I’d been very blasé about conceiving when we initially started trying after we got married, I’m a numbers guy and the law of averages or the rule of probability told me that we would get pregnant and start a family. I have friends that had got pregnant at literally the first attempt and friends that had finally got pregnant after many years of trying. I was fairly confident we’d be somewhere in the middle, and anyway, we were in no real rush, at the start I never felt any time pressure and certainly wasn’t keeping an eye an any biological clocks. The longer life went on without a positive result the more disappointed and anxious I could tell Kate was getting. I genuinely didn’t expect the investigation results to show any problems and that we would keep on trying naturally.
The first time our consultant actually mentioned the next step being a round of IVF treatment I was shocked, it had always been mentioned as ultimately being an option but hearing it being actually planned was different. At the time my immediate thought was that this is all happening a bit quickly but on reflection those feelings were more the fear of this being the last bullet we had in our dreams of being parents together. Up until that point I like to think I’d taken most things in my stride, taking my usual approach to adversity by trying to be funny about every test, contribution & procedure we’d previously been through, but this now became serious, and I could tell from our consultants tone that it was a very serious commitment we were about to undertake.
Our decision to have private treatment was an expensive one but the right one. It gave us the ability to arrange appointments and consultations at time that suited our lives and were more flexible than if we’d have gone down the NHS route. This was particularly important to me as it meant that I didn’t have too much disruption at work. Kate was up front with her employer from the very start and they were extremely accommodating regarding the requirements of her time. We scheduled most appointments very early or very late in the day in order that I could arrive in the office late or leave early on the necessary days. I work in an Alpha male environment and was keen to avoid bringing the subject of fertility treatment up with colleagues for as long as possible. I’m very open to talk about the process we went through but having already endured a couple of years of banter about being married and not being pregnant I didn’t really want to talk about it at the time at work.
The downside to private treatment is obviously the cost. Kate’s private health cover from work covered the investigative work but the treatment was all self funded. We’re very fortunate that we had the savings that enabled us to see the treatment through. It upsets me to think that now in our area there will be couples that need IVF treatment to start a family but will never have the opportunity due to lack of private funds and our local NHS trust cutting funding for IVF. I made the decision early on that we would pay for absolutely whatever was necessary and beneficial to enhance our chances of success. We joke about it now that I have a folder full of invoices and know exactly how much he cost us and that I’ll present Austin with the bill (inflation adjusted) on his 18th birthday.
I was happy to be as involved as possible during the IVF process even injecting Kate a few times with the meds, but after 1 too many quick needle withdrawals I was sidelined from nurse duties.
By far the most involved day was the day of the egg collection and fertilisation. I arrived to the hospital with Kate and as she got taken into theatre I shared the lift up with our consultant who was running late, it was a rather awkward lift ride with just a nod of acknowledgement from both sides. As our hospital weren’t able to do the fertilisation on site I had to courier the collected eggs to the embryologist at The London Women’s Clinic on Harley street. The nurses had arranged a car to take me all the way but after a mile and a half of the journey the traffic was so bad that I asked the driver to divert me to the mainline station and I’d take my chances on public transport. I remember thinking at the time that was a major decision, maybe one of the most critical I’d ever made, if there was any delays with the train service all of the effort and pain Kate had been through would be in jeopardy. I vividly remember just how much talking to myself I was doing telling myself I had made the right decision and planning what I’d do if the train stopped or broke down. I was pretty convinced I’d be climbing off the train and walking along the track if necessary.
The other thought I had been wondering if anyone else on the train had been through what I was going through? Did anyone recognise the type of incubator I was transporting across south London on the hottest day of the year? I’ll never forget that bloody incubator, how preciously I was wheeling it around and how protective I was of it on the train. I’ve since sworn to myself that in the unlikely event I ever see someone with the same incubator making the same journey as I did that day I will wish them luck and offer them any assistance they can use. It’s an anxious time. I was so relieved when I arrived at the hospital with a comfortable time buffer.
My arrival in Harley street did not signal the end of my working day though, I still had my most significant contribution to make. This was made in a very small, unglamorous room tucked away somewhere in the basement with a “library” of reading material to help out. I’ll be honest, curiosity did get the better of me and my eyes probably lingered on certain images longer than I’d ever have expected them to, but in for a penny they say… This brings me on to my one bit of advice for the process, if you’re likely to need some visual assistance in there, take your own, or ask for the wifi code at reception!
Once I’d had everything signed off with the embryologist I made my way back south with a lot less anxiety than my earlier journey. It was turning into one of those days that seemed to be taking a lot longer than it actually did but our future was now in the hands of science. My one disappointment of the day was that I didn’t get to tell Kate how successful the egg collection had been. The embryologist had phoned the nurses who were with Kate whilst I was travelling who passed the news on to her. I’d been looking forward to giving her the great news that all of her sacrifice, discomfort and pain had paid off. Anyway that wasn’t to be but we had plenty of other stories to share once she’d been discharged and we were driving home…….to the dreaded two week wait.