'Infertility broke me and IVF made me paranoid to the point that I wrote a medical crime thriller.'

Coming from a large family, the youngest of five kids, I always insisted I would have five kids too. But that wasn’t to be.

I didn’t have children, but I did have an over-active imagination. And as I lay there with my legs spread, waiting for yet another doctor, I was consumed by a short and fearful question: WHAT IF?

While you're here, Meshel Laurie shares what it's like to go through IVF alone. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

Before that question took up residence in my head, my then-husband and I had tried for over a year to fall pregnant. I endured month after month of tears and desperation. Watching my friends and family members become pregnant made me want to hide under a blanket and stay there forever – or at least until it was my turn. But would my turn ever come?

I was rocked to my core when told by doctors there was only a 2 per cent chance we could conceive naturally. By the time we were referred to an IVF specialist, I already felt broken. I had been on diets, switched to only organic foods and ordered special supplements from distant lands. Nothing helped. 

This photo (below) was taken not long after my first appointment at the IVF clinic. The specialist had delivered the devastating news that the chances of conceiving naturally were slim to none. I sobbed uncontrollably; by the time this picture was taken, my eyes were swollen and my heart was broken.

Image: Supplied.

But I wanted a baby – more than anything – and so I agreed to IVF. I was determined to do it, no matter what it meant for me and my health. I made the medical appointments and I did the injections, but with every step I kept on wondering: what if?

I remember sitting on the edge of my bed, pushing the syringe needle through the top of the tiny bottle of hormones and thinking, what is this doing to me? What might it do to me later? Could we find out in ten years that something in the treatment could cause serious illness?

But I continued, of course, despite my worries. And then one day, after several years of being on the hamster wheel of IVF treatment, I received the call to say my pregnancy test was positive. The call arrived on my 27th birthday and it remains the gift of a lifetime. 


I remember hanging up the phone and feeling paralysed – as if one wrong move might catastrophically dislodge the embryo (pictured below) inside me. But the months passed and the baby grew and I finally welcomed my beautiful and perfect little girl into the world.

Image: Supplied.

But there was a problem – and it festered in my sleep-deprived writer’s imagination. 

I was plagued by thoughts about what might arise from the IVF medical treatments that had turned doctors into gods and given them the power of creating life itself. Those thoughts came to a head one night at a dinner with work friends where we discussed life, death and everything in between. Over the main course, I mentioned that my child was born through IVF and that I sometimes worried about what that could potentially mean for her in the long term.

Initially, my dinner companions seemed confused and they dismissed my concerns as the natural worries of a new parent. But they too began to wonder about these long-term possibilities when I explained that the oldest person born through IVF was only in her late thirties and that no one knew with certainty what the long-term health outcomes might be. We talked about worst-case scenarios over decaffeinated coffee and crème brulee. We were intrigued by the what-if questions and the realisation that millions of people had been conceived using a technology whose long-term outcomes were potentially unknown because the science was just a few decades old. 


As I drove away from the restaurant, my brain fixated on two thoughts and two creations. First, I had to get home and gaze upon my wondrous daughter (pictured below), sucking on her thumb as she slept soundly in her cot. And secondly, I had to get to my laptop. My thoughts were buzzing with the plot for a medical conspiracy thriller that would turn my what-if questions into a fictional premise that played on my darkest fear. And that was how Fatal Flaw began. It would be my fourth novel and would require almost ten years of research, extensive plot development and multiple re-writes.

Image: Supplied.

Please don’t get the wrong impression of me. IVF transformed my life – and changed the entire world – for the better. It enabled me to have my first two kids (my third was conceived naturally) and they have all enjoyed good health. But my writer’s over-active imagination was driven by the what-if questions about scientific progress. And one question, in particular, was the genesis of this novel: what if medicine’s greatest achievement was also its most deadly – and its most profitable?


Fatal Flaw imagines a not-too-distant future in which a wave of mysterious deaths is suddenly sweeping across America. Notorious LA detective Dominic Santino is desperate to stay out of the public gaze but the unexplained death of a friend’s nephew drags him into the most puzzling and lethal investigation of his chequered career. 

Despite his reputation for solving the most difficult cases, the seasoned detective is baffled by a trail of seemingly healthy victims. With no apparent evidence of criminal foul play, Santino enlists the help of a renowned geneticist, the intriguing Dr Arnya Sloane.

Listen: The Quicky speaks to a woman who went through years of IVF and a medical specialist to find out what prospective parents should know before they embark on this journey. Story continues after podcast.

With the body count rising, Santino and Sloane race against time to stop the media, Big Pharma and the FBI from burying the truth along with the mounting dead. With five-million lives in the balance, one family’s private misery provides the crucial clue that links all the deaths – but is it too late?

Ultimately, the writing of Fatal Flaw pulled the fears out of my head and put them onto paper – and that’s a good place for them because all good thrillers prey on our greatest fears. 

Image: Supplied. 

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