Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Pay £900

In the world of fertility treatment, unlike Monopoly, every time you pass Go you have to hand over your hard-earned cash. In our case, each cycle of IUI costs £900 plus one shot of sperm (the sperm was bought in May, for €300 a straw if I remember rightly). I suppose the one good thing about our cycle being cancelled this month is that I don’t have to worry, quite so soon, about what will happen when our savings run out.

It is really upsetting, though. After the miscarriage last time, I desperately wanted this cycle to run smoothly. I was so excited to finally be back at the clinic, and only a little frustrated when my day nine and day twelve scans showed my follicles were developing more slowly than in August. The time between my periods can vary by a few days, and I’m not taking any fertility drugs to control this, so it makes sense that some months I ovulate later than others. But as time went by, I had an increasingly bad feeling about it all. The clinic can only start treatment when your biggest follicle measures at least 15 mm, and on day fourteen, mine was nowhere near ready. On day fifteen, it was 14 mm. On day sixteen, 14.5 mm. Unfortunately, day sixteen was a Friday, and our nurse explained that while they are open for scans on Saturday mornings, they can only do treatments during the working week. So OH and I agreed to come in at 9am the next day, on the understanding that if the follicle was mature the clinic would line up treatment for Monday, which hopefully wouldn’t be too late. At least I got my prescription for Ovitrelle (because the pharmacy only deal with emergencies at weekends), which made me feel like we were moving forwards.

On Saturday morning, my biggest follicle had gone.

There were two possibilities. Either I had ovulated when the egg wasn’t yet mature (which can happen, and is unlikely to result in a pregnancy), or that follicle wasn’t “the one” after all. Normally they would check with a blood test, but guess what? The lab isn’t open on weekends either. The nurse said she couldn’t tell either way, because I did have a follicle on the other side that was almost as big. My gut feeling, though, was that I had already ovulated. That’s what my body and my instinct were telling me.

I have to say that this nurse was really lovely and we had a good chat about how OH and I are coping emotionally. (In case you’re wondering, the difference from seeing a mental health professional is that the discreetly placed box of tissues is hidden by the ultrasound machine and you don’t have any knickers on.) She said that OH and I have had an especially rough time of it, and everyone at the clinic had really wanted a nice, straightforward cycle for us. At one point, she sounded as though she was trying not to cry herself. I told her I don’t feel I can move on from the miscarriage until I’m pregnant again, and she completely understood that. She also said that some cycles are just not good from a timing point of view, and that if the problem persists they will probably start giving me fertility drugs sooner than otherwise planned. I really appreciated her support and the reassurance that there are other options if my ovaries (and/or pituitary gland) will not cooperate.

Sunday was the Christian festival of Candlemas, which celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the temple. As you can imagine, this service is replete with references to the baby Jesus and how blessed Mary’s womb was. I will sound bitter here, but it is actually the culmination of three months of torture for anyone who is experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss, starting with Advent (Mary is pregnant) and running through Christmas (Mary gives birth) and Epiphany (Jesus is a baby). This year, for extra good measure, there was a christening. Candlemas is also a particular trigger for me because it’s the anniversary of two bereavements, and some of the music we have to sing resonates with that. I have spent so many church services recently trying to hold back tears, and yesterday I just couldn’t keep it up any longer. Although I’ll do anything to avoid crying in public, I’m actually glad I did because it felt quite healing, and I’m not as angry at God as I normally would be.

We went back to the clinic today for my seventh scan in 11 days, and as I expected, the other follicle has also gone. I’m now waiting for the blood test results to confirm it, but it seems clear I’ve ovulated. Now all we can do is wait for my next period and try again.