We’d always been fortunate to conceive both naturally and quickly with our 6 pregnancies. The longest it took us was 3 months. So we were pretty confident that it would continue this way. The treatment plan for my miscarriages had been tweaked and in May 2014 we were ready to start trying again.
Relax, it will happen when you least expect it
A few months went by with no success, not uncommon for a lot of women so I wasn’t too concerned. I got the trusty ovulation kits out again to try and narrow down the time I was most fertile and was sure it would happen soon. By December 2014 we’d still not had any luck and I was starting to wonder why were we trying too hard? People always tell you to relax and that it will happen when you least expect it maybe I’d been putting too much pressure on myself?
In April 2015, after 11 months of trying, I decided to visit my GP to discuss our situation. I was told that they couldn’t help me as we lived in an area where funding for fertility treatment wasn’t available from the NHS. The crazy thing is that if we lived just a few miles away we would fall under a different Clinical Commissioning Group and we’d be able to get funding how is it fair that funding is granted based on your postcode? We had no option but to go private if we needed help as once again, the same as our miscarriage treatment – the NHS couldn’t help us.
After extensive research into clinics we booked an appointment at Holly House, a private practice based in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, with consultant Dr Nataly Atalla. The initial appointment was very overwhelming to be honest. We spent an hour listening to the pros and cons of IVF and the various options available to us. Even though we are both fit and healthy we were told our success rate would be around the 35% – 45% range, lower than what I expected. We left there with a list of blood tests to have done and Adam also had to give a sperm sample so they could check how his swimmers were performing. I also booked in for a procedure called a follicle scan to check how many eggs I produced in a cycle. The results of Adam’s test came back that he had an infection within his sperm, very common in men and easily treatable with antibiotics. It also showed that his swimmers had poor motility, effectively meaning that they were lazy little buggers and were probably too tired to fertilise my eggs if they ever reached them. All my tests came back fine. So now we knew our problem it was time to start treatment.
In August 2015 we were started on the long protocol. (This is where IVF is carried out over about six weeks and includes two distinct stages. The first was down-regulating (stopping your natural cycle) and then stimulating egg production. The down-regulating was done via a nasal spray twice a day for 2 weeks. After these 2 weeks I had to inject myself twice daily with Menopur to help stimulate egg production. I was scanned every other day for a further 2 weeks until Dr Atalla felt we were ready for egg collection. The day before egg collection I had terrible nausea and bloating and the clinic were worried that I was suffering from Hyper Ovarian Stimulation, a condition which causes your body to over stimulate and would have meant this round of IVF being cancelled at the last minute. Luckily it turns out it was just a 24 hour bug and the procedure could still go ahead.
This was performed at a clinic in London. Adam went off in one room to produce his sample and I was taken to theatre and sedated where my eggs were then collected. They couldn’t access my left ovary due to it being too high up but they managed to collect 13 eggs from my right ovary so we were really pleased. Off home we went with the promise of a phone call the following day to let us know how our eggs had got on overnight once they’d been mixed with Adam’s swimmers. The good news is the following day we found out that 10 of those eggs had fertilised, a really good success rate. Over the next 4 days we lost a few of the embryos that weren’t strong enough to carry on and by day 5 (the longest they’ll wait to do the transfer) we had 5 very healthy embryos remaining. So back off to London we went for the embryo transfer. Dr Atalla decided to transfer 2 back in me, therefore increasing our chances of success. The remaining 3 embryos were frozen for any future cycles. The transfer process was surreal, I was awake throughout and Adam was by my side and we watched on the screen as the 2 embryos were implanted back in me. Had we possibly just watched our miracle baby start its journey?
Then came the hard part, the dreaded 2 week wait. I was injecting myself daily with 40mg of Clexane (a blood thinner) in my stomach and 150mg of Gestone (a hormone drug) injection which Adam used to have to do in the top of my bum cheek (ouch). You are advised to not take a pregnancy test until 14 days after transfer. I however am probably the most impatient person you’ve ever met and was driving myself (and everyone else) insane on a daily basis so on day 12 I decided to test. I didn’t feel pregnant and had convinced myself it hadn’t worked so I nearly fell off the toilet when I saw the result pregnant flash up on the screen – it had worked first time!! Adam was at work so I facetimed him from the bathroom to tell him the good news, not very romantic but I couldn’t wait until he got home.
I called the clinic and told them the good news and I was booked in for a scan in a further 3 weeks time if I thought the dreaded 2 week wait had gone slow then I was in for a shock, these 3 weeks felt like a lifetime. Finally, the day came and on the 12th October 2015 everything we’d gone through felt worth it when we finally saw our little miracle on screen for the first time.
Over the coming weeks I had regular scans and infusions as part of my miscarriage treatment, which was still continuing alongside the IVF treatment. In all I was taking 10 tablets and 2 injections a day.
I must admit that I had down days during this period. Although everything was going well, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself something I’d always tried not to do. I didn’t want to be covered in bruises from all the injections, or have headaches and nausea from all the pills, I just wanted to be normal but as my tummy grew I put these thoughts to the back of my head and decided to concentrate on how blessed we were that it had worked for us. There’s so many women who can’t have children, even after IVF, so I was one of the lucky ones.
In January 2016 we reached the 20-week mark and I was taken off all my medication and discharged from both the IVF and miscarriage clinics and handed back over to the NHS to be cared for as normal. A day I thought would never come.
I had days where I nearly gave up and I’d shut the world away and cry. It also put a huge strain on us both financially and emotionally. Adam was amazing throughout it all though, letting me shout, sulk and cry whenever I needed to and never once holding it against me. It really has made us stronger as a couple and we never argued once throughout the whole process.
IVF was hands down the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through it will test even the strongest of couples. But if you were to ask me would I do it again the answer would be yes, in a heartbeat.