I would like you to meet Megan Breukers.
Megan met her husband Ash when she was 24 years old.
Her cousin had dragged Megan to a bar for a work mate’s party, even though she was really not feeling up to it after a bad relationship the previous year that had turned Megan into a Recluse.
But her cousin would not take no for an answer…
Now she can thank her cousin. Because that night she met her future husband.
Megan tagged along; she didn’t make an effort to put on make up or even a bra.
Ash happened to be the friend of the guy whose party it was and he also happened to be bartending the event.
Ash and Megan got chatting and clicked automatically and before she could escape he managed to get her number from her cousin.
Later that night Ash rung Megan but she kindly said, “I don’t date sorry”
Ash insisted that he just wanted to be friends… wink wink. We all know what he really wanted.
After a few months of hanging out it was LOVE…. And they didn’t mess around and were ready to start a family after a year of dating…
Ash and Megan ran into a lot of trouble and began to worry why they couldn’t fall pregnant.
They were trying everything to fall pregnant; their idea of being “Young parents” was fading away to fast.
They decided to seek help.
After 5 years, 60 periods 3 attempts at full IVF and what felt like an eternity they were finally given not ‘ONE’ but ‘TWO’ beautiful healthy babies.
What I loved about Megan’s story is they never gave up hope. When times were tough they still stayed by each other’s side and helped each other through the tough times.
I especially loved the part at the end with all the coincidences and superstitions. I know I can relate to them..
This is Megan’s IVF Journey.
“Growing up I always aspired to be a parent. From the age of 16 I fantasised about cradling a newborn, lovingly pouring all of myself into a small, vulnerable person. Even the mundane and monotony of feeding and nappy changes seemed exciting to me. Yet I always felt in my heart that this dream would be unobtainable.
When my now husband and I met I told him of my fears regarding not being able to have children. We had no reason to be alarmed, we were 24 and new in our individual careers, however due to my worries and wanting to have a family young we decided we wouldn’t use any precautions when being intimate.
Fast-forward two years.
We hadn’t had any “accidents” not even a single time of being “late”. I wasn’t surprised but it was time to be more proactive as my dream of having a family young, was slipping from my grasp. We made an appointment to see a fertility specialist. We were nervous but excited at the prospect of actively working on having a family. When we met with the specialist he ran some preliminary tests, all of which came back fine. My husband’s sperm count, my AMH and pelvic ultrasound were all normal. Given the lack of any evidence of infertility the specialist suggested we go home and “have fun” as everything appeared fine and we were still young.
I didn’t feel young. While I didn’t disagree with the specialist completely, I didn’t think it in our best interest to continue as we were. I began having acupuncture; maybe I was stressed and needed to relax. She suggested I track my ovulation and targeted our acupuncture sessions specifically around my cycle. My cycle was 33 to 35 days, never shorter or longer. I was charting my temperature and doing ovulation prediction kit (OPK) tests. I ovulated around the same time every month. We discussed beginning some Chinese medicine herbs in conjunction with the acupuncture; my husband and I felt we had nothing to lose so began taking an array of tablets and liquids. Six months of monitoring my cycle, doing acupuncture and drinking awful solutions went by with no difference.
We were getting more deflated each month. We felt we had tried all natural avenues available to us, we had told our family and friends about our intentions to conceive and we had taken everyone’s advice on board along the way. “Go on a holiday” we were told, so we did, enjoying a few weeks travelling through Asia. “Eat healthy and exercise” (not that either of us were particularly unhealthy or overweight), but again we were willing to try anything. We joint the gym, ate well. I had smoked in my teens and early twenties and I had quit when we began trying to start a family. “Don’t think about it” now this was difficult. Ask anyone who is getting desperate to have a child not to think about it – but we tried. In order to take our minds of our failing attempts we built a house. We went overseas and got married, enjoying a beautiful wedding in Malaysia and honeymoon in Singapore. But once all of the distractions were over it was becoming obvious to us. We were out of options.
We decided to get a referral to a different specialist than we had initially seen, as he hadn’t been a good fit for us. This meant having all of the initial tests redone. All of which frustratingly came back normal again. I underwent a hysterosalpingogram to have a look for blockages to my fallopian tubes; this procedure was still fairly non-invasive (although a little uncomfortable) but didn’t find any abnormalities or concerns.
Our specialist then discussed having a more invasive procedure to “look” inside to see if there was anything else going on that the previous tests had missed. We thought this a good idea before delving into IVF so I was booked in for a hysteroscopy, dilation and curette (D&C), laparoscopy and dye studies. This involves being put under an anaesthetic and having 3 incisions made to see and probe around internally, all while the D&C takes place vaginally. I was nervous but we felt it was best to rule everything out before starting our IVF venture. The procedure went smoothly and recovery was fairly quick (not without some little hiccups, but that was more to do with taking too many painkillers and forgetting to drink enough water/take care of my bowels, keep that in mind to avoid a hospital stay for severe constipation if you have to undergo the same procedure and suffer constipation usually!). Our specialist did find some mild endometriosis and burnt it away using diathermy, not enough to have been a cause for our infertility though, everything else appeared healthy which was positive. We were told to wait 3 months before commencing IVF. In that time, we underwent counselling (a pre-requisite for undergoing IVF in Victoria), obtained police checks and a bunch of other pre IVF things.
Another uneventful 3 months passed with not even a hint of pregnancy. By now we were well and truly ready to commence on our IVF journey. Up until this point we had been reluctant to undergo full IVF but when we went back to the specialist who gave us the option of intra uterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) we opted for the IVF. Our reasoning was that IVF has a greater success rate and there is also more control, or at least that was what it felt like to us. We knew with IVF an actual embryo was being transferred and all that needed to happen in order to achieve a pregnancy was for it to stick, or at least it seemed that simple at the time.
So here we were, starting our first cycle of IVF. For the first time in years I was excited the day I got my period, this meant we could finally start. For years I had been on the verge of tears or in tears, but not this day. This day I had a grin from ear to ear as I called the clinic to book in for my cycle. We met with the nursing staff who gave me instructions on what medications I needed to take and when, they also told me when I would need to see my specialist for scans to monitor the growth of my follicles. This was a fairly simple cycle. I needed to do one injection at the same time each day until I was told to take the “trigger” shot (which induces ovulation) and then I would be booked for egg pick up. I picked up my medication and was on my way.
My first injection I was so nervous, not about the administration as I am a nurse so was comfortable with giving needles, however I am a needlephobe and it took me 10 minutes to convince myself to actually do it. After the first one was done though it got easier, I had to think of the end goal. That first night I set my alarm to ensure I would give it at the same time. This proved difficult as I was sometimes at work and would have to run to the tearoom 5 minutes before it was due to get organized, there were even a few times my husband and I were at functions, the worst being when my alarm went off during the middle of an engagement party speech, this was truly mortifying and I still feel guilty about it to this day.
Along the way we went for appointments with our specialist to monitor the growth of my follicles, we were lucky in that I had quite a few follicles growing to a good size, but I also had quite a few smaller follicles that probably wouldn’t be mature in time for collection. I was getting very uncomfortable towards the end of this phase. I was having trouble pulling my jeans on and felt bloated all the time, I figured it was a normal part of the IVF process but brought it up with the specialist on what was to be our last appointment before egg pick up. After hearing this my specialist decided I was at a very high risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) and told us that a transfer would not go ahead this month. We were devastated. We had thought this was our chance at having our dream come true and now we would be waiting again! He did another scan and there were 25 follicles. He told us that I would do the trigger, have egg pick up (EPU) and then freeze our embryos for later use. For the first time in this cycle I cried. My emotions had been all over the place due to the medication, but this just felt like heartbreak at the time. I understood the dangers of OHSS but just wanted our baby. We went home and waited for the call to trigger. I was instructed to trigger at 11pm. We waited by the clock and following the trigger went straight to sleep, as we had to be up early for EPU.
We arrived at the hospital at 7am for my EPU. I was anxious and just wanted it over with. I was told that the number of eggs would be written on my hand so I kept telling myself as I was being sedated to look at my hand when I woke up. This helped with the embarrassment I felt getting onto the bed in stirrups without underwear on! Oh the joys of sharing this baby making process with a host of medical professionals. The collection went smoothly and when I woke I looked down to see that 19 eggs had been collected! I was amazed. There had been 25 follicles and 19 were mature eggs. While waiting to be released from hospital we pondered what we would do with all of these eggs and potential babies, we probably should have kept our reality in check. I was discharged and told I would have a call on day 3 with a progress report of the embryos.
It was a long 3 days. I couldn’t wait to call my specialist and sat by the phone at 8:30 in the morning, I called at 9am. Then the news came that 9 had fertilized out of our 19 eggs and of those 9 there were still 6 that were growing. The rest had arrested along the way. I tried not to feel too deflated. I mean, 6 was better than none, and I only wanted 3 children anyway. I also had a lot to be grateful for as other wonderful women I was sharing this journey with had worse news than I. However, the reality was that I was still devastated. I tried hard not to be, but I was. The specialist told us he would grow the remaining 6 to day 5 and then freeze them. I was to call back on day 5. I was less enthusiastic on day 5 and called around 3pm. I had braced myself for lower numbers but when my specialist gave me the news that there was only 1 embryo to freeze I again found myself bursting into tears. How could we go from having 19 eggs to only 1 embryo And that one embryo would still need to survive being thawed next month. That night my husband and I had a few drinks to drown our sorrows. Our first IVF cycle was over and was not how we imagined it to go at all.
The next month was a completely different cycle. It was a frozen embryo transfer which meant there were no injections and no egg pick up. I went to the clinic every few days to have bloods taken to monitor for ovulation. Once the blood results indicated that ovulation had occurred I was booked in for my transfer. We were told that we would get a call the morning of transfer if the embryo had not survived the thaw. The whole drive in I was convinced that we would get a phone call; I held the phone in my hands. But the call never came. We were so excited to have this embryo implanted, we had waited so long. We were able to see our embryo on a screen before it was implanted and my husband took a photo to show our future child. We were not told the quality of the embryo, just that it had thawed fine. After the transfer my husband and I went out for brunch, where I was scared to move, cough, eat and almost too frightened to breathe! Then we had the long two-week wait (tww). Every month is long when you’re trying to conceive, time just seems to slow down. However, there is nothing to compare the tww when you know you have an embryo on board. Every day seems to take a month and it’s a countdown to when you can pee on a stick (poas). The day finally came that I could poas and I sat there staring at the stick with one line (the control line) and the other side stark white. We had to wait for our blood test to confirm but this was our first failed cycle.
For our second stimulated cycle my specialist made a few alterations to the cycle. The medication was lowered and he felt that we could improve my egg quality with melatonin. So I was to do my injections (in the morning this cycle) and take melatonin tablets daily as well. This cycle I was also booked in for acupuncture and attempted a diet specifically around IVF that I had found while looking on bubhub (a pregnancy/ivf forum).
The first phase of this cycle was completely different to the last. I didn’t have the bloating or the pain, only a mild uncomfortable feeling. I had less follicles on my scans so we were hopeful that I wouldn’t get OHSS this time. The trigger went smoothly and EPU was a more pleasant experience, as I knew what to expect. I woke from EPU to no number written on my hand and my first thought was that they were unable to collect any eggs, I felt sick. Thankfully the nurse walked around the curtain a minute later and handed me a piece of paper smiling while telling me they were able to collect 14 eggs. We were hopeful but hesitant as this was when it all unraveled in our last cycle.
The next 3 days I must admit to being an anxious mess. The thoughts consuming my mind were mostly negative and I started finding myself questioning if I would in fact ever get to be a mother, even with the assistance of medical intervention. I was glad when day 3 came and I could call my specialist. I called and was informed that I would need to call back the next day, this didn’t help my low mood and I again found myself crying on this journey and this time, I wasn’t even exactly sure why. The next morning, I called our specialist where I was told that 8 of our 14 eggs had fertilized and 6 were still growing, this was great news for us and better than our last cycle, so we tried to remain tentatively hopeful. He informed us to come into the clinic the next morning for transfer.
Again we felt the familiar excitement of driving in for the transfer. We discussed going out for celebratory brunch again despite knowing that there were no guarantees that this cycle would be successful, we decided we needed to acknowledge each achieved milestone in this journey and getting to transfer was one such milestone. I had acupuncture prior to going in for transfer, which was pleasant and relaxing. Then my husband and I walked hand in hand into what was hopefully the start of our pregnancy. We were informed on arrival that of the 6 remaining embryos from the day before 3 had arrested overnight, leaving us with 3. One would be transferred and they would attempt to freeze the 2 remaining embryos that evening. Again we were able to view our embryo that was being transferred on a screen but decided against taking a photo this time. The transfer went smoothly and we were sent on our way. Before our celebratory brunch I went back for my post transfer acupuncture where I tried to will this embryo to stick.
The next day we received the news that the additional 2 embryos had not survived the freezing process, meaning the embryo we had on board was our only chance for this stimulated cycle of IVF. It felt as though each stage in this journey delivered bad news but we were determined not to let it get us down as I was trying to be positive with the embryo on board. This tww was no different to the last. It felt like an eternity. I was prescribed progesterone to insert every evening, which was quite unpleasant; I used this practice as a guide to crossing off each passing day. I was able to poas 5 days following the transfer. But this cycle I chose not to. I was going to wait for the blood test, as I had felt so defeated on the last cycle. Despite my intentions I wasn’t given the opportunity to await the blood test for our cycle results, I was at work when I unexpectedly got my period. I was devastated, I called my husband and willed the shift to be over so I could go home and crawl into a ball and cry. Both of which I did when the shift was finally over.
I was beginning to feel like a failure. We were transferring embryos and I felt as though I wasn’t able to make them stick. My body wasn’t able to allow a pregnancy to continue. My husband didn’t blame me but that didn’t stop me from blaming myself. I was becoming frustrated and felt utterly helpless. I discussed my situation with a few work colleagues who suggested getting a second opinion from another specialist who worked with a different clinic. I was losing faith in our current specialist and didn’t feel we had anything to lose so I decided to make arrangements to see the new specialist while I was waiting to cycle again (stimulated cycles require at least one-month break from the hormone injections). There were some difficulties in changing clinics and having our information released however it was a decision that we felt comfortable making and didn’t mind the frustration in dealing with the clinic we were leaving.
We were fortunate that our new specialist was able to see us fairly quickly and didn’t require us to complete any of the pre-requisites to cycle again. My period arrived a few days following our initial consultation and we were able to commence our cycle with only the one-month break that was required between stimulation cycles.
For this cycle we were trying something different. I would be doing my daily injections with the same medication I had previously been taking and undergoing regular scans for follicle monitoring, however following egg pick up the eggs/sperm would be undergoing Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) as well as IVF. ICSI is often used for male factor infertility and while that wasn’t our issue our new specialist felt we may be able to increase our fertilization rate. I would also be commencing progesterone the day after EPU instead of the day of transfer. We again felt hesitant but hopeful, nervous to expect too much but still determined to make our dream a reality.
The first phase of the cycle was becoming familiar. The medication making me uncomfortable, self-conscious and an emotional mess, I mean seriously crying like a baby over a tissue commercial! The small amount of bloating and abdominal discomfort towards trigger day. The anxiety and anticipation humming constantly in the back of my mind. I felt less stress with this cycle though as the clinic was conveniently located across from my work meaning that I could attend all of my scans, blood tests and appointments before or after work without the hour commute each way into the city. I also decided against doing the acupuncture pre and post transfer. I did however continue with the modified diet and little superstitions like keeping socks on to keep my feet warm and eating particular nuts. But for the most part I tried to take the stress off a little, I decided to put my faith and trust in the science and in my new specialist.
All of the scans showed progress of my developing follicles which was exciting however I was feeling like a seasoned professional at IVF by now and knew to keep my excitement in check as follicles doesn’t necessarily translate to embryos. It was at my final scan prior to EPU when I became worried, there were 35 follicles, the most I had ever had despite being on a relatively low dose of medication. I was worried that we would have to do a freeze all cycle as had been my previous experience however this time I wasn’t showing any real signs of OHSS so our specialist allowed us to continue with the cycle as planned.
The day of EPU came and the excitement of having completed my “injection phase” of the IVF cycle was keeping me in high spirits. In truth I was probably buzzing a fair bit with anxiety as I was undergoing EPU in a different environment that I wasn’t familiar with and I was anticipating what was to come. I walked into theatre and felt the all familiar haze of sedation within minutes of climbing onto the bed, I don’t even recall seeing my specialist at the time. A short time later I woke to my husband sitting beside me. We waited patiently for the results and to be discharged home where I could rest for the remainder of the day. A short while later the nurse gave me a letter that said 11 eggs had been collected. 11 eggs from 35 follicles wasn’t exactly impressive, however it also wasn’t completely unexpected from previous experience. We were discharged home and left to ponder how the next few days would go.
The next day I received a phone call from our wonderful nurse to inform us that out of the 11 eggs, 6 had fertilized. They had used a mixture of IVF and ICSI. We were stunned as we really did think that our fertilization rates would be significantly higher using ICSI, to find out that it hadn’t improved our statistics was really deflating. However, we were determined not to wallow in self-pity so decided all we could do was wait for our progress report on day 3. Our worst results yet came to us on day 3, of our 6 remaining embryos we had 4 left, this was the lowest number of embryos we’d had at this stage. We were so very grateful to still have 4 remaining embryos still growing however it didn’t stop me from feeling disappointed. At this stage I again felt like our dream was slipping though our fingers. We were told to come in for transfer on day 5; we wouldn’t receive a day 4 update.
The morning of transfer we were excited. I was going to be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) again! It felt as though we had been waiting a lifetime to be PUPO again, as every month was a missed opportunity at this stage. We walked into an empty clinic, as it was a Saturday morning, we were ushered straight through to the room where transfer would be happening. My husband and I received the news that we had all 4 embryos still growing, 1 was not great quality but the other 3 were. We were shown printed pictures of the embryos, which we did not take a photo of ourselves, we knew better than to “jinx” it after our first cycle that had us get our hopes sky high. I had just jumped up onto the ridiculously uncomfortable transfer table with my pants off when we were asked if we were transferring 1 or 2 embryos. We hadn’t really thought about this before, as it had never been an option to us prior to this moment. My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged… “What are the odds they both stick?”, “we never have anything to freeze so might as well”, “increases the chance of getting one”. So with our hurried exchanges we both decided within a 2-minute period that I would have 2 embryos implanted. The transfer went smoothly and then we were on our way.
Every other transfer we went out for brunch, this time was no exception. We went out for brunch and then attended some family photos, all without telling our family that we had just undergone a transfer, let alone a double transfer. We were determined to keep this cycle a little more private after having a few failed cycles already. I found it hard enough to handle the disappointment of a failed cycle without having to see it on my loved ones faces too.
This TWW was no different to any other. It was agonizing. Firstly, we had received the news that our remaining embryos had not survived the freeze. This made us glad that we had decided to transfer 2 embryos but also a little disheartened to know that our next cycle would need to be a full stimulation cycle again with a month break in-between. And then there was the constant analysing of every twitch, every pain and even every gas bubble. My new IVF friends along with my husband were my saviours at this point. Helping me to be rational and to stay in the moment. I had decided I was going to POAS this time. I needed to know prior to my blood test, I needed to be prepared. I just had to pick the day. I had been taking my progesterone daily but was not having pregnyl boosters or any drug with HCG so I could test at the earliest 5 days after transfer. We were trying to keep busy, we went shopping together and by chance picked up the twin trolley, we couldn’t stop laughing. How funny would it be if they both worked? I baked; as I like to do when I’m nervous, I cracked open my first ever double yolker! We decided to watch tv together one night after we had both had a busy day at work to wind down and there was a really informative documentary on twins, we decided not to watch the whole program though in favour of a wonderful documentary on disability and how one man decided to turn his misfortune into his career and how he was able to overcome so much, it truly was inspiring. We visited with family and friends.
And then day 5 came. Was I really ready to POAS to find out? Should I wait for the blood test? Or even just wait a few more days to have a definite answer, as day 5 is still really early. I was so anxious. My husband wasn’t home so it was just I at home with my thoughts running back and forth. I was nervous to find out either way. I needed to work up the courage to POAS, so I sat there at 5pm looking at the box, it must have been at least 15 minutes before I even opened the packaging. My husband wouldn’t be home until 7pm, I hated the idea of doing this without him, but at the same time I needed to process my disappointment before I could help him process his. Maybe that was selfish of me but after the previous cycle and getting my period at work I just felt it was something I had to do alone. So there I was, alone, in the toilet with my stick. And then stage fright happened, I couldn’t go! How was I nervous to go to the toilet in my own home while I was alone? I drank 2 glasses of water quickly hoping it would encourage me to go to the toilet and went back to the bathroom. After a short while of talking to myself I managed to get the job done. And then I sat there waiting. After a few minutes I convinced myself it was the moment of truth. With shaking hands, I looked down to see, for the first time in my life, 2 pink lines. I was finally pregnant!
Fast forward 6 months, yes you read that right, 6 months, I gave birth to miracle twins that have beaten the odds and both survived to come home. But that is a story in itself, and one to be shared later. “