IVF Journey Part 1

It’s been over 6 months since I wrote Our Infertility Journey and I’ve been desperate to finish where I left off and share our journey before our IVF treatment started! 💉🙏🏼✨

We had our initial consultation at the fertility clinic in the hospital on 15 October 2018. After several months of waiting for this appointment, the ball was now officially rolling! We were told we could get NHS funding for one round of ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and a subsequent FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) should our first transfer be unsuccessful but only if we had more than one embryo. You following? 🙈 In IVF terms this is called “one fresh, one frozen”. Honestly, at the time I didn’t have a clue. I heard the words “referral for funding” and I remember feeling extremely happy and grateful for anything.

On 23 October 2018, Joel completed another semen analysis and the consultant advised us to freeze this sample to have insurance should Joel not produce good sperm on the day of my egg collection (which is the same day they put the egg and the sperm together and wait 5-6 days until it becomes a blastocyst/embryo ready for transfer back inside me). The results came through straight away with a count of 21 million, good morphology and motility… now all on ice! We were pleasantly shocked and confused all at once. Joel hadn’t had the greatest of results over the years and to now get this was incredible! But of course, it also left us feeling a bit sad that getting pregnant couldn’t happen naturally for us. The doctor said sometimes sperm is just very variable and in Joel’s case this could be why but they couldn’t say for certain without us really paying a lot of money to find out. We made our peace with just never knowing exactly why getting pregnant never happened for us. Luckily, we were content with having IVF and so excited to get started with great sperm in the freezer ❄️ I had an AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) blood test completed on the same day which is a standard test to check your egg reserve. I remember it taking three different nurses to get blood out of me. I was poked three times in each arm until they finally got it! Good job by this point I felt absolutely fine with blood tests and knew there were a lot more needles to come 😬

I then attended my GP for a thyroid blood test and on 16 November 2018 we had our initial consultation at our new fertility clinic, Wessex Fertility. We found out that our NHS funding had been accepted, which was incredible news! I had an internal scan which thankfully showed my uterus was all good. The consultant raised that my TSH level (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was a little on the high side at a 5.74 meaning I have an under-active thyroid and for fertility treatment at their clinic, it needed to be a 4 or less before starting. I was prescribed a low dose of Levothyroxine (25mcg) and needed to have another blood test in 4 weeks time to check it had gone down. My AMH results came back at a 29 which we were told is all good, so we were told we’d be having a mild round of ICSI/IVF so as not to overstimulate my ovaries, as I already had a healthy egg count. Last but not least, the only thing we now had to do was wait for my next cycle/period to start and we could book our consenting appointment and prepare to start our treatment! It was a full on appointment! I remember coming away feeling all the emotions and like everything was now moving so fast after waiting so long and having to be patient.

A few days later, I started my thyroid medication and had a smear test just to tick all the boxes and make sure I was a-okay. Then on 3 December 2018 my period started and for the first time in a long time I was so excited but then after sitting down with Joel, working out dates, it hit me like a tonne of bricks… if our treatment was successful, our baby would be due right when Joel would be in Japan for work. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, that we’ve all been building up to for years and there was no way I’d want him to not only miss that BUT obviously more importantly miss the birth of our child. We did a lot of soul searching that night and decided it would be best to delay the start of our IVF by a month. It made sense, even though it hurt a lot. I also wanted to make sure my thyroid levels went down and it meant we now didn’t have to do this all over Christmas. There were a lot of factors and it felt like a sensible decision but painful nonetheless for two people so desperate to be parents. I think maybe this just shows how optimistic we were and how much we so wanted to do everything right by ourselves and our future baby. I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted it all to go right and be in our control. I called up the clinic the next day and they were so lovely after I told them everything and I’ll always remember them saying “if you just said you didn’t want to do it over Christmas we would have absolutely understood. It’s so stressful!” I cried happy tears at what a great experience we were having with these lovely people. So we enjoyed the lead up to Christmas, both alcohol free, eating super healthy and just enjoying ourselves, thinking this time next year we will potentially have a little baby 😭 I had another blood test to check my thyroid and my new cycle began on 30 December 2018! All systems were now a go! Happy new year!

In the beginning of January, I booked our Consenting appointment at the clinic, the GP confirmed my TSH level was at a 3 and we booked a delivery date for the IVF drugs. I was feeling anxious but so excited to get started! I was healthy in mind and body… looking back it was actually a really happy time but of course, tinged with uncertainty.

On 3 January 2019 we had our Consenting appointment, which is where you’re shown how to administer the injections and drugs, then we went through our treatment plan. This is what I affectionately called the “no-no-go” appointment… there was no turning back after this. It was REALLY happening this time!

Our drugs arrived on 18 January 2019 and they consisted of:

Gonal-F injections – to grow my follicles that contain the eggs
Fyremadel injections – to suppress my body’s natural instinct to ovulate, so the follicles grow bigger making my eggs mature ready for the sperm
Ovitrelle injection – affectionately called the “trigger” injection to kick start ovulation at the exact time it’s needed before going to surgery a few days later
Cyclogest pessaries – to be taken after Egg Collection to thicken my womb lining ready for Embryo Transfer day
Sharps bin – for all the lovely needles
Pregnancy test – an unexpected surprise! A free test was welcome but I already had about a dozen First Response tests stored around the house 👍🏼

I was so excited to get this delivery! Joel was working from home and under strict instructions to put the injections straight into the fridge. I really couldn’t concentrate much at work and as soon as I got home home, I just stared at it all. It really hit me that I’d soon have to start injecting myself every day with hormones and have surgery to extract my eggs. It’s something that never ever crossed my mind I’d have to do to make a baby but here I was, ready and oddly excited for what was to come. The very next day, I hopped on a plane to Spain for a long weekend away with my mum and sister. It was so nice to escape reality for a little while and relax. Even though it was cold we managed to sit on the beach, soak in some sun, listen to the waves and just have nice chats… mostly about my impending treatment but it was still really great quality time. I felt very lucky I got to do this before life got crazy.

It’s insane looking back at what it took to get us here in this moment before injections started. IVF rules your world. I haven’t even touched the surface on what really goes on with your mental health because honestly, I find it hard to explain and understand myself. There was a lot of healthy eating, beetroot juice shots, yoga, meditation, no alcohol… being mind body and soul ready for what I was about to put myself through. It’s not a simple process and while I was positive and still am even looking back, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But I was so determined to make our dream become a reality. I visioned my baby. I knew I’d be pregnant one day, this is just how we were going to get there.

My Mother.Heart.IVF Instagram was my saving grace during this time. It was a place I could talk with likeminded women currently going through or have been through the same treatment, where I could diarise my journey to one day myself look back on but also hopefully help others and just be my creative outlet! I love social media. I love connecting with people more and more as I get older and staying anonymous on there at the time was a life saver for me… especially with what was about to come…

…to be continued!

Instagram Posts
15 Oct 18 Initial Consultation at Hospital
23 Oct 18 Semen Analysis & AMH Blood Test
16 Nov 18 Initial Consultation at Wessex Fertility
16 Nov 18 Initial Consultation at Wessex Fertility (Test Results)
3 Dec 18 Delaying IVF Treatment
3 Jan 19 Consenting Appointment
18 Jan 19 Drug Delivery

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