Our finances were crippled, our mental health shattered
As I wrote in my Sunday Herald Sun piece on the weekend, we rarely hear from those who don’t end up with a baby at the end of the line. We mostly hear the success stories. So I thought it important to give this letter some prominence here. Nick Parissis wrote to me about the experience of himself and his wife Joann.
My name is Nick and my wife’s name is Joanna. I read your article today in The Sunday Herald Sun in relation to IVF and wanted to thank you for enlightening the wider community about the truths associated with IVF and adoption in Australia.
My wife and I are both in our early 40′s and have been married for 6 years. In 2008 our only child Connor was conceived through normal pregnancy however was born premature at 24 weeks for no explainable reason. Despite the amazing work undertaken by the staff at the Mercy hospital, Connor passed away after 15 days. Again doctors could not give us any explanation as to why Connor passed away. We were informed after his passing that when premature babies such as Connor get to the stage he was at, ie breathing predominantly on their own and requiring lower doses of medication approximately, only 1 in 500 don’t survive. Unfortunately for Connor and us, he was the 1.
Due to the emergency classical caesarean which my wife went through to deliver Connor, we had to wait approximately 1 year before we could try for another child. This time was used for grieving Connor. Jo managed to fall pregnant once again naturally about a year after we lost Connor however that pregnancy did not progress past the 10th or so week. We tried for about another year or so naturally but were unable to conceive.
We had all sorts of tests done and were given no definitive reason as to why Jo was not falling pregnant. So about 14 months after the miscarriage we decided to go down the IVF path. We did all the pre IVF screening and found it unfair and unnecessary that we even had to do criminal background checks despite both of us being serving members of Victoria Police. Through our employment we have both witnessed many people becoming new parents who we know are not in a position to adequately care for and raise a child in a suitable manner. We also met with IVF counsellors and went through all the information and began treatment.
We lost count of the amount of IVF cycles we went through over a period of approximately 18 months, and also the amount of times people would tell us that “this time it will happen, have faith etc”. Financially it almost crippled us (some $35000) was spent. If we had a baby to care for as a result every last dime would have been well spent. Every time we would go in for an egg transfer the doctor would tell us that the particular embryo looked good and that he was positive about that particular procedure. However all his positive spin resulted in nothing at the end of the day.
After approximately 18 months we gave up IVF due to monetary constraints but also due to the mental health of us both. In your article you mention about the women’s experiences in regards to their health. Jo went through all of what you mention, but I also went through similar feelings and have battled depression for the past year. My doctor and psychologist have put the depression down to a combination of Connor’s death, as well as the IVF. I can’t describe how hard it is to be on tender hooks after each embryo transfer wondering if it will work, and getting towards the date of the blood test to see if your wife is pregnant and being told it hasn’t worked. Several times Jo would get her period early on and we knew pretty early it hadn’t worked however there were times she made it to the day of the test and I would think it must have worked this time only to be shattered with the bad news. No matter how tough or resilient a man thinks he is, and being a police officer many people assume we can take anything, there is only so much negative news and disappointment a man can take. People often forget about the mental anguish men go through during IVF.
People have a misconceived idea that IVF is a lot more successful than what it actually is. Since giving up on IVF, well-meaning friends continually bring up the subject of adoption, however as you mentioned in your article, adoption in Australia is neither easy or as accessible as the majority of the population think it is. After spending some $35000 is very difficult to find another $50000 to facilitate an adoption. And despite all the positive spin and information IVF medical practitioners provide, it is important people know that IVF is no guarantee to a successful pregnancy. Whilst going through IVF you tell yourself not to get your hopes up but it is impossible not to. People must balance this hope with realistic expectations and friends of people going through IVF also need to reel in their expectations.
Thanks again for the insightful article and for your time.
Nick and Joanna Parissis