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#IVF Update – It’s more about the money

I saw my consultant yesterday to see what the next steps are and the basic answer is it’s up to me – and funds.

IVF has ethical, emotional, practical and financial considerations and no decision is easy to make. I keep going round in circles trying to decide what’s best.

I sat down last week and did the maths and worked out that so far – after all the initial tests and one failed attempt I have spent £9k. £1.5k of that (i.e. the donor sperm) can be transferred on future attempts but only in this country. Although you will see the cost of IVF listed at around £3.5k this often doesn’t include everything- my drugs were around £1k. £80 per basic blood test, hidden costs such as travel etc. You are looking at a minimum of 5k per attempt. More if you need to use donors. Clearly I have had to loan this money and would need to do the same for further treatment.

It is likely that the egg that fertilised abnormally did so because of a chromosomal abnormality and who knows if this the standard quality of my eggs now.

The consultant basically said we have no idea if this was my best attempt, average attempt or worst attempt. Most likely average (so only 2 eggs produced. Neither of which was viable).

My options are:

Call it a day (waste of 2 sperm donated units £1k [I don’t believe they can be transferred onto anyone else] but with refund of pregnancy slot £500).

Try IVF with my own eggs and the existing sperm donor units again – Approx £5k per attempt although there is a company that offers two cycles at my existing clinic for £8.6k

Try IUI with my own eggs and the existing sperm donor units again (ideally would need to have additional tests to make sure there is no blockages or problems with my Fallopian tubes. – Tests around £300 and each attempt between £2-21/2k. This would still be drug assisted and if a miracle happened and I suddenly produced a decent number of eggs I could switch to IVF.

IVF with donor eggs and existing sperm donor units in this country (unable to ship those units to clinics abroad). At my current clinic there is around a 9 month waiting list – with a £550 Non-refundable fee to go on the list, a £250 consultation and possibly a monitored cycle at around £500.

Then It will cost around £8k per attempt and no guarantees it would even go to transfer stage. I think mostly this is with egg sharing so in effect you are paying for someone else’s treatment cycle and possibly getting half of the eggs they produce (ideally 4 minimum). If the cycle doesn’t work you have to pay the £550 fee again and return to the bottom of the waiting list.

There is a IVF Donor refund company that offers a minimum of 2 donor egg collection cycles with ongoing fresh and frozen transfers to the limit of how many eggs are produced. This costs £14k (including all medication and tests) and if you don’t have a baby at the end you get a 15% refund. They don’t do this at my clinic though and the nearest is London but I assume with all monitoring appointments taking place there. Currently I get to do all of these locally (30-40 mins away) which works much better with work. Not sure of their waiting times.

IVF abroad with donor eggs and new donor sperm or embryo transfer. Not sure of the cost of this option yet. Not sure if they offer a similar guarantee scheme with multiple cycles/money back or Acosta to join waiting list. The wait tends to be less time. Eggs come from younger altruistic donors so you usually get all of the eggs from a cycle.

I do know that adoption is also something to consider but as I think I’ve said before you have to have ruled out continuing with IVF and from reports it’s also a lengthy, intense, detailed process where you are all those around you are judged. Not sure I could cope with that currently.

To add to all of this going through my head it is then it is not helpful to hear negative and unhelpful comments about the nature of parenthood from people around you.

I don’t really know where I’m going from here but I am looking into having the tests on my Fallopian tubes to see if IUI (or indeed a natural pregnancy if that came up as an option) could be an possibility if that Golden Egg came along.

IUI would be the cheaper option for trying again with my own eggs and the donor sperm I already have, it will also be less invasive but potentially less effective.

I think to try any options with donor eggs or embryos I am looking at a wait plus needing time to raise funds and lose further weight. My age is slightly less relevant for this option.

I’m naturally feeling pretty low and disheartened and really want to urge people not to wait too long if you know you’d love children of your own.

Not sure when my next update will be. Thanks for reading.

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#IVF Update – Self Care

It’s been just over a week since I got the news that this round had failed and I want to say a huge thank you to anyone who has sent a message checking in to see how I’m doing.

I’ve been back at work this week and that kept me fairly busy but I have had some weepy moments when talking or thinking about things too much. Mainly because I am feeling pretty much that I’ve had my shot at this with my own eggs (mainly because of the financial cost [approx £7k for this round!!!] balanced out with the percentage likelihood of it working). But I have no real news to share because really I’m just in limbo waiting for my follow up appointment on 16th July to see if my consultant can give me an update on what exactly happened and how this affects my chances.

I have not been good with food since – at all. I ended up not going to my Slimming World group this week as I had had enough of talking to/crying at people about all this in the day. I thought of it as self preservation of tear ducts. Instead I ordered pizza which I did regret. I really haven’t been bothered to cook. Although I wasn’t in much pain immediately after egg Collection on either the Wednesday or Thursday I had stabbing pain on my right abdomen and back Friday and Saturday. This pain has receded since but definitely worsens or comes back a little when bloated or constipated. Pizza did not help that fact. Back to group on Monday to face the scales and hopefully crack back on.

My period appeared yesterday – which obviously I knew would happen but actually having it arrive is more disappointing than usual. Really hoping it’s not as bad as last month’s – although at least I can take tranmexic acid this time which helps manage heavy bleeding. I can’t help debating if I would prefer to be in the midst of the two week wait and it appear but I think having things fail before was probably a blessing.

I have made the difficult decision to put in a complaint to the clinic about the mix up with the embryologist. This mistake did make this more traumatic and I just want to make sure they review things so it doesn’t happen to anyone else. It won’t change anything for me but part of me sharing is the hopes that I can help someone else.

One discovery I made was that I really couldn’t cope without my antihistamines – at least at this time of year – and I’ve still been a sneezing wreck even taking them. I’ll need to arrange an appointment with my GP to review the safety of those medications during IVF/Pregnancy and to see if there are any alternatives.

I’ve had some comments that have said that I’m brave in sharing but that’s not how I see it. For me writing is a way of helping me to make sense of things. It’s a form of self care. It was more odd at the very start of the process where I wasn’t sharing.

For me women who go through this keeping everything to themselves are the brave ones. But really we all do what we must to survive.

I’ll be back around the 16th to share my next steps. In the meantime there will be boo reviews again.

Egg Collection to #IVF Failure in 24 Hours

The last couple of days have been an emotional rollercoaster so although I’ve done brief updates on Instagram and Facebook I haven’t felt up to writing a full blog post. But I started blogging about my IVF journey intending to post about the good, the bad and the ugly so here I am.

Egg Collection Day

Wednesday saw an early start to drive up to London with my parents for a my egg collection appointment. I’d had my trigger injection at 23.30 on Monday and then was injection free on the Tuesday which was nice after 16 days of nightly jabs. I tried to spend Tuesday relaxing and not getting too anxious. Easier said than done.

Wednesday morning was spent snoozing in the car whilst my dad drove and then panicking we wouldn’t arrive in time. I was asked to arrive at reception at 9.30am. We left Poole at 5.30am and arrived at the clinic at 9.30!! Ah well I thought – no time really to get anxious about the general anaesthetic – although I didn’t end up going down until nearer 11am so then I started to worry.

My worried face

One of the benefits of having IVF at a private clinic was I got a private room. I also got to choose some lunch to have after my procedure having not been allowed to eat or drink from midnight. The nurse welcomed me and I had blood pressure, pulse, height and weight (joy) taken. My blood pressure was 119/80. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen it so textbook. My pulse was over 110 – I think the speed walk from the tube station didn’t help. Height and weight showed I haven’t shrunk and I’m still pretty much where I was at my last Slimming World weigh in.

At some point the Dr came in and got me to sign a consent and offered to go through any questions I had. I’ve actually had a General Anaesthetic before when I broke my arm after a car accident so I got most of my anxieties about that out of the way then.

Over the course of the morning I was asked to confirm my name, date of birth, allergies, presence of metal work etc a number of times. They definitely made sure they had the right person. I couldn’t get my pineapple necklace off as I’d wrapped it around my wrist so it was taped down instead. Oddly I was comforted I still had this totem on.

I was also given a very fetching outfit of a purple one use gown, nude slipper socks, a dressing gown, and one use knickers that I promptly stuck my finger through when pulling up. I knew they’d pretty much rip them off to access my lady parts later so I wasn’t too worried about that. (In preparation I had re-shaved my lower legs and I had trimmed a little a few days before but hey I’m single and can’t be bothered with having unnecessary itching going on down there!!).

Non-Slip Sexy Slipper Socks

I wondered down to the ‘theatre’ with the nurse and a porter and my asthma inhaler and then was in a room adjacent to the theatre to be given my anaesthetic. The chap I was speaking to was friendly and we discovered some welshness in common (My mum and her family are from Wales) and we talked healthcare. The anaesthetist came and introduced herself and confirmed that I could/would have the canula in my inner elbow rather than the back of my hand (definitely preferable). Then I got hooked up to a blood pressure cuff. A sharp scratch as the needle went in. I was told that the anaesthetic was being trickled in and that I might taste it at the back of my throat or get a tingling face (I got the latter) and then I know absolutely nothing until I woke up in recovery less than an hour later. During egg collection they pass a needle up your vagina to your ovaries to collect the eggs – not something you’d probably want to be awake for.

In the recovery room every now and then the cuff would take my blood pressure – it was lower than earlier although fairly quickly returned to normal. I had an oxygen mask on and was coughing a little so was given my inhaler to take. I was asked by the recovery nurse how many eggs I had been expecting and I groggily said a max of two and she confirmed they had indeed retrieved two. I was very relieved. But also woozy so did later confirm that’s what I’d been told to make sure I hadn’t made it up.

I had two follicles. They collected two eggs. The best outcome I could have expected.

She also asked to check a pad they’d put in place to make sure there was no major bleeding. There wasn’t. And it seems the pad had got stuck on my stomach so it was put back where it was meant to be!! There is very little dignity being a lady having this sort of intervention.

There was good camaraderie amongst the staff and talk of the football. My recovery nurse was Portuguese and one of her colleagues was Moroccan (or at least supporting Morocco). I asked him who was going to win. He said Portugal due to Ronaldo.

At one point the anaesthetist came back in to see everyone in her civvies instead of scrubs – her morning’s work obviously over.

At around 12.30 I was taken back upstairs and was able to tell mum the positive news and dad when he got back from a walk and my sister over the phone. By this time I was feeling quite awake – which is an unusual occurrence for me and that feeling lasted around an hour. I had a tiny bit of discomfort in my abdomen and where the canula was. Once again regular blood pressure and monitoring took place.

I had to call a nurse when I first wanted to get up and walk. I felt fine but they had “Call don’t fall” stickers up so I complied. Also I had nearly passed out the first time I got up after my last anaesthetic (however that was after well over 24 hours in bed rather than 1). I was fine and made my way to the en suite toilet for dad to point out my ripped knickers on the floor. I put my own back on. There was a tiny bit of blood (this is normal) so I kept the pad in place.

Then I wolfed down my food and a few glasses of water and the tablets I’d been unable to take in the morning. I let dad have the tea they bought. Didn’t fancy any milk. I had carrot and hummus sandwiches and granola with yoghurt and berries. It was actually tasty – or was I just starving.

Private hospital day case lunch

An IVF nurse came to see me and asked the somewhat random and vague question if I knew what I was to do next. What she meant was to start taking progesterone pessaries the following morning and to await a call from the embryologists in the morning to let me know if the donor sperm had managed to fertilise my eggs. Progesterone pessaries are taken because where the eggs are collected the follicle doesn’t do what it normally does when you ovulate and release the relevant hormones. I think it also helps keep the womb lining thick and repair the holes caused by the needles. If you are to get pregnant by IVF usually women take these for the first 12 weeks. They are usually taken twice daily vaginally although occasionally need to be used rectally (such as on the day of egg transfer).

Finally at 2.30ish my final blood pressure measurement was taken and was back up to where it had started. Canula out clothes on. Paperwork completed and I was allowed home where we arrived about four hours later. I had snoozed most of the journey back. My sister popped round for hugs with some paracetamol and then I ate some comfort crumpets with melted cheese and I was in bed by 9pm with my alarm set for 9am so I’d be awake for the phonecall.

The call from the Embryologist and a mix up

Naturally I woke anxious about the outcome and felt my heart skip a beat when the phone rang at just after 9.30. A withheld number (as most hospital numbers are). It was the embryologist from the clinic. After confirming my name and date of birth I was informed that only one egg had fertilised normally and that they had booked me a transfer appointment for the following day – Friday at 10am and as long as everything went as planned that would be what would happen. I don’t really know what I felt. Obviously I had hoped for both to fertilise as if they had – at my age – they can implant two embryos to increase the chances of conception. But as people say it only takes one so there was still a chance things could work out.

I was on the phone to my family arranging our journey for the Friday when not ten minutes later the phone rang again from a withheld number. I put my parents on hold to answer it. It was the embryologist. She was sorry. She’d made a mistake and not properly read a note made by her colleague. Although one egg had fertilised it was showing signs of abnormality. My heart sank.

She went on to say her previous call was premature and to explain that although in other countries they do transfer such embryos because they are generally not viable (?why) that in the U.K. it is illegal. But they would check again at 10am (it was 9.47am) and 12pm to see how things were dividing. I started crying before I was able to put the phone down.

I had to phone my sister and parents back to tell them. They were angry and upset on my behalf.

At 10 the call came again saying nothing had changed and it wasn’t likely to. She apologised again for the earlier error. I felt numb. I barely spoke but sniffed trying to hold back tears. They would check again at 12 and the end of the day and if anything developed they would give me an appointment but that they would let my consultant know so I could arrange my follow up appointment to discuss what happened.

I private messaged close friends and family and a friend who has been through the process. My parents and sister popped by for hugs and tears. I’d already had hugs from my lodger. My parents were heading to Asda. I had only been able to pick up part of my pessary prescription from there before hand so had some still owing. Some I no longer need but had paid for. I asked my mum if they could collect as I didn’t think I could cope with that. I cried … again.

Now I don’t know if I misunderstood but I had expected a call back later to confirm once and for all. Nothing by 12. I had arranged to meet up with friends at a local coffee shop to get out of the house. More hugs and tears but also panini, tiffin and hot chocolate and paracetamol. Purely medicinal of course. A little girl was celebrating her 3rd birthday. We all sang to her. On the walk back home my friend and I went on the swings in the empty playground. I swung without moving my legs because my stomach was aching but it did feel good.

I e-mailed the fertility nurse from the satellite clinic to let her know as they don’t get informed automatically. I checked if this meant I didn’t have to continue with the pessaries.

I spent the rest of the day with my eyes leaking on and off. I did some shredding and ripping up of things. My stomach ached bending over to the shredder but I did it anyway.

I didn’t hear back from the clinic. I went to phone at 4.30 to find out that’s the time they close. I posted a quick update online as I know there were people who would be waiting to hear.

An IVF Milestone card you hope you won’t have to use – but it exists so this outcome is common

I worked on a sculpture I’d made to fix up bits that had cracked when it was dry. I responded to lots of lovely supportive messages from people on Facebook and Instagram. I tried to keep busy. Another friend had popped round some chocolates and a card but left them on the step kindly not wanting to put me under pressure to talk. My lodgers got me more chocolates. I’ll deal with the gain on Monday’s weigh in and hopefully put a line under it and move on.

I went to feed my sister’s cat. He let me cuddle him for 30 seconds. I fed and watered him and gave him a treat. Then he pissed off outside. Good to know some things don’t change.

Hope and Breaking/Dealing With Bad News

It still would have been hard to hear a no straight away this morning. The thing with this process is that a no can appear at many steps along the way. But to hear a yes followed by we made an error was extra gutting. I know mistakes are made but this is already such an emotive process. Your body is full of hormones too which certainly won’t help with producing rational emotions. I wrote a poem about how I felt.

Short cathartic poem

Hope is a funny thing. We need it but it can be overdone. Everyone wants life to be easy. People want to tell you that the miracle will happen for you. That you’ll be one of the lucky ones when chances are that actually you might not be. At least not first time. In the clinic they went through the steps you’d take if the results were positive. Nothing was said about the negative initially. People need to be better prepared for all eventualities.

If you’ve read all of this. Bless you and thank you. I said to someone that I wanted to share to raise awareness because there are women and couples going through this every day. I want people to just think a little before asking some of the questions that trip off our tongues about when people plan to have a family because they may just be trying their damnedest without success. This is only my first attempt. I’ve lurked on forums and I know people who have had many failures and it’s devastating. But we all deal with it differently. I have chosen to share. Some people won’t want to or be able to. I want those who need to to feel that they can. To feel that social media doesn’t just have to be a highlights reel. We can share the lowlights too. We can help each other feel and cope with negative emotion. We can say I’m here for you – I don’t know what to say but I care. And you don’t need to fix things for people straight away. If something crap happens it’s normal to feel sad at first. It’s normal for people to want to vent without you having to offer a solution. Often there isn’t one. Or your solution won’t be there solution. Just listen and think – not what would I need but what do I think they would need – if you don’t know simply ask.

This isn’t the end of my journey so I will continue to share. I don’t know what the next steps will be apart from arranging to see the consultant to talk things through. I’m sure there will be more tears and more hugs and that things will feel shit and then they’ll start to feel better. Thanks to everyone who sticks with me through that.

Posting this before I head to bed and I’m

hoping to wake up and cry less tears tomorrow.

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