• Countries Visited: 9
  • Travel Wishlist: Places I’ve been I’d like to revisit: Japan and Iceland. Places I haven’t been: Maldives for a tropical getaway, also maybe Canada and then other Scandi countries.
  • Locked down in: Montrose, Melbourne, Victoria.

She came to my job site and said with a smile on her face, “I’m pregnant!”. Sweet relief. As if the weight of the world of the last 3 years had been lifted off my shoulders.

I didn’t really see myself as a traveller until James asked me for some input for his new venture. I had a look in my passport, and well, yeah! There were plenty of stamps in there!

Begin story. It’s 2017, I’m 31 and I work full time as an electrician. I had been happily married for almost 2 years. I was at my best mate’s bucks day, a few beers in when another one of the boys rolled up with a spring in his step. He let go of the good news that him and his wife were expecting their first child. Now, a couple of my friends had already had kids so far, but this was, more or less, the first out of my closer group of mates. “Oh” I thought. It was like a switch in my head had just clicked. That’s the next step. It must be that time of our lives to have a child. My wife, Skye, and I had already had the conversation about starting our own family and had been trying for roughly 5 months at this stage with no result. We were not too worried about anything so far, as we knew it could happen easier for some people than for others.

2018 rolls around. A quick family trip to Bali to start the year was great, followed by an awesome trip to Iceland and Denmark over the Easter break. This was a trip organised through work and was such great experience. Free 5-star trips aside, a year and a half later we still had not had any success in getting pregnant and were starting to feel it. It seemed like every single couple around us was announcing at least every second week. Additionally, we could not escape what felt like a constant stream of announcements on social media, compounding the fact that we were struggling. We so desperately wanted to be happy for our friends and family, however, it’s really difficult to be happy for others while suffering in silence at the same time. We had began the process of investigating why we hadn’t yet fallen pregnant through visits to our GP and alternative therapies. By the end of the year we had started to see specialists. It was around this point that saw me hit my midlife crisis. I randomly bought a Mini, and arranged us a little getaway up north, to Queensland, to pick it up.  

2019 was the year I would call “my lockdown”. After our road trip, the medical attention and intervention really ramped up for the issues we were having. Following our road trip down the east coast, my wife underwent surgery to investigate any potential problems. After being told that was the extent of what could be done for us through that particular specialist, we were then left to find our next path. We had got to the point where we had to seek treatment for our unexplained infertility. This led us into seeking intervention from a fertility specialist. Being told that you are infertile is one of the hardest things you can hear and process. It was decided that IVF was our best option if we were to have a family of our own.

We started to see some of the pregnancies that were announced last year were resulting in babies. A couple of the guys at work, who weren’t even trying, got pregnant, one with twins. All the while we were jumping through hoops, including police checks and compulsory counselling to get the ball rolling for the next chapter of our fertility journey. Every time we heard baby news, felt like another stab to the chest.

It’s September of 2019 and we began our first round of treatment. For those unfamiliar with the ‘ins and outs’ of an IVF cycle, you essentially spend 2 weeks injecting medication, followed by a medical procedure to collect eggs. This is followed by a week of waiting for your embryos to grow, then another medical procedure of transferring your best, or only, embryo. Lastly, a further agonising wait of 2 weeks to find out if it worked or not.

I have to honestly say I’ve never been on a roller coaster of emotions quite like it. Starting hopeful, then not getting the results you were expecting, to being positive again, then back to anxiously waiting. IVF at times is a numbers game. Any eggs you collect, halve that amount. Any eggs you have left, fertilise, then halve that again. A week later, halve that amount again. Then, if you’re lucky you may have 1 or 2 embryos to use. 

Following an embryo transfer, you must wait 2 weeks before a final blood test to see the result. Sadly, 2 weeks of anxiety later. We had the phone call saying we were unsuccessful. Devastating. 

A month later we picked ourselves up and begun a second round. Very much the same the second time around, except for a change of facility. Unfortunately, for the second time, a month later we received the phone call that we had yet another unsuccessful attempt. 

This was possibly the darkest point. How had we gone so quickly from being hopeful and positive to being 2 failed rounds down and picking up the pieces? I found myself filled with anger and resentment towards my friends, total lack of effort at work, and at other pursuits after work. It was also every morning and night where I started questioning my existence. The first thing I thought in the morning and that last thing I thought at night was that I wasn’t worth it. After our second failed attempted and the diminishing mental health of myself and my wife, it was time for us to take a break from IVF. We would revisit after a few months of focusing on our health and happiness.

2020 started similar to 2019. Except we headed to Tasmania for a campervan road trip. We used this to reset our minds and relax a bit from what we had been through over the last couple of months. 

We were parked at a campsite by the beach when I first heard about Covid-19. After our 2 and a half months of an IVF break, we begun another cycle just as the government closed the borders and started ceasing non-essential businesses. We were halfway through our treatment when they started cancelling elective surgeries, which included IVF. Luckily, as we were already halfway through our third cycle, with wifey pumped full of hormones, we were permitted to continue and finish the round.

With a change of medication, this time around saw us achieve slightly better results after egg collection. However, due to the virus, I wasn’t allowed in the building to support my wife while she went in for the procedure, which was and to this day still is, hard to deal with. Just under 2 weeks after our embryo transfer, we started to see signs that it hadn’t worked again. We were absolutely gutted, again. How much more of this could we take? The hardest part about it was that even though we knew it was over, we still had to do a blood test to prove it was over. Or was it?

My wife had received the blood test results and wanted to come and see me at work. I knew. She came to my job site and said with a smile on her face, “I’m pregnant!”. Sweet relief. As if the weight of the world of the last 3 years had been lifted off my shoulders. We hugged and, yeah, I cried. I was so happy and relieved. We both were.

So that was back at the start of April. Since then, although the total positive outcome, we still find that the Covid-19 situation has robbed us of things that everyone else had enjoyed as part of their pregnancy journeys. Being able to see all of our friends and family to announce in a way that we wanted, baby showers, baby bump photos, being able to show off and share our pregnancy, something that we had worked so hard to achieve. Even just support from being able to have people over to help has been harder. I still have not been to any appointments with our obstetrician or ultrasounds which has made me feel a little disconnected. Birth/antenatal classes have all been online, so we have missed the practical component of face-to-face sessions. Also trying to keep my wife virus free has been at the forefront of my mind. She has been safe working from home, but I have been through heaps of people’s houses, not knowing if I may bring it home. It is now a waiting game to see what and who will be permitted at the hospital when it comes time to welcome our miracle into the world. We hope that our bundle of joy will be able to meet the important people in our lives to share in our happiness and joy. We would hate for our parents to miss out on the beginning of their grandbaby’s life. That is time you will never get back.      

A lot of people are struggling. Whether financially, physically, socially, or mentally/emotionally.

If I have learnt anything over the last couple of years, it would be the following:

– lean on your friends to talk to and let them lean on you.

– talk to people. For example, a random conversation with my hairdresser, or with a couple of my gym friends had resulted in me learning of their own infertility and struggles. They became a support for me. 

– do something. Get a hobby, learn something, just keep moving forward. 

– be compassionate.

I was listening to the radio the other day and came across a quote that resonated with me:

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

– Albert Camus –