Third Time Lucky?! An insight into the reality of IVF
We are now well and truly into attempt number 3 of IVF and to be honest I think that I have got to the stage where I just can’t wait for it all to be over, one way or another. The last few months, in fact most of the last year pretty much, has been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster for us both. The whole process has really taken its toll on me both physically and emotionally, some days I feel like this thing has taken me over and wonder if I will ever be able to find that happy go lucky, care-free, person that’s been seemingly swallowed up by it all.
When we first started this journey, I would hear or read stories (mostly via blogs and social media) about women and couples who had just seemingly given up or had enough and pulled the plug on treatment. At the time, I remember thinking surely if they wanted it that bad, then how can they just give up like that? Perhaps they just don’t care enough or perhaps they don’t want it enough. How naive and foolish I was! I realise now, that not every infertility story has a happy ending and more recently have taken a bit of a reality check. How much time, emotional stress, physical discomfort and finance do you put on the line for something that has such low a chance?
Ok, I’ll put it another way – say you were at a casino, you head over the roulette table with ten to fifteen thousand pounds in your pocket. In this particular game your only options are red or black and you have to go all in. Your chances of winning are pretty slim, you are highly likely to lose everything, but if you won you would have hit the jackpot of a lifetime. Would you do it? Most sane people would probably give themselves a bit of a reality check and walk away.
Well I am now beginning to look at IVF in a pretty similar light. The reality of of IVF is, at best we only have a 25% chance (ish) of it working, and that’s at a huge push. So far, we have no real reason (other than potentially poor eggs, but no proven facts to confirm this) to say that we definitely can’t conceive naturally. The only difference is, we are emotionally controlled by this ideology, this dream, a whopping great big hope that one day it will work, we will get our baby! And when it doesn’t, your whole world comes caving in on you.
It’s not that I have changed my mind, don’t care or don’t’ want to have a child – of course I want that more than anything in the world. BUT I have had to take a step back, for my own sanity if nothing else, and we have both asked ourselves honestly how much of our lives are we willing to let pass by, how long can we keep putting ourselves through this turmoil on a very small chance that it might actually work?
Money is obviously a consideration, we are definitely not stinking rich, but even if we were being stinking rich wouldn’t help the situation we are in right now, other than perhaps give us the ability to do more tests, move things along faster and take more chances perhaps. I ask all those parents out there, could you really ever put a price on your child or children? Probably not. I definitely think if someone said to us you have 100% chance that this cycle will work and we can deliver you a baby then of course we would put everything we own into it and probably beg, borrow and steal! But no one can guarantee that, so how much do you give?
The biggest thing for us now is the emotional toll, something that is really hard to explain. I honestly don’t think without going through a similar situation yourself anyone could ever imagine what you go through emotionally. The whole process is a mind-f*%k! At the moment we have managed to stay strong, united and fighting this battle together. But you hear of couples who are ripped apart by this journey and then potentially left with nothing, no baby and not even each other anymore. For better or worse, until death do us part, I made those vows and I meant them. The worst-case scenario is just the two of us, and do you know what I’m ok with that! Emotionally though, I feel like I have become a wreck, my husband has managed to remain so seemingly strong throughout it all, although I know really, he is hurting just as bad deep down too. Personally, I blame the drugs they put you on – sometimes they make me feel like I am losing my mind. I am usually so up together, so when I forget things it upsets me even more, I guess I feel like I am losing control of all aspects of my life.
And then of course there are the physical effects too. The endless injections day in day out, the hot flushes caused by the drugs and I definitely feel like I am not sleeping as well now that I am back on Burserelin, and my body (neck and shoulders is beginning to ache – I am curious to know if the aches and sleep issues are a side effect of the drug, or perhaps just a stress related problem caused by this whole process? I know eventually that tiredness will catch up with me towards the last few weeks – it always does. This time I am also not allowed to partake in my usual exercise routine, so that’s impacting on my both mentally and physically too as I am usually so active. I thrive to move, to run and to jump freely!
Finally, you also have the work life side of things too – I gave up my consultancy role at Monster Energy nearly two years ago this summer to focus on starting a family as it was clear we were struggling, I thought at the time I needed to be less stressed and more free for appointments and treatments, which was the right thing to do. I managed to keep a few freelance bits going in between, but by no means am I pulling in any worthwhile bucks, which makes me feel like I lack purpose or use. I keep thinking I wouldn’t mind not earning my keep if my job was to stay at home and raise the kids, but I can’t even deliver one of those! You begin to feel like you are failing in every aspect of life.
I know I have definitely entered into this third round with a more cynical view on the whole system. It is a business after all, the fertility industry, and one that makes a shit load of money mostly out of people’s emotions, hopes and dreams. Perhaps some might argue that I should try not to be so negative, and I totally get where they are coming from. However, so many people say to me “you mustn’t lose hope” or “it will happen” or what’s now becoming my pet hate “have you tried…”. To hear those words can be so frustrating sometimes! Yes, of course I have tried nearly everything now. By nature, for those who know me well know that I am very proactive, and I really have given this thing my all – from trying holistic therapies, even hypnotherapy, to various drugs and expensive supplements – I would be surprised if anyone could name something now that I hadn’t already tried at this point. And again, all these alternative options come with their own price tags attached. Again, I ask myself, just how much money are we willing to chuck at those with the hope that they might work?
So now my argument is that during the previous two rounds I truly tried so hard to remain positive throughout, I forced myself into giving visualisation a go, I have taken handfuls and handfuls of supplements, covered myself in ‘magic’ lotions, and so on – as outline before there wasn’t a lot that I didn’t try! Now I wonder, if perhaps, the last two rounds I had just put way too much pressure and stress on myself without realising that trying absolutely everything to fix the problem might be more destructive than simply stepping back, taking a deep breath, letting the doctors do their work and try to just go about life business as normal.
Another thing I have noticed this time too – I’ve also started to question things like; are we forcing what shouldn’t be, and if we by some miracle get it to work, could we be forcing a baby into the world that will have medical problems – is that fair on that little life that naturally would have never existed? Are we playing with fire? You also start to question if you are just being selfish, of course having your own child would be lovely, but there are so many kids out there who have lost their families that need a home, why should they not be given that chance? Now I definitely am looking into this whole thing just a bit too much!
Anyway, that’s the latest update on our journey so far, hopefully I will be having my baseline scan this week so that we can move on to the next phase, stims – more injections for me, whoopee! Gradually we are creeping closer and closer to the final stages and the final result. And although this journey is tough, I know that I am surrounded by so many amazing people in my life who I know are there for us whenever we need them, without those people by our side this whole process would have been so much tougher! So, to all those people, know that I am so thankful to have you in our lives and will be forever grateful no matter what outcome!