My name is Jo. I want to share my IVF story with you today, I hope you will be inspired by it. Let me begin…
In 2006 my husband, Jon and I decided to start a family. I think this was more my idea if I’m being honest. Up until this point I was naïve of what infertility was, I came off the pill and we casually started trying.
Three years down the line nothing was happening, then we slipped into the fourth year, the fifth year, the sixth year, but even by the seventh year nothing was happening. Then it dawned on me that there might be something wrong. I went to my GP and he referred me for the standard tests.
Nothing major was found apart from a mild endometriosis and I had the laparoscopy. The consultant was a lovely gentleman. I remember sitting in his office one day and crying, wondering what the hell was happening to me. He reassured me that I had nothing to worry about as the condition was so mild, he told me he had seen worse in other women and they had gone on to conceive.
He also requested that Jon my husband get tested so he could for sure have the overall picture. To be honest, it never occurred to me that men could also have the same issues with fertility as women. In my culture (African) the blame is mostly put on the women, sometimes men leave their wives or partners in search of a baby.
After tests it was discovered that Jon had a very low sperm count. He had an operation to try and improve this, a varicocelectomy. The test was repeated and unfortunately it did not increase the count. The consultant did say before the operation that it could solve the problem, but sometimes it does not.
With all these facts, the consultant recommended we have IVF by ICSI
We found ourselves on this journey, that we didn’t want to be on but had no choice, if we wanted a baby this was what we were going to do.
I really didn’t have many people to talk to, I felt vulnerable and ashamed. One of my friends at work was trying for a baby and she recommended using a holistic approach to conceiving and said Zita West was a good option. I booked an appointment with her for a consultation and she reassured me that I had nothing to worry about.
She recommended I see a nutritionist, have some acupuncture, hypnosis and recommended a consultant at Guy’s Hospital, who would help us with IVF. There was no waiting list for this, so it was okay. We saw a nutritionist, I had some acupuncture and I had hypnosis immediately after the first failed attempt.
The start of a lonely journey
The cycle started well. Scans, lots of them, medications, injecting yourself, I mean we were in the full swing of it. The first cycle, I had nine eggs at the collection and four became embryos. Out of the four, only one was a success. Let me take this moment to share my gratitude for my daughter, born in 2011.
It had taken seven years but I am so blessed to have her.
Trying for a sibling
We went for another fresh cycle with the Zita West Clinic in 2016. I promised myself that this would be the last. Our financial resources were taking a hit by now, I thought instead of renovating our house or have a wedding of my dreams, we will use the money to have IVF.
The unexpected happens, now what?
By now I knew what was expected in an IVF cycle. In the middle of the cycle, Jon was diagnosed with a brain tumour and required emergency surgery. This completely numbed me. I remember speaking to the nurse from the Zita West Clinic about Jon’s diagnosis, and she asked me if I was sure I wanted to go ahead? I asked what my options would be It was to stop the cycle and there would be no refund. So, stopping was not an option, we had spent a lot of money so far. Luckily, Jon’s operation went well and got the all clear.
We only collected two eggs, they fertilized well and were both transferred. This did not result in a pregnancy and I think, this almost threw me over the edge. It was too much to deal with.
How do you deal with disappointment?
I think the emotional stress is the hardest part to deal with during IVF. You can deal with injecting yourself and the finances, but what about what goes on in your head? It can become scary and dark. Your mind is like a sprinter running for a race – it starts off in the morning and it doesn’t stop until you go to bed.
I started to incorporate practices such as meditation. The scientific research around this is huge and the benefits are plenty. Listening to others who have been through it, reading and listening to self-help books were key in getting myself back together.
I realised that some of my beliefs and thoughts worked and others did not. I align myself with the ones where I felt peace and sometimes, I would go back to the dark ones.
This has been my journey so far. To everyone going through IVF or those who have been through IVF, I pray you find the strength to get back your life. When you feel that the world is caving in, focus on the power within you and surrender.
Helping other women has become my mission, I wish you all the best in every decision you decide to take.