When we found out we were pregnant, I swore I was going to talk more about fertility and fertility treatment. To do my bit to remove the taboo and make it easier for everyone to be more open and talk!
Kelly and I talked about if we both wanted kids before we’d even had an official first date, it was something that for me was a deal-breaker. From as far back as I can remember if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a mum. If only I’d known then how hard that was going to be!
Something that had to be seriously thought about was when the right time to start trying for a family would be and how we were going to go about it! We decided to start with the NHS and depending on how that worked out, go private if we needed to.
The Start of Fertility
I’d been diagnosed with PCOS ( Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ) when I was around 14 by an awful doctor who flippantly just said “yeah you’ve got PCOS so you probably won’t be able to have kids” *Well I bloody well showed him didn’t I.*
Anyway if I’m honest it didn’t bother me at the time. As I got older it was something that played on my mind a lot. Having a family was something I was passionate about. Kelly was initially always going to carry first, mainly just because she’s older. However, after seeing the GP and doing the initial tests, it was suggested that I went first. Because of my PCOS and the severity of it that the sooner I started trying the better.
Our GP referred us to our local fertility clinic and the waiting began! You’re simply put on a waiting list and you’ll get a call when it’s your slot! We got the call around 6 months later which for someone who likes control, this was tough!!
Once we got to the clinic it was a case of booking in for a counselling session. Now lets just briefly chat about this – It got my back up.
I didn’t understand why I had to have counselling to have a baby. If i went out one night and shagged whoever, nobody would be giving me counselling beforehand! Anyway, it was a tick box that we needed to tick and I promised Kelly I would stay engaged for the session!
It was so out of date it was painful! It was geared towards straight couples and ensuring that both parties were comfortable if using donor eggs or sperm. She did admit the sessions were outdated and just referred us to a website that sold books for same-sex families.
Dye, Scan, Drugs
I then had an HSG done. Which in basic terms is a dye test to make sure all your tubes are clear and free-flowing!
Once all this is completed and results are back we had an appointment to have a scan and discuss drugs! I needed to take Provera which is a drug to bring on a period as my body wouldn’t produce one on its own – a huge woman perk when you aren’t trying to have a baby, not so much when you are! Then had more scans to see if i was producing follicles and if so how many and how big!
I then went on Clomid with a 50mg dose which had no response, I then went onto a 100mg dose which also had no response. Then tried Gonal F which is an injection pen – a little like what diabetic people use except it’s a flipping long needle to stab in yourself!
I was initially doing 50iu every day for 10 days and then 100iu a day for 3 days. This was then increased to 150iu for 4 days and then 100iu for 4 days followed by ovatrelle (This is the drug that forces your body to ovulate and release an egg. It stings like an absolute bitch to inject and because of how high the dose is it takes an age to get it all in!) once at 6,500iu. This didn’t work either…this time I overstimulated which means my eggs were too big for treatment…keeping in mind that there is a 2mm window. You can have no more than 2 eggs measuring 1.5cm and no more than 1 egg measuring 1.7cm. Not a lot to go on when you can’t control individual egg growth!
I then did 150iu for 4 days, 75iu for 1 day, 100 iu for 1 day and Ovatrelle at 3,250iu. This cycle ended up being the winning ticket and despite everything (it really shouldn’t have worked) i got pregnant. Throw in with this probably 4 or 5 blood tests, a counselling session and easily over 40 scans. Whilst all the while, paying for the privilege of emotionally and physically battering yourself month after month after month.
I can’t stress enough, if you know anyone going through IVF, IUI or any type of treatment, PLEASE please be kind. It’s hands down the hardest, loneliest and most emotional thing I have ever ever had to deal with.
I generally always had my appointments early doors and went to work from there. It’s the Ideal way to do it when you don’t want people to know as it doesn’t alert much suspicion. The downside of that is that I’d quite often leave the hospital following more bad news, drive to work, park my car and spend the 15 min walk sobbing in a desperate attempt to pull myself together by the time I reached the front door of work and then smile & pretend everything was great.
I was lucky that I was going through it all with Kelly, she came to every scan, appointment, blood test with me and she was a huge support, but I also felt extremely alone. Although we were in it together and this is 100% our baby, it was me injecting and taking different drugs, it was me trying to deal with absolutely raging hormones, it was my body that wasn’t doing what it should be, it was my body not responding. I felt like I was failing as a woman and my body was failing me.
Everyone deals with things differently and Kelly’s way is to be super positive and not let any emotion show in an attempt to help me cope. My way is to grieve, be angry, read books, forums, medical journals on treatments, side effects, doses, anything. Anything to give me some hope that this hellish journey would end. But with that brings frustration, I’d get annoyed that Kelly wasn’t bothered, that she didn’t show any type of emotion and wasn’t showing any interest in researching what we were doing.
Kelly would get annoyed that I was dwelling in it, she would get frustrated when I just couldn’t talk about it, but I couldn’t talk about how I felt because I was just angry. In the end, we found a middle ground, I had 24 hours to be as sad as I wanted, I could shout, scream, cry, sleep, whatever I needed and during that time she dealt with everyone else. She would be the one messaging family to say it hadn’t worked. It was the one thing I couldn’t do. In that first 24hours, I couldn’t acknowledge it, I didn’t want people telling me to keep my chin up or that the next cycle would be the one. I couldn’t cope with it.
I will be FOREVER grateful for her doing that, she took the weight from me and let me just process in my own time.
IUI & IVF
For anyone unsure we had IUI treatment, the difference between IUI ( Intrauterine Insemination ) and IVF ( In Vitro Fertilisation ) is basically that with IUI you don’t take your eggs out, you get them to the right size and inject the sperm into you, in the hope, it catches on to an egg, latches on and stays! With IVF your eggs are taken out, the sperm is put in and if they connect then they’re put back inside you for your body to essentially either accept or decline. There is a WAY more medical explanation than this, but it sums it up!!
Once you have the sperm put in, you have a two-week wait. It feels like approx 6 years and your brain goes into overdrive! Basically, you’re waiting to see if you’re pregnant or not! You’re advised to wait the full two weeks before doing a pregnancy test as the drugs you’re given could produce a false positive if you test too early. For the first week after implantation, I just took it really easy. Ate super healthy and added in lots of extra vitamins and nutrients into my diet including a VERY green smoothie every morning! I also lay on my back with my legs in the air against the wall for about 40 mins each morning and evening. Now there’s absolutely no science to say any of this stuff works but if it settles your mind…there’s no harm either!
Day 10 –
I started feeling really sick, a little clammy and just not myself. We both started getting excited that it could have worked but you also settle yourself very quickly because what if you’re not.
Day 11 –
I was feeling worse, really queasy and a shocking headache that just wouldn’t shift!!
Day 12 –
I was just tired. We had been food shopping and was at home popping the food away. I popped upstairs for a wee and figured I’d do a test so we could rule it out, came downstairs and just popped it on the kitchen side while we carried on. I told Kelly I’d done one because I wanted to start coming to terms with the fact it hadn’t worked, so we just left it there until we’d made some dinner and were heading into the other room.
Then this happened…
We were pregnant.
Obviously, I then tested every day for the next few days…you need to be sure of these things!!!
At the beginning of my pregnancy, I developed OHSS ( Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome ), a rare but possible side effect of all the treatment. I was very very swollen, I looked about 12/14 weeks pregnant, not 2! I was struggling to breathe, literally walking from my sofa to the kitchen would leave me gasping for breath and I’d have to sit down.
I was also ridiculously thirsty, there was literally no limit to the amount of fluids i needed! I ended up being hospitalised with it and spent 2 weeks in the hospital on complete bed rest. It took about 10-12 weeks to completely settle down which meant Kelly or my dad would drive me to and from work every day because I couldn’t walk very far or elevate my heart rate!!
Everything was great until I was about 21 weeks pregnant and I was getting dressed ready for work and suddenly had the most crippling pain of my entire life. Now, I’m in no ways soft, I’ll grin and bare almost anything but this had me begging Kelly to take me to hospital. Something was really wrong, I was in so much pain I honestly thought I must be going into labour!
After a huge amount of blood tests, scans, a scary moment where they wanted to take me to theatre and told me to decide if i would accept the surgery and risk losing my baby or not and being hooked onto IV Morphine, it turned out I had Kidney stones.
The problem with this is that they can’t do anything about it when you’re pregnant. You just have to wait it out. So I spent 4 weeks in hospital on IV morphine, IV paracetamol, oral morphine and a whole concoction of other bits too just waiting for it to pass! After further tests, it turns out that I actually got kidney stones because of being pregnant and if i ever get pregnant again, it’s likely to return.
Then…on the 12th August 2019 at 4.16 am…. Jack arrived and the rest, as they say, is history!