It’s been a bit quiet on the blog recently, this is because I have been wrestling a bit over this post, both in trying to write it and whether or not to post it. When it comes down to it I have decided to share this because I want to see a better world for my daughter and talking about the difficult subjects can help increase understanding and awareness. I know there are thousands of women and men struggling with fertility issues silently and alone and also with little or no support or understanding and having walked that path I just want to try and do my bit to help.
Fertility, infertility and IVF have all been something of a taboo subject but people are starting to talk about these more. When we increase understanding and awareness of something it becomes less scary and taboo. Sitting here today I almost find it hard to believe we don’t talk about these topics more when so many people experience it and yet when I think back to the beginning of our journey and I remember why we didn’t talk about it when we were going through it. In fact for some of our friends the first time they heard we were having a baby was when we announced our daughter’s arrival! I was so terrified that day would never come. Part of our journey was making the decision to try Mild IVF over the traditional method and I think it is an option more people should be aware of, especially as, for some, it is available on the NHS.
Like many couples we began our journey with hope and excitement, I won’t go into the full extent of our story today but needless to say those feelings were slowly replaced with fear, depression and extreme anxiety. As friends announced their own pregnancies I was thrilled for them and it gave me hope but eventually we realised that we were going to need some help starting our own family. Going back to why we didn’t talk about this more with people at the time I think it comes down to the uncertainty, most couples don’t make an announcement until they are 12 weeks pregnant, it is traditionally kept under wraps precisely because there are no certainties when it comes to getting and staying pregnant, it is hugely emotional. We grow up believing that it just happens so, of course, when it didn’t I began to feel like a failure, embarrassed that it wasn’t happening naturally and began to question everything about myself. It would help if we as a society were more educated and aware of the reality of fertility and infertility and that it is a science not an indication of your worth as a person, because for some, myself included it begins to feel like that which is ludicrous.
Again, like many couples today, we never really got to the bottom of why it didn’t happen naturally for us or why I had experienced a loss early on and then nothing. The monthly roundabout of hope, excitement, waiting and defeat led me down a horrid path of depression and anxiety that in turn led me to seek therapy to enable me to keep going. There is no question that there should be more support for people going through this! During those years I lost all sense of myself and everything just felt like an uphill battle. Test after test gave no answer and with no real ‘issue’ to address we found ourselves constantly having the post moved as to when we might be able to start some kind of IVF treatment on the NHS. I was constantly being told I was ‘very young’ at 28 to be concerned about these issues and was made to feel like I was seeking help too soon. This, to me, seems crazy in itself as research shows that women have higher success at IVF with younger eggs but that is another issue.
In the meantime we read up on it, trying to get our heads around this new reality. It is difficult to take on board that, after trying month after month with no end in sight, suddenly you only have a limited shot and our dream seemed almost impossible when presented as statistics and procedures. It was my Mum, a health visitor at the time, who suggested we look at a clinic in London that offered mild and natural IVF procedures, tailored to you and your bodies. We nervously attended an information day fully expecting the hard sell but came away feeling heard, armed with information and a far better understanding of what lay ahead.
Mild IVF was the procedure recommended to us, it uses a lower dosage of the drugs used in conventional IVF making it, as I understand, a safer and more affordable option. Having been through this procedure now I am so grateful we made this decision as my body quickly responded to these drugs and I believe had I been on a higher dosage and more drugs I would very likely have experienced OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) which often requires a cycle to be cancelled due to the severe side effects. As it was we were very lucky to become pregnant with our daughter on our first fresh cycle using Mild IVF and we began a whole new adventure. Obviously I can’t say this will work for everyone or even be the appropriate procedure for everyone, we were incredibly lucky, but I do think tailored options should be more widely available. It makes sense to me that a method that uses lower doses of drugs is more affordable, if you are using less of something then obviously the cost is less. It also makes sense that is safer, if an IVF procedure is tailored to you and your situation as opposed to a one size fits all approach then women are less likely to be over stimulated unnecessarily.
This is a relatively new science, if we are honest with ourselves, and methods and procedures will have changed even in the time that has passed since our experience of it. I hope this will also mean more awareness, acceptance and care for couples going through this and today I just want to share some of our experience. I have not shared precise details or named our clinic here but I am happy to be contacted should any of you have queries. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of IVF so I hope to write more about this in the future so do get in touch.