In 2015 my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer thankfully she received surgery to remove part of her bowel and has been in remission since. After my mums diagnosis the Drs discovered that she had something called Lynch Syndrome. Lynch syndrome is a genetic defect that increases your chances of getting certain types of cancers. Due to my mum having this gene there was a 50% chance me and my younger brother would have it and we were offered a test on the NHS should we wish to know. We both took the test and sadly we both have Lynch Syndrome, having lynch syndrome doesn’t impact our daily lives and it might never impact us. We might not ever get cancer we just have a higher % than the general population and due to this we are checked every 2 years with endoscopies and colonoscopies. Having the gene meant that should we wish to have children there is a 50% chance we would pass this gene onto any children. However there is PGD IVF which removes the risk of passing the gene onto your children. PGD (Pre implantation genetic diagnostics) was something me and my partner discussed and thought as we both wanted children within the near future it is something we would try.
Once we joined the waiting list it was a year and a bit later we started our first IVF cycle. We hadn’t put much thought into what could go wrong we just focused on I’ll take the injections and we are going to have a baby and planning what our lives would look like. I was 26 at the time we started our first cycle in 2018 and all the Drs Where just as hopeful as us that it would be a success first time because of my age and no real known issues. We were quite naive when I look back now. Our first cycle started and my partner helped with the injections to start with as I had the biggest fear of needles before this process. That is well and truly gone now! We had our egg retrieval and we had 28 follicles so we were very hopeful. Within 24 hours of our egg retrieval I became very unwell and was admitted to hospital with a severe case of OHSS, I spent a week in hospital recovering from this. During my stay we discovered that out of the fertilised embryos none had survived that didn’t have the genetic defect. I was discharged from hospital and went home with nothing, no transfer date and no potential future baby. I had been through all that for nothing? I felt so empty and I didn’t know who to turn to, my partner wasn’t coping with the news just as much as I wasn’t. Friends and family didn’t understand and the comments and questions started. When are you trying again? Well you could adopt? I know someone who went through IVF 4 times and it then worked etc etc. All the usual hurtful comments anyone who has been through a fertility journey has heard from someone who has never had to be in our position. At our follow up appointment I was told I have low egg quality for someone of my age, that was a blow but I pulled myself together and thought when can we start round 2?
We started our second cycle a lot less excited than the first time. After our second cycle we got 4 viable embryos so we had 4 chances to have our little miracle. I was again admitted to hospital with OHSS so there was no chance of a fresh transfer. We had to wait to try a frozen cycle and with a frozen cycle comes a whole load of new drugs. These made me feel horrific and I piled on weight I was struggling to remember who I was before treatment and this put a strain on our relationship. I just wanted to speak to someone who understood what I was going through instead of feeling isolated and alone. I went to see the fertility counsellor at the hospital to see if this would help in the run up to the first transfer.
We had our first embryo transfer and we waited. My first experience of the 2ww and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I couldn’t think of anything other than my results. My mum was with my when I made the call to get my blood results and it was negative. I was heartbroken and so was my partner. I again pulled myself together and thought well we still have 3 embryos left so when can we go again. I was just on auto pilot because all I wanted was for us to have a little baby. I was taking every vitamin/supplement under the sun that could help with fertility & spent a lot of time on the internet googling. We had our second transfer, it failed. I was then diagnosed with PCOS another blow. We had our third transfer and it failed. By this point I was at my lowest and to try and fill that void we bought a puppy a little sausage dog who we named Ralph and went on holiday. Some criticised choices I made throughout to prioritise my IVF it pushed me to feel even more alone because to me ‘no one got it’. Some thought I was doing this as a lifestyle choice when in reality I wasn’t I would have needed help to fall pregnant naturally as I have low egg quality and PCOS. So every time I heard ‘you can try naturally’ it felt like a punch in the stomach. I wasn’t on any birth control and even then nothing was happening in between. I took steps to protect my mental health and in all honesty my own sanity that some again didn’t understand. As more and more people around us started to move on with their lives and have their children it broke my heart and I felt like I was constantly in limbo there was no moving forward it was just all about the IVF. I was of course over the moon for anyone I knew who had a baby but deep down I just so wanted it to be us.
We discussed going for our fourth and final transfer and by this point I just didn’t think I could go through with it I wanted to give up but my partner didn’t. I then seen someone I had known from school post a gorgeous picture of her little boy on social media with a caption mentioning she had been through IVF. It sounds so cheesy but reading that post by someone I knew gave me hope and I messaged her right away. Hearing from someone so close to home share their story and understand how I felt without judgement was the biggest relief and a motivation. I felt like a weight had been lifted. So I went ahead and arranged our fourth and final transfer and went into it trying to be the most positive I had been throughout the whole almost 2.5 year process (excluding the wait list).
Our final transfer was on the 3rd March 2020 and we both went in absolute anxious wrecks but we done it. Within days I started to feel different, different than I had felt after any of the other 3 transfers. I thought I had convinced myself while trying to be positive that I was pregnant because how are so many negatives could I now get a positive? On the 12th March I went for my bloods and I phoned for my results, it wasn’t negative BUT it wasn’t 100% positive. My HCG levels where at 45 and they should have been above 50 so I had to wait another week to do another blood test to see if my pregnancy would be viable. It felt like a cruel trick if I’m honest. That 1 week wait was worse than any previous 2ww we had been through. I called for my bloods convinced it wouldn’t be good news.
I was wrong. My HCG levels had shot up over 1700 I was officially pregnant. I have never felt happiness like it me and my boyfriend were in shock more than anything else. It had finally worked! We had to wait a week for our by then 6 week scan. By this point covid had well and truly kicked in and I wasn’t allowed to take anyone in with me. I was terrified as in my head I was still convinced something would go wrong. At our 6 week scan I could see the foetal pole beating on the screen I’ve never been so happy and the progress was just as amazing at our 7 week scan. I’ve not long had my 12 week scan and our baby is growing and moving around all healthy. I am due the 19th November 2020 and I can’t wait to meet this little miracle.
I wanted to share my story because until now I don’t think I have fully accepted what has gone on over the last few years, I also don’t think I have properly allowed myself to be excited that I AM FINALLY PREGNANT! I should be excited and I now need to allow myself to be. I also know that there will be other people out there who have felt or are feeling isolated and alone like I did and I want them to know they are not alone. Going on a fertility journey whatever your reason/diagnosis/choice is a big deal. You are valid and your feelings are valid. Fertility issues need to be spoken about more openly all over the world and to anyone who reads this my DM’s will always be open for a chat.
You can follow Natalie on Instagram at @nataliewebster91