'My IVF journey is a very private part of my life. Am I the only one lying about it?'

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

My one-year-old daughter results from my ninth pregnancy: one termination, seven miscarriages and, joyfully, one live birth.

My mother, sister and partner aside, no one else knows this.

Watch: A tribute to the babies we've lost and the significance of remembering their names. Post continues after video.

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My partner's family, closest friends, and colleagues all think that I just waited a little longer than most and then 'Poof!', got pregnant. Easy.

During the last round of Victorian COVID restrictions, a very brave face of IVF stepped forward - Melanie Swieconek, publicly posting and then going live to camera for several major national morning TV shows, to openly share her plight and struggles. It was a harrowing viewing. Like most people, I thought the best word to describe Melanie, is brave.

However, for me that was also coupled with feelings of, wow – pressure's on. I’m sure I’m not alone in plugging into Google, 'Did Melanie ever end up being successful with IVF?'

Maybe I’m part of the problem? Definitely maybe. 

By staying quiet, am I perpetuating the feelings of shame and inadequacy often expressed by women in the IVF community, 'Why doesn’t my body do what it is supposed to do?!'

And boy is it a community, the IVF world once you dip your toes, or entire body in as it were – is filled with IVF sister or IVF warriors – congregating on purpose build message boards, closed Facebook groups and forums. There’s even a specific vernacular comprising extensive use of abbreviations that I am lingual in as well as the best of them. 'Looking for advice during the 2WW, currently 5DP5DT, BFN using FMU – still any chance of a BFP? Sending BD to all'.

Some women create purpose-built IVF Instagram accounts with suitably punny tags #Ivfbeentrying, #ívegotyoubabe, #Ivfgotthis to chart their journeys, including in their bios their key IVF states: 2019, FET: BFN, 2022, BFNx3, 3 x frosties, planned DEIVF cycle 2023.

Although a frequent reader and occasional poster to these forums – am I the only one who still feels uncomfortable charting my fertility journey for all and sundry to see?


"Each to their own" is an expression generally used before you say something incredibly judgemental akin to saying: "I don’t mean this in a b*tchy way" before saying something incredibly offensive!

In this case I really do, sincerely mean: Each to their own. My goodness – if posting, sharing and getting all the support from anywhere you want in the world helps – absolutely, you do you.

Though if someone asks me, "Did you have any issues falling pregnant?" (after 35 and considered a geriatric mother - apparently this is an acceptable thing for everyone from your MIL to your barista to ask) I smile and point blank lie "No not really – we were lucky". I still feel like if I opened up to my family and friends, never mind my barista – it would be a gross over share of a very, very private journey.

And herein lies a big part of why, for me, IVF is a very private part of my life, and something I don’t admit to or discuss having undertaken. I don’t want people knowing or asking me about my struggles. I’m not one who would get support from any sort of well-meaning questioning and having to discuss my plight and the increasingly complicated drug protocols with my doctors was all-consuming enough. 

When rationalising this to my partner – who would much prefer that we are honest about our struggles, I can think of two reasons:

1. As above, I don't want the added pressure of having to explain to a well-meaning family and friends where we're up to in a cycle and what's coming next. I would hate to be sharing my journey so publicly and letting people feel like they're on the journey with me and entitled to updates. I would hate to think people were discussing my fertility without me being in the room.

2. Although estimates are that in 2023, it is likely that one child in every Australian kindergarten classroom will be conceived via IVF, part of me feels that my daughter’s medical history and conception journey is hers to share? I’m conscious of not making her feel different or that being an IVF baby is anything at all to be ashamed about – because of course it’s not! But is it my place to talk about? Do I want to make that information public knowledge? Incorrectly there are still those out there who will make a comment on a so-called IVF babies progress and milestones 'Oh interesting, sometimes IVF babies have problems with their eyes/learning/height' – believe me I’ve researched, and this is all BS – but still a perpetuating a myth that I don’t want to debunk on the school run.

And so I lie.

Despite truly admiring those women who battle so publicly, I’ll never be one of them. Despite the colleagues and friends who open up about their IVF journeys, I’ll never let them know that I’m a fellow IVF Warrior, too.

Am I the only one still keeping mum?

Feature Image: Getty.

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