I wanted to break years of silence to speak out about my journey after listening to BBC Radio 5 Live and also realising that MPs are debating about ending IVF and infertility funding on the NHS. I hope I can share on Walk In Our Shoes which I found on Twitter as I don't think I'm ready to go public on Facebook yet.
My wife and I went through infertility treatment. We had been trying to have children for several years and we were reluctant to approach our GP. We were vibrant twenty-five year olds, newly married and in good health. We didn’t want to waste our GP’s time with our silly idea that we should be pregnant immediately. But two years passed, as each month came and went with blood and tears, we gave in and shuffled into our surgery. The doctor was great, he listened to our worries, looked at the records we’d kept (as advised by the wonderful Fertility Friends), and agreed we might have a problem. He seemed capable of moving mountains as the weeks flew past with an endless battery of painful tests that left no room for dignity. Then two months later he told us that we were going to be referred for ICSI. I realised that I wasn’t swimming forwards, more around in decreasing circles.
Our PCT provided one cycle of treatment, in a clinic that was more like a posh spa than a science lab. The temptation to share a photo of a fireplace big enough to live in on Facebook was almost irresistible. My lovely wife became a hormonal monster as I sat by helpless, knowing I was the cause. Twenty eggs later and we were able to say we were the proud parents of 8 embryos. Three went into the freezer and two were returned to us. In the palatial surroundings of our clinic, we crossed our fingers and went home to wait. Sadly our cycle didn’t succeed and here is where our fairytale ends.
During the aftermath it became clear that my wife was unwell. Dismissing her symptoms because we thought it was caused by the treatment, we were surprised when we were called back to our surgery. To be truthful I think we hoped the pregnancy test and subsequent bleeding was a mistake. Maybe we were pregnant, after all what experience did we have? I haven’t ever written this before. My wife had cancer.
Without the NHS, without those investigations and IVF, I’d be telling you this from a very different place. Probably alone, wishing I knew what the hell was wrong with us. Our GP was certain that IVF saved my wife’s life as they’d probably been too late if they hadn’t been tracking her progress so closely at the fertility clinic. We still have our three embryos. We can’t bear to lose them but we cannot afford to use them either. My wife is on sick pay and we’re being struggling with rent and if we want to buy then I have to think about asking our parents for help. But how do I do that? Do I make them choose between grandchildren or a safe home for their daughter. And don't get me started on not being able to do either. I am a personal trainer, ex-army and a proper bloke but I can cry like a baby over this. And even though I’ve been over this with my GP, I still keep thinking why me? If I had smoked, worn tight pants and stuck my balls in hot water every night, taken hard drugs and drunk myself stupid, then I’d understand it but I haven’t. Now the NHS and MP’s want to punish us even more? There speaks the minds of cost savers and money grabbers, where is the humanity in this?