As we found out in my last IVF story post, my tubes are completely blocked, the medical term is hydrosalpinx, as my tubes aren’t just blocked but are filled with fluid. Due to the findings during my laparoscopy, I had to have IVF treatment. The surgery took place 30/04/2015 and it was determined I would need IVF, but there would still be nearly a year before I actually made it to the IVF clinic to get the ball rolling.
I received a letter May 2015 to confirm the cyst that had been removed wasn’t cancerous (as it was a possibility) which was a relief! I had to have a follow up with my surgeon and make sure all was healed well before anything else could happen, so I finally got signed off August 2015.
Weirdly, alot of our fertility appointments took place on James birthday! We had an appointment with the sub-fertility clinic at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston on 22nd September 2015, and a final appointment to follow 2nd December 2015. This was the big appointment, it was the one where it was confirmed no other methods to aid fertility would work due to my condition and that I would need to attend an IVF clinic. We were given options of clinics in our local area, and opted for the Norwich Bourn Hall Clinic, which is based in Wymondham.
It actually looks more like a modern style office than an amazing baby making clinic!
We were initially told we were entitled to 3 NHS funded rounds of IVF which is something we were massively grateful for. There is a huge problem with NHS funded IVF being a massive postcode lottery, with some areas being entitled to 3 funded cycles, and others none at all. Infact, as we fell under Norwich CCG, we were only entitled to 2 funded NHS cycles. This was still better than those living 20 miles away, where they were entitled to 0 funded cycles. Thankfully, it was very recently announced by Bourn Hall that the Suffolk CCGs have now changed this and they are also able to have 2 funded cycles like those in Norfolk, which is a fantastic step!
Christmas 2015, we finally received the letter we had been waiting for from Bourn Hall. We were accepted and had to attend a seminar 1st February 2016. We also had our consultation with the Doctor booked for 4th February and a consultation with the fertility nurse booked for 12th February 2016.
The seminar was pretty interesting. It was run by Thanos, a man we knew nothing about at the time, who has actually become the most important man in our journey. It was very strange being in a room full of other couples in the same situation but with all different stories. I often wonder if all those who attended the seminar have been able to achieve their dreams of becoming parents. The seminar talked about Bourn Hall, the pre treatment tests, how natural conception works, the phases of IVF, the drugs used, egg collection, sperm collection, blastocysts, embryo transfer and associated risks.
The pre treatment tests had all been completed by us through the doctors surgery and through the fertility clinic at James Paget Hospital. Female tests, I had to have a day 2 to 4 hormone profile (blood test on day 2 to 4 of my period cycle), HIV antibodies test, Hepatitis B and C, cervical smear, rubella, chlamydia, pelvic ultrasound and tests for tubal patency. For males, they have to have a semen analysis (sperm sample taken to the hospital within an hour of being produced – not the easiest of tests!!), Hepatitis B and C.
In a natural cycle, one egg is released and makes its journey down the fallopian tube where it meets Mr Sperm to make an embryo. If it sticks to the womb, it hopefully grows and after 9 months a baby arrives. If the egg doesn’t fertilise or doesn’t embed into the womb, then a period begins as the womb lining is shed to start another cycle.
For now, I will keep the IVF info basic. As per the seminar, it was explained that IVF treatment is broken down into 4 phases. Phase 1 is the down regulation phase, where the body’s own hormones are dampened down. Phase 2 is the stimulation phase, where the ovaries are stimulated through drugs to produce several eggs in one go. Phase 3 is the trigger phase where a single injection is used to mature the eggs made for collection. Phase 4 is the luteal support phase, where progesterone is administered through medication after egg collection to help prepare the lining of the womb. I will go more into each phase and into the details as I go through our treatment steps in future posts.
I still remember the overwhelming feeling walking into the clinic for the first time. The feeling of not knowing about what I was getting myself into, what would actually be expected of me. The fear of having to inject myself to administer the drugs – I have a massive fear of needles and had no idea how I was going to get past that. The appointment with the fertility nurse was a lesson on how to do all the injections. I knew it was something I had to do myself. We were taught how to prepare the needles, how to measure the medications and how to draw it up and how to inject myself. Despite my fear, I got stuck into the lesson and actually left feeling fairly prepared for what was to come.
There is a weird atmosphere in the clinic waiting room. Its a pleasant enough place with the radio on, but no one talks to each other. I used to virtually whisper conversations to James, and other couples would come in and you would give awkward smiles or looks to each other, but never speak. I never attended any appointments alone but can only imagine the nerves I would have had if I had sat alone waiting!
Leaving this one here for today, but still to come… more feelings on IVF, the schedule, more details on the phases and how I reacted to it all…!