IVF treatment - the emotional strain
IVF is not a miracle cure. 82% remain childless after treatment, but Marya Burgess and her partner were desperate to try...
He had brown eyes and a mop of dark hair. He was my longed-for baby. He was my dream baby. But to me, he was real.
When we got married I thought it would be so easy; it was the reason we’d got married. We’d been together for nine years. We both wanted a child and expected to have one very soon. I had no history of any kind of gynaecological problems; my husband was fit and healthy.
At first it was fun
The notion of procreation gave a renewed buzz to a nine-year-old sex life. But, month by month, my dreams were shattered and an element of the mechanical crept in. Ovulation thermometers and mucous assessment circumscribed my life; I went from a confident refusal to buy tampons (‘I won’t need them this month’) to keeping a superstitious cupboardful. (‘I won’t let them know we’re trying.’ Who? The tampons? The stork delivery network?)
After 18 months, the tests started
A laporoscopy showed clear tubes. My eggs were good quality, so why didn’t I conceive? I might, apparently, be allergic to my husband’s sperm. So, as well as our increasingly mechanical encounters in the bedroom, I began to have encounters at the hospital. His sperm was placed directly into my uterus, to avoid the risk that any of my inhospitable vaginal secretions could attack it before it got the chance to do its job.
Still nothing. They started me on fertility hormones, even though I was producing good quality eggs; perhaps if I produced more, the sperm would have a better chance of scoring a hit?
The years were passing
Friends were reproducing effortlessly. Each new baby was a reminder of our inadequacy, another stab at my dreams. I still couldn’t quite believe this was happening; every month I felt certain this would be it. But it never was.
IVF was suggested
The NHS waiting list at our hospital was three years; I was 37 and couldn’t afford to wait. But neither could we afford £3,000. We were lucky. My husband’s mother was desperate for a grandchild and offered to pay.
Until then, I’d thought the mission to conceive had occupied most of my time, but now it turned into a full-time job. Fortunately, I was freelance and could be flexible. I had to be available at all times; a blood test might mean, ‘everything on hold for another two days’ or it could mean, ‘all systems go’. Work, social engagements, all were liable to last-minute cancellations. I exercised my imagination to the limits when creating excuses. Only my closest friends were in on the secret.