No I’m not pregnant! Just thought I’d get that out of the way.
After my last miscarriage I felt very sensitive about other people’s views on our IVF ‘journey’. My own mother (who is the baby whisperer – she loves babies so to have more grandchildren is her absolute dream) told me to stop with the IVF. She thought that the mental and physical toll (not to mention financial) was too great and said as much. A good friend (who had IVF to have her little boy as she’s gay) told me I was out of options (I am paraphrasing a bit). Most other people (apart from my IVF ‘sisters’) seem to think that we shouldn’t try anymore. They didn’t all say it but I could see it in their eyes. I have had 7 IVF rounds including 1 donor. We have spent thousands (one lovely blogger said to me a few months ago not to be ashamed of that – never be ashamed for pursuing your dream she said – it made me feel better). I feel that my physical health has suffered. I am scared of what the drugs may have done to me. Will I get early menopause? Cervical cancer? Some other side effect?
For a while we both felt it was the end of the road. My husband is not up for adoption and I don’t have the fight left to overturn his views, plus having heard from bloggers, friends and fellow forum users how tough that road is I’m not sure I have the strength to go through with it anyway.
Then I decided I wanted to try again. I just couldn’t imagine not having a child. Then I changed my mind and my husband decided he wanted to try again. We really weren’t in sync. Then all of a sudden we both decided yes we’d give it a go. Even though it was going to cost loads, we had been advised against trying with our 1 poor quality embryo on it’s own just in case it didn’t defrost so a logical thing might be to use the same donor again and add to it.
But we hit a massive problem. Our clinic. We had chosen them as our donor agency worked with them, they were prompt at responding to our queries, our Dr was highly recommended and they weren’t as expensive as some London clinics. The downside is that they are a pretty small clinic and quite new. Over the last few months we’ve had huge arguments with their finance team over double payments (where they made us pay again for some things that we thought were included) and things they tried to charge us for which we didn’t want (eg embryo glue -I have the evidence to show we said no to it). The arguments got so bad that I found I couldn’t even respond to their emails as I was so angry at a time when I was supposed to be relaxing. One of their arguments to me was that our donor had used a lot of drugs during her treatment (we paid a flat fee for the treatment), yet this was because they overstimulated her (she had 33 eggs). I was gobsmacked – their argument was basically that their massive profit margin from using a flat fee had been partially eroded through their own treatment plan.
Then following our miscarriage we asked our Dr about next steps and possibly using the same donor again to add to the remaining embryo. It turned out that the clinic had decided not to work with our agency anymore (a decision they must’ve made fairly soon after we started at the clinic) and have an exclusive donor arrangement with another much bigger agency (who incidentally I have contacted in the past and I didn’t like their attitude). I explained how we wanted to stay with our agency. Our Dr was very sympathetic and tried to argue our case. But the shitty finance manager wasn’t having a bar of it. He said no – use the other agency (which surprise surprise charge more money) or fuck off (ok, he didn’t actually say fuck off but he may as well have). I had a phone call with my Dr who actually had the grace to sound embarrassed about the whole thing. In the end he gave me some recommendations for other clinics, told me exactly what he’d do differently next time and asked me to stay in touch and let him know what happens. I like him but he was pretty senior in the clinic and if he’d really, really wanted to I think he could’ve convinced them to let us use our agency. Plus it was him who overstimulated our donor – I recognise we wanted quite a few eggs but not by putting her at risk of OHSS and compromising the quality.
At some point I intend reporting them to the donor conception network (both for the way they treated me as the recipient and overstimulating my donor) and to the HFEA which is the supposed regulatory body for fertility clinics in the UK (though I guess they don’t really care – they’re not really a proper regulatory body, they look at success rates and not much else – they should regulate the fricking prices) and to various other fertility networks. However, I’ve been too stressed yet to do it.
As a result I have little faith in private fertility clinics in this country. I am convinced they are mostly in it for the profits.
So, we could go abroad but we both feel that we want any child to be given the opportunity of contacting their donor when they reach 18. That choice is only available if we stay here. Even though it would be far cheaper to go aboard (though with the drop in the value of the pound maybe not so much now!).
In the end we went for a consultation at our Drs old clinic. They have an excellent reputation for their embryologists but are known for being crap at communication. Whilst I wasn’t massively impressed with our new consultant I didn’t think he was that bad (I think I can pretty much write my own treatment plan by now). We decided to go with them largely on the grounds of their excellent lab and their success rates. True to form their communication is dire !
My husband had to have a sperm DNA fragmentation test. We’ve always resisted this in the past as there isn’t really anything that can be done if the result was bad. We’re already having ICSI or IMSI which would be recommended and he’s already on various supplements. Given the sperm issues we’ve had we were pretty certain it would come back bad. But it didn’t. Totally normal, and not even at the edge of normal. Which is good news. Though it does make me concerned that the miscarriage was down to something in my womb or immune issues. But I also have a nagging feeling about the sperm issue because in the past it’s not been great – so whilst it’s good there is no fragmentation there are still other issues.
We already have a donor and she’s due for egg collection this week. I haven’t told anyone at all about it. No one. No friends, no family, not even my sister who is the least judgey person ever. And I’m not going to. I will get any support I need from this blog and from my husband. Maybe if we get a good number of normal embryos we’ll tell a few people but I just don’t feel like sharing. I have a couple of friends who sometimes read this blog but most of my friends don’t have the link (even if they know about it). But I’ve felt judged lately and maybe it’s in my head but I’m not ready to talk about it. I did just find out my husband told his parents – his mum said she ‘hopes this is the last time’ and she wasn’t meaning because she hopes it works either. She doesn’t mean to be rude. I guess people just care that we’re spent so much time and money on IVF with nothing but heartache to show for it yet. But fingers crossed maybe this next time will work. I’m trying to stay very calm, we have a long way to go, first we have to get some embryos and then we have to make sure they’re normal. Plus my husband is adamant this is our last go. I don’t think we can justify any more money – we want our lives back. It feels like there is so much riding on this.