infertility, IVF

One more rung up the IVF ladder

Between November 2019 and February 2020, life was a cycle of gym visits and healthy eating. There was no alcohol, infrequent eating out and our house was pretty much a chocolate free zone. I’ve never had such an un-indulgent Christmas or seen myself visiting the gym 4 times a week so consistently. Self control and willpower have been the order of the day and it has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone. But I knew this was the only way we would get to have NHS-funded IVF, so I’ve been determined to do it.

Thankfully my efforts paid off and I managed to bring my BMI down to less than 30, my CCG’s threshold for IVF eligibility.

So, at the end of February, we had the appointment where they’d confirm I’d lost the required amount of weight. In preparation for stepping on the scales, I’d carefully selected the least weighty outfit in my wardrobe. I’d eaten the lightest of light lunches. I’d squeezed out every last drop of pee. I’d considered inconspicuous ways I could stand on my tip-toes to gain an extra cm in height.

And then…there wasn’t a scale in sight. The consultant just asked what my BMI was and wrote my response in her notes. Is that it? Really? Cue an internal sigh at the disproportionate amount of stress I’d felt before the appointment. Then another sigh, this time of relief. That’s it! Really! 

We were then asked if we had any questions. I’d come with a monster list (mostly from Get a Life: his and hers survival guide to IVF by Rosie Bray and Richard Mackney) about medications and side effects and success rates. But it had become clear none of that would be discussed at this meeting, we were still too early in the process. The consultant just asked us if we wanted to proceed with IVF. And with a ‘definitely, yes please’, our appointment was over. 

It felt a bit of an anticlimax, but I reminded myself it was a box ticked and another step closer to our goal. And I did get a ‘well done’ on my weight loss from the consultant, which was nice.

So next up, in a couple of weeks, we’re booked on an information session. We, and up to 50 other couples starting IVF, will attend a session where they’ll talk us through how the the process works at our hospital. I’m quite looking forward to this. Geek that I am, I’m a sucker for information, statistics, processes. So this will be right up my street.

After that, we have another 3 week wait, taking us into mid-April. At that point, we’ll have a 2 hour appointment, the first hour spent with a doctor and the second with a nurse. Hour 1, we expect to hear about the protocol that has been selected for us (and I can ask my extensive list of questions). I’m desperate to know if we’ll do a long or a short protocol, which medications I’ll be prescribed and why these decisions have been made. Hour 2 we’ll go through the legal paperwork for the HFEA and the hospital’s permission slips.

We’re hoping that, after that round of appointments, we’ll have a better idea when we may start the process. I tried asking at reception as we left the clinic last time, but an answer was not exactly forthcoming, though I did get an ‘it doesn’t usually take too long to start treatment after the consultation’. Which is good, but depends on your interpretation of ‘too long’. My level of (im)patience means anything longer than a fortnight is most definitely too long. The NHS, I’d hazard a guess, works to a slightly different definition. 

But we’ll see. I’m glad to be one more rung up the IVF ladder, but there are still plenty more to go and – turning 41 in less than 2 weeks – I know that time is of the essence. 

Oh for a crystal ball to see how it all works out!

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