Age at interview: 45
Background: Jane and her husband have 2-year-old twins conceived via IVF. They live in a large city. Jane is a student and is from a white New Zealander background.
Jane and her husband started trying to have children when they were in their early 40s. After an ectopic pregnancy, they struggled to conceive and tried IVF. Jane became pregnant with twin daughters who were born via caesarean at 35 weeks. Becoming a parent of twins in her 40s with limited family support has been difficult at times but Jane feels very lucky.
More about Jane
Jane moved with her family from New Zealand to Australia when she was 13. She met her husband, also from New Zealand, in her late 20s. Initially, both wanted children but when they got married after being together for two years, her husband wasn't ready. They discussed it on and off but after a while Jane 'stopped asking'. This was distressing for her, particularly as she chose not to tell anyone about it. However, Jane felt committed to the relationship and strongly believed parenthood should not be forced on a person.
To her surprise, when Jane was 41, her husband suggested they begin trying for a baby. Despite her concerns about her age, they conceived within a month. The pregnancy was ectopic, and as a result Jane experienced painful surgery and lost a fallopian tube, leaving her feeling 'violated and brutalised'. After a few months they began trying again but could not conceive.
Jane's mother then offered financial assistance to try IVF. Although Jane thought interuterine insemination (IUI) would waste time they didn't have, they underwent three treatments, all unsuccessful. Jane said every menstrual period prompted an emotional 'meltdown'.
Jane and her husband then tried IVF. After the first cycle failed, they decided given Jane's age and the financial cost of IVF, they had to 'go all out' by increasing Jane's fertility drug dosage, taking Chinese herbal remedies and getting acupuncture. They did a second IVF treatment, and because the two resulting embryos were 'high quality', Jane wanted just one implanted. Her husband convinced her to implant both. Jane's pregnancy with twins was confirmed, causing her to feel a mix of excitement at being pregnant, frustration over expecting twins, and relief that IVF was over.
During a 'horrendous' pregnancy Jane experienced '24 hour nausea' in the first trimester and fluid retention, gaining 23kg. She said she had 'never felt so vulnerable', with a 'huge responsibility'. For the birth, Jane chose an elective caesarean for safety reasons. Around 35 weeks, she developed pre-eclampsia symptoms and had a caesarean at 35 ½ weeks. Her daughters came home after 10 days in special care.
Jane described the first weeks and months at home as a 'sprint' that became a 'marathon'. She had limited help as their families lived interstate, and her husband was in a new job so had very little leave. In the first two months, they arranged a schedule of one week on their own and one week with a relative visiting to help. Jane said they were 'absolute zombies' existing on a continuous four-hour cycle of feeding (combined formula and expressed breastmilk), nappy changing and sleeping. She described recording all feeds, nappy changes and appointments in a book, as trying to remember everything was impossible.
Jane said having twins has felt like being 'thrown in at the deep end' and has tested her relationship with her husband. Her advice to people expecting twins is to join their local Multiple Births Group during pregnancy to get advice, to be flexible, and to 'allow yourself to have meltdowns'.