Birth Story: ‘We struggled with infertility’

Posted in Birth Stories.

Two images of Rose and Jordan before and after birth

Pregnancy and birth is not a one-size-fits-all approach. While some might find it easy, others will have to endure countless struggles before they are able to welcome a new addition to their lives.

Rose from the Mum’s Grapevine Winter 2023 group has shared her story with us. From struggles with infertility and her husband’s low sperm count to experiencing a miscarriage of their first child, Rose and Jordan were finally able to welcome their son into this world.

‘We thought it would just happen’

Rose and Jordan’s love story began in a way that many do, meeting in the workplace. As two teenagers working at their local McDonald’s 10 years ago, Rose and Jordan couldn’t have imagined how their lives would look a decade later.

“In 10 years, we have had many highs – travelled overseas and within Australia, gotten engaged and married despite Covid. We have watched each other grow. We have also had many lows, one being our story of trying for a baby. We started trying for a baby in mid-2020, foolishly thinking it would just ‘happen’.”

As each month passed, Rose would take a pregnancy test hoping to see those two little lines.

“Quickly it turned from being eagerly excited each month staring at that test, begging for there to be two lines to sadness and dreading having to even think about the test. What I thought was meant to be a fun, happy, exciting time in my relationship to be trying for a baby suddenly became a chore and forced.”

‘My stomach sank’

Rose and Jordan pregnant at beach

After trying to conceive naturally for one year, Rose and Jordan decided it was time to see a doctor and get tested to make sure everything was alright.

“I was sent for blood tests & ultrasounds, and my husband was sent for blood tests and a semen analysis. I remember getting a call from the GP’s office on behalf of Jordan saying he had urgent results and to come discuss them as soon as possible. My stomach sank, as did my husband.”

The trip to the doctor confirmed what Rose and Jordan expected.

“In one afternoon, I felt like our future had been taken from us. We were told that my husband had an extremely low sperm count and well below average-mobility. I’ll be honest, it took me a good couple of days to wrap my head around this and to think of what this now meant for us.”

Fertility treatments and plans

Not yet ready to give up on their dream of having a family, it was time for Rose and Jordan to explore help and their options.

“My husband went full research mode and with the advice of our GP, found a well-known and recommended Fertility Doctor in Queensland who offered their services via Telehealth. Within four weeks we had our first appointment and two weeks after that my husband started his first cycle of fertility treatments.

“In six weeks, you could only imagine what our Google history looked like. Reading studies, personal experiences, and reading the positive outcomes and the not-so-positive outcomes. The six weeks came to an end and my husband was sent off to do another blood test and sperm analysis, it came back with a very slight improvement but still not in the ‘normal’ range.”

The fertility treatments were proving expensive and it wasn’t something that Rose and Jordan could continue with financially.

“After speaking with the fertility specialist his advice was that it appeared we had kick-started my husband’s reproductive system to just see what happens naturally over the next few months.”

‘We couldn’t believe it’

Rose holding up positive pregnancy test

Another six months of trying passed by with Jordan having a sperm analysis every two months to see how things were progressing,

“It was six months of tears, frustration and jealousy of everyone who was falling pregnant but us. But at the end of the day, whether it be good, bad or indifferent we were united and a team, a bloody good one at that.”

By March 2022 Rose and Jordan were also occupying their minds with the organisation of their wedding, which had already been postponed once due to Covid.

“We agreed to not actively try for a baby until after the wedding. So I stopped my ovulation sticks, reporting in my ovulation app, overthinking and looking for any sign of ovulation or early pregnancy. By the 9th of April 2023, we were married and sailed off on our three-week honeymoon. It was bliss, so nice to enjoy such a beautiful moment in our lives.

“I’ll be honest, intimacy was not on the top of our list at this point and only because it wasn’t, I specifically remember only being intimate once in that time. The 16th of May 2023, was the day I found out we were pregnant! It was like the iconic story, we fell pregnant on our honeymoon. We couldn’t believe it, we did it!!”

‘Our world was crashing down’

Rose and Jordan were overjoyed at the prospect of finally having their long-dreamed baby, however, after just nine short weeks of gestation, Rose experienced a miscarriage and lost the baby.

“Once again, I felt like our world had come crashing down around us but this time so much worse than I ever could have thought. I became one of the statistics, the one in four. I had every thought of disappointment in myself, in my body. I struggled so hard with the loss of our baby, a baby I only got to see once on a screen, we never got to hear their heartbeat or feel them kick. But they filled a spot in my heart from the very first moment I saw those two pink lines.

“In such a hard time in our lives, I had the most supportive husband, family and friends and I am forever grateful for that. Although, our hearts felt broken, torn apart and stomped on a thousand times we eagerly waited for my first cycle to come around so we could try again.

“We had decided to try until the end of the year and if nothing were to happen, to go down the IVF path. So we decided in July 2022, my husband would start a 16-week cycle of fertility treatments and get a sperm analysis every two months to monitor it and give it all we got.”

More treatments and IVF

Rose and Jordan maternity shoot

While silently facing her struggle with infertility, Rose was having to endure people asking her the dreaded question of when she and Jordan would be having a baby

“I’d just say when the time is ready and not go into it. One day, I had a conversation with a close friend who had told me she was struggling to conceive and found a subsidised IVF clinic in Sydney. From that conversation, not only had I found someone to share my experience with but an opportunity of IVF much sooner than we thought due to cost.”

Having now discovered that they would be able to be in a position to start IVF treatment, Rose and Jordan wasted no time.

“On the 2nd of September 2022, we started our IVF journey. Seven weeks in, we had finally completed all the tests and ultrasounds we needed. My husband’s sperm count and mobility had increased due to the fertility treatment and he had just ticked over into the low end of average and at the end of the day, we just needed one good one! He was finally on the charts and it was decided we would complete a round of ICSI.

“On the 20th of October 2022, we were on! We had the medication, the needles and of course all the emotions that went with it. Eleven days later, we had our egg retrieval and collected 14 eggs, from there six were fertilised, and five grew to day five embryos.

“By the 5th of November 2022, it was our transfer day. 5 a.m., we were in the car for our two-and-a-half-hour car trip to get pregnant! All the driving for a 15-minute appointment and we walked away with all our fingers and toes crossed it would work.

Finally, on the 11th of November 2022, what had felt like the longest six days, we got those two pink lines we had been hoping for. Finally, that feeling again. We did it! We had passed the first step. We were pregnant again.”

‘We agreed to be induced’

Rose pregnant before induction

“We had ten months of growing our baby, ten months of emotions, ten months of fears that something might happen, ten months of body changes, thankfully a short period of morning sickness and 10 months of our hearts growing every day and eagerly awaiting our precious little baby.

“We had agreed at my 36-week midwife appointment to be induced at 40w+1 due to the advice of the doctor and our own research for our little bub being an IVF baby. I had a midwife appointment at 38w+4 where we attempted a stretch and sweep but was unsuccessful due to my cervix still being posterior but the midwife said my cervix was thinning. We came back for my final midwife appointment at 39w+5 to attempt another stretch and sweep which was successful. Over that night, Sunday and Monday morning I lost my plug but no baby.

“Fast forward to 2 pm Monday afternoon now at 40 weeks, I was examined and advised I was 1.5cm dilated and had my first dose of gel. 9 pm that night, I was examined again and was still 1.5-2cm dilated and agreed no more gel was needed and that my waters would be broken at 6 am the following morning.”

‘I had waves of self-doubt’

Rose's baby shower

“Around 8 pm, I had my first contraction whilst getting out of the shower. It caught me off guard and I got scared. By 8:15 pm, my husband started to time my contractions as I swayed my hips in front of the TV. Now knowing what they felt like, they were not overly painful, but definitely uncomfortable, so I didn’t think too much of it. We timed them for about 15 minutes, and the midwife agreed they were inconsistent averaging about 2 minutes 30 secs apart for about 35 secs.

By 9:30 pm nothing had progressed and due to my husband being unable to stay at the hospital, we agreed for him to go home. At 10 pm I started having contractions again, these ones were a bit more intense and slowly increased with frequency. Within 30 minutes, I buzzed for the midwife as they had started to ramp up even more, she timed them but they were inconsistent and roughly four minutes apart between 30-45 seconds each. At this point, I had in my mind with what the midwife said who gave me the gel, that these were nigglings and probably just my body reacting to the gel the way it should.

At 11 pm I buzzed again and was told they were still inconsistent and was offered Endone (which did nothing for me) to help get some sleep in between. At this point, I was in between the shower and bed to help with the pain and continued to early labour in the room. I remember having waves of self-doubt, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m gonna need every drug to try and even attempt this’ (which is not what I wanted to do). Being my first labour/birth, I wanted to experience it all. The feelings, the pain, my baby entering the world. Call me crazy. So when I started having self-doubts in my body, I was disappointed I didn’t even get far and already wanted to ‘tap’ out.”

Waters were bulging

newborn baby Harrison in Rose's arms

“12:30 am arrived and I called the midwife as by this point I couldn’t talk through them and they had REALLY ramped up with pain and I was concerned I had to do this till 6 am to get my waters broken! So my plan was to ask for some more possibly better pain relief.

The Midwife timed my contractions and said time to go over to the birth suite to get examined. After what felt like the hardest and longest walk to the other room (just across the hallway), I was examined and before the midwife could finish her sentence of ‘your waters are bulging’ they broke, and I was 8 cm dilated. I was so shocked that I was this far into labour and did it by myself in the room. The pain now made sense.”

Jordan was immediately contacted and requested back to the hospital for the birth. Rose and Jordan lived at least a 30-minute drive away from the hospital and their baby could arrive any moment.

A new family of three

Harrison cuddled by Rose and Jordan

“At this point, I had no idea what time it was, or how far away my husband was but I definitely knew this baby was on their way out! 20 minutes of active pushing and my husband getting there with just 15 minutes to spare. I birthed our beautiful baby boy with non-assisted, drug-free labour and no tearing/needing stitches but some minor grazes.

“On the 25th of July 2023, we welcomed our beautiful baby boy, Harrison, into the world and our world was complete and we were now a family of three. We finally had everything we ever wanted.

“As a first-time mum, I had no expectations for how I would labour and give birth but from being in the Mum’s Grapevine group on Facebook and reading lots, I tried to prepare the best I could (taking a labour bag with snacks, a music playlist, saved photos of active resting labour positions etc) and never ended up using any of it!

“I will never forget the feeling of when they placed our baby on my chest, looking and holding him and then looking into the eyes of my husband with pure love and happiness and saying ‘we finally have our baby’.”

‘My placenta was cooked’

Rose, Jordan and baby Harrison

“The hardest part of labour and birth was done. We did our delayed cord clamping, followed by my husband cutting the cord, and passing my placenta which we looked at. Part of our reasons for agreeing to be induced was we had read studies that an IVF pregnancy can put stress on your placenta by the time you hit 40 weeks which can impose risks. The midwife confirmed my placenta was ‘cooked’. Not only did I birth a healthy baby, but I had made the right decision with my body to do so. We attempted to breastfeed, but unfortunately were unsuccessful in our first feed, so I brought in frozen colostrum which we used.

“Three hours after the birth of our baby, we were back in our hospital room staring at the gorgeous baby we had created and we haven’t stopped staring since. It is amazing what our bodies can do and all women should be proud of how they bring their baby into this world, I know I definitely am.”

With Harrison now home with his loving Mum and Dad, he will always know just how longed-for he was and that he is the perfect addition to their family.

Heart with bandaid

Support Services

If you have experienced infant loss please know there are plenty of support services available for you and your partner including …

  • SANDS Miscarriage, stillbirth & newborn death support – 1300 308 307
  • Pregnancy, Birth & Baby – 1800 882 436
  • Bears of Hope Miscarriage – 1300 114 673
  • PANDA – 1300 726 30

More birth stories from the Grapeviners…

About to (or just had) a baby?

We know that the wait to meet your baby can be nerve-wracking, but we’re here to remind you that you’re not alone. Our private Pregnancy & Baby Groups are a great way to connect with other Aussie mums who are due or had their babies around the same time as you.

Got your own birth story you’re itching to tell? We’re always on the lookout for new stories to feature. Submit your birth story.

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