IVF is a lonely old road

After my operation and horrible experience with a clinic I’d been having IUI, we learnt of Cambridge IVF by chance – someone at my partner’s work mentioned them. When I was in hospital, I had said to my partner – why on earth can’t we just pay to see NHS people? They had looked after us so well at the Early Pregnancy Clinic and during my operation experience. The care at Addenbrooke’s was excellent. And there was no way I could ever go back to somewhere I’d had such a traumatic process.

I couldn’t handle not being pregnant any more and felt out of control, so I really want to keep trying. It felt like something positive and was my way of coping (this seems crazy now),

We went to Cambridge IVF and have so far had the most wonderful experience. Everyone there is so lovely and caring, just as I would have wanted. We had a real shock during our first consultation because as soon as the consultant looked at my hormone levels, she said that as they were so low the best option was IVF, but even that had a very low chance of success (something like 5%). As the other clinic had guided us to IUI I was super upset as it seemed like we’d wasted months on something with a much lower success rate – even though I had got pregnant the second time. That doesn’t make me feel any better. It wasn’t a pregnancy that lasted.

5% success rate though – who would bother doing anything with those chances?

I also felt a complete failure that because of me, trying for a baby didn’t mean extra fun in bed, it meant injections, operations, and money. I still feel like that.

I’ve actually found the process of IVF fine. After IUI, I was used to the injections (although, with IVF I had to inject myself twice a day with different things, and have much higher doses). And the drugs made me feel better. They stopped the exhaustion and nausea for a while, which was amazing. My doctor completely dismissed this but the consultant said that, as my hormone levels were so low, my body obviously reacted well to having a high amount. I am heading slowly towards the menopause so it makes sense (sad though that is to say). No hot flushes or hormone swings for me – just feeling good.

The minor operation to collect eggs went fine, the implantation went fine. I wasn’t in lots of pain and everything went to plan.

IVF is incredibly intense though. During the IVF process I have been neither hopeful nor pessimistic. Before the egg collection I was very tearful because I knew I could wake up from the operation to find out no eggs had been collected. I had to think about it first to try and soften the blow.

6 eggs were collected (the photo of me is just after I’d woken up and been told that), 3 were viable and we had to decide whether to transfer them at day 3, or wait until day 5 when they had developed into embryos. Documentation about this bit is so hazy – what were the benefits to waiting or implanting? It turns out that people only choose to have them implanted earlier because the waiting is unbearable. It is far better to wait until day 5 when you know for sure if your eggs have made it to that crucial stage, but those two days were so intense and upsetting. I’d still take that over having them implanted and not knowing for a fortnight – but it is like a fortnight’s worth of not knowing condensed into 2 days.

Both embryos made it to day 5 – one slightly later than the other. That could just be down to timing in terms of when the sperm reached the egg, but we already have so much affection for that late starter!

Then another intense decision – to implant both or one? My partner persuaded me to have one, and the nurses were visibly relieved that was our decision because my body can get pregnant and twins is so much riskier. But the next day I was very distressed. Having babies is not easy for me and I can’t leave that embryo there, to destroy later on, but if we’d had a successful pregnancy I knew I’d struggle to have another one.

That embryo didn’t stick though. I’d only felt sick for a bit, the bleeding happened within a few weeks. It wasn’t traumatic like our first loss, but it was still horrible knowing that this wasn’t a normal period, and somewhere in that bright red blood was the tiny embryo we got to see on the screen. I kind of pretended it wasn’t happening.

The saddest thing about IVF is that almost no one knows what you’re going through but that the other couples we see at the clinic, we have not interaction with. I wouldn’t want to have this interaction – it’s a club that no one wants to be a member of. I would be unable to cope if I got to know someone and they had a baby but I didn’t, and I would feel guilty if it was the other way around.

After that embryo failed to take hold we decided to wait a little while and focus on me actually getting better. So that’s what we’ve done. I do feel sad to think that we’ve gone through so much and with nothing positive to show for it. I struggle to think that my IVF journey will most likely end in us not getting pregnant. But we’re about to embark on that final chapter and I have to face it. Dealing with difficult issues is essential – having PTSD has definitely taught me that.

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