Keira Rumble on Her Journey to Motherhood, IVF Misconceptions and Starting Round 2

Keira Rumble on Her Journey to Motherhood, IVF Misconceptions and Starting Round 2

By Alexandra Whiting   |  

"Hollywood has a real ‘failure’ perception of IVF, yes it’s tough... but it shouldn’t be as feared as it is."

Influencer and founder of Habitual Beauty and Krumbled Foods, Keira Rumble has been very open about her fertility journey, and it’s been a difficult one. She suffered six losses over three years, including a Heterotopic pregnancy (one baby in the womb, one in the fallopian tube) which resulted in surgery that removed her left fallopian tube and triggered stage 4 endometriosis. In 2020, Rumble started the IVF process and in 2021 her son Hunter was born prematurely at 36 weeks. With so much grey area, lack of diagnosis, dismissal, disappointment and waiting, Rumble found the IVF process to be completely eye opening and empowering. “It wasn’t until I handed over control to other people, that I actually could relax. The pressure was on, but I was in a different role.”

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Happily, Rumble’s IVF journey was positive and successful in the first round. She’d pushed, seen many specialists and sought answers for the cause of her miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy, as well as genetic screening to give her self as much information as possible and the best chance of having a healthy, happy baby. She got him, but she also came out with some important insights. One, that IVF still holds stigma, yet is so common (in 2019 there were 88,929 IVF cycles started in 2019 in Australia and New Zealand, leading to 16,310 babies born through the treatment). Two, that women should have access to fertility and genetic screening much sooner than when we are ready to conceive. Here, Keira talks about her journey, why IVF shouldn’t be feared, how pregnancy can be both difficult and beautiful at the same time, and her recent miscarriage when her son was 6 months old.

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On finding out the reason for her miscarriages

“I was told for so many years that doctors just didn’t know why I was miscarrying, but after the third miscarriage I was like, right, we need to find out the reason. I was diagnosed with endometriosis just before I started IVF. It had grown from a stump of my fallopian tube that was left after the removal operation and contributed to my miscarriages. But in addition, after seeing four different specialists, I was finally diagnosed with a blood clotting condition called Factor V Leiden. We went in to IVF thinking, we kind of know what’s going on with the miscarriages, but lets do everything to give this the best possible chance. So I had endo surgery before IVF, and we bypassed the single tube issue because IVF implants the egg for you, and then I was on blood thinner injections (clexane) and aspirin until the day of Hunter’s birth to deal with the Factor V Leiden. A lot of the literature coming out now has found it can impact implantation and also impact blood flow and lead to stillbirths so the blood thinners were to negate any carrying issues. All up, the ‘reason’ is not simple. That’s one of the biggest things for me. Now, finally knowing that I have this blood clotting condition, I really feel it should have been diagnosed much earlier, and definitely before I was put on the contraceptive pill as a young person. I should never have been put on the Pill, I should never have been taking Nurofen, it should have all been screened at a much younger age. I believe the same should happen with genetic conditions. My partner and I did genetic screening because we had friends who’d lost their beautiful daughter because they were both carriers of a particular genetic condition. Shouldn’t we have access to those screenings and to find out how our bodies work before we go into something like fertility? Part of what I found out about myself included that I’m susceptible to having a stroke and I had no idea. From finding out, now my sister also knows she has it. But we should be screened early, particularly for our egg count before they put us on contraception. Then we could have the information and option of doing egg retrieval at a much younger age to increase our future chances of children.”

On coming to IVF

“Two of my really good friends had done nine or ten rounds of IVF, so I very much went into our first round with the idea that it would be a trial. I knew the doctors would be trying for the best outcome but also that it’s a learning process to see how your body responds, and it can take a few rounds to get it right. I am incredibly fortunate that we had a really positive experience with IVF. I found it fascinating watching the process. I mean, after three years of trying, and disappointment month after month, being able to hand over control to my doctors, was a sense of relief in one respect, I had to put my faith in them, I learnt so much about how my body works, and found the whole process truly fascinating, to see my now son Hunter, growing from egg and sperm into an embryo. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to have access to such incredible science.”

On the difficulties of IVF

“Firstly, the injections are absolutely not to be feared. Hollywood places such an emphasis on the injections and they are really so fine. They don’t hurt anywhere near as bad as you would think (coming from a reformed needlephobe) and are such a small piece of the puzzle. It’s more about how your body reacts that’s tough. First there’s the emotional rollercoaster that comes with increased hormones. That was definitely something that I noticed and had to remind myself of everyday when I was feeling so terrible. But I really took that time to slow down and reduce my work and surrender to the process. Which I was really happy that I could do. After the egg collection, I was in so much pain, and then it becomes a numbers game. I’ve had friends come out with ten or twenty embryos and for us, it was five eggs and fertilised four embryos, then it was a waiting game. That whole process was tough. I really struggled because it’s a lot more about chance than you think. The more you’ve got, the better your chances, but it’s not necessarily about that, it’s about quality over quantity. So watching the embryos drop off was really hard to see. But we were fortunate to end up with two embryos. One of them was Hunter, and the other is currently being stored frozen.”

On misconceptions about IVF

“IVF can seem so daunting for so many. Hollywood has a real ‘failure’ perception of IVF, like yes it’s tough and you’re trusting your life future to the hands of someone else, but it shouldn’t be as feared as it is. It can be incredibly empowering and fascinating. Going and taking that next step might be the missing piece in getting you that family you want. The negative connotations around IVF are still massive. I’ve got friends who’ve done IVF and not shared it with anyone. Each to their own, I respect everyone’s decision, and I 100% understand why people do this. I announced early with Hunter just because any pregnancy should be celebrated in my opinion. falling pregnant that way was amazing. But it is an interesting thing, it can be that ‘oh you poor thing having to go through IVF because of XYZ your bodies weren’t working.’ and yes, they weren’t working, but it’s really common. We did IVF during COVID, so it was just me at a lot of the appointments, and I remember standing in the lobby before my 8am blood test, and there were probably 60 women standing there, all doing the same thing. It’s such a confronting thing to see, that was just one clinic for one session. It would have been like that all day. That’s when it just clicked with me. This is something so many people are going through, every day, my heart broke a little that morning, knowing how many families are going through so much heart ache.”

On loving and not loving pregnancy

“Previously I was so fixated on falling pregnant, I never thought about what it would be like when I was pregnant. I think once I finally got that positive pregnancy test and then we waited and got the heartbeat. Getting to that point was incredibly nerve-wracking and the anxiety I had continued really throughout the whole pregnancy. It was so intense, but once he started moving and I could feel him more regularly, it lessened. And towards the end of the last trimester, I was much more confident that this was going to be my baby. Don’t get me wrong, I had massive coping mechanisms in place to help me get through, which I had to work incredibly hard in my post partum period to let go of. That was my mind, but my physical pregnancy was actually quite torturous. I had Hyperemesis gravidarum (an extreme form of morning sickness with severe and persistent nausea and vomiting) which was diagnosed quite late. I had a lot of heartburn and pelvic girdle pain. So I can’t say it was a very pleasant experience for me. Random nose bleeds, restless legs — I had every weird and wonderful pregnancy symptom there is — and there was something in me that thought, after all the difficulty to get to that point, surely I’m going to have an easy pregnancy, but it doesn’t work like that. All that said, I miss being pregnant so much. I love being pregnant. I miss having a bump and seeing him move inside me. It’s such a special moment and I think because of everything we’d been through to get to that point, it was such a special time.”

On finally getting a Hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosis

“I was in denial, I just kept thinking the nausea and vomiting would end. I hit the second trimester, it came and went, and I was still so sick. My OBGYN was reluctant to give me the official diagnosis but it got to the point that I was severely dehydrated, I couldn’t keep food down, and I wasn’t gaining weight — I’m heavier now, postpartum, than I was during my pregnancy. When I finally got the diagnosis, it was a bit of relief and validation and when I got the right medication I was so much better. Knowing my diagnosis now, for my next pregnancy, I will go in being prepared for that again.”

On starting the process to give Hunter a sibling

“We know we’d like to have more kids, so going into our second round of IVF, we know we currently have an embryo on ice that could be successful, but also possibly not, so we we will do another egg retrieval. Our fertility specialist now knows how my body responds, so the plan will be to slightly increase my stimulations so we could hopefully get a few more eggs to lead to embryos, you know, it’s very much, ‘we know how to work with your body now’. I’ll have the endo surgery again before the transfer. We sadly had another miscarriage a few weeks ago, my seventh loss. It was really hard, because it was something I hoped I’d never go through again. So I’m going into this second round quite nervous, because I don’t know how I’ll cope if it doesn’t go the same, or if there’s more loss ahead of us. Particularly when I have a baby home that I have to put on a brave face for. It will be an experience I’ll have to work through, but one I am ready to make to complete my family.”

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