2013-01-22

My husband and I always thought we’d have a baby together, but after well over three years of trying we have not had any success. We are now going to try IVF, and I thought it might be therapeutic for me to write a little blog about it. I also thought some people might be interested to find out more about the process and what goes on.

Today’s the day to start the blog, because it all kicks off properly tomorrow. This is a total surprise actually, as we were supposed to start next month. Yesterday I got a letter asking me to confirm I would be coming in next month, but when I phoned up today they said I could come in tomorrow. Less than 24 hours to get my head round that one.

Fertility is a long process in the area where we live. After about two years of non-conception your GP will do tests, then you get a referral to a fertility specialist which takes a while. They do more tests and then give you a diagnosis. In our case ‘unexplained infertility’ – which doesn’t mean we don’t have any medical problems stopping us conceiving, it just means we don’t have the obvious ones (i.e. low sperm count, lack of ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes). If you want to go down the IVF route you have to have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for three years to even get onto the waiting list (because 98% of people who will conceive will do so in three years), and then the waiting list was advertised at being 2 years for NHS funded treatment or six months for self-funded treatment when we went onto it. That brings in the whole process at five years from first try to first go at IVF. So if you start trying when you are 30, you get your first round of IVF when you are 35. At which age your fertility drops right off…

We are lucky to be getting NHS funded treatment at this point really, and we are entitled to two tries on the NHS. There has been some funding changes, and some negotiations, and some lucky breaks, and here we are finally at the top of the list.

I know some people will not agree with the idea of IVF being funded by the NHS and I’m not sure what I think about that myself really. What I will say is that not funding IVF would create and reinforce an inequality in our society where the poor people couldn’t afford to have something that the rich people could. And that would be unfair. It is, also, a medical problem. But I’d rather not go into the ethics of this any more on here.

I also know that some people will think that you should not ‘play god’ and have IVF when there are children out there waiting to be adopted. Actually, adoption isn’t what you might imagine. Firstly this isn’t America so you can’t just buy a baby from someone local or an orphanage in China. Secondly, these days it is easier to get an abortion and there is less stigma associated with being a young parent or a single parent. So that means fewer ‘unwanted’ children and consequently the only kids that need to be adopted are the ones that have suffered severe trauma – those who have been taken away from their parents because social services think the child is at risk. So it’s not many – for example in 2009 only 455 children in Scotland were adopted. And they don’t give these kids to just anyone because quite rightly they need special care. Being willing to take one is not enough!

I always said I would never do IVF because I was a bit naïve about the points above and I was worried I wouldn’t cope with the emotional pressure. What I didn’t realise was how bloody awful it would be to fail to conceive for years and years and how IVF would seem like a breeze after that. First of all there is the constant failure and your body reminding you of this failure regularly. Think about it, I must have tried 40 times to conceive a baby. Would you take your A-Levels or your driving test 40 times? It is soul destroying. But please don’t be one of those that tells me that it is my lack of hope stopping me conceiving or that if I relax it will happen naturally. I wasn’t always like this! It was fine for the first six months, and it is only as you get into years of failure that you start to believe it will never happen.

It is also heart breaking being at that age when your friends are having babies and talking about babies around you and you have to show them that you are happy for them, even though concurrently you’re also jealous and emotionally exhausted. Then they fit in birthing their second baby in the time you have not even been able to manage to conceive one. Then there’s Facebook with its three month scans and its chit chat about buying prams and other things I’d like to be doing. And don’t get me started on the Facebook Mummy memes that pop up when you least expect it:

Until you’ve counted little fingers counted little toes, held a little hand kissed a little nose, soothed a little tummy read to little ears, powdered a little booty wiped away little tears, you haven’t known love.

Without my children my house would be clean and my wallet would be full but my heart would be empty.

I’m sorry I’ve been a crappy friend, I’ve been busy being an awesome mom.

Like if you agree, or cry if you’re me. It wears you down. But you have to stay in the game, or you’d have no friends as well as no baby.

So now I’ve put so much into this I’m determined to see through what I have tried and failed to do naturally, and assisted conception seems like the next obvious step. And it is actually a relief, because it is something different to try rather than the repetitive cycle of failure.

In the clinic we are going to the success rate is 43% for each go, which doesn’t sound great, but I believe this clinic is something like the top third one in the UK for success rates. Probably because they are very fussy about who they will take in terms of age and lifestyle factors and happily I pass these.

So now I’m in, and my husband and I are good to go. Tomorrow.

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