Having been diagnosed at 18 with endometriosis I remember briefly acknowledging the fact my fertility may be affected but it didn’t seem important then. It was only after I was married that it hit home that maybe I might find it harder to get pregnant. However, within three months of making the decision to try for a family, I was shocked to find out I was pregnant but having an ectopic pregnancy. Strangely I wasn’t desperately upset as I took from it that I can get pregnant so assumed I would be again very soon. However, a year later, after countless tests, false hopes and tears, I still wasn’t pregnant.
My husband and I decided to go to the GP and I was referred to Catherine Hayden at Leeds Fertility Clinic. I got an appointment very quickly (I chose to have some appointments on the NHS and some privately to speed the process along a little). Catherine put me at ease straight away and made me aware of the routine tests that were available to see what was causing the delay in getting pregnant. These included checking hormone levels, checking my husband’s sperm, scans, blood tests and finally, after these all came back clear, I had a laparoscopy to check over my uterus and remaining fallopian tube.
All the tests were straightforward and relatively painless. I was up and about 24 hours after the laparoscopy in no discomfort at all. Nothing significant was discovered so we decided to go on the waiting list for IVF. I was shocked to find out two months later that I had fallen pregnant naturally.
Unfortunately, it was not to be and I miscarried. I found some comfort, however, knowing I was some way down the road to starting IVF and felt some much-needed control in a situation very much out of my control until this point!
We gave ourselves 6 months to fall pregnant naturally again and when it didn’t happen, we started the IVF cycle within 12 weeks. We started with a fresh cycle. I was very lucky and had no real side effects from the drugs and my husband was happy to administer the injections.
I read so many horror stories about the whole process, especially egg collection, however, for us, it was a straightforward, uneventful process. The sedation was more like a general anaesthetic, I felt nothing and recall very little about the procedure. It’s an anxious time waiting to hear how successful the collection and fertilisation process is but the clinic kept us well informed and always called exactly when they said they would.
The nursing team was reassuring and the doctors and consultants we saw along the way were very knowledgeable and up-to-date with recent research and advances in the field. All my questions were answered and I always felt comforted and at ease with the responses. We managed a good number of embryos from the fresh cycle and had one transferred 5 days later. I was given lots of information to advise me on the whole process which I found useful, especially when it came to the wait to do the test.
Unfortunately, the first round was not successful. However, Mrs Hayden was available for an appointment straight after and immediately refocussed my outlook reassuring me we could get on with a frozen cycle imminently. All the staff had such a positive outlook but were realistic about the outcomes.
I remember, Mrs Hayden saying “your entire family could well be in the freezer” and she was absolutely right - I just didn’t know it yet. After only a matter of weeks, I was being down-regulated for the FET. This was even less invasive and again, I was very lucky not to have any side effects and carried on life/work as usual.
I went for the transfer and by this stage, if I am honest my husband and I had resigned to the fact that having a family would be unlikely for us and had started changing our life plans accordingly. I took it easy the two weeks following the transfer and took a test. My husband and I both sobbed to see a positive result.
A few days later I started bleeding heavily and feared the worst. The nursing team were incredible! They were always contactable via phone and if you left a message they would be back in touch straight away. I had blood tests which were not doubling every 48 hours and so was brought in for a scan. It was at this point I saw my son for the first time - a tiny flickering bundle of cells no bigger than a poppy seed. The bleeding was a haematoma which faded after 9 weeks. I had an uneventful pregnancy with the reassurance of having consultant led care. My little boy is now 15 months old and I am so excited about starting my next FET imminently.
The decision to have IVF was an easy one for us, as was the decision to use Leeds Fertility Centre. My sister in law is a GP and has, therefore, had many patients with fertility problems. She recommended Cathryn Hayden to us as she had great patient feedback.
I thought it was going to be a long-winded, invasive process that would be difficult to “hide” from work and family. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were fewer appointments than I expected and the clinic opening hours meant that I could arrange appointments around work. The paperwork was clearly explained to us and we were given good advice concerning some of the difficult decisions we had to make regarding eggs and embryo storage/use. The facilities were fantastic with a big waiting room allowing the ability to respect each other’s privacy, however, I was reassured to see the clinic was always busy, giving me peace of mind I had chosen the right clinic for our treatment. The treatment rooms were clean and well equipped.
All in all, our journey from first trying to conceive to holding our baby boy was 4 years. I have no regrets about choosing to have IVF at Leeds Fertility Centre. Now we are private patients we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of the treatment cycles and were made aware of funding help if we require it.
If you are considering IVF my advice would be to go for it! It gives you something to focus on; it gives you the ability to take some form of control of the situation. Although you can’t guarantee the outcome you are giving yourself the best shot at the best outcome. I have been pregnant five times in total and the only one to give me my little boy was as a result of IVF.