A 38-year age gap won't stop us trying to become parents
SAM, 33, and her husband Max, 72, live on the Gold Coast. They've been together seven years and married for two. Their IVF journey started just over two years ago.
Initially Max and I never talked about children, but two years into the relationship I told him I'd like a family. We started trying naturally but had no luck. After three years, we chatted to an IVF doctor.
There are no fertility issues with me, but Max was diagnosed with a low sperm count, meaning that his sperm needs to be extracted for fertilising my eggs.
So far, we've done one natural cycle (without drugs) and four stimulated cycles with drugs. I've had 11 embryo transfers in total and, other than the first time, I've always had two embryos transferred. I've done continuous cycles with no break and I've fallen pregnant twice.
My first pregnancy was in April this year. The nurses and staff called from the clinic on speakerphone to tell me. They've been on the entire journey with me, so were really excited for us. Sadly, I miscarried at six weeks.
My second miscarriage was in July this year after I fell pregnant with twins. We lost the first twin at 11 weeks and the second at 12. It was devastating. One day there were two heartbeats and then none.
We've sent the embryos off to be tested for chromosome abnormalities or to see if the placenta didn't attach properly. Depending on the results, we'll re-evaluate with our specialist and create a plan that works for us.
I've got a bit of anxiety about starting the next round, but there's so much waiting involved with IVF that I don't want to take a break. I've learnt to stay positive and, with each embryo transfer, I just relax and carry on as normal.
My specialist reassures me that once a body's been pregnant, it knows to do it again and I have every faith in him. I also have Max by my side who's so optimistic and supportive.
This journey has made us stronger, and I've seen Max in a different light.
Unless I'm advised there's no chance of me having a baby, I'll keep on trying - however long that may be. At a guess, we've probably spent $100k so far on IVF, but we haven't had to dip into our super or savings.
Even if we didn't have any more money I'd look at other avenues to source funds
No matter how hard it is, I know I've got to keep going because, eventually when we do have a child, I'll look back and think 'what were we worrying about?'.
When Sam told me she wanted children I was pretty excited. I have two older sons, 40 and 43, from a previous relationship, but I always wanted more. Like most men, I'd love a daughter.
Initially, I was concerned that we might struggle to fall pregnant, especially with me being a bit older. I thought it may affect my fertility but, even though I have a low sperm count, that's not been an issue.
I was always comfortable to do IVF. To me, if it means that I end up with a beautiful baby or two or even three, then it's worth it. Whatever makes Sam happy, makes me happy.
It's been a hard journey and it's obviously a different experience for Sam than me. Physically, she's the one that goes through with all the injections, egg retrievals and transfers. Mentally it's harrowing for us both, particularly because we've been doing it so long.
A few friends of mine have been through IVF and two of them had a success the first time. I thought things would happen quickly for us too. Of course, we thought we were there with the last pregnancy.
I was with Sam when she had the tests and the doctor found both the heartbeats. I was ecstatic at that time and thought, 'well this is it. We're here and we're going to have two.'
When we lost the twins, it was just devastating. I suppose I didn't want to believe it. I was hoping that they'd made some sort of mistake and that's why we went back to Sam's doctors for reassurance.
By then I knew deep down it was true, but didn't want to accept it. When Sam went in for the curette, there was no denying that it was all over.
We went away to Noosa for a break afterwards as I felt that Sam needed it both physically and mentally. She can only take so much, and her anxiety was so high during that pregnancy because of her past loss and disappointment.
I do struggle with my own emotions and sadness, but I often put a brave face on it and focus on supporting Sam.
I'm a very positive person and believe that if you keep striving for a goal, you'll get there in the end. The things you want in life don't come easy and you have to work hard to get them. I include IVF in this.
I've never talked to Sam about stopping IVF because, as far as I'm concerned, there's no limitations, even on finances. I firmly believe 'where there's a will there's a way,' especially when it comes to making our dreams come true.