Pregnancy is a very private subject to most, the ‘trying to conceive’ part of it seems to be particularly secretive and infertility very rarely spoken about. I guess that’s why I decided to share my IVF Journey.
My friends know that I am super open about it, but naturally, I felt very apprehensive about writing about something so personal and so private for the whole wide web to read!
My view is that whether the treatment works or not, sharing my story can help others who also have to go through it, are thinking about it or just plain curious! So here it is, my story so far!
The start of everything
About 2 years ago, my husband and I decided that it was time to start trying for a baby. 4 months later and still no baby! We had tried everything and anything…ovulation sticks and other tricks and still nothing. So I decided to go see my GP.
Infertility is not considered infertility until you have been actively failing to conceive for at least 12 months. All they tell you is to relax and stop worrying about it that things will eventually work out… well they didn’t! 4 months of investigation, lots of scans and blood tests just to find out that the problem wasn’t actually with me!
Its funny how everyone (including me) always expect an infertility problem to lye with the woman. When I was trying to conceive naturally, I heard so many times from so many people “maybe you shouldn’t workout so hard”, “maybe you should put on a little weight” (which I regrettably did), maybe, maybe maybe….
If you’re having difficulties conceiving, please don’t be hard on yourself and never blame ourself! Even if there is a problem with you, man or women, its not your fault and you are not alone! Infertility among couples trying to conceive is more common than you think!
Anyway, we found out that Mr hubby had, as I like to call: Lazy swimmers! They are perfectly good and plenty in numbers, but they just don’t like swimming ;-/
The doctors said it is genetic problem and there is nothing they can do. So we had 2 choices to IVF it, or to forget it!
REFERRAL AND FUNDINGS
Mid 2016 we decided it was time to give nature a helping hand and go for the IVF treatment. We visited the GP again and got a referral to St Thomas & Guys fertility Clinic which is one of the best in London and very close to home and work with helps a whole lot!
The first doctors appointment was in fact a funding interview. Here in the UK we are incredibly lucky that under the right circumstances, the NHS (National Health Service) will fund the treatment entirely. They asked a whole lot of questions about our lifestyle, work, health; measured our BMIs, blood pressures and tested for STDs before agreeing to any funding. All they ask for is that you are fit and healthy, don’t smoke and is able and capable of looking after your offspring… fair enough if you ask me!
At the end of the interview we were very happy to hear we were accepted and qualify for NHS funding of 1 full cycle of IVF or ICSI and a further 2 attempts of frozen embryo transfers. Hooray! We felt so blessed and lucky! It’s a very expensive treatment and it would have put a big strain on our finances… a added stress that is really not welcome when trying for a baby!
RIGHT, IVF GOT THIS!
Our 1st Doctors appointment was schedule 2 months after the funding interview… a long wait, but it actually suited me fine as we had some holidays scheduled!
At this appointment, the doctor explained that we would need to have ICSI which is a form of IVF, but instead of mixing eggs and sperm in a pituitary dish and letting natural selection do its job, the embryologist would have to select 1 single sperm and manually insert it inside of 1 egg.
It was also at this appointment that I found out that I qualified for the short IVF protocol .Things were about to move quickly!
Im a little bit of a control freak, but with IVF I had to learn to let it go and take it as it comes! I had no choice but to take one step at the time… or better, one appointment at the time! Baby is not even close to being here and is already teaching me so much!
Things happen when they are ready to happen and no amount of planing will give you full control over it. The sooner you let it go, the sooner you’ll stop stressing (stress is a big no-no to any form of conceiving). Much of it depends on your own cycle and your body’s response to the medication. It is different for everyone, but he process itself is quite simple and a lot quicker then I expected.
The Short Protocol starts somewhere between the 2nd and 4th day of your natural cycle. Injections for 8 to 15 days then egg collection (EC). 5 days of embryo development, embryo transfer (ET) and a 2 weeks wait to find out if it worked!
The Long Protocol is about 2 to 4 weeks longer and involves taking birth control pills to ‘shut down’ your ovaries completely before starting with the stimulation injections.
Simple…in theory! There is so much that can go wrong at any point that you can’t take anything for granted.
I consider myself to be quite tough when it comes to things like this. Off course I was a little nervous about the injections, not just the needle, but all the terrible side effects I heard and read so much about!
My grandfather was diabetic so I have seen my fair share of needles and ‘injecting’ in my time. So when I received all the meds, what scared me most was the progesterone suppositories! WTF? How did no one told me about those? Everyone talks about the injections but suppositories????? I don’t know if it just got me by surprise or what, but I kind of freaked out a little more about those than the injections.
I started (on day 4 of my cycle) with Gonal F injections, a follicle stimulating hormone, which I took for 9 days (some people need it for longer). This is to encourage your ovaries to create more eggs.
From day 6 to 10 of injections, I was also injecting Cetrotide to help mature those eggs and prevent ovulation.
On day 10 I had the ‘Trigger Injection”…. 36 hours later and your eggs are ready for collection!
Ok, the first injection is by far the worse! It took me about 20 minutes to gather the courage to stab myself with it but once it was in, it was painless!
I had some side effects but not too bad. Cramps on first days only, head aches, tiredness and at the very end my ovaries felt like they have been replaced by 2 very tender baseball balls that were about to burst, but apart from that nothing that I haven’t felt before! Egg Collection day is tomorrow and I gotta say I am looking forward to getting my little ones out! Its feeling way too crowded in there!
So Far So Good
I really can’t complaint about the whole process so far! Yes, all the hospital visits, scans, blood tests etc, can be very stressful, specially if you are keeping it a secret and having to sneak off work.
I am extremely lucky that as I own my own business, I have flexibility to attend the hospital visits without too much disruption to my working day, but on the flip side, waking up at 4.30am most days really don’t help with my energy levels!
IVF is not an easy thing to go through and as I found out, very unfair to the woman. Even though our infertility problem is nothing to do with me, I am still the one that have to stab myself with needles, being subjected to the ‘DildoCam’ (scan camera), the countless hospital visits, blood tests and all the side effects of the hormone treatment! While the man just keep on with normal activities. The only think he was told to take was a multi-vitamin!
Then again, nothing about pregnancy is fair to the woman, right?
Life is though darling, but so am I…most of the time anyway! It does help that Mr Hubby has been super cute cooking me dinner most nights and upping his house duties game! Long that may continue ;)