First, Bourn Hall is where the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was made in 1978. It is set on beautiful grounds, which if you were not going through IVF, would love to be there.
I have had nothing but great support and advice from the staff here. They also run patient support groups (you do not have to be a patient to attend) which I highly recommend because they have special nights (first Thursday of the month) that you can ask questions from the embryologist or talk to the doctors. Sometimes others will ask questions you hadn't thought of or don't feel comfortable asking. Another bonus of attending these is meeting people who are also going through what you are. In fact, we met 2 other couples who we have grown very close to during our journey.
There is a great counsellor who you can talk to about anything you want to. This was very helpful for us. Infertility is tough and sometimes you need a person outside of the couple to help you move forward or just listen.
One of the hardest things is to get the support people need. Loved ones say things in attempts to be supportive but can often hurt. Here are some things to avoid saying to someone going through infertility.
So my story goes like this.
First, I want to tell everyone that IVF is not an exact science. It can take several times to get things right. I was thinking before my first time, I was just going to walk in, take what they gave me and it would just work. In fact I wish someone had told me that the first time is more often not successful because they are seeing how you respond to the drugs. Also, the emotional side of the treatment is far harder than the physical side.
The other thing is you always feel like you are waiting but you need to be ready to go because when you go to the clinic, you find out you are starting again in the next week or two. So always be ready to start your next cycle. If you are looking to lose weight or get certain things out of the way, get them done sooner than later.
I did 2 fresh and one frozen cycle. The first cycle I was taking Buserelin which is used to down regulate your body. This means you do not have a period so that they can use Gonal-F to stimulate your ovaries to produce as many follicles as possible. If you overstimulate your ovaries, it can be very dangerous and lead to OHSS. All of these are administered by needles, which was hard for me because I do not like needles. It is not as bad as you think and slowly I got used to giving myself where ever I was at including the bathroom at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. I didn't have many symptoms but the Buserelin made me sleepy. I was not reacting as quickly as they liked to the Gonal-F that they increased my dosage and so they were too late to get mature eggs so the eggs that they did collect were not mature enough to proceed with ICSI.
The second fresh cycle we took a different approach. Instead of down regulating me and then stimulating me, they worked with my cycle instead. So I took Pregnyl instead of the Buserelin to work with my cycle and I took the Gonal-F as before but never had the amount increased even if my follicles did not seem as big s they liked at first. This time we got 4 eggs (I was a bit heartbroken as other people seem to have closer to 10) but 3 out of the 4 fertilized which is higher than average.
My husband likes to remind me that it is better to have a small number of eggs that are good quality then a lot that are of poor quality. So they put one embryo in and froze the other two. they wait 2-5 days before they put them back in. In our case because we did not have very many, they froze one on day 2 and the other on day 3. They would like them to go further along because they feel that they can make a better judge of which ones will be successful. They grade the embryos for quality but even that is not perfect because sometimes the embryos that score the lowest on the grading scale still go onto to become healthy babies. Unfortunately we were not successful in this cycle.
Our frozen cycle was relatively simple. They put you on the Buserelin so that you do not ovulate. I was on Progynova to help thicken the womb. Before this I also had the Endo Scratch which is believed to increase the chances of the embryo implanting. They also gave me aspirin to increase circulation and Crinone which is a progesterone gel applied internally. You will find doing IVF, you will do anything they tell you to if it will increase your chances. They thaw your embryos in one go and 2-day embryos have a better chance then 5 -day ones surviving the thaw. We were so lucky that both of them survived it. Then we had the two week waiting. The first test had a very light line (but a line!) and so we were asked to take it again the following week and the line came out straight away.
You have to wait until Day 35-40 for a scan to see that all is progressing nicely and that it is not an etopic pregnancy. We made it to this point so then we were handed over to our GP.
I just wanted to share my story so that people know that they are not alone. There is also a FB Group for those with the base for support. I also wanted to say that if things do not happen exactly the way that they scheduled it- it is not the end of the world, we had so many hiccups but that was the cycle that worked!
Wish you all luck and baby dust!
All the Best!
American to Britain