ivf & our favourite love story yet!
When asked to write about my current IVF journey for Women Connect, I was THRILLED. I couldn’t wait to share mine and my wife’s story with others, especially those in the creative industries, in a way to hopefully connect and inform about fertility treatments, two mum family’s and impending motherhood whilst working in the Music Industry. That said, getting words down on paper have proven hard, my experience as a 1st time pregnant women, a pregnant woman during COVID and a pregnant woman in a ‘two mum’ situation seems like a lot to cover… so I’m just going to keep it simple… I think.
My wife and I married in August 2019 and both knew that ‘baby making’ was high on our priority list for when we returned from our honeymoon. We had started the process months before, in May 2019 where we had our first consultation at our chosen fertility clinic. We had decided at this first consultation that we wanted to go down the route of Reciprocal IVF, also known in the fertility world as Shared Motherhood. This style of IVF gives a two-mum family the opportunity to use the eggs from woman A and the womb of woman B, to create a dreamy little baby. In our case I am woman B, meaning I am carrying the biological child of my wife, pretty cool.
When we got back from honeymoon, in early September 2019 we actually wanted to give ourselves a short break before jumping straight into the impending procedures. Getting married is EXHAUSTING and we wanted to take some time off from thinking, planning and worrying constantly. That, plus the fact that Q4 is a hectic time in the Live Music world which wouldn’t have been fun on top of the IVF treatment. My wife was absolutely certain that we should start in March 2020, but that was slightly too long a wait in my eyes and I made sure that I was heard on that – thank heavens she listened because COVID would have completely ruined any chance of March treatment (all fertility clinics were ordered to shut up shop in March, most of which opened again in June). We decided December was our time to shine, and as soon as Dec 1st came around, got in touch with the clinic to get the ball rolling.
There are a lot of tests involved with IVF, something we were both naïve of. We were actually super naïve of the whole process to be completely honest, we knew there would be lots of medication, we knew there would be lots of payments, and we knew that if we were lucky, at some point in the distant future there would be a baby, everything else was a blur, no matter how many meetings we had with our designated team at the clinic. So, when we really began in December, we were met en mass with blood tests, scans, probing health questions and a LOT of invoices. Turns out we needed to wait until the very end of December to begin my wife’s medication as we needed to sync treatment with her cycle. Myself in the meantime was put into to contraceptive pill so the doctors could manipulate my cycle in due course, we were truly starting on this epic journey!
Come the end of Dec, it was all systems GO. It felt like we waited forever to get things going, and boy did they get going fast. Once my wife had come to the correct part of her cycle, on the 27th December, she was invited in for a final ‘baseline scan’ which gave our doctor the all clear to start her medication. This consisted mainly of daily, self-administered injections into her stomach at very specific times every morning and evening for around two weeks, alongside visits to the clinic every 2 days for more scans to track the success of the meds. It was A LOT. By the end of the treatment she looked 6 months pregnant and had the shortest fuse known to man, not surprisingly as those very injections were to make the follicles in her ovaries grow exponentially and provide lots and lots of mature eggs for extraction (a procedure I won’t go into, but should you want to google, make sure you cross your legs first). It was a gruelling, intense couple of weeks, but she did incredibly and after introducing her extracted eggs with our donor sperm, we had three, top grade embryos ready to go (just to break down the CRAZY numbers a bit, the clinic successful extracted 33 eggs, 16 of which successfully fertilised but only 3 made it to 5 day blastocyst, a stage suitable for transfer. It’s such an intense game of chance and we were SO lucky to get even 3, we count our lucky stars every, damn, day).
That brings the responsibility now to me, all the pressure I was free of now resting on my shoulders! On day five, the fifth day after the extraction and fertilisation, we transferred one of our three embryos into my readily medicated and perfectly prepared uterus, the other two are currently chilling in the freezer for a later date (not our freezer of course). We then had the dreaded two weeks wait to get though, the longest two weeks of my life where any slight twinge I felt tipped me over the edge. Two whole weeks until we would find out if the transfer was successful. I don’t know what got us through it, I honestly don’t, time stood still, and it felt like we had so much resting on a positive pregnancy test. Of course, if it didn’t work, we could try again with one of our other two embryos, but that would cost a significant amount and we had almost bled ourselves dry financially at this point.
Fast forward 14 long days and we got the positive test we craved so badly. It was hardly believable to be honest, what gave us the right to be so lucky, why on earth were we so fortunate for it to work for us straight away when overall success rates in IVF are relatively low? We were happy, overwhelming so, but we just couldn’t let ourselves get too excited, not yet, anything could happen right? Well I don’t know what we did so right in a past life, but baby stuck around, and every week we allowed ourselves to get just a little more excited. It became more real every day that went past, we were actually going to be mums and we were OVERWHELMED with joy.
Baby became really real to us when we went for a gender scan, we had to book a private scan as COVID meant our hospital has restricted prenatal appointments, no +1s allowed, not even the other parent, so my wife couldn’t attend any scans past our initial 12 weeks one. The private gender scan reviled we are expecting a boy, we cried so many happy tears at that private appointment, it felt like we had met him for the first time. It's so weird to be so head over heels in love with someone you have never met face to face, but that scan was absolutely the beginning of our favourite love story yet.
I feel like it's appropriate to shout out my place of work here, the support I have received during this process has been incredible, both my direct boss and our head of department have been amazing. Becoming pregnant and welcoming a tiny human into this world whilst continually working on building my career has always slightly terrified me, maybe it’s some ridiculous fear ingrained into most women, that you have to chose between a career or a family, or maybe it’s because I myself didn’t know how I would handle the juggling of two worlds. Either way, I have been inundated with support from work in so many ways. The way the workplace sees mothers has changed over the years, and although there is always room for improvement, I feel comfortable knowing that I, in three months time I will be a mum, a woman in music, and a damn sight less round!
Lots of love,
Nat & Beccy x