Everything feels better as a community – power in numbers. That’s why we love sharing readers’ journeys as they are trying to conceive. This week we hear from Ruth, AKA The Infertile Diaries and how complicated the journey has been to date for her and her husband. No doubt if you’re going through fertility treatment (especially during this Covid-19 era), the roller-coaster of emotion that comes with IVF will resonate with you.
Over to Ruth
www.infertilediaries.com | @theinfertilediaries
My husband and I have been trying to conceive for three long years. In that time, friends have become pregnant and brought babies home without difficulty, yet here we are all these years later, with nothing to show for our efforts.
Like most people, we naively assumed we would fall pregnant within a few months of actively trying. As the months slowly ticked by, my commitment to the cause grew. First came the ovulation predictor kits, then the checking of the basal body temperature (BBT) and fertility acupuncture. This was closely followed by a myriad of other changes I felt sure would increase our chances: a gluten free diet, a high dairy diet, a strict ban on BPAs and enough supplements to cause me to rattle when I walked. But, still nothing.
Related Article – Acupuncture for Fertility – Advice from Fertility Expert Emma Cannon
After six months, I approached my GP and was told it was too early for anything to be done, despite online NHS guidance stating they would start fertility tests after six months for anyone 35 and over struggling to conceive. Three months later, I returned and they reluctantly agreed to do some blood tests. I was told the results were ‘normal.’ Three months after this (now a year into trying to conceive), they conducted a sperm analysis – all normal. Finally, we were given a diagnosis: “unexplained infertility”. We were immediately referred for IVF.
During the initial tests at our fertility clinic, I was told that the blood test results conducted by my GP were, in fact, not entirely ‘normal’ and that I had high FSH and low AMH, meaning my body was having to work hard to ovulate, as I didn’t have a large number of eggs left. This came as a complete and utter shock. For the past six months, I had been reassuring myself that, as the blood tests and sperm analysis were both fine, we must just be one of those couples that conceives in the second year of trying.
Related Article – Fertility Help – Are my Eggs Diminishing in Number as I Approach 35?
In July 2019, we embarked upon our first round of IVF at a fertility clinic – a cycle bluntly referred to as ‘trial and error’ by our embryologist. Despite injecting myself for ten days to stimulate my ovaries, my body did very little and the round was cancelled before egg collection. In October 2019, we tried again, on a much higher dose of fertility medication. We had two embryos growing nicely on Day 3, but sadly both had arrested by Day 5. A Day 3 embryo transfer wasn’t offered.
For our third IVF cycle, we decided to abandon fertility treatment in the UK and act upon the many glowing reviews we had read about IVF treatment in Greece. In March, our first attempt with natural IVF gave us a perfect frozen embryo. Whilst there, our wonderful fertility specialist team discovered a huge polyp and immediately carried out a hysteroscopy. I was told that I would never have been able to get pregnant without the hysteroscopy and the polyp removal, so although Covid-19 meant we were unable to return for our frozen embryo transfer, the chance of a natural pregnancy brought me hope for the first time in a long time.
Related Article – IVF Blog: The Things No One Told Us About Infertility
From Hope to Loss
I was right to hope. I fell pregnant for the first time in my life the very next month! It’s hard to put into words how it felt finally to be pregnant after so long, and to fall pregnant naturally, after so many IVF attempts at a fertility clinic. Sadly, the pregnancy stopped progressing towards the end of the first trimester. I was completely and utterly shell-shocked and totally unprepared for the physical brutality of baby loss. I knew the emotional toll would be life-changing, but I had no idea that it was possible to go through a miscarriage for six weeks. I also wasn’t prepared for the harsh reality of experiencing labour at home.
Related Article – Baby Loss Awareness – What Not to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage
Now, four months on from my miscarriage, my body is recovering well and the good days are outweighing the bad. The grief continues to come in waves but I am beginning to feel hopeful about the future once again. I am making plans to return to Athens in early 2021, all the while knowing that a natural pregnancy is not outside the realms of possibility, which is of huge comfort. Our perfect little blastocyst has been on ice for much longer than anticipated, but having never had any embryos transferred up to this point, we are wishing, hoping and praying it will be well worth the wait.
Related Article – Infertility Counselling: 10 Ways an Infertility Counsellor Can Help Through Infertility Trauma