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26 July 2022

So why am I writing this blog? Well, if it helps just one person - someone going through IVF, someone who has a partner going through IVF, someone about to embark on the journey, someone who manages someone who is going through similar things - I will have met my objective.

IVF is one of the most gruelling and gut-wrenching experiences I’ve been through in my life. I would go so far as to say - I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I endured 7 rounds of IVF over a period of 2.5 years, my journey was successful but not without pain and heartbreak along the way.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby. It is not as my husband's 90–year-old grandmother thought: 'where you go in a room, whilst men in white coats watch you do the 'deed' and tell you what you are doing wrong!!' - if only it was that simple.

So, why is it tough? Well, I have a needle phobia and IVF means you inject yourself - a lot! But besides the injection thing, it's internal scans, hospital visits, nasal sprays, pessaries, blood tests - the list goes on. It's invasive and pretty rough. Not to mention the cost!! The strain on your relationship also shouldn't be underestimated! There were mood swings, tears, emotions, hot flushes, bruised stomach, bloatedness, dizzy spells, and lack of sleep.

At the time, I found it really tough as all my life I'd worked hard and I'd succeeded. Infertility was the one thing that was totally and utterly out of my control!! That's what was REALLY hard.

At the time, I told a few people, but not my boss. This was at my previous employer. I was lucky that my hospital did early appointments so I could normally go before work but I spent a fair few lunch hours at the hospital too! I'm surprised he never noticed that there was something going on - but he found out after the 4th cycle, when unfortunately, I miscarried and I needed to take some time off. I worked through a number of extremely stressful periods at work at the same time as going through treatment. With hindsight, I should have asked for help and confided in someone.

I used all of my annual leave for egg collection and embryo transfer and took some medical leave too. Again, I should have shared this to see if any support was offered.

As injections have to be done at certain times, I did once have to inject myself in the car whilst sitting in the car park of Newport Pagnell Services on the way down the M1! Making up a vial of drugs to inject into my already sore tummy, with a sharps bin on my passenger seat, was less than ideal. Needs must though!

I'm very open about my journey now. I'm happy to talk about it but realise everyone has a different journey or story and some people just don’t want to talk about it - it really is a personal journey.

Luckily for me, my journey was worth it. I still have a needle phobia but my miracle was born at 35 weeks, by emergency c-section, in January 2013. My daughter, Persephone, the Greek goddess of springtime and bringer of destruction arrived before my last day at work. We stayed in the hospital for 11 days. She was in both NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and SCBU (special care baby unit) during that time.

You don't have to be alone. Infertility is more common than you think - as is miscarriage. There are a number of people I know who have experienced the same. I would always encourage you to reach out to family, friends and colleagues if you need support.

If you are going through this - I wish you all the luck in the world!