• One woman's experience of IVF. (GettyImages/Sebastian Kaulitzki)
The reality of how we 'made' our child.
Jo Hartley

20 Sep 2017 - 1:14 PM  UPDATED 20 Sep 2017 - 1:58 PM

Going through IVF is a stressful, emotional and draining experience. It’s an experience that’s unique to you and only others going through it can understand how it could feel. Months are spent in the clinic, money is spent like water and tears are spent like rain.

But for anyone who’s ever wondered what it’s like to go through IVF, here are some things that you need to know. 

IVF is a timely process

The naïve version of me, who walked into the IVF clinic for the first time, thought it would be a simple process. We’d meet the doctor, he’d pop in some eggs and a double line would appear on the test. Job done. Bill paid. Baby arrives. Wrong.

IVF is all about timing and a LOT of waiting. Initially my cycle was monitored every few days so the doctor could pinpoint when ovulation would occur. Egg stimulation drugs were taken in line with this and, once those eggs were released, it was time to retrieve them for fertilisation. 

Why bigger is better

There was something quite surreal about going into the operating theatre and knowing the gynaecologist was retrieving those microscopic eggs. I felt both excited and nervous when I woke, waiting for the results.

In this instance, it was about the bigger the number of eggs the better. More eggs meant a better chance for fertilisation and subsequent implantation. My first retrieval resulted in four healthy eggs. I was happy with that.

Pictured: A woman undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment receiving an injection.

Implantation is awkward

In the perfect world, baby making would be romantic and memorable for all the right reasons. With implantation, it’s not so much so.   

During our first attempt at ‘conception’, we had no less than three other people in the room – the gynaecologist, a nurse and a scientist – and no there’s no joke to follow. The first time it all felt rather awkward and weird, but with each subsequent time it just became part of the drill. 

Playing the waiting game is the WORST part

The time span from implantation to the date of my pregnancy blood test was around 14 days.  During that period, time stood still. The days felt like weeks and I analysed and Googled every single symptom in my body that might indicate pregnancy.

Despite being told not to (because of the potential for a false positive from the drugs), I did numerous pregnancy tests and felt heartbroken when they shouted back ‘NO’. 

Receiving negative news is never easy

When the phone call came following our first round of IVF, I immediately knew the news was bad. The nurse’s ‘hello’ tone pretty much said it all. 

I remember swallowing down a massive lump in my throat, getting off the phone and breaking down. I’d assumed it would work. I’d already started planning the nursery. I’d let myself get carried away.

That first time I received the negative news remains in my mind as the worst. Subsequently the news wasn’t as hard to take, but it certainly never got any easier, and I never stopped planning the nursery.  

Parting with frozen embryos 

Now that we have our two healthy boys, our family is complete. All that remains is for us to decide what to do with our remaining frozen embryo. 

It’s most likely that we’ll donate our embryo to research.

I’d like to think that it could potentially help others. But making that final decision won’t be easy. In fact, like IVF, it may be a long time in coming – the clinic will just have to wait.

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