MFMer Yvette and her husband couldn’t wait to be parents and as soon as they were married they started trying to conceive. But after 18 months and no success, they discovered that getting pregnant naturally just wasn’t going to happen for them.
They were soon referred for IVF which meant the next few months were going to be a roller coaster of tests, procedures and emotions.
Here’s Yvette’s story in her own words:
Getting referred for IVF
“My husband and I had always wanted children. I remember a surprising but lovely conversation between us after just 6 weeks together, discussing names and numbers – I wanted 3, he wanted 2, I’d thought of names – he hadn’t!
“We were married 3 years later and started trying immediately. We were very relaxed about it at first and not in a hurry to get pregnant straight away. Discovering we did have fertility problems though, after a year and a half, was hard. I so wanted us to be one of those couples for whom it just took a bit longer and had still been holding out hope each month, that it would be our turn next.
“I had become expert in the mental arithmetic of period due dates, testing dates, time our potential baby would be born dates; and each time we planned something, from a night out to a holiday, I would wonder if and hope that I would be pregnant by then. The event/birthday/Christmas/holiday rolled around and, inevitably, we were no further forward. It was tough.
“In some ways though, we were very lucky. Our GP knew so little about our fertility issues it bordered on insulting, but after being referred to the Fertility Clinic at our local hospital, things progressed very quickly. We were told that in our circumstances an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) referral was recommended; meaning we effectively ‘skipped’ the intrauterine insemination (IUI) stage and brought out the big guns straight away.”
Form filling, poking and prodding – the IVF journey begins
“I know this wouldn’t be for everyone. And of course, it was a little daunting. But we both wanted a baby so very much and for us it was clear this was pretty much our only shot at having one. We were relieved to get this opportunity so quickly and not have up to a year of more waiting, or to at first have to undergo treatment that statistically was much less successful than IVF.
“There was also no waiting list in our area, for which we were of course so thankful. It is so awful that couples living just 50 miles away from us have to wait over two years for treatment.
“Lots of form filling, some more poking and prodding and one very helpful counselling session later, we were ready to begin. I was told that the first stage, down regulation, or DR, was the toughie. Headaches, night sweats, mood swings, exhaustion were just some of the side effects of stripping my body of all its natural hormones, so that the clinic could effectively be in charge of my cycle and prepare to stimulate my ovaries.”
IVF injections – one mum’s experience
“I had one injection to take each day, either in my stomach or thigh – I chose stomach as there was more fat protection! My husband and I sat in our bedroom each evening for this, his job was to measure the drug out and sort out any air bubbles and my job was to inject. It was actually fairly simple, with just a slight sting and then we got on with our evening.
“DR was a little draining at times, but definitely not as bad as I expected and I fortunately got away without any headaches, night sweats or sickness. I ate a good diet, drank lots and lots of water and rested as much as I could, but obviously life had to go on.
“In the first week I had a 4 hour round trip with work, and gratefully collapsed into bed for 10 hours afterwards, but found as long as I wasn’t silly and packing my free time full of stuff, I was OK. I also began sessions of acupuncture which were extremely relaxing.
“I remember one bad day, when I woke up feeling quite bleak about the whole thing, and just couldn’t imagine it working, or becoming pregnant. I cried to my husband, I cried to my Mum, and I cried at acupuncture – hormonal mess, anyone? When I left the session though, I drove home so much lighter. My heart had lifted, my body felt relaxed and I just felt so balanced, calm and positive.”
Stimming and egg collection
“Everything continued smoothly into the next stage of stimulation, or stimming. We were on to 2 injections per day now and regular internal scans at the clinic to check my follicles.
“It had become a game of numbers, the more mature follicles I had, the more eggs they would retrieve. The more eggs I had to fertilise, the more likely we were to have a decent number of embryos to select from.
“I had responded reasonably well to the treatment, “smooth and steady” said the nurse. It was hard not to become obsessed by the number of follicles and their measurements, so much seemed to hinge on it and I wanted to respond better than reasonably damn it! But the clinic seemed happy and we were pleased and even a little excited that things had gone so smoothly up until now; hope was definitely in the air!
“Stimming lasted just 10 days, and before we knew it was time for the collection of my eggs. It was happening! I was a little anxious on the day of the procedure, but it went smoothly and they collected 11 eggs, slightly more than expected so we were happy. Now it was time for my eggs, and my husband’s sperm to do their thing and get fertilising.”
The emotional side of IVF
“The clinic rang the next morning to let us know how fertilisation had gone. Unfortunately, it was not good news. Only one had begun to fertilise, our chances of success had been slashed significantly.
“This one little embryo, if it survived the night, would be transferred into me the following day – the usual preference is for a five day transfer, once the embryo has become a blastocyst. The Embryologist also warned that it may not continue to divide as it should, in which case there would be no transfer, and no opportunity of becoming pregnant. It would all have been for nothing.
“We were devastated; all positivity went out of the window, replaced by hopelessness. We spent the whole morning in bed, me crying, my husband reassuring me that we could try again. At that point, I didn’t think I could. All those injections, all those life changes; not to mention all that we had invested emotionally, I just couldn’t believe it had gone wrong so quickly.”
Playing the waiting game
“My husband spent the rest of the day looking after me and researching our situation, and by bed time, it didn’t seem quite as bad. If we could make it to embryo transfer, we still had a chance. It didn’t matter, he explained, that we weren’t getting a 5 day transfer.
“That would only be relevant if we had several embryos to choose from, and by day 5 the clinic would select the ‘best’, but, as there was only one, it was so much better being inside me, where it belonged, as a lab environment could only try to replicate the womb, it would never be as effective as the real thing.
“And, our little embryo made it. Classed as Grade 2/3, meaning decent but not brilliant, it was placed inside me, in a perfect position according to our Doctor. I was feeling calmer after acupuncture that morning, and said a silent prayer as our little emby landed and we were given a scan photo of the tiny little dot that could change our lives.”
Taking the pregnancy test
“People said the 2-week wait would crawl by, and it did. I went back to work after a week of pottering and slowly losing my mind at home. We tested a day earlier than the clinic suggested, but I think we did pretty well to last that long! Nervously checking the stick after 3 minutes, we saw just one line. Negative.
“We sat on the bed and held hands but I couldn’t quite bring myself to be heartbroken. I asked my husband to check again, and this time, there was a second line! It was light, but very clear. Were we? Could we be? Oh. My. Word! One pint of water and another test later – this time digital, we were convinced. I was pregnant!
“As the clinic had told us, it really does only take one, and our little embryo had stuck it out and made its home in me. We could not have been happier, and felt as though our pregnancy was even more of a miracle considering the odds towards the end. We were beyond delighted – and already completely in love with the tiny little life growing inside me.”
“Our little boy, Samuel, arrived 9 months later, immediately stealing our hearts and changing our lives completely. We could not be more thankful for the way things have turned out and are so very grateful to the NHS and fertility clinic for making our wonderful little family possible.”
Read more on IVF:
- Celebs who’ve had IVF – and what they’ve said about it
- Chrissy Teigen reacts to troll’s insensitive IVF question
- IVF photo-technique: what it is and what it could do
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