Dad shares his experience of IVF - what's it like for fathers?
Chris Payne and wife Katie are expecting triplets via IVF. We’ve shared her side of the story – but what’s the IVF experience really like for a man?
We’ve shared a fair few IVF success stories from the point of view from the woman undergoing treatment – one of which is MFMer Yvette's 18-month journey to becoming a mum.
We also recently chatted to Katie Payne, whose son Sullivan was conceived via IVF, and who’s now expecting triplets after her last ever round of IVF.
Makes sense to hear that side of the story, right? After all, a lot of fertility treatments involve the woman taking drugs, giving herself injections, and syncing up her cycle.
But one thing we don’t think we’ve covered is: what does the whole journey feel like for a hopeful dad-to-be? Obviously, it's a slightly different perspective.
So, we chatted to Katie’s husband Chris (@triplet_dad_of_4), who shared how their infertility journey and subsequent IVF treatment affected him, too…
A dad describes his experience of IVF
“From the very start, when you’re initially trying to conceive, you feel frustrated, you feel ‘Why us?’," explains Chris.
“It’s quite a slow process of visiting doctors, having blood tests. It’s kind of frustration, and you live in hope every month that it’s going to happen for you and then it doesn’t.
“Initially, you’re in the same process together of having consultations and some tests done and finding out why it won’t work for you, which was unexplained for us.
“We went on to our first round of IVF and that didn’t work. Then you go on to worrying about [your partner], because she’s starting to take drugs and medication.”
“We obviously spoke about everything a lot – and I said from the beginning if I could do the injections myself then I would.
“It’s hard watching her go through it, because obviously that’s not an option for the man. You have to sit back and let your partner do the whole process with the drugs and everything."
Katie and Chris experienced IVF a second time, which is how they conceived their son, Sullivan.
“The main thing is to offer lots of support and love," he continues. "And [my wife Katie and I] both share a love of fitness, so we allowed each other time to exercise, to get to the gym.
“The gym was always something that made me feel good, so we concentrated on that as much as anything else, and eating well.
“Lots of people give bad advice like ‘just try and relax’ and I think it’s probably the worst advice in the world.
“Our advice is just try to be in a nice, happy place as a couple and be fit and heathy, eat well, and you’ve just got to sit back and wait. It’s a hard process.
“Obviously our first round failed which was devastating, we found out on Boxing Day a few years ago.
“I think with IVF, there’s so many steps from the very start, you feel everything on every step and you feel chuffed every time you hit a step.
“But then you’re kind of on tenterhooks again and then again and again – there’s lots of anxiety on both sides.”
Considering egg donation in exchange for an IVF cycle
Once Sullivan was born, Katie and Chris were no longer entitled to free IVF on the NHS.
So, one thing that Chris and Katie explored - that won’t happen for every couple pursuing IVF privately - is that they worked with a private clinic that offered an egg donation scheme.
If Katie was willing to donate half of her eggs to a couple unable to conceive, they’d receive a free round of IVF from the clinic.
Katie says it was pretty much a no-brainer for her…but how did Chris come to terms with it?
“When Katie had looked into I felt a bit like ‘ooh, that’s something I’m gonna have to think about – and that we’re going to have to talk about’. Which we did.
“At first I found it a really odd concept to think that there could be a child connected to Katie running around somewhere that I may or may not ever get to know.
“Equally that child will never be part of me. I found that hard to get my head around initially.
“When you start going down those lines, you realise it’s not all about us, it’s about helping another couple who fertility-wise are in a far worse position than we are.
“They need these eggs to do anything. So, I think just thinking that we were helping someone helped my mindset, definitely.
“I always try to put myself in someone else’s position. If that was me, I’d love for somebody to support us.”
Ultimately, this route didn’t work out for Chris and Katie. They were fortunate enough to be gifted some money from Katie’s grandparents, and undergo IVF one last time – and found out they were expecting triplet girls?
The joy of IVF working – and expecting triplets
“I’m quite the optimist, so on the day we went for our first, 8-week scan, Katie went to the loo and I joked with the nurse outside that it could be twins because we’d had 2 embryos put back.
“When we went into the scan… the sonographer went, ‘You know that conversation we had outside?’ and I went, ‘It’s twins isn’t it?’
“Then she went quiet for two minutes and she said, ‘There’s nothing wrong, I’m just not sure what I’m seeing’ and I went, ‘There’s not 3 is there?’ and she went, ‘Yes there is’.
“I kind of went blank after that for a short while. Definitely in a state or shock, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and [Katie and I] just kept looking at each other and thinking: ‘Oh my God’.
“It’s just become more real I guess, you come around to the initial shock of thinking ‘Crikey, we're having triplets’ and now it's just exciting, a challenge.
“People ask me how I feel and I am excited, but also a little bit scared - because I want good things for them, you just want to be able to give them everything they need, and not feeling like you’re letting them down.
“To give them all the love that you can and hope that they’ll be fine.”
Share your story
We’d love to hear from more prospective mums and dads-to-be who would be willing to share their experience of going through infertility treatments with their partner, such as IVF.
If you’ve got an opinion you’d like to share or a story you think we’d like to hear, then get in touch via Instagram, Facebook or in the comments below.
Images: triplet_ dad_of_4
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