My children are my world. Ben and I often, independently state that we have no idea what we did before kids, but actually I remember quite well. I remember sleeping in until 2pm (WHAT!), going for late night snack runs together without kids to worry about and making as much noise as we wanted at all hours of the night and day. Yet, as awesome and I mean bloody awesome, as all that sounds to me, my kids are so much better.
I often think to myself how lucky I am to have been blessed with my two precious babies, and how close Ben and I came to accepting that we would never have children.
The last time I ever used any form of contraception was the morning of my wedding day. This wasn’t really a plan of any sort, Ben and I had had some brief discussions about it but, to us, it didn’t really require in depth planning as it just felt like the right thing at the right time. I always knew I wanted children at some point and I believe Ben felt the same. We also both tended to agree that there wasn’t necessarily ever a ‘right’ time and it would happen when it happened. Naively, neither of us had ever really thought about what would happen, if it didn’t just happen.
A few years passed and nothing really came of it. We weren’t worried, or to be honest probably even really noticed. Until all of a sudden, I did notice. I am not sure why it suddenly occurred to me like it did, maybe something triggered it? All I know is, I was convinced there was something wrong with me. I must be infertile. I stewed on it and stressed about it, probably chewing Ben’s ear off with my concerns more than I would admit to, until finally I went and saw my GP, expressed my concerns and was sent for all the fun (not) tests to investigate. Never did it occur to me that I might not be the problem. I completely forgot that it took two to tango, and therefore the problem could lie with either of us. It was only when all my tests came back perfectly fine that my GP asked if my husband was going to have some investigatory tests. I think Ben was in a completely different frame of mind than I had been, and he was pretty confident everything would be fine. Well… apparently not.
When the results came in, it wasn’t great news. The GP informed us that there were definitely issues apparent (to which I think both Ben and I responded in complete disbelief with, “Who? Us?”) Our GP then referred us to a fertility specialist for another opinion and that second opinion certainly did a good job of ripping to shreds any hope we had held on to of the initial results being inaccurate. We were told, in layman’s terms, that we had around a 0.7% chance of every conceiving naturally and we would most likely have to rely on IVF if we wanted natural children in the future.
I can’t say that either of us was horrifically devastated, because we hadn’t come to this point from ever, one hundred per cent, committing to the decision to try for a baby. It was a fluke that I had noticed we hadn’t happened to conceive and decided to investigate. However, we were pretty heartbroken nonetheless and proceeded to discuss our options in depth over the next ten days. Coffee table laden with a mass of pamphlets provided to us by the specialist and Google at the ready, we dissected the news before slowly absorbing it. We came to the conclusion that, with impending parenthood not looking likely in the near future, we would instead use this time to travel and explore the world a bit. In a period of ten days we had gone from receiving this upsetting blow of an infertility diagnosis to concocting the perfect travel plan filled with dream destinations and experiences.
Then I took a pregnancy test…
DING! DING! DING! Baby on board!
(Check out our reactions here and here.)
To say we were shocked is an under statement. Excitement quickly won out and concerns about our fertility status understandably disappeared.
Fast forward about eighteen months later, and we had an absolutely gorgeous nine month old baby boy (Read his birth story here). We had recently relocated to Queensland and the discussion of trying for a sibling for Jack came up. Both Ben and I had siblings and we both came from sibling groups that were aged closely together. We agreed this was something we would like for our children as well and decided to start down the path of trying for another baby. It was at this time that the opinion of the fertility specialist we had visited in New South Wales came in to the forefront of my mind and after some discussion, we decided to book an appointment with a Brisbane specialist to see where we stood. Why not? We had the facilities close at hand and I think we had both formed the opinion that the initial specialist was an old honky who saw a young couple wanting a baby and then the dollar signs for IVF. Very cynical of us really, but much easier for us to believe over the possibility that we had fertility issues. Especially now that we had already, naturally conceived our gorgeous boy!
Anyway, we attended the appointment and discussed our concerns with the specialist. We happily walked away with pathology forms and a list of tests to be completed. A few weeks went by before we eagerly returned for the results. I think we were pretty confident that we were going to hear a positive result, and that any residual fears we had regarding the possibility of infertility would be instantly allayed. I was fully expecting this specialist to be critical of our previous specialist and to confirm my belief; that we had been mislead.
Yet again, things did not go the way I had expected. Not long after Ben and I had sat down in the appointment and I had latched a hungry Jack on to nurse, the Dr looked up from his notes, stared me dead in the eye and casually asked me if Ben was really Jack’s biological father, as the results he had in front of him indicated that that was basically an impossibility. After seeing Ben and I both go gape-mouthed in shock, he quickly assured us that he was being jovial (but to this day, I am not one hundred percent convinced). However, the facts remained that his tests did indeed confirm that we were facing significant fertility issues and Jack was immediately dubbed a ‘miracle’ baby. The rest of the appointment was used discussing helpful dietary changes, and options for fertility assistance. We left feeling deflated but hopeful.
Months and months went by where Ben implemented dietary changes and we even tried some low strength fertility medications, along with continuing to try naturally, but to not avail. We scrapped it all and just shrugged the whole thing off for awhile, theorizing that it might just happen if we forgot about it, such as was with Jack. Nothing eventuated. As Jack grew older and the potential, sibling age gap grew larger, we became more invested in getting on with things. Ben and I kept coming back to the idea of IVF in our discussions, so, after some pretty rough ups and downs in our personal life, we finally decided to take the option of IVF assistance more seriously and booked an initial consultation appointment. Repeat tests were order for us both and the results confirmed our position. It amazed me how fast things went from that point on, and before we knew it we were due to start our first round of IVF the following fortnight.
Then I took a pregnancy test…
DING! DING! DING! Baby on board!
Fast forward another 12-ish months, and I am sitting here typing this as both my beautiful children sleep peacefully in their beds. Our first, amazing little miracle Jackson and now our precious, second miracle Annabel.
Sometimes I sit and think on it and I wonder, are they such medical marvels? You hear so many times about couples resorting to fertility treatment and falling naturally afterwards when they least expected it. Are we too quick to jump on the ‘infertile’ or ‘fertility challenged’ bandwagon. Does all the science and knowledge that we profess to have on the human body, fertility and all things baby making related actually put us in a worse position when it comes to these things. How, is it possible that Ben and I naturally conceived two amazing little humans when we have been told by numerous specialists, numerous times, after numerous tests, that it was impossible to do so?
And moreover, how many couples have been told the same thing when there was the potential there for them to do the same thing? I guess we will never know.
The one thing I do believe helped was some dietary changes (or rather, dietary additions) that Ben made, and while there was technically no improvement that could be identified in his tests, we did conceive both the kids within a mere few months while he was following these changes. So, let’s call it the ‘The Magical Henry Fertility Secret!’
Ben was taking some vitamins as well as adding some specific foods in to his diet (occasionally in cereal, but most commonly I made up little Ziploc snack baggies for him to munch throughout the day). The rough guide is below.
-Vitamin B12 (1000mcg)
-Vitamin E (500 IU)
-Fish Oil (1000mg)
-Vitamin C (3000mcg)
-Pumpkin seeds (zinc and omega-3 fatty acids)
-Goji berries (antioxidants)
-Dried blueberries (anti-inflammatory antioxidants including quercetin and resveratrol)
-90% Dark chocolate (amino acid L-arginine)
-Dried cranberries (antioxidants)
-Walnuts (alpha-linolenic acid)
-Including fresh pomegranates and pomegranate juice into his diet (antioxidants)
-Including Salmon into his diet a few times a week (omega-3 fatty acids)
Now, I can’t definitively say if this made any difference whatsoever. Maybe one ingredient helped and the rest were useless… who knows. I like to think so, but I guess that is yet another thing that we will probably never know. I do know that it can’t hurt, so if you DO find yourself in a similar situation to ours, why not try it? Let me know how you go!