The roller coaster of IVF

To date I have not been overly keen on, if not in reality actually more against, IVF (for me personally, I hasten to add – this is not a moral or technically principled qualm).

As the weeks and months of TTC have merged into years, however, I think this needs reevaluating. Firstly, we now know a lot more about what we are dealing with/are up against. Secondly, we are seriously starting to run out of time (why yes, it is my birthday in a couple of weeks – how could you tell).

So, you may well ask: what were my problems with IVF in the first place?

One of my biggest fears has been the perceived risk/danger. As May only has one ovary remaining, if something goes wrong with that (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, for example) then it really could be game over. I had/have the impression, possibly unfairly, that especially within the NHS IVF is not a well-invested-in process and therefore may lack the individual care, attention and precision to reassure me. I think I’m justified in stating that their attitude, when we did get to the first step of consideration for treatment, seemed to be a very rule-based, “same for everyone because we must be fair to everyone on very limited resources” approach. I had/have also witnessed that, while the NHS is a fantastic service for dealing with the majority of everything, it didn’t/doesn’t handle edge-cases, such as May, very well. These factors combined all played into my fears.

I think we are in a very different place now. We’ve run the NHS gamut as much as we can; therefore if we go private now it would not compromise how we may be treated on the NHS, which I’ve heard can not be overly helpful to patients who are also doing parallel private treatment (for I think perfectly understandable/reasonable overall cost effectiveness reasons). We have been saving over the last few years and combined with offers from May’s mum to help with costs plus age and other complicating factors I think private is our only realistic option now anyway. I have the impression, possibly unfounded, that a private clinic will do things absolutely on an individual basis and take care (for fear of harm to reputation – and therefore profits – if nothing else).

So that’s the rational reason; the more psychological block is about the process itself and what that means about my role in fatherhood. This is more difficult to articulate, partly because I have problems identifying and dealing with the emotions surrounding issues (see previous post), but also because it goes against my self-image of me not being a chest-beating, self-important, prowess-obsessed bloke… it’s not me making the baby. I do know enough biology to know it never would be me really anyway, but the micro-details of what happens in utero can be easily brushed over when people think about these things. There is still an overall conception (haha, sorry) of those brave ‘boys’ swimming the tough swim, healthy competition, fittest wins, etc. that provides the ‘natural way’ of these things in the minds of the world. Yes, this is a perception thing as much as anything else. To take that process out of that environment and have an artificial laboratory induced, ‘test-tube’ event – under the harsh lights of scientific judgement and evaluation – doesn’t have that same narrative or acceptable ‘normality’.

Finally, there is another psychological trope that plays into this. Over the last few years, and particularly in psychotherapy recently, I have had to get used to the idea that, as much as I try to deny it, I am a very controlling person. Those that know me may (or may not) be surprised that the gentle, unassuming, introverted soul that I am has this trait. But I can assure you that apparently (I’m still coming to terms with this) I have a strong and wilful mind that has an unfortunate (possibly sometimes unconscious) habit of using passive-aggressive techniques to influence and control. The thing is, the thing about IVF is, that it takes everything out of my control. The same is largely true for May, of course, but this post is about me, all me. Before knowing and understanding this and therefore being able to cede controls and make the choice there was a ‘thing’ at the back of my mind nagging away at this isn’t what I really want to, if not more strongly saying no!

Now we understand that and we are where we are, it’s time to make a positive choice and work for a positive outcome and say… YES!

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10 responses to “The roller coaster of IVF

  • denise100709

    Bravo- this is all wonderful introspection (I think one of the only good things about infertility is that it often forces people- men and women – to self-evaluate in ways we wouldn’t normally!)
    Yes- it’s an evolution of thoughts, feelings, comfort levels.
    And once you can figure out what you can tolerate- you just GO for it – having the family will be worth it in the end. And if you get to be ‘daddy’ you will have NO loss of how that came to be… Or perhaps you will- and that’s ok- but you’ll be quite busy and loving being a parent that you will successfully deal with that- possibly by deciding that it’s not a big deal anymore !

  • kylie

    The control thing is interesting- it isn’t that you lose control that you had in the natural process- because you don’t really have control there either, it’s that you are reminded much more forcefully that you don’t have control.

    What you do lose is the time when you don’t know whether anything has happened. in the natural process, there is a certain amount of unknown- you don’t know whether there really was a viable egg/sperm combination that month anyway. If you have been TTC for a while that 2 week calm doesn’t exist much anyway. With IVF that is gone- and that turns out to be really really hard. To a degree I wasn’t expecting and would not have believed if someone told me.

    This doesn’t negate the value of IVF, but is something to be very aware of.

  • a

    I really want to give you grief for the “not me making the baby” section, but if you’re saying yes to (insert whatever necessary procedures will be forthcoming), there’s no need. I will merely say that control is an illusion and if you think otherwise, you’re pretty much fooling yourself.

    In some way, I think everyone is a control freak. There are people who take it to the extreme, but everyone wants things their own way and makes efforts to see that it happens. The thing that makes it OK is the ability to sacrifice sometimes and compromise other times.

    Much luck with the private insurance route – I hope it lives up to its cost. :)

  • Jamie

    I completely understand. I did everything under the sun to avoid IVF. Three years went by with no luck. I finally threw up my hands and did it. First cycle resulted in a chemical pregnancy and the second resulted in my wonderful little girl. It was really not that bad of a process and it was a relief to finally be doing *something* other than hoping each month. Wishing you all the best!

  • jjiraffe

    We moved from the UK before I was diagnosed with infertility and I ended up being one of those outlier patients that needed individualized protocols (nothing standard worked.) I did think I probably would not have been a good candidate for NHS IVF.

    Sounds like you have thought this through very thoroughly. Good luck!!

  • alloallo

    what a great post. My experience of NHS IF treatment has been as you described – one size fits all – so if you’re going private I would hope you get a more personalized treatment plan. Huge good luck to you guys.

  • Korechronicles

    ‘a’ got there before me because my favourite rant of all time is on my hard fought for belief that control is an illusion. Very much like anger, the desire for control comes from fear. Fear of change, of the unknown, of doing things differently, of situations not of our making, of taking risks. You are entirely human to fear, it’s how you survive.

    My experiences, personal and professional, have taught me this lesson well. And once you accept that life is chaotic and random, and changing your thinking and let the illusion go, it is incredibly freeing. In the midst of the chaos we can do nothing but experience it and go with it. Sometimes it takes us to places of pain and suffering and those are the times we are forced to deal and grow. More often than not you learn to trust yourself and your values so you can take action accordingly. In the here and now rather than the unknown and uncontrollable future.

    I hope that for both of you that the hard choices you face are made lighter and with balance, guided by your values and what you are passionate about…rather than by project planning and gantt charts. Forgive my rant…and by all means feel free to ignore. I’ve officially attained snarky old bat status.

    Wishing you luck accompanied by big hugs.

  • Twangy

    Just wanted to wave encouragingly. You’ve done well, H. And it’s good to have a plan.

    It’s natural to want to do to protect ourselves by trying to control what happens around us, do you agree? It’s the hardest work to live with the knowledge that we have so little, in real terms, and all we can do is be as brave and self-aware as possible in any given moment. So hats off to you. And much luck.

  • Amy

    I tend to be a control freak, too. I met with an astrologer to have her read my chart, trying to make some sense over the senseless second trimester miscarriage of my twins last year, and she pointed out that throughout our (at that time) 4-year TTC journey, I’d been tryin to control pregnancy – something tha is inherently chaos. She reminded me to let to and get out of the way.

    This fall we did our first (and only – with my eggs) IVF. I got out of the way. It worked…we are now pregnant with our third child, hopefull our first take-home baby. But we know we can’t control any of it, not he conception, not the pregnancy itself, not the outcome. We’re just along for the ride, and praying like crazy that this time the outcome is what we have been trying for the last five years.

  • Nita Erne

    IVF has definitely has its ups and downs. But think about what it may bring you, your dream of having your own child. Well I think that alone is worth the ride.

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