Make sure you read this amazingly candid article from @Tryingtobeamum, we are so thrilled that we can provide a platform for mums and dads to have conversations around topics like IVF which people are usually keeping locked inside.
Having been trying to conceive for the last four years, I finally decided that maybe the best thing, both for myself and hopefully for others, was to share what that has all been about, and I decided that during our fourth round of IVF I would start a blog. It was a scary decision, for although we have been very open about our experience; it becomes something different when it’s all over social media. BUT, I have to say it’s one of the most cathartic and enriching experiences I’ve had.
I was single at the wrong time ie my 30s! Or rather I hadn’t really found the person I wanted to settle down with, ha and my mum was starting to worry I would never find anyone to have a family with…. I also loved my career, although it has been brutal at times, but I’ve had some amazing experiences (some awful and stressful ones as well), so I just bumbled along… I never wanted to “settle”, and I am so glad that I went through all of that, because it means I married Dwighty (my husband).
Although I would never have settled, am not going to lie trying to be a mum in your mid to late 30s (40s!) is exhausting and no one tells you that that might be the case (even though you sort of know it). I mean I’m pretty lucky, so why would trying to have a baby be any different?? It should just happen, like everything else and to everyone else… Wrong…this is what happened, what I have learnt and what I am still learning… three failed IVF treatments, one natural pregnancy, and one miscarriage later…
Lots of things go through your head whilst you are trying to rationalise/ understand your own fertility. You start to doubt yourself/ blame yourself. It must be me. I must be the thing that’s wrong (even if it’s unexplained). Why is my body doing this to me? Why won’t it work? You feel a failure, even when everyone is telling you how amazing you are for even beginning the journey.
We started the process going through our GP and the NHS, and the consultants we met were amazing, but when we realised the length of the wait times, we realised we couldn’t wait, (as a geriatric mother over the age of 35 you are told this constantly!)… and we were lucky we could afford to so we went privately. We had a very mixed experience at our first clinic, and after a rather traumatic transfer experience on our second round (where they essentially “lost” the embryo during transfer! You couldn’t write this stuff!), we decided it was time to find a new clinic. We were recommended to a very successful clinic in Wimpole St and we’ve been there for our last two rounds. They are brilliant and the attention you receive is incredible. It is intense, a much more intense experience than other places, but they get results, or at least that’s what we are hoping!!! It’s lots of drugs, at different times of the day, tablets and injections… you become a human pin-cushion!
We didn’t implant the first time round, and then I was put on a course of drugs to balance out my Cytokines (they are big on immunology at this clinic and your treatment is based on this). Finally I was ready to jump back into treatment… except as I was waiting for Day One of my cycle, we found out we were pregnant!!! Naturally! We couldn’t believe it! Elation was followed by 4 weeks of more tests and uncertainty, as we were told that it was likely that we would miscarry… and we did. It was pretty awful, but I think at the same time from the moment we found out, I sort of knew deep down that things weren’t right, and mentally I feel like I prepared myself for what was inevitably going to happen. It doesn’t make it less painful, physically and emotionally, but I think it definitely managed to help me move on in a more positive frame of mind.
It’s funny I guess that when you are trying naturally, you don’t then launch into a conversation about the details: how many times you had sex that week, what stage of ovulation you are at, or what consistency your cervical mucus might be! Yet with IVF, the minutiae of detail that you know about your body, what stage it is currently at and how it is reacting, is quite extraordinary. Sometimes I often feel it’s quite good in that it distracts from what is actually going on… the science creates a smoke screen for the fact that you are literally preparing your body to create and then accept a cluster of little cells, that will ultimately become your baby (all things being well). BONKERS! It still amazes me how this all works, and how humbling and incredible it actually is.
I think for me one of the hardest parts is when you wait for the call from the embryologist to let you know if any eggs have fertilised and how they are doing! What if they haven’t? What if they have, but aren’t good enough? If they are, how many? What grade are they? Honestly it makes your head spin. You are then called every 24hrs with a progress update and an indication of when you are then going to transfer any embryos back in! I have to admit to becoming slightly numb at this juncture, as there is literally nothing you can do to affect the outcome. Science and nature completely take over at this point, and as the old saying goes “what will be, will be”. I think that that is something I have definitely had to come to terms with so far, and get others to understand. The fact that IVF isn’t a given, that there is no guarantee, and we are playing a very unfair game of Russian roulette…but that’s exactly what it is.
I think it’s really hard to understand if you haven’t been through it, and that’s not a slight on anyone as I wish we didn’t have to, but I think it really is important for there to be an awareness around the commitment and the level of “stuff” that is going on whilst you are trying to “relax” and “not think about it too much”! And to hopefully explain why, it’s sometimes hard to keep this all to yourself and still continue living your “normal life”. This process doesn’t equate to normal, but it becomes your own sort of normal.
If you want to read more of musings/ drivvle, head over to my blog tryingtobeamumblog.com or follow me on Instagram @_tryingtobeamum_
If you have a story to share just drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org. Or we can open up a discussion in the forums so you can all have a place to get together.