When you're trying for a baby, the keyword is 'trying'. Some people are lucky and things work out straight away, for others it takes time. We want to share the experiences of all parents, so our Parent Approved Panellist, Kelly Sibley and wife, Laura, have kindly shared their fertility journey. Read their fertility treatment journey...
Laura had been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) when she was 14. While it wasn't a huge problem at the time, it's certainly something that played on both of our minds once we started talking about starting a family. I was initially always going to carry first, mainly because I'm *slightly* older. However, after seeing the GP and doing the initial tests, they suggested that Laura went first. The severity of her PCOS meant she needed to try and get pregnant sooner rather than later.
Kelly & Laura's Fertility Treatment Journey| The Treatment
Our GP referred us to our local fertility clinic and the waiting began. We got a call around 6 months later to confirm our appointment! Once we got to the clinic it was a case of booking in for a counselling session and Laura had an HSG done. This is a dye test to make sure all your tubes are clear and free-flowing! Once all this was complete and results were back, we had an appointment to have a scan. Laura needed to take Provera which is a drug to bring on a period as her body wouldn't produce one on its own. A great perk when you aren't trying to have a baby, not so much when you are!
Laura did multiple cycles of different dosages with a drug called Clomid which had no response. We then moved onto Gonal F which is an injection pen - similar to a diabetic pen except it's a really long needle to inject in yourself. Unfortunately, this didn't work either. This time Laura was overstimulated which means her eggs were too big for treatment. You can have no more than 2 eggs measuring 1.5cm and no more than 1 egg measuring 1.7cm. Not a lot to go on when you can't control individual egg growth.
We had one more go with Gonal F, injecting varying amounts each day and scanning every day. This ended up being the winning ticket, she could have the insemination done! During our treatment, we had roughly 5 blood tests, a counselling session, hundreds of injections and easily over 50 scans. Whilst all the while, paying for the privilege of emotionally and physically battering yourself every month.
The Waiting Game...
We went through treatment together. I attended every scan, appointment, blood test with Laura. Although I know that I was a big support, I know Laura felt extremely alone. We were in it together and this is 100% our baby, but it was Laura injecting and taking different drugs. It was Laura trying to deal with absolutely raging hormones. It was Laura's body that wasn't doing what it should be, it was her body not responding. She felt like she was failing as a woman and her body was failing her.
For anyone unsure we had IUI treatment. The difference between IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is basically that with IUI you don't take your eggs out. You get them to the right size and inject the sperm into you, in the hope it catches on to an egg, latches on and stays! With IVF your eggs are taken out, the sperm is put in and if they connect then they're put back inside you for your body to essentially either accept or decline. There is a WAY more medical explanation than this, but it sums it up!
Once you have the sperm put in, you have a two-week wait. You're advised to wait the full two weeks before doing a pregnancy test as the drugs you're given could produce a false positive if you test too early. For the first week after implantation Laura just took it really easy. She ate super healthy and added in lots of extra vitamins and nutrients into her diet, including a VERY green smoothie every morning.
On day 10 Laura was so tired! We had been food shopping and was at home popping the food away. She popped upstairs to the loo and figured she would do a test so we could rule it out. When she came downstairs, she just popped it on the kitchen side while we carried on. She said she'd done one because she wanted to start coming to terms with the fact it hadn't worked, so we just left it there until we'd made some dinner. We were heading into the other room, then this happened...
We were pregnant!
Obviously, I made her test every day for the next few days... you need to be sure of these things!
Kelly & Laura's Fertility Treatment Journey | Side Effects
At the beginning of the pregnancy, Laura developed OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome), a rare but possible side effect of all the treatment. She was very swollen and looked about 12/14 weeks pregnant, not 2! Laura was struggling to breathe, walking from the sofa to the kitchen would leave her gasping for breath and needing to sit down. She was also ridiculously thirsty, there was no limit to the amount of fluids she was drinking. Laura ended up being hospitalised and spent 2 weeks on complete bed rest.
Everything was great until we got to about 21 weeks pregnant and Laura was getting dressed ready for work, she suddenly had the most crippling pain. Now, Laura is in no way soft, she will grin and bear almost anything but when she's begging me to take her to hospital, I knew something was really wrong, she was in so much pain I honestly thought she must be going into labour.
After a huge amount of blood tests and scans, something scary happened. They wanted to take Laura to theatre; she had kidney stones. The problem with this is that they can't do anything about it when you're pregnant; you just have to wait it out. Laura ended up spending 4 weeks in hospital on IV morphine, IV paracetamol, oral morphine and a whole concoction of other bits just waiting for it to pass. After further tests, it turns out that she actually got kidney stones due to the pregnancy. If she ever gets pregnant again, it's likely to return.
Our advice for anyone who is thinking about or going through fertility treatment is prepare yourself to be in it for the long run. It's a very tiring, stressful and emotional process with no guaranteed perfect ending. Make sure you talk to someone throughout treatment. Whether that be your partner or a close friend, it's vital you don't go through the process alone. Everyone needs to be able to let the emotions out and it's important not to bottle it all up.
And on the 12th of August 2019 at 4:16am, Jack arrived and the rest, as they say, is history!
We hope you found Kelly and Laura's fertility treatment experiences useful, don't forget the NHS has a great source of fertility advice. And as with everything pregnancy-related, contact your GP if you're unsure what's best for you. Don't forget to read our other pregnancy and giving birth blogs.