Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to have IVF treatment? Perhaps you’re just curious, or perhaps you’re out there reading this considering going down that route? Find out what it’s really like to have IVF treatment from one mama who has been there in this edition of What is it really like…as I get into conversation on the topic with Sunita who blogs over at Lucky Things…
Could you share a little about your circumstances and why you chose to undergo IVF?
Things weren’t happening the natural way for about a year and we felt that we needed to start fertility tests. The tests revealed there was an issue with me so it was going to be pretty difficult to get pregnant. If I did get pregnant it might be ectopic which was really scary. I guess we chose to undergo IVF as we wanted to start a little family, it was the only way. It was heartbreaking at the time and I didn’t realise IVF was so common and it actually worked out for lots of couples. I felt that we were going on a journey which wouldn’t be successful.
It’s often heard that IVF is as or more stressful than any major life event – could you share a little on why that is? and how you prepared for/dealt with that?
For me, it has been a very stressful time. I’m not sure what was more stressful, trying to get pregnant naturally and wondering why things weren’t happening or starting the IVF process or becoming pregnant and being terrified you won’t actually have your baby for some reason. I think there are different stressful parts to it all. Plus, feeling stressed and anxious doesn’t help as you need to have a relaxed and happy body. It was really really tough.
I actually didn’t read up on IVF that much as our clinic CRGH was pretty good. I trusted our consultant Lisa Webber as she came up with ideas for our particular fertility situation. I avoided reading online discussion groups as the stories and progress updates made me upset. I wish I’d discovered blogs about IVF at the time but I wasn’t in the blogging zone then.
Luckily one of my school mates was starting IVF a bit before me. She was my mini-coach and reassured me that doing the injections would be fine (even though I was terrified of needles).
We had to stay positive which was hard. We treated our first IVF cycle as a ‘practice’. Then maybe we wouldn’t be as disappointed if it didn’t work. Of course that wouldn’t have helped if it didn’t work but it was something to focus on. As we could only do natural IVF the chances were even slimmer of working; about 10%! But we had to give it a go as we’d regret not trying otherwise. I was really quiet about doing IVF and only confided in a few friends and close family members as they also knew about my gynae operations.
Had you ever thought about what you would do if IVF failed?
Oh gosh. Life would have been very different for us. I could see us living somewhere else, maybe Berlin or Canada. We did talk about moving to another country if IVF didn’t work for us. But as I mentioned to my husband at the time, I’m going to have to figure out a way for me to deal with the fact I may not become a mummy as wherever we live I’ll be surrounded by young families and motherhood life. I’m sure we would cope but it would take a lot of support and acceptance. I have close friends and family members where IVF hasn’t worked for them yet. They are an inspiration as they get on with things, enjoy their lives and make the most of each day. Doing IVF really gives you a different perspective on life.
What did you wish you had known before starting IVF?
I wish I’d known how common IVF is! It’s only when I started talking about our first baby being an IVF baby that every person I spoke to would come back with a story of how they did IVF or how they knew someone who did. So talking about it could have really helped me at the time. I’m now really open about our IVF experience and only just featured the first part of our story on my blog.
The second time round we did IVF, it also worked for us. I was better equipped as I knew what to expect from the process and the harsh routine (160 injections for the first three months of being pregnant to protect me and baby from potential miscarriages).
What crucial tips would you share to those thinking about going down the IVF route?
Find your support rocks and confide in them. Don’t go through this emotionally on your own. Find a good counselor as trust me dealing with infertility-fertility unknowns can really make you question things like “why me?” and “am I going to be any less of a person if I do IVF”, “what will people think if I can’t become a mummy?” or “how am I going to deal with seeing everyone else get pregnant before me?”.
Don’t just rely on your partner for support as people forget how tough it is for husbands/partners to go through IVF too.
Also think about me-treats that make you happy, whether it’s something new to wear or a nice supper with one of your pals who will make you smile.
What for you was the one single most incredible thing about going through IVF?
Bravery and togetherness. Sorry that’s two. It brings a tear to my eye every time i think about when my Mum or my friends told me how brave I was being. I didn’t give myself enough credit at the time. IVF can be really tough on couples as they’re striving for something that might to happen. But I will always be grateful as my husband Mr.H happily administered my injections every night for three months without any complaint.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I hope you liked reading a bit about our IVF experience. Every day we feel truly blessed as we did natural IVF twice and it worked both times. Now we have a three-year old Big Munch and she has a sister who’s one-year old Baby Munch. Even during the tougher parenting moments, I remind myself how I’m lucky to be a mummy. I also thank the girls for ‘choosing me’ to be their mummy, putting aside the emotional IVF roller coaster, there’s something magical about it all.
Read more from Sunita on her blog here at luckythings.co.uk and connect on Twitter @luckythingsblog and Instagram @luckythingsblog.