One year ago I launched IVF Bangkok Support. It has been a humbling and inspiring experience and I wanted to share it, in the hope of spreading the word and to help lift the taboo associated with fertility treatment.
I am an IVF veteran. Our daughter is a miracle baby, born in 2012. I started fertility treatment at 29 years old and we had our precious daughter when I was 39. They say that trauma is often forgotten, compartmentalised, closed shut and thinking back this couldn’t be more accurate. It is as if I have concertinaed the last 15 years and it is only when I consciously expand the bellows that it all seeps out. The whole fertility process is definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done and apart from the treatment itself, the devastating consequences and the life-changing experience it also resulted in my developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly this did not stop me from functioning. In fact I think it made me even more determined to succeed. If I was going to fail at becoming a parent I was definitely not going to fail at anything else.
In 2011 we did our seventh fertility treatment, our third cycle in Bangkok and by some miracle our prayers were answered. After 10 long years of heartache, our baby girl arrived. I am not going to go into huge detail regarding our long and arduous journey, but suffice to say it was very long. I had 1 x IUIs, 3 x IVFs, 3 x FETs, 3 miscarriages (m/c), 2 x laparoscopies, and had been diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis, congenitally deformed fallopian tubes, hydrosalpinx and a genetic blood disorder, Factor V Leiden.
It is quite safe to say that without our dedicated Bangkok doctor I certainly would not be writing this article today. The care, dedication and professionalism was certainly a five-star experience and ultimately our treatment here was successful when all else had failed. Speaking to others, it seems Bangkok is very much on the map and has a lot to offer when it comes to fertility treatment. There are many outstanding clinics and doctors here.
When we expatriated to Bangkok almost three years ago I knew I wanted to give back to this beautiful city. We were with our daughter who was now two and half years old and from our condo on the 27th floor, looking down at the blanket of Bangkok lights, I decided to set up IVF Bangkok Support in the hope that it would help someone. If it helped just one person, then I would feel immensely relieved.
Back in the day, in 2002, social media had not yet exploded and the journey I was facing as a 29 year old was daunting. My friends were having babies: my best friends, my stepsister, my neighbour, my husband’s niece’s daughter. As each year passed it got harder, my friends were going for baby no 2 or 3. So like so many other women going through the silent journey, I stopped calling my friends, or I just slowly stood back and retired into my childless world. During the 10 years or so of trying to conceive, I had attached myself to a small IVF fertility forum. Each member had their own mountain to climb and we found refuge together.
Not only that but we learned a lot, shared our knowledge, discussed, studied and cycled together. We talked about what tests might be available, which clinics offered them and compared notes. We celebrated our joys and shared our grief. We became close, and I am still in touch with some of these remarkable ladies today.
To celebrate IVF Bangkok Support’s first year I am writing this article to welcome new members, and to expand our community in the hope that knowledge grows which onsequentially makes support more effective. Fertility treatment is full of unknowns and to be able to share, discuss and gather information is invaluable. Together we automatically become stronger.
Throughout my years of treatment it became clear to me how much stress was impeding my cycles. As each cycle came and went it just got worse. To allow oneself to fall into the great depths of negativity is also inevitable; another trap I fell into. The financial side of things is also devastating as many couples are forced to plough all their savings into yet another cycle (one IVF cycle can cost approx $8000-$10000 per cycle). It’s like making that ultimate gamble, except you have to pump your body full of drugs, and go through the whole physical ordeal too, hoping and praying you land that golden ticket! Life gets put on hold year after year.
It’s not surprising that we lose hope and start sliding down that wall of fear. There is good news however is, as much as we feel negative and that we feel alone, it is actually very rare for fertility treatment not to work and we should cling on to the hand of hope and believe in it wholeheartedly. It may take a few cycles, but ultimately success rates are higher for those who go through multiple rounds. Each cycle is informative and with that the odds increase in our favour each time.
Also there are many more tests available and science is progressing at great speed. For example, PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) is a common test these days (not one that was commonly available in my day) and can significantly reduce the chances of a m/c. So together, collectively, we prop each other up, and hopefully reduce stress, and share our journey. We have down days and that’s OK. We can feel overwhelmed too and that’s OK. We can feel anger, or jealousy or resentment: it’s all OK, but most importantly we don’t have to go through it alone or silently.
Our members either live in Bangkok or come here for treatment from abroad. Some are quite active and others prefer to read and post little. Whatever you prefer – if you are about to start treatment, are in the process of it, are having a break or about to start treatment for baby No 2, you are more than welcome.
If you feel you would benefit from IVF Bangkok Support please go to the Facebook community page and send admin a private message; https://www.facebook.com/ivfinbangkok/ or send an email direct to [email protected] Admin will then invite you to the closed and very private group IVF Bangkok Support.
We meet up once a month at D’Ark at EmQuartier in Sukhumvit (we meet at 10am on the first Wednesday of every month). Our monthly meet ups have been both inspiring and empowering. To share and discuss whilst drinking Earl Grey tea with avocado toast is completely normal. Being the only one who is not going through the treatment, it has been quite an honour for me to host each one. I always leave each meet up feeling slightly euphoric. The strength, unity and support of each member is quite overwhelming.
My message to anyone thinking or in the process of doing fertility treatment is one of hope and perseverance. Make sure to arm yourself with knowledge and do your homework: information is gold. Bangkok has some of the best doctors worldwide. Go with your gut and never be afraid to ask questions. Be selective and be mindful but not obsessive.
Believe in the future and hold on to hope – it is your friend. Baby dust to you all,
“Trying to find a starting point for fertility treatment in Bangkok was incredibly overwhelming for me. But plucking up the courage to join the IVF Bangkok Support Group was the best thing I could have done. From the outset, there’s been nothing but warm welcomes, support, and practical advice. A major part of this experience for me has been not knowing what questions to ask, but the group has helped me immensely in that area. By reading and listening to what other people have asked, and the responses they’ve received, I’ve already learned so much, and this has helped me to get my head in the right place. Though I haven’t been able to attend more than one meeting, the support I’ve received just by being part of the Facebook group has made a world of difference to me. The combined knowledge and experience that the ladies share is incredible. But it’s not just about that, of course. Thanks to this group, I’ve found a doctor and clinic that I’m comfortable with, and more importantly, I’ve been given the nudges that I needed to get my head out of the sand and closer to where I want to be!”
Even though I had two successful cycles in Australia giving us our two gorgeous boys, I was struggling TTC a baby girl. I came across the Bangkok IVF Support Group through a friend. It came at a time when I really needed it. This group of lovely ladies, who I had never met in person at the time, understood what I was going through. I was able to get some much needed emotional support, as well as some excellent recommendations for fertility yoga, acupuncture, recommended clinics and doctors. If it wasn’t for this group, I may not have found the right doctor and right clinic for me. This clinic offered sperm selection, NGS-PGD testing, and embryo glue with a 5 star service.