By Lacey Luther
I do not think I have ever known any one thing to invoke so many different emotions in me at different times – it was the biggest emotional rollercoaster I have ever experienced.
After four years of trying for a baby, and being diagnosed with unexplained infertility, we finally started IVF.
Just getting to a place where we were eligible for IVF on the NHS caused no end of frustration, waiting for appointments, filling out forms and getting tests done repeatedly – not forgetting the embarrassment. I cringe when I think of the day Dan had to give a ‘sample’, we went to the wrong department to hand it in then got lost trying to find the right one and had to ask numerous people where it was we needed – it wasn’t well signposted!
Then there was the egg collection – lying on a bed with 3 or more people down that ‘end’ while I was legs akimbo, doesn’t make for an easy ‘small talk situation’! Not to mention the physical toll the process takes on your body- I had this image of egg collection being like a game of hungry hippos- slightly irritating and a faff but mostly painless. The reality was a feeling of having been punched in the stomach by Mike Tyson- I was tender for the next four days.
That all aside, after the tests, waiting, injecting, scans and emotional ups and downs of the cycle, not to mention the hormonal mood swings, our first cycle failed. This left me devastated, I could not even walk the dog without crying. That was a low I could never have predicted, especially as I had been totally lying to myself for weeks, ‘managing my own expectations‘, telling myself ‘it’s fine if it doesn’t work’, ‘most cycles don’t work first time’. Turns out I couldn’t even lie to myself very well as it wasn’t ok, and I felt pretty awful.
When I really think about it all, rationally, it is nonsensical really, I mean it’s not like a maths test I can cram for, or a dress to lose weight for – it’s biology that we are at the mercy of. Sure, we can eat healthy, not smoke, drink or get stressed but it’s that bit of magic that creates the baby that we really cannot control and yet it dictated my mood so much, for so long and I literally had no control over it.
I find it all baffling in a way – why? Fertility or lack of it is completely natural and yet we are all so guarded about it. I’ve always been very open with my friends about having IVF and my anxiety about the possibility that we might not be able to have children. During our journey, while talking endlessly about it, I came across friends who had had IVF but kept it on the downlow for various reasons, which surprised me – after all it is nothing to be ashamed off- infertility does not discriminate! I have never done anything that sent me off in so many different emotional directions over one issue.
We are so, so lucky that we were successful on our second round. The emotional range we went through after that was crazy – Joy, happiness, then when issues arose, deep fear for the life I was carrying, back to relief when all was ok. If it wasn’t for my husband and friends, I genuinely question how well I would have survived mentally. Talking about it got me through, kept my sanity and meant I had the emotional and mental support that I needed to keep perspective when I needed it.
How long does it all take?
The actual IVF process once we got started with injections up until test date only takes about 5 weeks. On the NHS, from the first appointment with my GP until our successful round and the first positive test took us two years and 9 months. It definitely makes you question how much you want children by going through it, but on the plus side once you have done all the tests and actual IVF process, labour and giving birth hold nothing new in the way of embarrassment for you!!