So you’re about to start IVF. Depending upon your circumstances, this point in your journey might follow what has been a difﬁcult path in trying to conceive naturally. Or you might be here for the ﬁrst time to try and achieve parenthood as a same sex couple or via surrogacy. Everyone’s story is different but the hopes and fears as you have those preliminary tests and appointments are probably more unifying than you realise.
Just as everyone's story is different, so too are the ways in which people approach the process of assisted fertility. The more optimistic an individual, perhaps the more positive the belief in the results. However, if i’ve learnt anything from being an IVF patient myself, it’s that no two days, rounds or pregnancies are the same.
My story in a nutshell is that I had 3 transfers. All frozen. Transfer one resulted in no pregnancy. Transfer two resulted in a cervical ectopic, the ﬁrst ever pregnancy I had achieved and a pretty horrendous end. And transfer three resulted in our beautiful little girl who is nearing 2 years old as I write this.
So I could cut this blog short by saying that perhaps no, IVF possibly won’t work the ﬁrst time. That is only to say that, it’s not guaranteed. But there is always nuance and circumstantial factors within any journey.
Personally, I do know a few people where IVF has worked ﬁrst time. And short of dropping my shopping bags in the middle of the road and blurting out ‘how did you do that?!’ while scrabbling around for a notebook and pen, it’s just the way it sometimes goes. I also know others where it was after a few rounds that they got their dream come true.
I had to quickly adjust after our ﬁrst failed round that in a life where what you want is largely at the tips of your ﬁngers, a few clicks away, where a quick and uncomplicated delivery is just something you pay a little extra for, IVF is a process that will quickly serve as a reminder that there are also other areas of life that are the complete unknown.
And perhaps because of this unknown, you Google a lot right? I know you do. I did too. You’ll ﬁnd reports that on average three rounds is a good or average amount to have before you’ll get pregnant, with not much explanation as to why. You’ll also read that as soon as a certain couple decided upon IVF, they magically got pregnant naturally the month before they started. You’ll read stats about age, AMH and sperm motility. You’ll spend a hideous amount on supplements and perhaps sling your legs up the wall post sex/transfer. But something I have told others who have felt a bit defeated at the point where they ‘succumb’ to IVF is, you are having IVF because it is possible for you to get pregnant and have a baby. Between you, your partner, a donor, a surrogate, whatever your formula, the science is there that supports possibility and hope.
So perhaps it’s time to view ‘the ﬁrst time’ as ‘the start’. I wonder if reframing it that way in your mind might help to ease the pressure on the goings on during that very ﬁrst TWW. That there’s always a start, a middle and an end in any journey.
I’ve used the word ‘journey’ so many times haven't I? It’s a word that has a bad rep in some parts of the internet and yes it can be overused for sure. But I can’t think of another one that better articulates how I felt on the path to parenthood via IVF. I would imagine my husband and I on a sort of metaphorical path, with each appointment a physical and mental step closer to becoming parents, no matter the hurdles, the sheer weight of trafﬁc or delays. We were always moving forward, learning new things, growing together, building and sometimes rebuilding our belief.
Another thing. I don’t know about you but if you are at this point following a long old time of trying naturally and nada, then you might have become very accustomed to being fully in control of dates and levels and pee tests and calling the shots about when you have sex etc. You’ve been in the driving seat, so to speak. Some of you might therefore feel a bit of weight lifted at handing over some of the responsibility to specialists who have a lab and charts and petri dishes. You do your bit, they do theirs. They are the experts now. Others of you might ﬁnd this a big challenge. How do you go from it just being about you and your partner to you, your partner, a clinic, a consultant, a nurse, an egg collector, an embryologist and more?
I truly believe if you fall into the latter camp that it might be an idea to invest in your mental wellbeing more than anything else just now. I’m sure you are doing all you can to be healthy in other ways to help aid the outcome you so desire but there’s so much to be said for a little extra care being directed to your busy, full and perhaps overwhelmed mind.
It really depends on your own character as to what your support network or routine might be. But I am a believer in assembling them from the start. If you’ve already chosen your clinic you are hopefully fully onboard with their strategies and approach so there’s no room for doubt there. They hopefully feel like your expert team. But you might want to think about what else you could do with to accompany you on this mission. A therapist to talk things out with? Some alternative complimentary therapies? A date in the diary to go hang out with your bestie who makes you belly laugh? These might sound silly, futile…I mean the science bit will either work or won’t right, regardless? Hhhhmmm, I’m not so sure. I think of the body as a whole. A holistic view if you like. And if we look after the physical and emotional we might just be on to something.
So in answer to your question, one I’ve tapped out a lot on my keyboard over the years; it might. It might not. But you are here because there is a chance. A real shot. It’s the start. Your start might be a quick sprint to the end. Or it might be more of a plod out of the starting blocks with a few meandering twists.
But you’re on your way.