'Trying to have a baby over 35 is painful enough. Medicare wants to make it harder.'

Dear Medicare,

Over the past decade I’ve had more people peer up my vagina than I care to remember. Mostly with my husband by my side holding my hand. At first he was awkward about it, he would nervously look at the ultra sound screen, or my face, or even the photos on the wall, but never down between my legs where my doctor or scientist or nurses had their heads. Eight years later he’s a total pro, he is practically an expert, mainly on my reproductive system, but I have no doubt in the case of someone else’s vagina emergency he would know what to do.

You see Medicare, I have spent my 30s trying to make a family but have been mostly unsuccessful. My husband and I have a 100 per cent failure rate when it comes to IVF. We often high five our awesome accurateness at not achieving a pregnancy through it, and the ‘F’ word is banned in our house. FERTILE…it’s a F-ilthy word to me because I am so very very tired of the sadness, and heartbreak, and other men who are not my husband peering up my vagina.

Only last month, after another failed round of IVF, I finally had the courage to share my despair. I introduced my followers to the May edition of Gerard and Emily’s un-excellent infertility adventure. I want to share it with you Medicare in the hope you may understand the repercussions of your possible decision to cut rebates for women over 35.

Millie just did her first school obstacle course and didn't come last, we are so proud! #millievalentine #parentsrunisnext

A post shared by Emily Jade O'Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

This little cell of hope was put in me, and my long-suffering aforementioned husband joked that it had my eyes and his nose. We also joked that this little dot of dreams would have the middle name of May. After the month we’d conceived and my beautiful Nana Mavis who was gentle and kind, attributes I’d hoped this part of my DNA would have. Even if it were a boy we laughed it would still be May. I also felt this was the one. Gerard was home within an hour before the transfer to hold my hand.

Last transfer he was away overseas. We’d Face-timed during that transfer, hilariously his two mates were with him on the other end of the line. Their faces beamed into the transfer room and they got a bit of a shock when they saw more of me than they would normally want, but after 10 years of fertility treatment, what’s another few faces in the room when my legs are akimbo. They wished me luck and I wondered if this would be the fun story we would tell our future child, that seven people were there that day. A doctor, a scientist, a nurse, your daddy, his two mates and me all hoping, wishing and praying you into existence. It wasn’t, so I really felt this would be the one.


IVF is so down to timing and totally out of your control that surely him getting home right on the hour that this would be it. It wasn’t. Another month down the toilet literally, right before Mother’s Day, and during Infertility Awareness Week, the irony was not lost on me.

It was the 29th embryo we had lost and I have all the pictures from the ones that made it at least to the transfer stage. They mean so much to us; we love it so much, even when it fails.

So when I read headlines like “IVF limit for older women” I’m duly concerned. Medicare, I did not choose this life. I did not choose to have a disease that has done everything it can to stop me creating the family I so wanted. So why is my disease and its subsequent cure going to have its rebates cut? Would you do that for someone who has cancer at 80? Oh, they are pretty old, we shouldn’t give them chemo because, well, old!

I have spent a fortune on IVF, when I could have been spending that money on my mortgage, albeit a smaller more affordable house because I don’t have a dozen kids to fill it, but I work, pay taxes and I’m desperately trying to make more good little tax paying humans. The rebate barely touches the sides, but it helps, and I thank you for that. Please don’t take it away just because I’m older now. I have been trying my hardest.


Deb Knight did 14 rounds of IVF and then had a baby naturally. Post continues after audio…

I should point out that I have one perfect little miracle and despite all the effort and expense, she was conceived after a total ‘cut and polish’ of my endometriosis, one of the many I have had. I’m one of the lucky ones, and I know it, but my addiction to being her mum and loving every moment is also the reason why I’m finding it hard to give up trying, even at 40 where I know my chances are getting slimmer and slimmer. The irony being that despite all the statistic’s on women’s fertility after 40, I fell pregnant on my 40th birthday, the year I swore I was going to give up. My birthday pregnancy cruelly ended a week before Christmas, right as we were going to announce it to everyone, our Christmas gift to our family, a brother or sister for our five-year-old.

Now, seven months into my 40s the fire is back raging in my heart to try one more time.

One more time.

Infertiles like me know that saying well.  Because that’s what we do, we try one more time, until the time is many. When people ask you how many times have you tried you know they want to know how many rounds of IVF you have done. But the truth is you have tried to make a baby every month since you started trying… so I have essentially tried 122 times, and will keep trying with or without medical help and well into my 40’s if I want to.  So please Medicare, help me, don’t punish me, I have been punished enough.


Infertile Emily

Emily Jade is the Emily Jade bit  of the “Flan and Emily Jade with Christo’  breakfast show on Gold Coast radio station 102.9 Hot Tomato. She writes when she feels passionate about something and also marries people for fun as a celebrant, but most importantly she is a wife and mother and life lover.