We were planning to start another fresh IVF cycle in the new year. After transferring all our frozen embryo’s we had begun the process to start again. After a summer of heartache we decided to wait a few months and enjoy life again before embarking on our second fresh IVF cycle in January.
Our clinic recommended Phil have a semen analysis and as expected it came back great, no real difference since his last one 4 years ago. There was a note added to Phil’s analysis though, that he had slightly elevated leucocytes present (high white blood cells). We didn’t think much about this as Phil had several bouts of a bad sinus infection, so our consultant provided more antibiotics in a bid to clear the infection for good this time. Little did we know this may have been the first indication that Phil was suffering with more than just an infection.
When we were first told the devastating news about Phil’s brain tumour we immediately spoke to out fertility clinic. We wanted to understand what options were available as we knew surgery was going be immediate. Even with a very short IVF protocol we were not going to have time to freeze some embryo’s so our consultant (who has been with us since the beginning of our treatment) spoke to me in-depth about our options. It may seem odd in the midst of our turmoil but it was actually one of the first things that I thought about after meeting the neurosurgeon. Infertility has been part of our lives for the last 5 years so is never far from our minds.
We would love to have more children and we both know Austin is born to be a sibling. He thrives with other children and his mischievous nature will make him a brilliant big brother. Freezing Phil’s sperm was really the only option to safeguard that dream for more biological children. This would allow us to have sperm banked if Phil required further treatment after surgery, and potentially if he wasn’t well or the treatment had any side effects. I spoke in great length with our consultant who explained that as sperm doesn’t enter the blood stream the samples provided now should be ok regardless of Phil’s diagnosis. We knew that surgery was only a week away and we were advised to bank as many samples as possible within the required abstinence period (2-5 days).
We saw the neurosurgeon on Friday evening and by Monday lunchtime Phil had banked his first sample to be frozen at our clinic in Harley Street. No mean feat for a man who had just been given the most devastating news and we were thankful that he was well enough to travel into London. We went for the urgent medical freeze package (around £600), and were hopeful Phil could go back in on Friday for a second freeze. Unfortunately after a bad night Thursday this just wasn’t possible but we were able to book another appointment for Saturday morning if Phil was well enough to travel. Again our clinic were great and it helped that our paperwork was all up to date, so Saturday morning Phil travelled back up to town and was able to complete our freeze.
We don’t know what treatment Phil will have to endure or if it will have an effect on his sperm but it feels good to know that we have a back up, so that when we are ready we can move forward with our plans to extend our family if we wish. For now, the focus is on Phil and making sure he is healthy but it feels good to know that when this is all behind us, we have options. It may be that if time allows, we may collect some of my eggs fairly soon so we can freeze some embryos. Our Clinic advised this is a better option than freezing my eggs and gives us higher success rates.
Since Phil’s surgery my outlook has slightly changed in that all I really care about is making sure Phil is ok. Austin is our world and he will always make us complete. Others have reminded me that once everything has calmed down my focus will most likely move back to wanting to extend our family further? But for right now, all I want is Phil, Austin and I – just us three. When your world is literally pulled from under you, your view and outlook on life changes. Instead of worrying about what we don’t have all I can see is what we do and I’m reminded how wonderful that is. The battle we endured during IVF was exhausting and I can see the beauty of just living, enjoying life full stop.
I do feel it was important to write this post as preserving ones fertility when diagnosed with any illness may not always be top of the priority list for some but many others may not know the options available. I have also linked a previous guest post here written by my friend Kelly when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma when her son was just 21 months old. Kelly was very proactive in preserving her fertility so after her treatment finished they could have the back up of frozen embryos should the treatment have kicked her body into early menopause. There are always questions to be asked and research to be read especially if you need more information than you are offered.
I never thought when planning our family we would have to take into account one of us potentially fighting such an illness, I guess we assumed one battle at a time. So for now, I’m happy we were able to take the pressure off and go about fighting this battle first…….