We’re sat in a doctor’s office at the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy’s this afternoon and a registrar is riffling through our notes. “Before we start,” she says, shuffling papers around. “There are just a couple of things I need to check. Now, you’ve bought your sperm already.”
“And are you aware that the donor has refused consent to freeze embryos?”
We look at one another. No, we were not aware of this. We’re a little lost for words.
“There are options,” she says, encouragingly.
When eggs are harvested from my body and then fertilised – hopefully becoming embryos – they will put a maximum of two back in my uterus. Any remaining viable embryos would generally be frozen. This would mean that if the IVF cycle fails and we wanted to try again, I could have an embryo or two defrosted and put back in, which is less invasive and less costly than a full IVF cycle. However, because the donor has not consented to having embryos conceived with his sperm frozen, this will not be an option for us.
She tells us we could get in touch with the sperm bank and complain that we weren’t informed of this when we purchased the sperm. She explains that it is preferable – medically speaking – for me to not go through lots of full IVF cycles, which is why they suggest embryo freezing.
But we like our donor. I mean, we’ve gone off him a bit having discovered he won’t let us freeze the embryos, but we like him. The thought of going back and trying to choose another – not to mention potentially battling with the sperm bank over whether or not we were duly informed of all pertinent information – it all felt a little bit like too much.
No doubt there will be a strong urge to kick ourselves – HARD – if the first round of IVF doesn’t work, but we felt we needed to stick with what we’ve got. Plus, having come home and looked through the literature she gave us, it doesn’t seem like we’ve lost that much: frozen embryos are far less likely to take than fresh ones and it is not that common to produce a large enough amount of viable embryos to be able to freeze some.
It knocked me for six a bit at first, but I think we’ve made the right decision and I’m not worried about it now.
I’m more worried about the fact that I could actually be pregnant in two months’ time!
She went through with us how the cycle works (which we’re fairly familiar with by now) and explained how I could choose when to start by ringing up on the first day of my next period, or the one after, or the one after… Whenever we were ready.
After the internal ultrasound which, okay, really WASN’T as bad as I’d anticipated, I casually asked whether, as I was still well before day 21 of my cycle, we might be able to start within this menstrual cycle.
She went off to check, but came back with a resounding positive. I get the impression it’s a little more rushed than what they might normally do, but because we don’t have to hang around waiting for NHS funding or prescriptions, they were happy to let us get going straight away.
I’m very excited, but feeling a little anxious now. It hit me today, particularly when she told us about not being able to freeze embryos, how awful it will feel if it doesn’t work. Emotionally and practically, it would be hard, but we’d be able to brush ourselves off and start again. It’s the financial implications that are hardest, because we want to move and are trying to save up a deposit and with the IVF costing around 3 grand a pop, it’s not going to be easy.
So keep your fingers, toes and any other body parts crossed for us.
And let’s hope the hormone medications don’t make me too crazy! (I’ve promised not to watch Deep Impact whilst taking them.)