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.