As a naturally conceived quadruplet, Rachel knew she wanted a big family. But when she didn't fall pregnant right way, she instinctively felt something was wrong.
“At first the doctors said it was unexplained infertility and we were put on a wait list for IVF. Six months later, I was excited to finally begin treatment when they tested me again,” Rachel told Mamamia.
The 35-year-old was on her way home from work when her husband rang to say she’d received a letter from the clinic. Assuming it was about starting IVF, she asked him to read it to her.
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"I was completely on my own, waiting for a train, listening to Gareth say that standard IVF treatment wasn’t going to work, I would have to use a donor egg if I wanted to have a child and we would no longer be eligible for government-funded assistance," Rachel says. "I was deemed perimenopausal, literally in a letter. It was awful and we were devastated."
While Rachel had still been getting periods, her cycle had become irregular over the last few years. Still the news came as a surprise, although Rachel had always worried she might have problems getting pregnant.
"My periods started before I was 12, which was earlier than my friends, and they were always very painful. I then stopped menstruating throughout my teens and early 20s, most likely because of an eating disorder, and when I did start trying for a baby I was diagnosed with endometriosis," she says.
Doctors explained that Rachel had a low to undetectable level of ovarian reserves, but she and her husband weren’t ready to give up on having a child of their own and pressed on with hopes of IVF.
They contacted a number of private clinics and were knocked back by two of the main organisations who refused to take them on as private patients because they were classified as ‘too risky’.
Finally, they found a clinic specialising in treatment for women with low ovarian reserves that focused on the quality of one egg rather than standard IVF which works on releasing multiple eggs.