pregnancy

'At midnight on the 1st of April, my dream stops being a possibility.'

My husband and I have had a lot of obstacles put in our way during our IVF journey. I never thought we would have to add ‘pandemic’ to that list. This one really takes the cake.

On March 25, 2020 around midday, the Australian Government announced that all non-urgent elective surgery would be suspended and this would take effect at midnight on April 1, 2020. At the time, I wondered ‘does IVF count as elective and non-urgent?’… and yes, apparently it does.

For now, IVF in Australia is on hold. It is paused … postponed. I don’t dare use the term ‘cancelled’ because that is too scary and definite. Those who are currently on a cycle will be allowed to continue treatment but no new cycles can be started and any ovulation tracking or ovulation triggering is also suspended.

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Perhaps to some that announcement may not cause any concern, as elective, non-urgent sounds fairly minor. I know that many people waiting for elective surgery will be deeply impacted, and to people like us this news is crushing. For two and a half years, my husband, Jonny, and I have tried desperately for something that to others seems easy, a baby. This is all we want. In order to achieve this dream our lives have had to revolve around IVF – appointments, injections, blood tests, scans, medication pick-ups and the dreaded phone calls telling us how we are progressing. Those of you who have been through or are going through IVF know about the complex emotions that comes along with it.

The decision to suspend all elective and non-urgent surgeries is understandable. Of course it is. It’s to help preserve resources including gloves, masks and other protective equipment. This is so the health system can fight COVID-19 and prepare for the increase in patients in the coming weeks and months.

We completely support the Government’s decision. This is something that needs to be done for now to protect all Australians in the coming weeks and months. It is necessary but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused devastation. For now, we do not know when this suspension will be lifted.

We were not far off collecting our medications and starting another round. I know of others in the same situation who were literally one day off starting. Beginning a new round of IVF takes so much time and energy to build up the physical, emotional and mental strength to start again. All of which just leaves us feeling like we have less control over our lives than we were already feeling.

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When I have written about this on my Instagram I am inundated with messages from other women who feel the same. People who feel helpless and at a loss to know what to do, how to cope. I wish I could hug them all but in this time where we most need compassion, love and human affection we are left to fight this alone. We can’t even distract ourselves from this loss with some form of social gathering. And it is a loss, as we are stuck at home with nothing but our own minds as company.

 

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As do many women in similar positions who reach out on social media, I’ve also received the occasional comment that I would rather not. Whilst understandable, these comments highlight the extreme difference between someone who has had to fight for a baby and those who haven’t. Comments such as ‘Why would you want to bring a baby into the world right now?’ or ‘No big deal just wait until it is over’. My answer is – of course we don’t want to bring a baby into a world experiencing a pandemic but some of us don’t have the time to wait.

Imagine if you are a woman in her 40’s, already fighting against time, who felt like this round of IVF was her last chance. What about a woman diagnosed with low ovarian reserve or polycystic ovarian syndrome who has no other choice and she can feel every single month ticking by loudly?

I understand why IVF falls into the category of non-urgent in this time of COVID-19 but please remember that, for some, IVF feels urgent, is urgent. In terms of being elective, it is not. Not at all. Having gone through eight rounds of IVF I can assure you no one would ever elect to go on this journey except that it is, in many cases, the only option to have a child, a family.

To all those couples out there who were looking forward to these coming months with hope and possibility, I see, hear and feel you. All of this feels like another failed cycle, another setback to our dreams, and parenthood feels just that little further away. For now, let us wallow in our sadness. You are allowed to do this. I give you permission. This is hard. But we will not give up. We want it too much, right?

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Listen: Rachael Casella talks to Mia Freedman about her life of love. Post continues below.

There is no silver lining but I personally need to find some positivity. I need to feel like I am contributing to my dream, as if I have some form of control over my own life in some way. My way of doing this is to continue following my routine to increase egg quality and stay healthy. I will try (and am trying) to view this as a time to work on my body, my eggs and my mind set.

Oh, and keep having that sex. You know the type I am talking about –‘conception sex’ where it is the last thing you want to do as it feels like a chore. But let’s all keep doing it and hope for a miracle. There will be ‘life’ after COVID-19.

Rachael Casella is the author of Mackenzie’s Mission out June 2020. You can pre-order your copy here. You can also follow her on Instagram, at @mylifeof_love, here. 

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Featured image: Instagram @mylifeof_love.

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