‘Bamberlamb’ is from the Midlands area in England and was 34 when she began IVF after two ectopic pregnancies in her twenties. She waited until she was 34 due to a waiting list for IVF on the NHS. After her IVF miscarriage she began a blog about living with infertility. She works full time as an administrator in an industrial based business and has been married more than 20 years. An animal lover and someone who enjoys the great outdoors, she is also opinionated about infertility and hates how it is a taboo subject. She strives to break those taboos. This is her story:
IVF is marketed as the way forward for anyone who is struggling to get pregnant or like me, had 2 ectopic pregnancies that destroyed my Fallopian tubes. IVF clinics have a weird way of building you up and getting you on board with their program – the positivity bandied about from the medical professionals make you believe you are in good hands with the best chance possible of obtaining that much desired child at the end of the whole franchise. I say franchise, as there is a lot of money to be made from infertility. Their information leaflets are slick and glossy and give wonderful statistics to successful pregnancies but there are discrepancies – what’s denoted as a ‘successful pregnancy’ is not to be confused with the ‘live birth rate’ – there’s a huge difference.
“IVF clinics have a weird way of building you up and getting you on board with their program.”
What IVF clinics don’t prepare consumers (not patients) for is that most treatments end in failure and many resulting pregnancies fail for a variety of reasons, mine was miscarriage. But don’t despair – this isn’t seen as a negative, no! Indeed, it was put to me my miscarriage was a success, because I got pregnant! Heaven forbid I should be devastated, after all it’s proof that it could work for me, is what I got told. No room for tears or sadness or grieving, on with the next embryo transfer ASAP!
No mention of being mentally prepared for the possibility that I may be dealing with another miscarriage, a pregnancy loss, or treatment failure. Discovering I have endometriosis and that probably caused my ectopics and being told the best cure for it was pregnancy. No offer of counselling, Nowhere left to go then but back home to an empty house and then head on to work with empty arms and broken hearts and digest all of this information to myself, because I’d told next to nobody about our IVF treatment.
“According to the IVF clinic my miscarriage was a success, because I got pregnant! Heaven forbid I should be devastated.”
So what happens after treatment failure or miscarriage? You have a 10 minute slot on the conveyor belt to schedule your next plan of action and associated costs you’ll incur. 10 minutes to try and make sense of what went wrong and digest what’s being said/sold to you. Miscarriage isn’t managed by the clinic – they fob you off and make you attend the maternity unit next door where you run the gauntlet of pregnant ladies waiting for their scans whilst you’re bleeding and not knowing if you’re having another ectopic pregnancy. You feel abandoned, stressed out, terrified and grief stricken being placed in the most distressing situation imaginable with other pregnant women chatting happily about their bumps and how far along they are when you know your pregnancy is failing and are already a survivor of previous pregnancy losses.
“You’re treated with derision until blood tests reveal hCG in your bloodstream.”
You’re not believed by the staff when you tell them you’re pregnant because you can’t give them a clear date of your last menstrual period as you’ve been through IVF (which screws up your menstrual cycle) and there’s been no communication from the clinic next door to back up anything you say, so you’re treated with derision until blood tests reveal hCG in your bloodstream and prove that you are indeed pregnant. But you miscarry anyway and endure 2 weeks of visits every 48 hours to the scan clinic next door to the IVF clinic to have repeat bloods drawn to make sure this isn’t going to be another ectopic pregnancy, with no support from the IVF clinic whatsoever.
“You have a 10 minute slot on the conveyor belt to schedule your next plan of action and associated costs you’ll incur. 10 minutes to try and make sense of what went wrong and digest what’s being said/sold to you.”
Your embryo supply runs out and you’re convinced by the doctors you should try one more round of fresh IVF; you re-mortgage the re-mortgage already on your home to pay for the fresh cycle. This cycle kills off one ovary and yields a single egg from the other ovary and when you meet with the doctors they are horrified that this has happened and have no ideas why but they decide to continue with the embryo transfer because ‘it only takes one embryo’ and they are the doctors, they know best, right?
“The doctors have no ideas ‘why’ but they decide to continue…and they are the doctors, they know best, right?
A follow-up appointment arrives to discuss the treatment failure and you walk in to be met with a room filled with happy couples who have all had their BFP’s (Big Fat Positives) from their respective treatments who are there for their last consultation before being transferred to the care of the maternity unit next door because they’ve reached the 6 week mark and you sit listening to their excited chatter knowing this will never be you, eyes downcast the whole time, heart broken, not dissimilar to the neighbouring maternity unit experience. The receptionist is apologetic but it was ‘the only time we could fit you in.’ You meet the consultant who offers further more advanced, more scientific, more expensive treatment but as you can’t get a satisfactory reason as to why your last cycle failed or why your ovary has given up, you decline any further procedures.
You meet the consultant who offers further more advanced, more scientific, more expensive treatment but as you can’t get a satisfactory reason as to why your last cycle failed or why your ovary has given up, you decline any further procedures.
So that’s all folks – The End. You’re shown out of the rear exit as you’re sobbing so hard you can’t face walking through the reception area with happy couples facing a future you’ll never have. Cut adrift, left to figure out the enormity of the rest of your life without children with no support offered whatsoever. Nobody to talk to, a huge waiting list for the infertility counsellor who is based at the IVF clinic you can’t face going back to, to see the collage of baby pictures greet you as you walk in the door like a smack in the face. The IVF clinic situated next door to the maternity hospital where the very pregnant ladies stand outside to smoke cigarettes or rush in to give birth that you also have to walk past to enter the IVF clinic.This is the side of IVF you certainly won’t hear about in the media.
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