Investigating IVF

It was beginning to dawn on us that we would have to address the IVF possibility as none of the tests I’d had presented any issues. Frustratingly, I appeared to be perfect in regards to the medical check list; my periods were regular, I was ovulating with good strong results and my tubes were clear. At this point I just want to mention that other women will be having a different story here, blocked tubes are quite common for example. It’s a very difficult story to relate to, as I know that some people will be thinking ‘oh she was lucky not to have had my troubles’. But I always try to maintain the bigger picture and be empathic as much as I can to all the other scenarios. This doesn’t mean that I will ever truly understand what it feels like to have treatment for blocked tubes, but I don’t want to be one of those women who is simply wrapped up in her own infertility world. The research I did covered all possibilities, I wasn’t scared to find out what can go wrong inside me, the more I found out the better equipped I was to tackle it. At least that’s how I deal with things. I have read books that tell one woman’s journey and to be honest, sometimes I felt a bit resentful, I couldn’t always relate to that particular scenario. So to everyone who’s reading this, please be aware that it’s not my intention to dramatise my journey, or that mine is in some way more interesting than anyone else’s. (sorry but I had to put all that, it had been bugging me x)

Googling IVF is crazy, there is so much to find out on the Net and lots of personal experiences to learn from. You can’t go wrong with the Government as a good place to start http://www.hfea.gov.uk/IVF.html and if you search on YouTube for infertility, you will get lots of people like me, who’ve got a story to tell.

ADVICE: BE AWARE OF THE SITE YOU’RE ON. What country is the website from? For example in America they do things differently, they use different terminologies and have differently named tests. This basically can make you a bit panicky because you’ll end up thinking ‘crumbs, what’s that test? I haven’t had that one. Should I? Can I?’ So just realise that unless you’re thinking of going to the States for treatment, expect different advice and wording from an american (or other country’s) website. I also found that America is much more positive towards IVF, their sites are filled with happy faces, babies and promises of success, whereas us Brits are more reserved because we think everything will go wrong. When you’ve been researching for a while you may start to pick up on different ‘vibes’ but be wary, because ‘vibes’ are there to get you to use their clinic. It’s basically good advertising and this is hard to detach yourself from, especially when you want someone to smile at you and say everything will be ok. The harsh reality is that IVF is surgery for a medical problem, it’s not glamorous and the success rates are still quite low. Whilst that might sound depressing, I only mean to better arm you against clinics and websites that use sweet talk instead of facts and figures to get you through their door.

TIP: VISIT CLINICS AND GET INFORMATION SENT TO YOU. Obvious? Yes. But it can be quite hard to visit a clinic for the first time…and then another one….and then another one…. It runs you down emotionally. Some clinics will post leaflets and information to you, some hold IVF Introduction Evenings and some will see you by appointment. Do go to an evening if you can find one. We went to Oxford (http://www.oxfordfertilityunit.com/) when they held an IVF Evening and the best thing to happen was being amongst so many people who were in the same boat as us. It was quite surreal, as we hadn’t told many people about what we were going through (which makes you feel quite isolated and detached from society) and suddenly we were in a huge room with about 30 couples all going through a similar experience. Everyone was hesitant and scared, expectant of advice and eager to be shown the next step. I had a huge urge to bond with them all and ..oh I don’t know.. have a group hug or something (I’m sure I’m a bit of a hippy deep down). In my case, I was also reassured by the fact that I clearly wasn’t the oldest person there. This might sound harsh but until you start talking about what you’re going through, you have nothing to compare yourself with and this can lead to very negative thinking. I was 35, not 45…but I realised at that meeting that it would be ok even if I was 45 because IVF could still help.

The best investigation (but the most stressful one) you can do is to go to the Fertility Show. It’s held once a year in November at Olympia in London, and it’s well worth a visit. It covers EVERYTHING from how to eat for a healthy pregnancy to IVF with egg donation, and has all the experts under one roof.

We attended as many seminars as we could, even the ones covering subjects that didn’t directly affect us, just so we could build our fertility knowledge. We’ve been twice but neither of us could bring ourselves to go this year as we’d just had a miscarriage and couldn’t face it. The reason I mentioned that going to the Fertility Show is the most stressful thing to do, is because of the intense emotions that accompany such a visit. There’s nowhere to hide at this show, it’s not like going to the pregnancy section of a library where you are still amongst normal life ticking happily alongside you. Wherever you turn it’s IVF, Miscarriage, Pregnancy, Clinics!! And this can be quite overwhelming. I have seen women openly crying when it is clearly too much for them.

So if you decide to go, and I thoroughly recommend that you do, you need to bring out your stiff upper lip, your gumption, your tough side and try to leave the emotions at home for the day. Go there to gather information and knowledge, to learn from other people’s experiences, and to return with bags overflowing with documentation and brochures. And go with someone, do not go alone, have a nice lunch, treat yourselves 🙂

Next post I will go over a tick list of what to address when visiting clinics and how to find YOUR clinic.

Much love people x

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