'I Spent $50,000 On IVF ... And It Failed'
Jo Bambagiotti said she had always had a feeling that she would struggle to fall pregnant.
"Both my mother and grandmother entered menopause at an early age, so I was on the backfoot from the start," she told 10 daily.
But it was only after a reading with a psychic who told her that she "would never have her own children" that she decided to investigate further.
The 36-year-old said that after that chance encounter she decided to book in for a fertility test. "The results were not good," she said. "It turns out I have very low supplies of a hormone called Anti-Mullerian hormone, or AMH."
According to IVF Australia, AMH is secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles) and is generally a good indicator of a woman's ovarian reserves.
Bambagiotti said it was after the results came back that she started exploring her options.
"I went to Monash IVF and started seeing a specialist with them," Bambagiotti said. "We decided we would try and freeze my eggs."
Before going through with the process, Bambagiotti said she was "made aware" of the dangers associated with egg freezing.
"He wanted me to know that it's absolutely not a guarantee that the eggs would be good quality or that they would even survive the thawing process and, in turn, be fertilised," she said.
Still, armed with that knowledge, she decided to continue.
Bambagiotti went through cycle after cycle with zero success.
"The first time we tried we did three cycles," she explained. "Out of those three cycles of trying to retrieve my eggs I only got one on ice. Most women can get 10 or even 12 from one round. I did three rounds and only got one."
Apart from the physical toll, the procedure proved enormously taxing on her emotionally. "You feel like a failure," she said.
"You feel confused and angry. They’re very hard emotions to deal with. You go in feeling excited and then the doctors come and tell you that you have no eggs. It's so disappointing."
But things took an upward turn for Bambagiotti when, after several more cycles, her specialists finally managed to get another egg on ice. From there she underwent Intrauterine insemination (IUI) -- a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus. Bambagiotti described it as "exactly like having sex ... without the sex part".
But that didn't take either.
"The first time you do it you're hopeful," she said. " I was certain the first time I did it I was pregnant. When I found out I wasn't pregnant I remember going home and having a huge cry. But you have to bounce back and keep going."
Bambagiotti went through several more cycles and IUI procedures but none of them took. She said that after learning she still wasn't pregnant after what would be her final attempt she remembers "sliding down the wall at home and just crying and crying".
"It not only that, but I had already spent so much money -- around $50,000 -- and for nothing to have worked ... it's devastating," she said.
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The Next Step
During the IVF and IUI process Bambagiotti began dating her current partner, John, 37. "We decided that I would continue with the process and see it out," she said.
But when medical intervention failed, she and John decided to try for a baby themselves. "We thought we’re together we may as well start," she said.
After months of trying with no luck nothing, Bambagiotti said John went to get his fertility tested. As it turns out, John was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that left him infertile. It was yet another cruel blow to Bambagiotti's quest to become a mother.
"There are some days where the unfairness of it all is overwhelming," she said.
"Then there are other days where we feel like we’re meant to be together -- we both want to be parents."
Still determined to fulfil their dream of becoming parents, Bambagiotti said she and John have begun looking into the donor process.
"We need a donor for him and an egg donor for me," she said. "We started looking overseas but it’s tens of thousands of dollars, and while there are egg donor programs in Australia they're very expensive and there's no guarantee that will even work."
So, Bambagiotti said she and John have decided to try searching for a donor themselves.
In July this year, Bambagiotti connected with another Australian couple who have embryos -- containing the woman's egg and the man's sperm -- which they are prepared to give to Bambagiotti and John.
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According to IVF Australia, embryo donation must be altruistic in nature -- with both parties agreeing to medical testing and psychological screenings.
"We’ve done all the steps so far," she said. "We've had counselling and talked through it all. We’re literally now waiting for a truck to go an pick up those embryos."
And, despite its risks, both are confident this next leap of faith will provide them with the gift they have both wanted for so long.
"We're both hopeful," she said. "So let's just wait and see".
Feature Image: Supplied