Monday, March 20, 2006

Treatment deferred

I spoke to the NHS funding co-ordinator today and explained that we'd had our initial appointment and wanted to postpone our treatment if possible. Thankfully, she didn't think it will be a problem. Mrs T had suggested this morning that we should be looking at Easter next year, but that would cross over into the next financial year so could be problematic, so she is going to see if she can book us in for January/February.

It's a weight off our minds. If it's going to be next year then we've time to prepare for it emotionally and physically. (Spiritually, too.)

It also gives us another nine months or so to keep trying naturally, so we really want to make the most of it. Although we've been pretty aware of Mrs T's cycle and our health, we've never got into the whole temperature-taking thing to predict the best days, and aren't quite sure how to best go about it. I'm sure there's plenty of guidance out there in the world of the internet, but if anyone reading has some advice for us we'd be grateful! (Even if it's just recommendations of a good source of information.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The appointment was indeed about two hours long, but was not, as I had expected, two hours with a consultant. We were welcomed in to a very nice calm waiting area (although we were assured it was normally very much busier than when we saw it) and soon called over to see one of the nurses.

She took us through the procedures. We're lined up to go through the "21-day long protocol" which starts with a blood test on Mrs T's "Day 2", then moves through a series of daily injections from "Day 21" onwards to first suppress the ovaries for a while then to stimulate them. Several blood tests are taken during this period and, when the results are right, we'd go in for her eggs to be collected and for me to supply a fresh sample. The two samples are then placed together in a laboratory to do their thing while we go home for a day's rest. The following day we go back in for up to two embryos to be placed back into Mrs T's womb. There then follows the anxious wait to see whether they successfully implant themselves and settle in for a pregnancy.

She went through things in some detail (although I now realise I'm still a bit sketchy on some of the details) and gave us a supply of syringes and swabs - and me a lesson in how to administer an injection (something I've never done).

What we hadn't realised is that we're actually booked in to start this for the April/May cycle. (Which, as Mrs T is on about day 26 would mean the first blood test later this month.) The nurse could tell this was all pretty daunting for us and suggested we'd be able to speak to one of the unit's counsellors while we were there. We said we'd like to if possible. (It's complulsory under UK law for all IVF clinics to have a free counselling service avavilable.) She also suggested - after Mrs T asked - that it might be possible to postpone our treatment to August-September, although we would need to check with the NHS funding co-ordinator.

The next part of the appointment was with a doctor. After filling her bladder, Mrs T and I went into one of their consultation rooms where Mrs T was examined to check the poistion/shape/alignment of her cervix to confirm that placing the embryos would be straightforward. All seems okay. There was some confusion at that point as to whether she should also have been having an ultra-sound scan, but she didn't end up having one done. (Although she will need to before we start anything so I don't know why they didn't do it there and then.) We were also expecting that I'd have to give a sample while we were there but they didn't ask for that either. The doctor also picked up on our anxiety (Mrs T was quite tearful at several points during the afternoon) and sat down and asked us if we were ready for all this. We explained that we had some reservations, and he was very reassuring and sympathetic.

Finally, we did have the chance to speak to one of their counsellors. (Luckily, as you normally need an appointment.) Jackie was excellent. She could only give us ten minutes (although I'm sure it spread to more like 20) but let us talk things through a bit and pretty well encouraged us to postpone things if we can. As Mrs T said, she doesn't feel emotionally strong enough to put herself through this at the moment and feels that she needs more time to prepare. She's recently bereaved and still grieving for her Dad; work is very stressful at the moment; and she's also not convinced her body's really had long enough to recover from last summer's trauma.

If we can put the whole thing off until next year I think Mrs T will be happiest. Failing that, moving it on until later this year - and arranging for her to take some time off work - would suit us pretty well. We need to phone and speak to the funding people on Monday to check what's possible.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Consent forms - lots of them

In preparation for tomorrow's appointment, we got all the paperwork out and had another look through it. We're still so torn over whether to go ahead with IVF. The physical side is daunting (for Mrs T - my bit's pretty easy!) and the emotional side is just so vast that we can hardly get our heads around it.

Are we playing with nature? Are we trying to play God? Why do we want children? Do we want children? What happened to our faith? Mine is still strong (I think) but Mrs T's is very shaky. As we discussed things tonight she admitted she doesn't know where her faith is anymore. The things she believes (or perhaps believed) about life and death, heaven and hell, good and evil, God or no God, haven't helped her cope with a series of tragedies (other things have been going on that are no longer recorded on this blog), and so now they're just clouding the issues.

Among the paperwork there was a series of consent forms we both had to fill in. I was all for not signing them until we'd talked it all through at the hospital tomorrow, but we did so. I guess we can always not hand them over. Let's have a look at what we've just signed:

  • consent for the IVF department to share information about our treatment with other medical personnel;
  • confirmation that we do not want medical students to be present at any point;
  • consent to the treatment itself;
  • an understanding that we would become the legal mother and father of any children resulting from the treatment;
  • our decision as to whether any cells, fluids, immature eggs, unfertilised eggs, or fertilised eggs may be used for research purposes (we said no to all options);
  • declarations of our current health and medical conditions;
  • a disclaimer confirming that the hospital is not responsible for any of our valuables while we're in there (yes, really); and
  • consent for the cryogenic storage of my sperm, Mrs T's eggs, and any fertilised embryos for up to ten years or until Mrs T's death if sooner. (I said they could keep them after my death. Mrs T thought it unlikely that she'd want to try to use them if I was gone, but I figured she might as well keep her options open.)
Quite a lot to think about, really.

One of Mrs T's concerns is purely practical: if we decide not to go through with it now, will we miss out on our one opportunity to have it funded by the NHS? Our consultant assured us that we could put it off if we wanted, but I'm wondering whether we may have taken it a bit too far (in signing up to consultation) for that.

If there's anyone out there reading this who is the praying type, please do pray for us tomorrow afternoon. The appointment is 3pm (UK time!). If you're not the praying type, then at least keep us in your thoughts, which may - or may not - amount to pretty much the same thing.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Unfortunate timing - again

Looks like we're going to miss Mrs T's most fertile time once again this month. Our co-ordination appointment - for the possible IVF treatment (we have decided to at least attend this appointment) is on the 16th, and we're supposed to refrain from making love for three or four days beforehand. Can you guess which three or four days would be or best for conception this month? Yep, you got it.

Mrs T also has a routine smear test coming up - in the same week. Quite why they couldn't do that "while they're in there" I don't know. The smear is arranged through her GP's surgery and the IVF appontment through the hospital in London; I guess it's asking too much that they'd be able to share resources like that.