Motherhood Uncut: Haylee Pt1

Haylee went through hell and high water to bring her baby girl Neve into the world. She struggled with infertility for years, ultimately leading to her decision to undergo IVF, only to then experience a high risk pregnancy with multiple complications.

We sat down with Haylee to ask all things infertility and IVF, and get her advice for other women considering going down the same path.

On struggling to conceive naturally:

We had just bought our house in Menai, and I was putting on a bit of weight. I was dieting and going to the gym twice a day and I still wasn’t able to lose it. So, I went to the doctor to see if they could give me something to help me with weight loss. And the doctor said, “I just want to run some tests because it could be a hormone issue.” I went and got some blood tests and an ultrasound and found out that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome and also cysts on my ovaries. 

I have a bicornuate uterus, which has always been in the back of my mind. I knew that could be a fertility factor as well for me. And then when I found out that I had PCOS I just thought, “I don’t want to leave it too long, I’m already in a position where I’ve been with my partner for seven years and we bought a house, we’ve been travelling and I was in a position where I was able to make a decision to have a baby. And I thought, “Why wait?”

We started trying from then. From twenty-three, twenty-four-ish we started just … not tracking ovulation but just not using protection and things like that. And years went by and then we were starting to get really serious in tracking ovulation and doing ovulation tests, then we did Clomid, which is a tablet that you take. You take it a few days after your period and track your ovulation. It’s just a stimulant that helps you to produce and release an egg, which didn’t work either and arrived at, I guess, the point where it was IVF.

It was unexplained fertility, which is a thing that gets thrown around a lot when they can’t really pinpoint the problem. 

Because as far as the Clomid and everything, I was ovulating. It was making me ovulate, I was releasing an egg and we were timing everything and it just wasn’t happening.

On dealing with infertility:

Throughout my journey, all my friends have been pregnant. I even remember when I finally got pregnant, my friend Nicole, who started trying after we did… she’d already had two kids, I thought, “I can finally message her.” And I messaged her a picture of my pregnancy test and she texted me back going, “Oh my god, me too.” She was pregnant. 

I guess the way that I’ve stayed through it all is… I’m just so happy that they haven’t had to do what I’ve had to do, do you know what I mean? 

I would never wish infertility on anyone. And the fact that my friends and family haven’t had to go through it, it just makes me happy. 

And then I just get my baby fixes from their babies. The only awkwardness is when people try and tiptoe around you and you’re just like, “I’m fine. You’re making it a thing when it’s not.” It was never, “Oh, why isn’t it me?” because my journey is my journey and I knew… whether it was my child or I was going to adopt or something, I was going to be a mother somehow. And I was going to have family support me to that stage and you know, it’s never been an issue for me and I’ve never been jealous or upset. It hasn’t hurt me, it’s just, “Wow, that’s so great for them, I’m so happy.”

I think I’m a bit stubborn and pigheaded, which, as a child, drove my parents crazy. But as an adult, I’m really resilient. So, I’m really hyper-focused on things and it doesn’t matter what I have to do to get there. That and I guess staying in my lane and just having the goal and just going through the motions, “Okay, this hasn’t worked but this is our next stage,” and just being focused on the future. 

I mean, it did hurt, every month you mourned your opportunity lost and it’s not just that because as years go on, you plan. You’re like, “Oh, if I get pregnant this month, this is when I’m going on mat leave and this is when we can go travelling and this is what the birthday will be and we’ll have a baby at Christmas and… ” Do you know what I mean? So, you also mourn what would have been.

I remember I used to have the pregnancy apps and each month I would enter in that I was pregnant just in case and then they’d come up and remind you, “Oh no, you’re not.” 

It’s not like it was an easy journey either, but I think just keeping focused on, “Okay, this didn’t work but let’s move on and whatever happens we’re going to be parents somehow.” Just holding onto how great it will be when that happens is what got us through.

On the IVF process:

I think I’ve always been really strong-headed about it. Like, “Okay, well this is the journey that I need to take to get a baby and it doesn’t matter what I have to do to get it, that’s what I’m going to do.” Whereas Corey probably was a little bit more reluctant to go on that journey, he didn’t really want to do all the testing and go through all of that, and be vulnerable, really, with that kind of personal stuff. I was okay with it. And I wanted to go for it because I was like, “Let’s get this show on the road, we’ve been waiting too long already, I just want it to happen. For me, I was more excited than anything.

The cost was a bit… that for me was the emotional thing, how we would afford to pay for it and what that might look like if you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars and it’s not working, and how that would affect us in other ways? That probably was the more emotional side for me. But then we found that they had some bulk-billing clinics that were around. 

The thing with the bulk-billing is they’re a bit harder to get into, you have to be a healthy BMI, you have to have both parties, so you have to be able to provide the egg and the sperm. You can’t do donors, you can’t do PGS testing. It’s really a no-frills service because it is Government funded and some of those other services are a bit more expensive. I was okay with it. I went on a diet for I think it was two years, and finally got there and could go in and get tested and get accepted into the program. But as well, I guess eating healthy and that just increases your chance anyway. I probably didn’t need to lose as much weight as I did but I just wanted to be healthy anyway to increase my chances.

It took a little while because you have to do tests and things like that to get in and then get a placement. But then we did our first round and I got twenty-two eggs, which is pretty good. But I then also had Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which is when your ovaries are overstimulated and it fills up with liquid and you get quite sick, so I was hospitalized for that. So, we couldn’t transfer that month, we had to freeze and wait three months until my levels went down. And then yeah, the first transfer went through.

We actually found out that in the end, it wasn’t my PCOS or my uterus that was the issue. We’re both quite fertile individually but for whatever reason, our ingredients just don’t go together.

They did twelve eggs in what they call IVF, which is basically when they put it in a petri dish and just let it do its thing. And then they did ten eggs with ICSI [Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection]. They actually inject the sperm into the egg. And none of our twelve eggs for IVF fertilized. But nine out of ten of our eggs for ICSI fertilized and we ended up with four good quality embryos.

If we never did IVF we could’ve just been going down that fertility rabbit hole for so long and just never getting a result because basically, no matter what we did, the sperm just wasn’t going to go in the egg by itself.

On falling pregnant after IVF:

Oh my gosh. Well, I think it was a little bit more emotional because I was like, “I know there’s a fertilized embryo in there.” It was a bit like, “Okay, this is real.” Whereas the other times, you don’t know if it’s fertilized or if it even released an egg or what’s happening. I was like, “This could really happen this time. I know there’s something in there.” 

And I remember, you’re meant to wait the two weeks to test, it’s called the dreaded two week wait, which all IVF warriors will say is just the worst time ever, because you’re just like, “Is it? Am I not? Am I? ” and then if you get the devastating news that you aren’t, it’s really hard, especially when you’ve injected yourself and paid so much money.

I tested … I think it was four days after the embryo was put in, and which is way too early to probably even get a result and I got the faintest little line. And I remember going, “Oh my god.” Because it’s always been stark white. I’ve always been like, “Is that something?” But it never was… And Corey would be like, “No, babe.” And it was actually, this time, I was like, “Is that something?” And he was rolling his eyes like, “It’s too early and you do this to me every time you think there’s something there.” And then he said, “I do see it.” 

I remember, I was like an addict and I must’ve spent hundreds of dollars on tests. I used to test three or four times a day just to see the line appear. 

And I’ve got all the pictures of it... Comparing them all, and I’d post them on the IVF support site like, “What do you guys think?” I wouldn’t even wait to go and get my blood test, I went to the doctor and got it myself. I went and got a scan myself at four weeks just to ensure it was in there. And I was just excited, it was just a whole rush of adrenaline for me. It was amazing, it was euphoric.

On her advice for women considering IVF:

Don’t hold off if you want to do something, just go for it. 

We held off on IVF for a bit and then in the end we found out that we weren’t going to get pregnant any other way. And we wouldn’t have known until they were outside of your body, in a lab, in the petri dish and they’re testing it. 

If that’s what you want to do and you’re committed to getting the result of a baby, go for it, whether it’s IUI or IVF or whatever, if that’s what you’ve decided to do, don’t hesitate. IVF is a different journey for everyone and mine was a really good one, because we got a result quickly and I didn’t really suffer through much through the needles, which can make some women sick. 

The other thing I’d say is if your friend is going through IVF, know that everyone goes through it differently. Some people do get upset when other people are pregnant and it hurts them and it affects them in ways. Other people don’t. 

I know you might have a friend of a friend who was going to go through IVF and all of a sudden got magically pregnant, but we don’t need to hear those stories. Everyone tells us those and a lot of the time that’s not our truth and that’s not our journey.

I think it’s really important to be upfront with friends or family that are going through it and just ask, “How do you feel? What’s it like going through this? What can I do?” Because like I said, for me, it was that people were being funny around me, that was affecting me more than anything else. For me, it would’ve been great to not have that. But everyone’s different. Some people do get upset and you just have to check in with them and see how they’re going and have honest conversations about how they feel and support them through their journey of IVF, not what you think the atypical journey of IVF is. How could they ever be offended at that?

In part two of Haylee’s story, she tells us about being told she was having a miscarriage, her high-risk pregnancy, and how it felt to meet her baby girl for the first time. We also asked about how her IVF journey and difficult pregnancy changed her motherhood experience after Neve was born.

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