IVF: hope – despair – repeat

If you’re reading this blog you’re no doubt either somewhere on your IVF journey or you’re wondering how to support someone who is. I’m not writing this for anyone else – more for myself as a way of processing my feelings at an incredibly difficult time. However, if this helps you in any way, please leave a comment. We’re in this together.

Who am I? I’m 29, a teacher, wife of a South African, living with my husband and our adorable Cotonese (dog-speak for small, white, fluffy thing) pup Frank in Sheffield.

Our journey began almost 3 years ago now. My husband and I had been trying for a year before we thought we’d better look into what was causing the monthly disappointment when my period arrived. Trying to conceive is a strange time – having spent many years worrying every time my period was slightly late, suddenly I was hoping it would never come.

A referral to Bassetlaw Hospital was the start of 15 months of tests, re-tests and re-re-tests before we were finally referred to Jessops Assisted Conception Unit in Sheffield. Our journey through Bassetlaw was an infuriating one for many reasons (which I imagine I will blog about along the way) and the referral to Jessops we thought would be the beginning of a more positive journey.

The postcode lottery was in our favour – armed with the knowledge that we would have 2 rounds funded by the NHS we were optimistic of our chances. Finally, this felt like progress.

For anyone who doesn’t know my husband and I – I’m English and he is South African. 11 years together, almost 5 of those married. Contrary to the way it is portrayed in the media, foreign nationals don’t get citizenship once married to a Brit and the road to permanent residency is one almost as challenging to get your head around as the IVF process (citizenship – even more complex)! He was at the time, and still is, the proud holder of a spouse visa which entitles him to work, pay taxes and national insurance and the freedom for us to live our lives together in England. Permanent residency comes roughly 5 and a half years, and several new visas, later. For us, March 2020.

On a drizzly afternoon in February, 2019, came a phone call which once again shook our fledgling optimism. Was I aware that my husband didn’t yet have permanent residency? Um, yes very aware. Then unfortunately the NHS would be unable to fund our IVF until he did. Our options? Self-fund or wait another year to start a family. Emotionally fragile, having already had 15 months of tests, re-tests and re-re-tests and being told to wait another year… fledgling optimism extinguished.

Waiting wasn’t an option for us. With a small amount of saving and a fantastic family support network we continued our journey. Where are we now? 1 failed attempt down with 2 frozen embryos tucked away in the freezer waiting to be de-frosted and given a chance at success.

Fingers crossed.

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