slow process because he wasn’t in distress there was no rush. By the time we got down to theatre it was almost 6am. I told the doctor that we wanted to do delayed cord clamping (as delayed as you can with a caesarean) which I had to push for. I also made it very clear that I wanted immediate skin-to-skin and my midwife asked them to pull the screen down so we could see him coming out.

“We got down to theatre and they wheeled me in while my fiancé went and got ready. It had been a few years since my last surgery and I forgot how cold the operating rooms were! My midwife held my hand and spoke to me while they prepped me until my fiancé was allowed in.

“One of the spare nurses in the room took my fiancés phone and took lots of photos for us throughout the procedure which I’m so glad we did! We were originally going to set the go pro up and film his birth so to be able to have photos of him being born via caesarean is amazing.

“After some pulling and tugging, feeling like I was being thrown around on a roller coaster, our little Fletcher let out his first cry while he was still in my belly. They dropped the sheet and we were able to see him come out. They left him there for about a minute before cutting the cord.”

The sweetest cry

Tegan and Fletcher after birth

“My fiancé went over to him where he was able to cut the remainder of the cord and my midwife brought him straight over to me and put him right next to my face where he let out the sweetest cry I had ever heard.

“They took him away for just a minute to quickly weigh and measure him then he was brought straight back to me. My midwife pulled my gown down and unwrapped him so we could have skin to skin and he could try to latch. He stayed on me the whole time while they stitched me up before going back up to the birth suite for skin to skin with my fiancé while I went to recovery.

“I was only in recovery for a short time and I was up in the maternity ward within an hour and back with my fiancé and baby.

“I knew the recovery from a caesarean would be tough but I didn’t expect the mental challenge, the frustration of not being able to do much. For a very active person, it was hard to sit around and not overdo it. But seven weeks on I’m feeling more and more like myself every day and starting to get back into training.”

Tegan, Andrew and baby Fletcher

Tegan and Andrew decided to call their new baby boy Fletcher, he was born via a caesarian section on the 10th of March 2023 at Campbelltown Hospital. Fletcher was a very much long-awaited member of the family joining Tegan, Andrew and their two dogs Monty and Scooter.

Fletcher held by Andrew

Tegan and Andrew are planning to be married in November of 2023 and we wish them every happiness in the world.

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