Thank you NHS for IVF!
Mine and Richard’s journey began in 2014. We were both so desperate to have our own little family, but each month, following several negative ovulation and pregnancy tests, we knew something wasn’t quite right. Rich had booked in to see his GP, who then referred him to our local fertility clinic to test the quality of his sperm and sperm count. We were devastated when we received the results which showed that Rich had an extremely low sperm count and low morphology. I was at work at the time and received a call from Rich who was sobbing uncontrollably, he kept apologising for “not being able to give me something I so badly craved”. We were both heartbroken but I continued to reassure him that we would be ok.
During all this, my periods continued to be painful and irregular with my cycles being between 32-56 days and I could bleed for up to 3 weeks at a time. I had visited my GP numerous times but always felt like I was never being taken seriously, I know my body and knew that something wasn’t right. They told me each time to be patient as it was all just a side effect from the contraception that I was previously on, and it would eventually rectify itself. This for me wasn’t a good enough opinion, I had to trust my gut instinct as I was getting utterly fed up of my painful periods, long cycles and become completely obsessive with taking several ovulation tests a day and only ever getting negative results. It was so frustrating and disheartening. I found myself purchasing anything that was advertised to help conception but to no avail!
After A LOT of persuasion, my GP finally agreed to send me for an internal ultrasound which lead to my diagnosis of PCOS. We cried for hours when we were told that our chances of conceiving naturally were low and that we would need assistance. We never thought we would be lucky enough to receive the help we required, thankfully we were wrong. Rich’s GP was very proactive following my diagnosis and Rich‘s results, he referred us almost instantly. We received a phone call within 3 weeks telling us that we had been granted funding for IVF and they had asked us to select a clinic. We chose CARE Manchester with it being the closest clinic to us and we booked our consultation for 1.12.16. We were both very nervous but excited and were shocked that things started to progress quickly from this point.
When we arrived at CARE Manchester, we were made to feel extremely welcome. Every member of staff was lovely and couldn’t do enough to help us, which was very comforting during such a difficult time. I had another internal ultrasound and Rich provided another sperm sample so that the consultant could determine which treatment would be most suitable to us. We had bloods taken and met with the consultant, Dr Lowe. He decided that ICSI would be the treatment most suitable for us. Before we left the clinic, a lovely nurse came and gave us both a big hug which was just what we needed! We couldn’t wait to get started.
I booked 3 weeks off work to avoid any additional stress and we booked our treatment in for March 2017. My medication was delivered to us in February and this is when the nerves/excitement really began to set in. Our first injection was 3.3.17, Gonalf 112.5 units which was to stimulate my ovaries. I injected this daily at 5PM and on 7.3.17 added Cetrotide 0.25mg daily until 12.3.17, to prevent ovulation. On 12.3.17 I also injected Buserelin 0.5ml @ 11.15pm, this triggers ovulation to ensure readiness for the egg collection on 14.3.17. I found it easy to inject myself once I had done the first, but as the week progressed it was a little more difficult to find an area that wasn’t sore or bruised.
As I was wheeled down to theatre, Rich was sent to do another sperm sample, this time, each healthy sperm would be injected into an egg to create an embryo (ICSI). We had had a very successful cycle. They retrieved 16 eggs, 14 fertilised, 7 embryos were finally frozen following the strongest embryo being transferred on 18.3.17. The drive to Manchester seemed to last forever and we both felt sick with nerves. We now had to endure a 14 day wait to see if our treatment was successful which was such an emotional rollercoaster!
I didn’t experience any symptoms and although we tried to stay positive, we had lost hope 6 days post transfer when I took an early pregnancy test which was negative, although I know it was much too early, but the wait was agonising as we were desperate to know if the treatment had worked. I cried for the entire day and was so tired and emotionally drained, I just felt hopeless. On the morning of 7 days post transfer, I decided to take yet another test and had prepared myself for yet another negative result. I had promised myself that if it was negative then I wouldn’t do another until day 14, as advised by the clinic. I couldn’t cope with anymore disappointment! To my total shock, a VERY faint line appeared on the test and I immediately phoned Rich who was at the gym. He drove straight home and I did another test, this time the line was much darker. We were ecstatic, elated and we laughed/cried amongst many other emotions, it felt so unreal. It was just in time for Mother’s Day too.
We were scanned by the clinic at 6 weeks to confirm the heartbeat, and we paid for a private scan at 10 weeks just to make sure all was ok before we announced our pregnancy to our friends and family during Rich’s wedding speech, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room!
Our little miracle arrived 27.11.17, 9 days early, Evelyn Emelia. She is amazing and no words will ever describe the love we have for her. We are forever thankful to everyone who was involved in our journey, the NHS (we feel extremely lucky for the funding provided), and to CARE Manchester for helping create to the most perfect little girl. You are all amazing and have changed our lives for the better! We remain in touch with staff from the clinic and we send photos regularly. We hope to return soon to extend our little family.
Before our treatment, it felt like we would never be parents, and that thought almost broke us at one point. You feel so alone, although fertility issues are more common that you perhaps realise, many people just choose not to talk about them but I completely understand and respect people decisions for this. It's natural that you want to shut yourself off from anyone who is pregnant or has children, even seeing kiddies in the supermarket was painful as you want it so desperately. It's frustrating because you try so hard to be happy for others, meanwhile your own dreams of having a family seem far from reality.
IVF is one hell of a rollercoaster ride of mixed emotions, tears, and heartache. In addition to the injections, raging hormones and repeated tests, but in the end is completely worth it. Stay positive, DO NOT give up because MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.
Emily, Richard & Evelyn Emelia