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My IVF specialist compared the pain of miscarriage to losing a lens cap

·4-min read
Alice worries that both mums and dads are unsupported during IVF. (Source: Supplied)
Alice worries that both mums and dads are unsupported during IVF. (Source: Supplied)

Sign up to the Women’s Money Movement to hear Alice Almeida’s insights on why not having a financial adviser was the biggest mistake she could have made when having IVF.

In her mission to create a family, Alice Almeida - like millions of others - went through the wringer.

But after years of excruciating endometriosis, a ruptured ovary and as much as $100,000 on IVF treatment and alternative therapies, it was her fertility specialist’s comments that truly caught her off guard.

By 2020, the data and media leader and founder of IVF support platform The Amber Network had undergone several unsuccessful rounds of IVF and had miscarried three times, each equally devastating.

“I said to him, ‘I’m not coping very well, mentally. I’m really struggling’,” Almeida told Yahoo Finance.

“He told me that he understood the loss that I’d had, because when he was cycling through Italy, he dropped a lens cap down a toilet.

“I didn’t see him again after that … I can’t be with a specialist that compares losing three babies to losing a lens cap.”

Today, 41-year-old Almeida has one child, conceived with IVF, and she fell pregnant naturally with another baby in May, just months after deciding to stop IVF treatment in August last year.

While she considers herself one of the lucky ones, looking back on her treatment, Almeida remains stunned at the lack of tact some members of the medical community showed.

Alice Almeida launched The Amber Network to provide a service she wishes she had. (Sources: Supplied, Getty)
Alice Almeida launched The Amber Network to provide a service she wishes she had. (Sources: Supplied, Getty)

And she’s determined to start a conversation about fertility struggles and the mental health burdens that can come with that.

“My husband and I were on a different page [about ending IVF]. It’s very rare for people to be ready to give up at the same time,” she said.

“My husband was content with one child - he obviously wanted more - but he could see that it was starting to erode our marriage and it was starting to impact me mentally and change who I was.”

Almeida believes that male partners aren’t considered much in the IVF journey. Naturally, women are the ones that need to take supplements and experience the physical processes.

However, she worries that not enough care is taken for male partners.

Almeida ultimately miscarried with the last embryo she had through IVF.

“That was really difficult because I knew that I had to stop then and there for the sake of my mental health and for my marriage,” she said.

“But I was still utterly heartbroken that I didn’t provide my daughter with a sibling, and this is the mental load that you go through.

“You feel like a failure as a wife, and you feel like a failure as a mother.”

Almeida’s story isn’t rare. As many as one in six Australian couples of reproductive age will experience fertility problems, and it’s as much a physical journey as an emotional one.

During her struggles on when and whether to end treatment, Almeida simply felt like she needed someone to talk to who understood the situation.

And she also wanted the mental health support that simply wasn’t apparent in many of her dealings with the medical profession.

She launched The Amber Network in October to help others going through IVF, and to raise awareness of the mental, physical and financial realities of fertility.

“I think you can have the conversation a lot earlier without saying, ‘You need to have a kid right now’,” she said.

“I’ve had conversations with girlfriends of mine about freezing their eggs and ... I think that science is incredible, obviously, but I think that a dream is being sold to women that egg freezing is going to guarantee them a baby when they’re ready.

“In reality, it just gives them a chance to have a baby.”

Three months out from having her second child, Almeida’s message is firm: fertility needs to be discussed more openly.

“The whole fertility conversation needs to be adjusted slightly,” she said.

“At school they spend all their energy telling you how not to get pregnant, but not talking about when you would like to get pregnant.

“These are really important things for people to know from a much younger age, because I do believe that many Australians are being sold a dream.”

Sign up to the Women’s Money Movement to hear Alice Almeida’s insights on why not having a financial adviser was the biggest mistake she could have made when having IVF.

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