The title of this post – my IVF journey – gives you a little hint of what I am writing about today. It is incredibly personal – and has, of course, had a great impact on our lives.
We have been trying to conceive Baby O since 2010 and after not stressing too much in the first years, it took us 4 years to take the next step and understand what was going on with both of us. All medical issues aside, we chose to try IUI (code name for intrauterine insemination), a less invasive method than IVF – but after 6 unsuccessful rounds, there was no other option. IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) was the way to go.
I have been very open about this adventure to all my friends, family, clients, business colleagues and acquaintances (some people almost choked over lunch!) – but it is a part of my life (and has been definitely for the last year) and it has made all the difference for me. The reason why I am writing this post is absolutely not to offer any medical advice – but to create a bit of discussion about the topic.
Why? Because almost everyone I mentioned this to, knew someone who was going or had gone through it. And it can be a lonely journey – some feel ashamed, others are naturally private but many feel lonely.
I have not felt lonely – in fact, I am amazed with how 40-50 people in my life really are part of this journey and how interested everyone was and is in all the details and not afraid to ask questions. Or offer help. Or send wine. Â Or a big hug when things don’t go according to plan – I am sure that you have gathered by the title of this topic that they haven’t gone to plan. Far from it.
I have been contacted by friends of friends who are going through the process (either alone or with a partner) and of course I gave them my time. It was important to – so if you get anything from this post, and if you think someone you know is going through this, give them yours. There is nothing to be ashamed about – some can choose to go on this journey alone or just with their partners (and I am absolutely not judging or criticising) but others feel that they do not have the choice, and that is the bit that breaks my heart. So if I can be of help during someone else’s IVF journey – you know where I am.
Choosing a clinic
My first two rounds of IVF were done at IVI in Madrid. Known to be one of the most cutting edge fertility clinics in Europe and they seemed absolutely very competent. I have been to Madrid a few more times than normal this year – and it worked for us because it was the city where we fell in love (I kid you not) and it was quite easy.
I took my advice from my gynaecologist in Lisbon, who has delivered many IVI babies, but it was not meant to be. I have not been reading anything online on purpose (I did one day and wasn’t pretty) so when she told me that her stepdaughter had 2 rounds at IVI and it also didn’t work for her – and then she went to Create Fertility in London’s St. Paul, just had a baby, so there is where we are now.
This was in Madrid, at the end of Round 2. All smiles, but sadly not a happy ending. July 2017.
I don’t know how other people have chosen theirs – but I feel confident about our choice, namely as both clinics suggested the exact same sort of treatment for this third round (slightly different from rounds 1 and 2), so at least they agree.
What I am doing differently this time
I travelled for all the medical procedures (which means going in for the egg retrieval and then for the embryo transfer after 5 days) – and just to be specific, I only had 1 egg collection which then gave us enough embryos for round 1 and 2. I had most of my injections and scans when I was in Alicante (for real!), Â and after the transfer, I did not leave my house for 10 days and then went to Greece for 5 days. All very quiet.
On the second round, after recovering from the shock of the bad bout of bad news, but almost immediately (2 weeks later) having the second transfer, I did go to Portugal and spent 10 days there. But not making any efforts, staying away from the sun and all.
This time, I will get a taxi from the clinic in London both times and will seriously not go anywhere for the drugs cycle and then for the transfer, which will not happen after 5 days as per normal, but instead, the embryos will be ‘cooking’ for over a month.
I do have a ‘trip card’ around Christmas and New Year – but we haven’t decided what we will do with that, but come January (end of, I believe), things will change dramatically and I honestly just pray that everything will work.
The drug effects
Going through the drugs – some of which were pills, pessaries (yuck) and, of course, the injections – was not great. But we did it – my husband is the man to give the shots. No fear, no nothing. They aren’t painful at all – it is just the act of doing so. If anyone needs shots given to them, I can lend you Mr. O.
I am not looking forward to those, but will do everything I am told to – the drugs are almost the same that I took before so I can kind of anticipate what will happen. They came with some interesting side-effects – I slept better (purely psychological, I think) but my famous ‘southern European mood swings’ went on to another level. In my husband’s words he said (you are) ‘usually very direct and that is lovely, but it was like as if you had no filter’. And he wasn’t exaggerating – all our friends got to experience the ‘no filter Ana’ and we all tried to bring some humour to the various situations that presented to us. Some were funny, some were not.
The drugs also make you bloated and fat and feeling horrible – there may be a reason why there is a lot less photos of me online. Or why I didn’t react so well when some random people left lovely comments on posts along the lines of ‘you surely have been feeding yourself well, Mrs. O’. Oh the heart ache.
Thank you for everythingÂ
But again, I had everyone’s support. And I really want to thank every single person (I am not naming names for one reason: if I forgot one person, it would break their hearts and mine). We are starting another journey again next week, and all I ask is that you say a little prayer for me.
A very special thank you goes to my husband Simon, who really has been there for me 24/7 – and this journey is his as much as mine. We laughed together, we cried together – and our marriage is stronger than ever. Yes, we do want a baby together more than anything in life – but we love each other even more now (if that is possible). And if it is not for us, at least we know we have done our absolute best. And another special thank you goes to my mother and sister Renata, who has even come to Madrid just to meet me and take me shopping after (yet) another general anaesthetic. And put me on a plane back home.
I will update this page and keep you posted on what happens – they won’t be long updates but hopefully will give an idea of a timeline that could be useful for those who will need to go through IVF. I may post the odd Instagram Story (but nothing too graphic) too, but I don’t know yet.
Here’s to Baby O in 2018. I am keeping everything crossed.
Written 17.11.17 – updates will follow below
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