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My Experience With Fertility Treatment

by Sharon Rafferty

Let’s roll back to 2008 when I fell pregnant by accident with my ex fiance. A shock? Yes, but we were certainly happy about it. All of that joy abruptly ended when I suffered from a MMC (missed miscarriage) at 10 weeks 5 days.

After the initial pain, grief and upset had subsided, we decided to actively try to conceive. Going to be a quick, easy job yes? Well that’s what we thought, but by 2012 we were still no closer to having that rainbow baby.

By this point we had decided to go to the doctors and had started the process of the ‘fertility journey’. This involved my partner having a sperm analysis (normal) and myself having a range of blood tests (normal) and a procedure called a lap and dye. This is where they insert a camera through the belly button with a little laser on the end.

They check each of the tubes for blockages, such as scar tissue or cysts and remove them if possible. They also ‘flush’ the tubes to ensure everything looks like It’s running smoothly. They then exit through a small incision just above the pubic bone. This proved futile, however, apart from mild endemetriosis (which they burnt off), they couldn’t find anything substantial to give us an insight into our problems. It also caused a secondary issue called ‘bladder shock’ and I couldn’t wee! I ended up having to have a catheter put in for 48 hours… sexy! Sadly, after this and all the other stresses of life, things were taking their toll and by 2013 we had called it quits on our relationship.

Later in the year I met my current partner and was very open and upfront about my fertility struggles. I explained how, although I had been pregnant, I couldn’t catch now so we decided to start trying straight away!

Fast forward 12 months and after trying every trick in the book we STILL had no baby! By this time we had tried everything, from cheap ovulation tests, digital ovulation tests, lying down for an hour afterwards to doing it at 2am (apparently you’re most fertile then!?). Nothing had made a difference so back we went to the doctors to have the checks done.

At this point my BMI was 32 and I was informed that I wouldn’t be accepted for treatment until I had lost weight and my BMI was under 30. Luckily most G.P’s can refer you for a gym membership program for free and within a few months I met all the criteria to be referred.

By now it was June of 2015, 7 long years since my initial pregnancy. Finally we were ‘starting’ our journey through the fertility treatment route. Our first meeting with the consultant arrived and we were both very nervous for what was to come. The waiting room was full of books with photos of babies born through treatment and hopeful statistics were plastered all over the walls. Our consultant was lovely and put us at ease straight away and explained that although my partners sperm had come back slightly low and abnormal, it should have still happened naturally by now. He went on to explain that we ultimately fell into the ‘unexplained infertility’ category.  He said not to worry though as people in this category often respond well to treatment and fall pregnant.

We were quite lucky, we qualified for 3 rounds of I.U.I and one round of I.V.F. The round of I.V.F also included any frozen attempts if the fresh cycle didn’t work. This all sounded very positive and we were very excited to get started.Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 13.41.54

By the time my next cycle had ended and my medications had arrived, it was the end of September 2015 but it was go time!

We had opted for the I.U.I so on the first day of my period I had to ring up and inform them. They booked me in for a scan for day 5. At this point they checked the lining of my uterus, they wanted it to be nice and thin and they also took bloods. By day 7 the injections of menopur had started and every other day I had to turn up at the clinic early in the morning for a blood test and a scan to check how big the follicles were getting. Yawn! I’m not an early morning person!

On cycle day 11, I went for my 2nd scan hopeful that I would have 2 good sized follicles, unfortunately we left feeling somewhat deflated. I only had one follicle at 13mm. The bigger the follicle is, the more likely it is to be mature and to have an egg in it. The optimal time to trigger is between 17.5mm and 22mm. After this scan I was informed to up my meds and to start taking ovulation tests to check for any surges as they didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Cycle day 13 quickly arrived and so it was time for our 3rd scan. By this point I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic, and I was right. Just 1mm growth in 2 days.

I was advised to carry on with what I was doing and they’d see me again in 2 days for make or break day. Understandably I was feeling rather tense. When we arrived for our scan on day 15, would the past 2 weeks have been a waste of time?

After lying down for the scan the nurse was smiling and said that my lining was a great thickness, 10.2mm (8-12mm is ideal) and my follicle was 17.25mm so IUI would definitely be happening this month. She told me to go home to wait for a call from the consultants, but I should be triggering that night. The trigger is an injection to artificially stimulate the hormones to cause ovulation to occur. Typically this occurs 36-48 hours after the trigger. The call arrived later that day but my blood work had shown I was ovulating naturally so my I.U.I was scheduled for 48 hours later. I feared that would be too late.

After 2 weeks of being stabbed the day was finally here! An early start for us, we had to be there by 8am as my partner had to produce his sample ready to be washed and sorted for the procedure at 9am. After changing into scrubs we were led to a theatre room. I was so nervous at this point. Don’t remember what the doctors were chatting about. It turned out to be a very quick and easy procedure, not too dissimilar to a smear test apart from they put a syringe up into the uterus. After a 10-15 min ‘relax’ back in the room, we were free to go home and our nervous 2 week wait began. Well… apart from the lovely pessaries they give you to use every morning and night with progesterone in them, didn’t mention that in the brochure!

Unfortunately, I didn’t even make it to 2 weeks before my dreaded period arrived and thus round 1 had officially failed. Although the success rates were only 5-11% and our clinics own success rates for the previous year were 0%, I had still thought it might have worked. I was absolutely devastated and felt like my body had let me down once again. On the same day, my Mum decided to tell me my cousin and his wife were expecting a baby, even though they hadn’t been trying for long. This was even more of a blow to my already fragile state of mind and I ended up spending the remainder of the day crying.

I couldn’t stay down for long though as by day 5 we were starting the process all over again. I was feeling rather negative about this round right from the start. The days passed in a similar fashion to the previous month although the follicles were slightly bigger this time. By cycle day 13 I had one follicle at 17mm which was two days ahead of last month so I was hopeful that it would grow to a nice size by cycle day 17 which is when i had the previous round done. Alas my hopes were dashed when the clinic rang later that day and told me to use the trigger that night.

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 13.42.2136 hours later we arrived at the clinic and soon we were taken down to the same theatre room as last time. We had asked for the results of my partners sample last time but my partner didn’t want to know this time so we never knew. After the procedure this time I had a slight burning in my cervix and a bit of blood but i was told this was just due to irritation. Now all we could do was wait. Again. The next evening was halloween so we continued with our plans to go out but I hadn’t touched alcohol since starting treatment so wouldn’t be drinking that night either. Once returning to the hotel we did a bit of baby dancing just for fun and to help forget about the long wait ahead of us.

Because I had actually triggered this time I decided to test my trigger out. What this means is to take a HPT (home pregnancy test) with an IC (internet cheapie) as the HPT will show positive until the trigger is out of the system so this will help eliminate the chance of a false positive. This took ages! I didn’t expect it to take so long. 10 days later the HPT was finally negative but out of curiosity I continued to take them each morning.

On the 12th day since the I.U.I, I took a test and swore I could see a line. I was in shock. It was the faintest line in the world that you had to squint and turn your head tScreen Shot 2017-01-20 at 13.42.35o see but it was there. I couldn’t believe it. Was it really real? I couldn’t wait a day to do another so half a day later I took another one and OMG yes! It was there! A faint but clear line.

I couldn’t contain my excitement and told my mum straight away. She brought me back down to earth and told me not to be too excited as it wasn’t OTD (official test day) for another two days so anything could go wrong. Although i agreed i was still beside myself with excitement. All i could hope for was that it was a sticky bean. By official test day the line was nice and clear, a digital test was showing positive and the clinic had me booked in for 3 weeks time for a viability scan. Fingers crossed. Oh and to continue to use those lovely pessaries!

Throughout those 3 weeks I had to have betas done which showed my levels were rising 363 to 911 in 48 hours but I was still getting pains and by 5w6d i was admitted into hospital incase it was an ectopic pregnancy. After an overnight wait i went to have a scan. Last time I got as far as a scan I was told the baby had died so I was petrified of being told this again. My worst fears were realised, I was told that the baby didn’t have a heartbeat…yet. I was measuring a few days behind and the were still 50/50 as to whether it was viable as my beta levels had risen to 11010. The reason behind the pain was put down to fluid round the ovaries, a possible side effect from the hormones and that it would eventually dissipate. 

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 13.42.50As I had a scan already booked in with the fertility clinic in a weeks time they said go to that appointment and then go from there. I was convinced it was all over then. I was mad google searching looking at good and bad stories and my head was worse than before i had gone on google. I spent the next week in a world of my own, half thinking it wasn’t to be and half thinking ‘maybe it has a heartbeat now?’

The moment of truth arrived at the clinic, my partner sat beside me clutching my hand, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, waiting to hear the, ‘I’m sorry…’ speech, but instead; ‘there’s your baby’s heartbeat!’ Oh my life I was speechless, it was viable! I was pregnant, we were going to be parents, the hard bit is done, yes! …no? More hard bits to come? Oh… well that’s for another time!


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