It happened so quickly, I didn’t have a second to think about what lay ahead. Yes, a slightly alternate method to what I had originally imagined, but all I could think was that our baby was actually possible…in just 2 months I could be pregnant!
We were on the starting blocks and ready to go when a further unexpected hurdle was posted through our letterbox. I’d just confirmed to the clinic that our pre-tests were all normal when my latest smear results came through. ‘Abnormal’ cells (sigh), another incredibly motivating descriptor to go along with my Premature Ovarian ‘Failure’! I knew that with this result we would not be able to start an IVF cycle.
In tears (yet again) I called my gynaecologist with the news. Instantly, he calmed me down, and said he would get me into his clinic within a few days’ time. Before I knew it, my legs were in stirrups (for the first time of many) and I was given a colposcopy and a very painful procedure that lasered away the abnormal cells. Thanks to my incredible consultant I was given the all clear to proceed and we had manoeuvred our way over our first unexpected hurdle.
Fortunately, there was no time to be nervous. Instead I was in the middle of starting an exciting new job for a well-known and respected company, which I had been thrilled to get. I’d been offered the role a little over 3 months previously, way before I knew anything of our fertility problems, or that we would need IVF straight away to give it the best chance of working. I had become a different person since that interview day, with different and more urgent priorities now – my ‘clock was ticking’ at the tender age of 28!
Those that have been through fertility treatment will know that it’s hard enough having to tell your employers when you’ve worked there for a while, never mind before you’ve even started! For me, there was no question that I had to be open and honest – postponing cycles and the risk of wasted time with my ever-dwindling eggs just wasn’t an option.
I was terrified of telling my new manager, after all it’s a very personal thing and can be extremely impactful to your job. Not only is IVF all-consuming mentally, it is also incredibly time consuming and unpredictable with scans, blood tests, egg collection, recovery and (hopefully) embryo transfer all within the space of a few weeks. It was almost like starting two jobs at once. My guilt amplified as I realised that the travel time to and from our clinic was over an hour and so not only would I need time off for appointments, I would also need more time off to get there and back. I was to start our IVF cycle just 3 days before my start date – what timing!
To enable us to start a cycle straight away we had no choice but to self-fund the treatment privately. I’ll discuss the thorny issue of NHS funding in more detail in a later post, but let’s just say it wasn’t looking promising based on my hormone levels. What I did learn however was that when it comes to wanting a baby, all sense, logic and the value of money goes out of the window and cost becomes secondary to everything. I found myself becoming almost dismissive of any unexpected expenditure as soon as I heard the words ‘this will give you a better chance’– how could we not pay the extra £500, £750, £1000 for the ‘add-ons’ that could potentially be the difference between a baby or no baby?! In my mind we needed all the help we could get and damn the cost.
What did scare the life out of me was the price of it potentially not working. If I didn’t respond to the drugs and we got absolutely nowhere, the cost would still be over £2,600. That’s £2,600 for nothing other than a few glimpses of my reproductive system via a very intrusive scan…talk about putting additional pressure on my poor, tiny, depleting ovaries!
With the huge potential price of it not working, I needed to put my back-up plan in place. I only felt content when I was actually doing something productive and so I started the NHS referral process to make sure that we were in the system, just in case we would need another cycle at a later date. I also began my research into donor eggs, having been told that this would probably be our best chance. Every waking hour I was consumed with finding out more and searching for success stories to give myself hope. With my awful impatience to get things started it was the only way of ensuring I felt in control. I counted down the days and when all of the medication arrived it began to feel oh so very real…
NEXT POST – Cycling Without Stabilisers