For this week’s blog post, I asked my hubby Dave to write a piece on his thoughts of our first IVF cycle. Often during IVF a man’s job is to be the hand-holder; the strong one who is there supporting his lady, as the women are the one’s who physically have to endure everything. Because of this the men often get overlooked so I was curious to see what Dave would say. I have had absolutely no input into this piece whatsoever; these are completely his words. Rachel xx
When I first found out we needed IVF treatment, the first thing I felt was lost. Lost at sea with my feelings, but also lost in the sense that I had no idea what IVF entailed. Probably like most other men, women’s bodies are a complete mystery to me. I know they get a period each month and that’s where my knowledge ends, so this was going to be a steep learning curve for me. So right from the beginning I felt pretty nervous about what was to come, and how I was to support Rachel.
I have always wanted to be a dad and seeing friends I grew up with become fathers to their own little ones, I couldn’t wait for the day when it would be my turn. I wanted to see if I could become as good as my own dad. I remember my childhood and the things my dad did for us, from teaching us to swim to riding a bike. It is as though I wanted someone to look up to me as I did with my dad. After Rachel and I got married it was something I just thought would happen one day and we started trying straight away; it felt like the right time for us.
After a year had gone past with still no sign of anything happening, I suggested to Rachel we visit the GP to see what we could do. It wasn’t something that either of us looked forward to and she took some convincing. Providing a sample into a bottle is a weird experience and during the wait to find out the results all scenarios run through your mind, so when the tests were satisfactory I did give a sigh of relief, however this provided no answers so they referred us to the fertility clinic.
At our first appointment we met with a really nice doctor who talked us through everything they were going to do to try and find out what our problem might be. Again as this conversation was mainly focused on Rachel, I felt pretty out of my depth. The following few weeks entailed some pretty invasive procedures for Rachel, to try and find out the root of the problem. A huge regret of mine is that I was offshore when she had to go for her Hycosy procedure and was told that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked. Her mum “Nurse Gray” went with her so I knew she was in good hands, but I hate the fact that I wasn’t there when she found out that news, especially as the procedure had been extremely painful for her and she was an emotional wreck for the rest of that day. Unfortunately the offshore world can often interfere with life and I’m lucky that Rachel understands that, although I would have given anything to give her a hug that day. In a way I felt a sense of relief that we had found the reason why we couldn’t become pregnant, so being the engineer I was sure that there would be a solution to our problem, and the doctors would have the answer; and that answer was IVF.
When we started the IVF treatment we both felt pretty scared as we had no idea how it was going to go or how Rachel would feel. I also felt really guilty that once again there was nothing I could do but be there for her and hold her hand. Rachel often has feelings of guilt about the fact that it’s her who has the problem and it really upsets me to see her feeling that way. Despite the fact it’s her body that has the issue, I have always looked at it as a joint problem. I know if it was the other way around and I was the one with the issue, she would say the exact same thing to me.
Seeing the effect the IVF had on Rachel was also extremely hard to deal with. She coped well with the initial tablets but by the second week of the hormone injections I could see she was really struggling. Thankfully I was able to help by giving her the injections. She tried to do it herself but just couldn’t face it so I had that task to do every evening; it made me feel like I was helping in some way and she said I was quite gentle which was good to know! Advice to other males that have to inject their partners with hormones, it’s best to prepare the drugs and needles in another room as the sight of this can terrify your partner!
Ultimately though my only job was to give her hugs and try to take the pressure off in other areas, such as the housework and looking after Roman. When it came to the egg retrieval day I knew Rachel was terrified and I was concerned as to how painful it would be for her. One of our fertility nurses had previously told us it was an unpleasant procedure and Rachel doesn’t have a very high pain threshold, so I was really worried how it would affect her (and my hand!). Thankfully though she responded really well to the Temazepam she got before the procedure and I could see she was away with the fairies! Before the procedure, the obligatory selfie with the hospital greens on lightened the mood, then I popped off to produce my sample in a separate room. Knowing that I had to provide the sample on the day put a bit of pressure on me; the nurses had stories of males not being able to perform their duties on the day which gave me the frights. The constant noise of passer’s by from the corridor wasn’t helpful, and the selection of reading material was somewhat limited. Another piece of advice is to bring your own reading material, as the ones available on the day may not be to your taste!
Once I returned to Rachel’s side, I could see that the drugs had worked and she looked tipsy, It was pretty funny watching her; she just seemed like she was really drunk and kept repeating herself. She still felt pain throughout the procedure but thankfully it was over really quickly and she can’t really remember anything about it now.
Whenever we have a scan or procedure I always find it fascinating seeing the technology they use and feel lucky that we live in a country where IVF is available to us. The embryo transfer in particular was amazing to witness; seeing the little embryo drop into Rachel’s womb (like a shooting star) on the screen was pretty amazing and it was hard not to think of it as a baby at that point. It’s really amazing that the clinic can help people realise their dreams of becoming parents; and all the staff at the clinic are really nice and so helpful with whatever we need. They really take good care of you.
We were so pleased with the amount of eggs recovered and how the embryo transfer went although Rachel suffered for weeks afterwards with bloating from the hormones and general tiredness, which was really hard on her. We had no idea the toll it would take on her body and it’s definitely one of the harder things about IVF.
The complete process from the start to embryo transfer had gone according to plan, and we had hoped at least 1 of the 5 embryo’s that were allowed to cultivate further would make it to day 5 for freezing. However the call from the embryologist to let us know all 5 hadn’t made it to day 5 was a complete shock and something we had not expected. This news followed by the negative pregnancy test the following week left us feeling deflated, heartbroken and wondering why. Its hard not to get your hopes up during the treatment, and with all the clinic visits being very positive I admit to getting carried with my thoughts, which made the news even harder to take.
We have officially started our second IVF cycle and I’m just trying to keep positive for the both of us, as I know Rachel is scared of it going wrong again like it did the first time. One thing I’m really glad about is the amazing community of IVF/Infertility friends she has built up through her blog and separate Instagram page. They definitely keep her going and make us feel less alone; it’s awful but comforting to know just how many couples are going through the exact same thing as us. Writing is something Rachel really enjoys and it’s been a way of keeping her sane throughout this journey, which I’m really pleased about. I was a bit sceptical of the blog at first but seeing how much it has helped Rachel has made me realise just how worthwhile it’s been. I’m really proud to see how she has thrown herself into the IVF community and a lot of her time now is spent emailing back and forth with other girls she has never even met going through IVF; the way they support each other is amazing.
Generally I feel a lot of envy for people who are having kids all around us. We have a lot of moments where we think “Why us?” but we know that we’re just being tested at the moment and thankfully we always manage to stay strong throughout everything and we always manage to find something to have a laugh about, which definitely keeps us going. We really have a great life that we enjoy so much; we are so lucky in many, many ways, we just hope one day we’ll have a little baby to complete our family.