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After four failed rounds of IUI – intrauterine insemination, (two of those pre fibroid removal and one post, plus somewhere in the mix one round was abandoned due to me being sick with a tummy bug) my fertility consultant decided to recommend IVF/ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. ICSI is a process where the best quality individual sperm are selected and physically injected into the egg in the laboratory. This is after the egg collection process of course. Thus, requiring far fewer motile swimmers. ICSI was recommended due to my donor sperm having trouble thawing and keeping the number of motile sperm the clinic deem “ideal” for the IUI process. The initial test results of my donor sperm did not flag any low motility during the analysis process, so this was an unexpected complication. 

IUI – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/artificial-insemination/

IVF/ICSI – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ivf/what-happens/

The clinics are very thorough with their pre-treatment information videos they insist you sit through prior to agreeing to anything. However, the risk of sperm not thawing to meet their ideal motile numbers was not explained to me. Needless to say, it was quite a shock going from being initially told how they split one donor sample into three, four sometimes six, seven straws, to then being advised they need to thaw all 7 straws to reach the motile numbers required on the morning of my intrauterine insemination appointment. 

In retrospect, although I am glad the fibroid was removed, I wish I had just started with IVF/ICSI. Basically because IUI really feels like a shot in the dark. The timing of everything for IUI really does need to be SO precise. It is a shame to risk beating yourself up if it does not work when really, the stars just weren’t aligned at that moment. These experiences evidentially add to the flood of negative stories on social media to keep the newbie fertility journey moms awake at night.

Here’s a link to a short piece I wrote on some positive points about the fertility treatment in an effort to balance those out – https://thenurseryrhymes.co.uk/2023/02/15/the-fertility-treatment-journey-of-a-single-mum/

IVF/ISCI was a first-time success for me after all that, with only five eggs collected and three fertilising. Compared to my research online, seeing women have twelve eggs collected and half of them fertilising, my five felt a little hopeless but I remained positive. “Quality not quantity” I reassured myself! They all went off to be fertilised and the next day I was advised three had been successful and would be incubated for a few days before embryo transfer.  

Embryo transfer day soon came around and was a very quick procedure. Much like IUI. Due to the grade of the embryos on the day and my age, the consultant recommended transferring two out of the three embryos. I then had one left for freezing. The following two week wait before I could take a pregnancy test felt like a lifetime. All I could do was stay busy, fill my diary and focus on looking after myself, eating well and thinking positively.

I did get the positive pregnancy test I was praying for. I just couldn’t wait until morning, as per the advice on the pregnancy test packet, so I took a test in the middle of the night. Well waking up at 4a.m. desperate for a wee felt like an appropriate time to me! It’s just that being single this risked not having anyone to console me if it was a negative result or celebrate with when it turned out positive. After 2 minutes of leaning on the sink looking at myself in the bathroom mirror debating whether or not I would go through all that again if it was a negative test?  could I find another £12,000?  the timer beeped and I was very happy to see it was a positive result.  Luckily, I remembered my best friend was staying on the other side of the world and so was able to share my excitement with someone who was awake at that time.