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’.