A lot has happened in the past few months since my last fertility post – Stage 3.
I’ve had a pre-treatment scan to check my ovaries (still cystic, but lots of follicles so hopefully that means lots of eggs).
My blood results have come back (low Vitamin D, dodgy thyroid levels and I’m not immune to rubella) so I’ve been on thyroid tablets every day, have had another full course of the MMR vaccine and 1,000mg of Vit D every day (certainly a good thing in the UK!).
Alongside the fertility-enhancing tablets, I’ve been prescribed Metformin for PCOS. I’ve had some unpleasant side-effects with these tablets, especially when I’ve had to increase my dose to 3 tablets (1,500mg a day) – such as bloating, feeling so lethargic and I’ve certainly put on weight despite working out most days since the January lockdown (no, it’s not muscle, I haven’t been stuffing my face with cake – it’s the sodding tablets).
Each day I take a delightful concoction that rivals anyone with an auto-immune disease: a thyroid tablet, 2x sachets of folic acid, Vit D, pre-conception supplements, biotin, Omega 3 and 3x 500mg tablets of Metformin. And I don’t feel like myself. You can imagine how excited I feel about the hormone injections I have to come…
Despite this, there are some positive changes too. I’ve found a donor, purchased a vial of sperm (at a scary amount of money) and it’s being shipped from California to the UK as I type.
Maybe it’s the tablets and the fact I’m not feeling myself but it’s been an emotional few months. I’ve gone through stages of wanting to read about IVF and listen to fertility podcasts to thinking it’s such a personal journey I’d rather do it myself. I’ve felt worried about choosing a donor, spoken to a donor counsellor (free – a prerequisite in the UK if you’re using donor sperm or eggs) and began to understand why I’m feeling how I’m feeling. There have been waves of grief (supposedly for the loss of my ideal plans to start a family) and jealousy of friends who are trying for children naturally or who’re going through fertility treatment with their partner. I’ve felt relieved I know a few people going through similar experiences and at the same time frustrated (Emma Barnett rightly says “fertile people cannot comfort infertile people”). At times, I’ve felt that people going through fertility treatment as part of a couple can’t comfort people experiencing fertility treatment alone. I’ve felt excitement, hope and also concerned (“I’m not trying for a baby, I’m trying for a chance of a baby” – Emma again).
I’ve had a lot of medical treatment in the past. This is not in an attempt to elicit pity or sympathy but to illustrate I am very much used to doctors, treatment, good news and bad news and a great deal of pain. For me, the way I cope is to be logical and shut emotions out of it. I’ve chosen a donor based on characteristics I find desirable, considered what I imagine my future family set up might be and a dose of “gut feeling”. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I stopped. I had to have a session of genetic counselling (£150) because my donor is a carrier of two (fairly rare) genetic disorders and the counsellor spoke with me about my likely chances of being a carrier. For me, the percentages are low enough I’ll take the risk.
The next steps are to retest thyroid levels and immunity to rubella. Considering these blood tests go to plan, there’ll likely be another chat with the doctor before I start jabbing my thigh or stomach each day with hormones.
I’m feeling positive, excited and fortunate that I can take these steps to safeguard my future family plans.
Whilst I know every person’s fertility journey is unique, I’m documenting this journey to add to the scope of experiences.