I can’t give you any information about my experiences with IVF yet, as my husband and I are at about the same stage as you guys, but I can talk about some of the stuff that goes has been going through my mind in the run up to realising that we might need it. I don’t know if that would help. I will certainly be interested to see what other people have to say about their experiences with IVF (both the physical and emotional side).
We have been trying for two years, and have been though probably all the tests that are necessary. I appeared to be working fine, however four months ago I had to have my left ovary and tube removed after discovering a watermelon sized, 7 lb ovarian cyst. Kind of unbelievable that it got as big as it did before I realised anything was wrong. According to the two fertility specialists we saw, though, this had no bearing on our fertility problems, which seems hard to believe. It does mean, though, that I have now half the ovarian reserve that I used to have, which might make IVF a little more tricky.
There also originally seemed to be a male factor issue, but now we’re not so sure as his results have improved a lot in the last 8 months. I think that after all of what we have been through, we have been lumped in the unexplained category, and I have found this very frustrating. I would like someone to be able to tell me why we are having problems, as now it sort of feels like we just haven’t been doing it right, as silly as that sounds.
I think one of the hardest thing about all of this has been dealing with friends’ pregnancies and the general lack of understanding as to exactly how upsetting all this has been. My best friend is currently seven months pregnant with her first baby after she got pregnant the first month they tried. As irrational as it is, it just feels so unfair. I also started off being quite open with friends, and initally upon finding out about our problems, probably relied too heavily on one friend as a sounding board. I don’t know if I have permanantly damaged the relationship because of this, but it is a little strained at the moment. I am now keeping things to myself as I feel foolish for expecting so much from a friend.
Not getting stressed about the actual trying has been difficult, particularly for my husband. We have never had so much awkward, just-plain-bad sex as in the last year or so! It’s just impossible not to know when you should be having sex, and that takes all the fun out of it. And adds a huge amount of pressure. And sometimes makes it plain impossible.
Another unexpected thing that has been hard to deal with are the questions it has raised as to exactly how much we want to have children. Some days I am so desperate that my heart aches. Other days I feel curiously ambivalent. Is this normal? I don’t know. I guess if we had got pregnant straight away, we wouldn’t have time for all the second guessing. We haven’t got as far as thinking about adoption, as we feel we need to focus on giving IVF a try first.
Like you, we would be going straight to IVF, skipping IUI. Because we live in the UK we have the option of getting IVF free on the National Health Service. We are on the waiting list, but this stands at about 2 years at the moment, and that is longer than I want to wait (I’m 32). We have been to a private clinic, and would be much happier going with them - their success rates are much better than the NHS clinic (about 56% clinical pregnancy rate per cycle (translates to about 50% live births per cycle) - which is great considering that they are only allowed to transfer two embyos per cycle in the UK) and the process will be a lot less stressful with them. We just need to save a little as this doesn’t come cheap and money is another factor that is causing us stress.
Ah, yes, money. That’s another worry. How do you put a price on getting pregnant? Is it worth £5,000? £10,000? More? What if you spend all that money and are unsuccessful? What if you are successful, and then have no money to actually raise a child? (Incidentally, I have filed that last one under the heading “Will cross that bridge if I come to it”).
We have decided, for what it’s worth, to give ourselves a break from all the infertility madness for about three months to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for going through this. I think that I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that we may need this and I need a bit more time. I sort of feel that when the time is right to start, I will know. I have read up a lot about the process, and physically, I am not anticipating it being too awful. It is the emotional side that I am dreading. The waiting and hoping. Are there enough follicles? Have they retrieved enough eggs (from my one ovary)? Have any fertilised? Are the embryos good quality and growing? Did they transfer okay? And then the big, important two week wait. Not looking forward to that.
So, I am not sure that helps or not. I do know that I have found it very difficult not having anyone in my life that I can really talk to this about, as no one I know has been through it. I would like to know how other people have coped - have they been open about it with friends and family, or kept everything to themselves? The process is such an intense one at times that I sometimes don’t know where to draw the line in terms of what infomation to share, as some of this stuff is pretty personal, and I have since discovered that not everyone even agrees with IVF or free funding for IVF in the UK.