The Many Different Families I Have Helped To Have Babies, And Why I Love It

In my opinion, the idea of a 'normal' family is out-dated.

25/09/2017 10:24 AM AEST | Updated 20/10/2017 10:58 AM AEDT
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There probably aren't that many professions where you would happily rearrange family holidays just so you could come into work, but that's how I feel about my job.

When my patients say 'thank you,' I always say, 'It's my pleasure, it's my privilege' because I honestly wholeheartedly feel that.

I first began delivering babies fifteen years ago and began working in infertility in 2009. I fell in love with this aspect of medicine because while I really enjoy being an obstetrician, I also have a background in science and genetics and so this was the perfect mix for me -- I'm able to look at conception from the bench to the bedside.

The patients that I'm seeing now are much more diverse than when I first started delivering babies; I see couples who have been trying for 12 months and we're trying to work out what's slowing them down, I see couples who are older, plenty of same sex couples and single women who have not found the right partner and have found themselves in a situation where they would still like to become a mother.

There are also people with different medical conditions where they might not have considered motherhood before but together we can work as a team to make sure both mother and baby are safe.

I now do a lot of IVF for people who are not necessarily infertile but they might have a medical condition -- say multiple sclerosis, for example -- where they can only afford to be off of their medication for a minimum amount of time before falling pregnant.

In these cases, just waiting for 12 months to see if they fall pregnant naturally is not necessarily appropriate course of action -- we want to expedite the pregnancy so that they can have a healthy pregnancy and then, once the baby is born, we can get them back on their medication.

During my six year stint as a fertility specialist and as I've become more heavily involved in IVF and some of the more specialised technologies within the field, the volume of work is the same but the success rate is now much higher. We are seeing more babies born via IVF, and to couples who might have previously thought that starting a family wasn't an option for them.

Some of the pregnancies that I'm seeing all the way through and having the privilege to deliver are to couples that have really been through it.

Some of them may have had certain illnesses that may have stopped them from being parents or who may have unfortunately lost a baby to a genetic disease, therefore we're doing more and more pre-implantation genetic testing as a result. By the time these babies are born, it's quite the special bundle that you're delivering.

In my opinion, the idea of a 'normal' family is a little out-dated. I have had patients who have had to obtain sperm from somewhere else or an egg from somewhere else -- all matter of variants -- but the point is coming together and bringing forth a new life and giving it a family that care.

Be it a single parent with a good support network or a same sex couple -- the most important thing is that these kids are wanted, very much so. You don't fight as hard as these families do and then not want that child.

A particular case that sticks in my mind was one lady who went through so much and was so unwell from her endometriosis that although she received the best surgery for that disease and the greatest care, it still ravaged her ovaries.

It left her with little ovarian function. But, as part of a same sex couple, she was able to finally use her partner's eggs to achieve the most beautiful baby.

I've also had several cases where a woman has suffered premature ovarian failure, perhaps her ovaries stopped functioning when she was a teenager, and yet her sister went on to have normal periods and was able to donate eggs to her.

And then there are couples where the man doesn't have any sperm but has sourced sperm from another family member to then achieve a family with his partner.

I think education in the community has helped open people's eyes to what options they have -- there's more than what they perhaps thought possible.

Being an obstetrician who does IVF, you go through the highs and the lows of the positive and negative pregnancy tests with your patients. You never stop thinking about them.

You become integrated into their journey -- having known a couple for years they literally become a part of you -- and so being able to show them that first heartbeat on an ultrasound is an amazing feeling. It's a feeling that never gets old.

To hand them that baby is such a joyous occasion.

Sometimes my patients will say to me, "I'm so sorry to get you up at 4 o'clock in the morning" and I'll say, "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

And I sincerely mean that -- I wouldn't miss it for the world.

As members of Virtus Health, IVFAustralia, Melbourne IVF, Queensland Fertility Group and TasIVF create more babies than any other fertility group. If you're planning for pregnancy or already trying, get expert advice from our specialists today.

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