When we started trying for a baby in November 2012 we hoped, like any couple, that it wouldn’t throw up any challenges. A year on and we were still without success.
A trip to the doctors confirmed that the cause was a low sperm count caused by a childhood condition. Doctors broached the subject of IVF and we, along with family and close friends, felt daunted by what lie ahead. On reflection, our experience was far more positive than we ever could have hoped for.
In January 2014 we were approved for NHS funded IVF and asked to select the clinic where we would like to receive our treatment. We did our research and eventually opted for Oxford. It had very good success rates and the feedback from patients was excellent. This was important to us as we knew the process would be intensive. Knowing we would receive good care was reassuring. In addition, Oxford uses a satellite clinic in Cambridge, just 30 miles down the road from us, which meant we could attend many of the initial appointments and monitoring visits prior to egg collection closer to home.
Our initial information gathering event was very useful to gain a full understanding of the process and what we would experience. It was a great chance to ask questions and we felt confident about what we needed to do and when. On the same day we had our individual consultation where a personalised schedule was agreed and dates set for the start of treatment. We left feeling delighted that things were moving at quite a pace, which after trying for a baby for some time was important to us.
The course of drugs was delivered to our home and we had clear instructions on how they should be stored and administered. I’d worried about the injections and how I would feel about injecting myself. I shouldn’t have worried. Staff at the clinic taught us how to do it and it was a simple and quick process each day. We also had contact numbers that we could use at any point if we needed support or had questions which was very reassuring.
All our appointments prior to egg collection were in Cambridge. Staff were punctual, professional and kind and at all times we felt reassured that we were in safe hands.
We had a similar experience at the Oxford clinic which we attended for semen analysis, egg collection and embryo transfer. The IVF process can be draining emotionally, stressful and very personal. Staff always appeared aware of this and did their best to put us at ease. Never was this more important than the egg collection and embryo transfer stages. Staff talked us through every stage of the process which was incredibly reassuring at a time when we felt vulnerable. At embryo transfer the commentary as our little embryo was popped back inside was one of the highlights of the whole process. We were also given excellent advice about how to approach the next couple of weeks, which was the most stressful part of the whole process.
Two weeks after embryo transfer we took the test at home that would reveal our fate. To our absolute surprise and sheer delight it was positive. We couldn’t have done it on our own. But with a little bit of help from the experts at Oxford it had all become possible.
We were incredibly lucky, we fell pregnant on our first attempt. Our experience therefore of IVF is what you might call rose tinted. All the same, we had been through a roller coaster of emotions in the months prior and at times we had felt scared and daunted at what IVF would entail.
If I were to offer advice to another couple embarking on their IVF journey, what would I tell them? Well of course I would recommend Oxford – without them we would not have our beautiful little Ruby Victoria born in April 2015. I would advise them to not only research success rates, but also patient feedback. Feeling like you are in good hands takes a huge amount of stress out of the process, which no doubt improves your chances of success. Importantly, I’d advise them to approach IVF positively. With the care and support of the fantastic staff at Oxford and Cambridge, we achieved our goal first time, with far less stress and upset than we ever thought possible.