If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that we are expecting a baby! We ‘re both super excited and delighted that little baby Morgan will be joining our family in November! I’ve really been enjoying watching my body change shape and we can now feel the baby kicking which is just out of this world! It hasn’t all been an easy ride thou. My first trimester was rough. I suffered REALLY bad morning sickness, where I was vomiting 4-5 times daily for 3 months. I lost weight and was constantly tired from dehydration-it was really tough going. Getting pregnant also had its challenges for us and we needed to seek help and have IVF. Whilst I am over the moon that IVF worked first time for us and we got pregnant, going through IVF wasn’t easy. I’m sharing my personal experiences in the hope I can provide hope and help to anyone going through it.
So where to start:
When we first found out we needed to go down the IVF route we took some time to let that sink in before we did anything else. We spent time talking about IVF, having a family and not having a family. Ultimately for us, we decided that we’d be happy either way, having a family and not having a family. Going through all these conversations was important to us because it meant we dedicated a lot of time to talk about how we felt and were on the same page. We decided we’d give IVF a go, and if it worked great, and if it didn’t work also great!
Researching The Clinic
The IVF world is nuts! There are so many clinics offering services making it hard to know where to start. Stakes are high because it can also be very expensive. I’m a bit of a planner so hours, days, weeks of research began on what clinic and what doctors we would use. I’d recommend starting here if you are in the UK and here if you are in the USA. These are governing bodies to test, vet and publish how successful IVF clinics are across the UK and the USA. Looking at the IVF clinics success rates is crucial. Sadly some clinics still charge a fortune but have very low stats on the success of pregnancy and some clinics success rates might only be high for a particular age group. We chose CRGH in London. They had great success rates across the board not just for my age range. After selecting CRGH and meeting the doctors I felt incredibly at ease and felt good about who we were working with and we trusted them.
Choosing A Support Network
IVF was emotionally and physically tough going for me so having a good support system around helped me get through it. As I had my treatment in London I had family-particularly my sisters and friends around me who I trusted and talked to each step of the way and confided in. I also had a friend in Australia who was doing IVF at the same time we were, so we were chatting regularly which was great. Once we found out we were pregnant I stayed with some close friends who were brilliant at helping me. Something I would not recommend is being away from your partner like we did. I thought it would be ok, but I found it too hard most of the time. As Steve had to work in the US, he couldn’t be there for most of the treatment and whilst he was always on FaceTime and incredibly supportive. Missing him sometimes made it all the worse. He did come over for major milestones like the Egg Collection Operation and Embryo Transfer. Both of which I couldn’t have done without him.
Drug Side Effects
I have a bit of a chuckle to myself when I think back to this stage because I was so nieve!! Having no idea how much all the drugs would knock me for six and assuming I’d be perfectly fine and normal. I wasn’t and it was really hard.
IVF has many different protocols, I was put on what they call The Long Protocol. This means I went through the following stages:
- Egg Collection
- Embryo Transfer
Down-regulating involved taking a tablet called Norethistrone and injecting Buserelin. Both these drugs stopped my usual menstrual cycle and shut down my ovaries. The doctor wanted to see that everything to do with my reproductive system was quiet. Which when I went in it was! The drugs had worked as they should and I had shut down my Ovaries and Uterus. It sounds scary I know, but another reason we spent so much time researching and getting comfortable with our clinic was so that we could trust them. So when they said we need to put your body into a menopausal state, that’s what we did! Doing this did make me feel pretty groggy thou. I’m usually an upbeat person with a positive outlook but during this phase, I felt pretty down. Which is to be expected as your body goes through a huge hormonal shift.
To stimulate my ovaries to produce more than one egg I had to inject Menupor. Whilst Menupor didn’t make me feel down like the other set of drugs did, I could feel my ovaries growing each day! Which was kinda fun and crazy. I would feel little twinges and my stomach also started to balloon out a bit as both the ovaries grew bigger and bigger.
Thankfully Steve was now by my side for the next couple of steps. I’m so glad he was. I had never been into a hospital before or had a General Anesthesia. Both of which are required for the Egg Collection procedure. After the procedure, I was really out of it and incredibly sore. Steve walked me home to bed and cooked me some dinner. I pretty much rested the whole next day too.
This part was probably the easiest part and the most enjoyable! We first met with our Embryologist to discuss the final quality of our embryos. Which was definitely a bit nerve-wracking but our Embryologist started off saying how happy he was and how well we’d done! It was definitely just what I needed to hear after going through the process to get here. The Embryos tend to be graded 1-5 and A-E. All of ours were within 1A and 2B. We even had one that was 1A+ so we were pretty chuffed with where we’d ended up. All we had to do now was transfer into my Uterus. I will say that you do get used to opening your legs with a room full of people!
I took another round of drugs after the transfer. Progesterone pessaries 3 x day, Fragmin injections and Asprin. Fragmin was not pleasant to inject, I found it was painful and it left a lot of bruising on my stomach.
Practice Using IVF Drugs
The hardest part for me was mixing and injecting Menopur. Each evening I was told to draw up liquid and mix vials of Menopur. This meant drawing up the same liquid 5 times without losing any and finally injecting it either into my stomach or into the thigh.
On my first evening, I had a complete meltdown as I could not draw up the liquid. Luckily my sister is a nurse and knows all about needles and drugs, I’d already practised injecting myself with her help so that I didn’t freak out when it came to injection time. She talked me through how to draw up and mix the liquid. By this point, I had already wasted some of my Menupor which wasn’t ideal since it was really expensive. My advice would be practice drawing up using water and moving in and out of the vials with water before you start using your drugs. Once I’d finally got the hang of it I had to inject 1ml of Menupor each evening.
Round-Up Of Our Results
We had 16 eggs after collection, of that 16 11 fertilised with Steve’s sperm ( the rest were apparently not mature enough to survive) We then had to wait 3 days to see how the embryos developed. I remember Steve and I were walking down Tottenham Court Road in London when they called us to tell us how they were doing. I was so excited to hear the news I answered the phone straight away without ducking into a coffee shop so had big London buses and lots of traffic going by whilst on the phone. It didn’t matter thou. 10 of our embryos were still developing really well. Wow! 10-we were so pleased.
On day 5 we had 7 blastocysts. Which meant after transfer we had others to freeze. We had to wait 16 days before we could do a pregnancy test, which felt like torture! I used the first response test and had Steve on FaceTime. Our positive came up immediately! We were both over the moon and to be honest I was a bit shocked too! Steve said he knew it would work all along. I think I was more sceptical having heard so many challenaging IVF stories. Ultimately we were both thrilled.
There is so much more I could have written about this experience, but this post was already getting way too long! Our IVF experience whilst tough was smooth and successful. I’m incredibly grateful to all the fantastic doctors that helped us!
If you are going through IVF or thinking about it and want to share your experience or have any questions feel free to add them in the comments or email me directly. I would love to hear from you and good luck on your journey!