Well, not many people do, but why not? I’m not sure and I’m definitely open about it now but at the time I didn’t broadcast to the world we were having IVF. I had two amazing friends who had previously had IVF experiences and they were my guru’s. There are many different reasons we didn’t talk openly about it I guess outside of our immediate family and some close friends, fear it won’t work, worried that people won’t know what to say, worried people will have too much to say blah blah blah.
Our experience was pretty text book (and there are plenty of books out there about it, believe me). The truth is every experience is different and everyone that I know who’s had or is having IVF has a different experience from different drugs, meds, dosages, treatments, appointments, scans etc, everyone is different. After trying for two years we trotted off our GP who referred us to the Gynae dept at the local hospital. All simple so far. A few letters later and the first of many invasive appointments I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. At least there was a reason – I like facts and I like explanations for things. About 1/3 of couples undergoing IVF in the UK are what’s called ‘Unexplained Inferility’. Whilst not great you can totally work with PCOS to get preggers in most cases. In a nutshell, you still produce eggs, they just don’t always get released, so the positive is I had loads of eggs (every woman’s fear when they have a little count up and you think they are going to say you only have a few left). Clomid was prescribed, a drug that speeds up egg production and release….and does funny things with your hormomes, more about that in a bit. I was on Clomid for 9 months and the general consensus from other Dr’s since then is that if it’s not worked after 3 months, try the next step and for us that was IVF. Annoying that I was on Clomid for almost a year in total but hey ho, that’s in the past. For some it works a treat and for others like me it wasn’t to be. It made my hyper emotional, a nightmare to live with, I put on weight and generally felt like shit. Yay Clomid Crew!
Now, IVF on the NHS in the UK is still a postcode lottery. Some boroughs don’t allow any rounds on the NHS, some one round and some two rounds and so on. The pressure and stress that adds to anyone going through IVF is totally unfair and unnecessary. Whilst I know how lucky we are to have the NHS in this country, it should not be dependent on where you live, everyone should be entitled to exactly the same treatment, end of. My acupuncturist told me tales of some clients renting their property out and moving to other catchment areas to get another round on the NHS as they couldn’t personally fund it…
Anyway, some lovely Dr’s at Guy’s hospital in London explained what would happen next and that was it. We were underway. Two huge boxes of meds arrived at home with sharps, ice packs, sharps bins and various different drugs. Dan was working away when I had to first inject the medication and the thought of it was more scary than the actual act. It just felt so unnatural injecting myself. I trotted off to my sisters that night for support and for her to do the deed in case I bottled. It’s so simple yet the instructions and endless YouTube videos made it seem so complicated. Some were ready mixed, some you had to mix, some had to be chilled and the emphasis on getting the timing right was insane. Plus fitting this into your work and life in general can be tricky. In truth the injecting wasn’t anywhere near as tricky as I thought it would be, more the doing it alone…and the time I dropped the glass tube on the floor with the drugs in, twice, cue ordering emergency delivery. Why me!? Klutz!
I did all of the other stuff that was recommended to support the journey (without letting it rule our lives) like cut out certain foods, ate more of others, cut back on alcohol, had acupuncture hoping that all of this would help get my body and mind ready.
At one point, something shifted in my head. I knew we were going to have a baby and I knew it was going to work. Yes, I did read and watch ‘The Secret’ and whether that’s why who knows but after a long time feeling negative about everything, I chose to change my attitude and knew it would work.
6 weeks later = test day. To this day that is still the best feeling ever. We did 5 tests – well you need to be sure lol, then waited patiently for the scan. It was another internal scan and after years of having these and not seeing anything in that big dark space they call your womb, seeing a little tiny cluster in there was amazing. We were on cloud nine but when we walked through the waiting room past couples in tears we were reminded that anything can happen. We told our close friends and family who knew the journey so far who were elated but like us, cautious. Next step is the regular 12/13 week scan on the NHS like all pregnant women. Well, I did a slightly earlier one I was travelling abroad with work and wanted to be sure all was OK in there and that it was safe to fly.
After the scan and with grainy pics and videos of him or her moving around we told people – no big announcement on social media – as much as anyone trying to conceive loves hearing others’ success stories, it can be a harsh reminder that you’re not there yet and again, because of the fear that it’s all too good to be true and knowing anything can happen. That’s when I started telling people it was an IVF pregnancy and immediately several people, said their kids were as a result of IVF too, friends, colleagues, lots of people and all people that I didn’t know had had IVF.
All in all it took us about 5 years and over 300 appointments (from blood test to scans to acupuncture) to get our little man.
Some days are easier than others – endless baby showers, questions about when you’re going to have a family and days of feeling crap versus each positive appointment when you know you’re getting that step nearer to your goal and the best day ever – seeing the positive pregnancy test(s), remember we did 5…they’re all part of our journey.
When Shannon and I started Oh Mumma, I posted a few IVF related bits on social and was so surprised with how many people contacted me. People I hadn’t seen for 20 years or more but all with the same thing in common – IVF. Most were/are the same as me, getting on with it and hoping for the best and I bet like me they will talk about it more afterwards, it’s just at the time, you need to focus on yourself and not everyone else.
Wishing everyone on their IVF journeys lots of luck. x