I’m going to keep this fairly brief. My journey started nearly 10 years ago, and I started trying to conceive in my mid-20s, and soon after, about a year we recognized that there were some issues, so we had some general fertility procedures and tests done, which revealed that everything seemed quite normal, and there was nothing that came up that was raising any issues, so from the very beginning I was classified as unexplained infertility, I know for many people where your fertility is due to unexplained infertility, that can be quite challenging. In some ways, it can be really nice to have something that you can actually work with and fix, and for me, that wasn’t something that I had. I was quickly under the NHS popped onto Clomid which increases ovulation so had 6 rounds of Clomid under the NHS, the first 5 cycles were unsuccessful of that, and on the 6th cycle I did become pregnant but sadly miscarried at 11 weeks, so obviously that was really difficult to deal with. But trying to think about the positives, I’d become pregnant, so I was just literally trying to hold on to any bit of hope, there was out there. After that, it was unsuccessful, and at the time, it was just recommended that we had six cycles, so we were then progressing onto IUI, which is the artificial insemination.
We had 3 rounds of the IUI which again were all unsuccessful, so we were due to start the IVF. We should have been entitled to 1 round on the NHS, but when we were about to start it, our CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) had run out of funding. We decided to pay privately because up to that point, it had been about 3 years under the NHS. You can be in the system quite a while before you start to get moving, especially when you’re at the younger age and I was under 30, and they just thought it was just going to happen, so we decided to go privately, and I had my first cycle of IVF which was very scary. When you’re new to it, the first cycle is very stressful, and I think the fact that we’d already been in the system for quite a few years, and it had already started to impact my mental health, the whole emotional impact of the treatment was quite significant and the whole fertility journey. I had my first IVF cycle, and that was unsuccessful, so at that point, I just felt that there was something that wasn’t quite right. All my tests had previously said unexplained infertility. We then went on to have some genetic testing and immune testing, which did show that I had slightly elevated natural killer cells, which gave me again a little bit more hope that we could change something for the second cycle. On the second cycle, we added steroids and immunosuppressants into the cycle, and I got a positive pregnancy test, which was amazing, everything was going really well. I had all the early pregnancy symptoms but then when I went for my 6-week viability scan, unfortunately, that proved the pregnancy wasn’t diable, and so that was the second miscarriage that I had during that time. From that cycle actually, we had 4 really good grade blastocysts which were frozen, so again as hard as it was and it was an awful time, I felt hopeful that there were the frozen embryos that we could put back, obviously the frozen embryo transfer is less invasive in terms of a procedure, so we went on to have the 2 frozen embryos put back with intralipids, which again was suppressing the immune system, but unfortunately that wasn’t successful.
This happened over a number of years, and by the time I’d got to that transfer and it not been successful, I was just absolutely exhausted with it all and just needed a complete break from it. I don’t know where people are at who is listening in terms of where you’re at in your cycles or your journey, but for me having that break for a year was, I know some people don’t have time, but it really felt like it was the best thing to do. It had been nearly 8 years, and it started to take over my life completely, so it had just become a project baby and it was really tricky, so we had a year out just to kind of do some other things and try to not think about it.
We decided that we’d have the last two frozen embryos back, but again because of the emotional impact of it I was reluctant to have those back knowing what I was going to be in for and the whole roller coaster of emotions that were going to come up, so on that last cycle, we didn’t tell anybody about the treatment, and on the previous ones we had, so you not only are dealing with your own disappointment but you’ve got everybody else disappointed which can be hard, so we didn’t tell anybody, I did it in the summer holidays because previously I was a teacher and sadly that was unsuccessful as well. It was 9 years on from trying, we’d just decided that emotionally, physically we were just done. People asked me how did you know when enough was enough, and inside you just know, we’d given ourselves a limit, we’d spent nearly twenty thousand pounds on treatment and it just seemed that it was just holding us back from moving forward.
As difficult as that really was and making that decision and we’ll talk about the challenges and things like that, it was a relief in some ways to let it go, but once we decided that that was it, I thought logically, we could just get on with our lives, but obviously, the reality of it was quite difficult. That’s my journey in terms of kind of what we went through.