Failed IVF a Mans Perspective … Part 1 – False Starts

This is my journal / journey through the IVF process & the thoughts that go with it.

Let me start by saying neither me or my partner ever expected to have to go through this, no person ever does really, it’s the old adage of you spend your early adult years trying you best not to get pregnant, then when you come to start a family you realise how hard and unfair life can sometimes be.

Multiple failed IVF cycles can cover a long period of time in a relationship, where it feels your entire life with each other is on hold, all under the control of a 3rd party, for the first year your try not to let things slip, try to still have date nights, try not to get too obsessed with timescales etc.

However each failure takes its toll and breaks-down the strongest of couples and you can see how it can easily lead to the destruction of a once solid partnership.

The hard part is watching your partner struggle for years with seeing friends / family all “seem” to get pregnant easily or worse still people fall pregnant who don’t want it / not sure whether to keep it. All this happens around you with nothing you can do apart from try to be a rock for her.

Once the decision is made as a couple to start IVF there is almost a relief as it’s now in a professionals hands and they know what they’re doing it will all get sorted now, right?

Off to the clinic for a sperm deposit and check-up, results come back way over the UK average sperm count / motility. Mini Hi 5, Gold medal & victory dance for me!! This elation is quickly replaced by a deep feeling of guilt that this could be something wrong with your partner or worse still the dreaded unexplained infertility.

For a man this is pretty much the end of his involvement in the IVF process, you then have to sit back and watch your partner go through many many invasive and much more uncomfortable checks & procedures, we do get off very lightly boys. The worst part of mine was it was the room next door to the receptionist and a busy corridor with some questionable 1980’s reader’s wives material (Thank god for 4G internet!!!!)

4612469868_238x228Once all the checks were completed and the results came back with the dreaded unexplained infertility this gives your stomach a huge drop as how can they fix it if they don’t know what’s wrong (the equivalent of the check engine light of the car, could be an engine coil could be the fuel filter, if only the wife had an ECU plug socket somewhere & I could attached the diagnostic machine).

Now the 1st round starts, not helped for us by my wife being needle phobic and the protocol we were on requiring 2 injections a day at the same time every day for weeks. So I step up and honestly a small enjoyment not because of giving my wife a little prick before you ask, but because I’m involved again and have some connection to the events.

Now these drugs are big hormone hitters and all credit to my wife, the nurse gave us some stories about how emotional & mood swingy she would get but she did really well, even after dropping her beloved iPhone down the toilet (Not the first time I may add) which would send most people today into a meltdown.

The day finally comes for them to remove the eggs and we got a bumper crop more than average (Hi 5 for the wife’s ovaries) of them my little fellas fertilise 80%, again over average results, they go in a cooker for a few weeks and we get over average amount through to the last stage. All looking good confidence is high!! We must have just needed that little bit of help from IVF’s Mary Berry.

ivfThe checks continue and soon it comes round to implantation day another time I’m needed (again in a slightly more private room but the same reading material, maybe I’m a porn snob?? But back on the 4G internet I was).

So that’s us back in the hands of the professionals and a 2 week wait for a pregnancy test, confidence still fairly high as we’ve been above average patients all the way. We have photos of the cells & even a video of it growing in the chamber, what felt like nice touches at the time but it’s strange how attached you get to that photo just like a 12 week baby scan, so when the test came back negative it was crushing for us both.

A brief week to regroup and pick ourselves back up from the floor and its back to the consultant to talk about starting round 2 as we had frozen the other eggs from round 1, the doctor is confident and even says the odds are approximately 50/50 at our age group at this clinic so this time maybe?

This round of drugs is tablet not injection but already the optimism that we both shared is starting to wain as we spend the weeks prepping, this time the hormones did hit like a train & also sickness, maybe it was the adrenaline of the 1st go that kept it all at bay or these drugs are harder on the system.

This round was a lot harder to stand back and watch my wife get sicker and have no involvement / nothing I could do or say, matters made worse at the check-up when they double the dosage for the final couple of weeks.

Back to implantation again and this time I can’t attend so a friend of hers has to go down, we’re given the test date and it falls slap bang on the last day of a planned holiday, not ideal, the whole holiday is spent on tenterhooks (& alcohol free on her part).

Its bad news again and this time it just feels harder for many reasons, it was supposed to be 50/50 and we’ve done it twice? The next go is our last go, the next go is back on injections, Why can’t we do what people seem to manage round the back of a night club at 3am by mistake? What’s wrong with us? We already have a naturally conceived child so it must be possible for us?

What feels like rock bottom and 2 false starts is hard … hard to cope with yourself never mind be the rock you need to be for your partner. Especially as men we are prewired to bottle everything up and push it deep down never to be talked about, its not the sort of conversation you can strike up down the pub, so John did you see Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal at the weekend, by the way me and the missus are struggling I could do with a hug. So you bottle it up, drink it away, take it out on some poor unsuspecting sod on the 5 a side pitch and power through.

So for those of you that read this far. That’s where me & Mrs S stand on the cusp of the last round, we had already agreed this would be the last set as we’ve seen people spend thousands & thousands and relationships destroyed by the constant cycles & are determined for this not to be us as well.

To be continued in Part 2 ….. fingers crossed for the next few months.

fingers-crossed

Pete