I have previously mentioned on my blog that my husband and I underwent IVF treatment in order to be blessed with our beautiful son who is now 13 months old. Life with a baby is so busy that it is easy to forget where it all started. The happiness that we feel now having Charlie in our lives somehow seems to have erased all of the pain and upset that we went through before we became parents.
When Tony and I first started dating in 2009, having children was never on the cards for either of us. I had never really thought about having them. Tony had previously had testicular cancer prior to us meeting; although he had never been told that having children was impossible, he was told that it may prove difficult. So when we moved in together it was kind of a given that we wouldn’t be having children.
Then at some point, something changed. After a couple of years of being together we decided that we wanted children. I don’t recall how we came to this decision or who first mentioned it. But all of a sudden, after never considering it before, we were trying for a baby. Initially we started out hopefully, excited and anxious to get on with it and start a family. Soon babies were all I noticed! Everyone had one, everyone was expecting one. And it became all I could think about.
The first three months were full of hope and excitement. Then as everyone around me seemed to be getting pregnant at the drop of a hat, the pressure was on. I started to worry that we would have problems, began questioning why it wasn’t happening for us. By the end of the first year of trying it had stopped being exciting and fun, and just because a stress. By now I had bought in to the male/female conception vitamins, ovulation sticks, eating certain foods to help with fertility, ovulation apps on my phone etc etc.
Our lack of a positive pregnancy test soon became all I could think about. It started to cause problems between Tony and I. Sex stopped being fun, it was solely for the purpose of trying to get pregnant. And the pressure that put on us was immense, causing us to fall out, I became so down in the dumps that the disappointment I felt every month became all consuming. I recall many times laying in bed crying because the whole situation was making it impossible for Tony and I to be close or to do the exact thing that needs to be done to get pregnant.
After about 12 months of trying to conceive we decided to seek medical advice and have some tests done. Initally we paid to go private. This was because by this point i felt so emotionally fragile that the prospect of long waits or not being treated with care by the nhs was something else that I couldn’t handle. So we saw a private consultant who did some tests which confirmed that my husbands sperm count was low, which may explain the problems we were having. We were advised to keep trying for another few months and if nothing happened then we could get IVF treatment on the nhs.
So we carried on trying but again no luck. Eventually we went to our doctors surgery who referred us for IVF treatment. We requested where we wanted to be treated. Care Fertility in Nottingham is the clinic where our private consultant was based, and luckily he did work on the nhs as well. So although it was not in our local authority area, we chose where we wanted treatment. I never actually knew you had this choice, but found out when discussing it with a lady who performed hypnotherapy treatment on me (another measure I had taken to try and relax about the whole process).
So we finally began treatment in June 2014. I cannot speak highly enough of the team at Care, they were all amazing from day one. Initially more tests were performed which this time showed my husbands sperm count had increased. We put this down to him taking vitamin supplements and he had stopped taking red hot baths! We were entitled to one cycle of IVF treatment on the nhs. This actually meant that once my eggs had been cultivated and put together with my husbands sperm, if we only got one healthy embryo from that, then that would be our one chance. However, if from the cultivated eggs and sperm we got two or three healthy embryos, then if the first was not successful when put back in, then we could have another embryo transferred, and then another. Three was the limit. So although only one round of IVF didn’t sound a lot, we could potentially have seperate three embryo transfers.
After all the tests and consultations were completed, the IVF drugs were delivered to our house in a specialised van as some products needed to be kept in the fridge. I was given my plan explaining what, when and how much of each drug to inject each day. Now this is written from memory and is my understanding of how the treatment worked. The initial drugs were to essentially “close down” my menstrual cycle so that the next set of drugs (the “stims”) would then take over and stimulate my ovaries to produce more eggs than they would normally. Once the stims began working, there were lots of visits to the clinic every couple of days to monitor how many eggs I had produced and how big they were. They needed to reach a certain size before the stims could stop and the eggs retrieved. My cycle was successful and I had produced 16 eggs of varying size but at least 8 were looking big enough and good quality.
Once the nurses were happy that my eggs were ready to be retrieved I was given a very specific instruction of when to take the injection which would stimulate my eggs ready for retrieval. After that it was in to the clinic (from memory roughly 48 hours after but I may be wrong :-/) for egg retrieval day. One the morning of this day is when my husband had to provide a sample in order for the eggs to be fertilised once collected.
All was successful. 16 eggs were retrieved, out of those, 12 were fertilised successfully. Out of those, 4 made it to blastocyst stage for a day 5 transfer. We were over the moon! Transfer day was pretty surreal. I went in to theatre, this time awake, and the chosen blastocyst was transferred directly into my uterus. The it was home for the 2 week wait. After leaving the clinic I remember going to macdonalds for a portion of fries – don’t ask! I’d read somewhere that this was what people did after transfer, and by this point I was willing to give anything a go.
I had managed to wangle two weeks off work after transfer. I didn’t want any stress, I wanted to give myself the best chance by staying calm and happy during the two week wait. It was a difficult two weeks, second guessing every tweak or twinge or anything that might be a sign that it had or hadn’t worked. I had no symptoms whatsoever, just tiredness and slight nausea but nothing really obvious. Staying positive was really difficult and the days really did drag. But eventually on 20th August 2014, at 2 o’clock in the morning, my husband and I sat on the bathroom floor crying over our first ever positive pregnancy test.
I feel so blessed that we had success after just one round of IVF. I know many people who have had several treatments and are still trying for conceive, and I know a lot of people who have eventually become pregnant but only after years and years of treatments. My husband and I were extremely lucky and we are so thankful to the team who treated us.
We returned to the clinic this year, the day after Charlie turned one. We wanted to show the team what they had done for us and to thank them. We still have three embryos frozen ready for transfer. We don’t have any plans for more children in the future. If we maintain this position, we have discussed donating those for research. It will be a difficult decision when it comes to it but we wouldn’t be where were are now without the research that is done in the field of IVF.
I hope this post has been informative and helpful for anyone going through IVF now or in the future. It has been therapeutic to write and has been good looking back over social media posts where I documented what was happening and how I was feeling. My Instagram page is dedicated to life as a mother now but you will find on my older posts a lot of information about trying to conceive, going through IVF and being pregnant. @JO_MUMMY_BLOGGER