My IVF Journey

Julie, a creative strategist at Facebook and Instagram and IVFer, shares her story on becoming a mum and offers 10 tips for IVF…

As it struck midnight on my 30th birthday I went from not being bothered about having children to feeling desperately clucky! That said, circumstances meant that it took ten years for me to become a mum.

Those ten years felt looong. First came the man troubles, when my ‘forever’ first love and the man with whom I’d bought a house met someone else at work… which quickly led to finding another potential ‘baby father’, who I married. Sadly, my husband’s serious addiction, mental health issues and abuse brought some pretty big cracks to the marriage, widened even more by a second-trimester miscarriage the day after I took him into rehab. Fortunately, I escaped that marriage and decided instead to go it alone.

So, syringe in hand, I set off to try and have a baby with a gay friend, happy with my decision to become instead a ‘solo mum by choice’, or SMBC. But then just before I could, I was bitten and infected with Lyme Disease. This, in addition to previous infections caused severe symptoms such as full paralysis, encephalitis, brain damage and disability. I was blacking out dozens of times a day, often unable to get out of bed or leave the house from feeling so ill. It took four years to get even remotely well enough to consider pregnancy, and that was yet another chunk taken off my fertility too.

When finally I reached remission I picked an anonymous donor, rushed to the clinic and embarked on my very first round of IVF.

I might’ve previously lacked in luck, but I certainly felt lucky at the IVF game when my first round produced 6 decent embryos. After putting one back, I managed to stay pregnant and give birth to my wonderful ginger bundle of cuteness – Betsy (complete with a slightly eccentric five middle names). That was ten months ago and I’m now starting round two, this time a FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer… of one of my remaining ‘frosties’.

My Ten Tips for IVF

1. If you feel able, don’t hide it from work. It’ll help them to know what’s going on and be more flexible / forgiving / or even help remove stress a bit. Even if you only choose a few close colleagues, they can help support you through the ups and down.
2. Choose who else you tell carefully. If you think that a relation or friend will be too stressy and ask you about it all too much, just don’t share. Remember that anyone you tell you will need to ‘untell’ if rounds are unsuccessful.
3. You probably know this, but stress is one the biggest challenges. So book holiday days, do light gardening, go to spas (when open), hug trees, stroke cats and watch comedy.
4. Actively under-think the injections. Even for someone who doesn’t mind needles there can be A LOT (like many a day) and it can get a bit gross. So just throw it in your belly or thigh quickly and without much thought. It’ll be easier.
5. The hormones can be good. IVF’s often been painted as hugely invasive and the hormones as bad. Try to frame them in your mind as helping, because they are, and, like in my case, they might even make you feel great.
6. The two week wait is hard, so find as many distractions as possible. Day trips, chores, friends. Stay busy and try under-think it.
7. Don’t fill your bladder too early ready for the transfer, it’s awfully uncomfortable if they’re running late. You do need to fill it, but don’t fill too soon!
8. Love your fat (if you have it!). Injections into fat rather than just skin on your belly feel better. There’s enough hard stuff, so I enjoyed the guilt-free carb-loading!
9. I found acupuncture a great help. I’ll never quite understand it but it seemed to do magical things for me.
10. It’s an emotional journey so if you can, find a therapist to chat it through with. Many do sliding scale fees based on income and they are worth their weight in baby-making, stress relieving gold.

To anyone trying, find your community online for support too. I find Instagram an invaluable resource to find ‘your people’ (not just because I work there!) And best of luck!

You can follow Julie @the_chronicoptimist on Instagram.

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