I’m back home having finished my oncall shift at the practice i work in.. my little girl is in the cot beside my bed.. a arm stretch away.. its so surreal I am typing away whilst she is sleeping.. i pinch myself every day.. I think it will take a long time for it all to sink in…but anyway back to my story..
So i froze my eggs pre chemotherapy.. 15 were extracted.. but only 9 were okay to be frozen.. 9 eggs.. my lifeline to motherhood.. 9 eggs.. a number the significance of which I will only know of later in my journey.. i’ll explain when I get to that part..
Having had my stem cell transplant and after recovering somewhat I decided it was time to come to terms with what’s happening with my fertility and what my options are.. such as how many cycles of IVF am I allowed on the NHS?.. I wasn’t necessarily ready to commit to any decision but I needed to know where I stand.. as mentioned previously I was already under the gynaecology team for the menopause.. the menopause clinic is held in the same clinic rooms as the fertility clinics..
I think i was initially like a rabbit in the headlights.. i found the IVF clinic somewhat uncomfortable and unnatural.. honestly speaking there were many times when I thought to myself do I really want a child.. I remember confiding to my friends.. especially one of my best friends FJ.. I don’t think growing up i saw myself as particularly maternal.. so i’m not to surprised when i look back through my notes and I read this entry i wrote:
Truth being.. my experience with the IVF clinic at times was a combination of negative news and encounters with some robotic doctor’s who lacked serious empathy.. initially I found my appointments more and more difficult to attend..
The first bad experience I had in the IVF clinic was with one of the IVF registrars whom I have no words for.. i have never been so shocked seeing a doctor communicate the way she did.. it’s so difficult writing retrospectively because I want to be accurate in what I share.. with most my notes gone I have to try my best to share details with whatever i have got left.. I searched my ‘whatsapp’ messages.. and i found this:
The consultant was called into the clinic for that appointment because i broke down in tears and the registrar was left in an awkward position.. so she called on her senior.. not that he was any more positive than her..
So initially the IVF doctors were awfully pessimistic because of my health.. I felt i had no chance.. I think it may make better sense to explain the health problems that I had to overcome to be considered suitable for IVF.. firstly being in the menopause means i don’t have a womb lining which is thick enough for a egg (baby) to be implanted.. to thicken my womb lining i need significantly higher hormone doses which would put me at risk of blood clots.. so i needed the approval of both my blood clot doctor and stroke doctor (i had a blood clot to my left eye after my transplant which left me with brief visual loss – this was thought to possibly be a mini stroke.. hence the stroke doctor involvement)..
Secondly I needed approval from the “medical complications” obstetrician.. who basically needed to assess the safety of carrying a baby.. and the medications I would need.. i’m just going to pause here to say that the doctor I saw in this clinic basically had no empathy.. I clearly remember him telling me something along the lines of; “you’ve survived a lot and your body has been through a lot, why would you want to be pregnant, you don’t have to have a child”.. i mean he may have had a point.. his intentions may have been good.. but i just felt like he was telling me ‘are you mad.. why are you here’.. I also felt like i was being judged.. and why can’t i have a child? Why can’t i be like everyone else? I remember leaving that appointment and crying later.. i just felt I didn’t have that doctors support.. as a patient I think i liked to hear what i wanted to hear.. I assume like most patients?
The next specialist i needed the approval from was my cardiologist.. as chemotherapy had effected my hearts function the IVF team wanted to know if my heart could tolerate pregnancy.. when a woman is pregnant her heart has to work harder.. basically I needed repeat heart scans
I attended multiple appointments.. i felt at times i was getting nowhere.. but i tried to hold on and remain hopeful.. i wanted to do everything possible to get the okay for IVF.. then one day.. everything changed.. the turning point in my journey.. I walked into an IVF clinic appointment and the doctor who saw me that day was Ms Elizabeth Burt.. a guardian angel.. probably the best doctor I have ever had.. words can not do justice for this doctor.. she was so kind and compassionate.. i felt someone finally cared.. it was the biggest relief hearing a doctor say she will help me have IVF.. she was the first doctor to show interest in what was happening with me.. she was the doctor who investigated my bone pain and found out I have osteoporosis.. she was the doctor who realised i was struggling with the menopause so she coordinated with my haematologist so that my medication could be safely increased.. she did everything possible.. throughout the pandemic she stayed in touch.. I have never seen a more dedicated doctor.. I wish I could be as good of a doctor as she is.. I am yet to thank her for everything she did for me.. every time i open my email to write to her and tell her about my baby I hesitate.. maybe after this i will..
Finally… Ms Burt got me to the point whereby all my different specialists were happy to let me go ahead with IVF..
At last there was progress.. the back and forth to different clinics had ended.. I was going to start the IVF process..
I had no clue the tough dark days that I was going to face.. the sheer devastation and pain.. a far from smooth journey..
More to follow… but for now I will pause..
Sending you all lots of love and positive energy