One couple’s IVF diary
Victoria and David Prever want children, but nature is proving unco-operative. So the couple have embarked on a course of fertility treatment. This week, Victoria dares to hope as a possible pregnancy gets a step nearer
We’re almost there. Today — five months after hearing we wouldn‘t be able to have children without medical intervention, 17 weeks after first seeing our specialist, the charming and very kind Dr “Big Hair”, and 35 days after the first hormonal “sniff” — two fertilised embryos are to be returned to my uterus. Two microscopic bundles of our combined cells, which we desperately hope will stay and thrive inside me.
My emotions are mixed. I am one of life’s pessimists. Good news is always a pleasant surprise. My husband, the optimist, knows — and reminds me daily — that we must believe this is going to work. The mind is a powerful tool in our fight for fertility.
This morning, while I shower and dress, I’m already battling the negative voice in my head. Like that gremlin in those radio adverts for literacy classes, the voice is repeating: “This isn’t going to work, this isn’t going to work.”
I try to think positively. At my pre-transfer acupuncture session — with tiny needles in my head (yes, my head!), legs and arms, I repeat to myself that this is going to happen, our embryos are going to implant and grow into our babies. And just in case that doesn’t work, I’m wearing the (now lucky) socks I wore for the successful egg harvest. I’m also taking a sports watch — the last birthday gift to me from my late father. He died less than three years ago and I’ve dreamed about him more often lately. Will this watch mean he’s looking out us today?
David drives us to the clinic. This transfer procedure must be carried out with my bladder full, so I’m swigging from a bottle of mineral water. Advised to drink plenty during the treatment, I consume two litres a day anyway.
After our frequent visits to the clinic and the odd tantrum, we’re well known to the receptionist — who we suspect is a JC reader. We are all smiles and excitement. This might be our last wait in this too-familiar room.
Dr Big Hair arrives — late as usual — and we’re taken upstairs and ushered into a treatment room. I’m already stripping off when they tell us to sit down. The jovial “end-of-term” atmosphere suddenly turns into something more formal. Fatima the embryologist (in green scrubs and carrying a clipboard) comes in and confirms our full names and dates of birth. Satisfied we’re the right recipients, she rewards us with the news that we have three first-class embryos.
Flanked by Dr Big Hair and the nurse, she asks how many we want transferred. The maximum is two. Dr Big Hair explains the potential risk of twins if two are implanted. David and I look at each other. Surprisingly, we haven’t discussed that. I ask if our chances would be reduced if we opt for just one. They would be. Then there’s no choice — two it is. The third will be frozen for future use. Does our family already exist in three test tubes?
They close a curtain. I strip off and settle myself on the stirrup bed. On goes the search light, the ultrasound jelly and the ultrasound machine. My uterus appears on the screen. I chit-chat with the lovely nurse, David sits silently concentrating while Dr Big Hair guides the catheter in. A second embryologist brings in our embryos and asks us to repeat our names and dates of birth.
The procedure is over in a matter of minutes. The embryos are so tiny, they’re invisible — all we can see via the ultrasound machine is the solution they’re in. We leave, clutching an ultrasound image of the cloud of fluid in my uterus. Already the clucking Jewish mother, I am made by David to wait while he fetches the car. He doesn’t want me walking too far and he’s already fretting about twins.
Our babies might already be beginning to implant inside me, but it’s too much to imagine that I could be pregnant in two weeks’ time. Our levels of hope are at their highest so far.