If you’re here for the running content, or follow me on IG for marathon training, I promise that regular content will resume shortly. However currently my life, and therefore my social media, is kind of dominated by IVF.
I’m sharing our whole journey on instagram because I want there to be less stigma, more acceptance around infertility. It is such a lonely place and for too long I think all that has been shared is the pregnancy announcements, the happy news. But the truth is, 1 in 7 couples deal with infertility issues. Over 55,000 couples in the UK went through IVF in 2018, and that’s not including those going through egg freezing, donor insemination.
This is something we should be talking about, we need to be talking about.
For those going through infertility, you are not alone.
IVF Diary Week 1 & Answering Your IVF Questions
Why are you doing IVF?
I have MRKH, a condition that means my uterus didn’t develop properly so I cannot get pregnant. Luckily my ovaries are fully functioning, so we’re doing IVF to create embryos to use with a surrogate.
How long from deciding to do IVF To Actually starting?
We’re paying to do our IVF privately as it is not covered on the NHS by our local area CCG (I thought that was a blanket ban on IVF for surrogacy in the UK however I’ve since found out this isn’t the case). We applied to our CCG back in July and haven’t had a response.
Going private obviously is costly, but it does mean you’re a little more in charge of when you get started. It needs to line up with your cycle, so ended up waiting 5 weeks before starting injections but it could be less/slightly more time than that. It would also depend on what tests you’d need to do to establish cause of infertility which we didn’t have to do.
You mentioned the other day that you’re hoping to use a US surrogate, why?
Yes this is the more expensive, and more difficult option, but for us the law in the US protects the intended parents (IP’s) more than in the UK. Surrogacy is legal in both countries. However, surrogacy contracts are not enforceable by law in the UK as they are in the USA.
In the USA, as IP’s we could apply for a pre-birth order which would make us the legal parents from the moment the child was born, whereas in the UK it takes up to 6 weeks for the transfer of parental rights. In the UK, the birth parents are seen as the legal parents (both the birth mother and her husband if she’s married). A UK surrogate could potentially change their mind about giving the baby to the IPs.
In the UK the birth mother is automatically named on the birth certificate, which you can later apply to have changed. However, with the pre-birth order in the US, both Tom and I would be on the birth certificate at the baby’s biological parents.
We are hopeful that the law in the UK will change in the future as it definitely makes the whole process a lot more expensive, and we would love to have a surrogate closer to home. But for our peace of mind, we’ve decided that for now, the USA works better for us.
How do you find a surrogate?
In the UK it is illegal to advertise that you are looking for a surrogate, whilst in the USA it is a whole industry. We have signed up with an agency in the US to help us find a match. (a bit like a dating service!!)
Will you go for multiples when you find a surrogate?
No, we’d just go for one embryo implant at a time. In the US the insurance and hospital costs are definitely a factor, and twins are more likely to need NICU stays. You also pay your surrogate extra for carrying twins due to the increased risk. Obviously if we had twins naturally we would be thrilled but we are only putting one embryo in!
Are you taking any supplements?
I’ve been taking Pre Natal vitamins for the past. 8 months, as well as CoQ10 and Vitamin D as recommended by our IVF clinic. I’ve cut out alcohol completely and reduced my caffeine intake.
Personally, I think you can get a bit overwhelmed with all the ‘advice’ out there. I was recommended the ‘It Starts with the Egg’ book, and mostly just listened to our personal fertility doctor for his opinion.
What medication are you taking?
I didn’t realise this before we started the process but different clinics recommend different meds. I am taking Pergoveris 200 iu injections, Dexamethasone tablets, and Fyremedal 0.25mg injections. I’ll be taking Buserilin 1ml as the trigger shot.
How long do you have to take the injections?
I started injections on Tuesday and will be taking them for 12-14 days in total, depending on when we’re ready to take the trigger shot before egg collection.
What is the cost?
Honestly, how long is a piece of string. There are definitely cheaper clinics and more expensive clinics, options for packages/multiple round discounts etc. I’ll probably do a post on the whole process at the end of our surrogacy journey of costs, but to this point our costs have been;
Per ultrasound scan – £170 (I’ve had 3 so far and 3 more booked)
Per blood test – £165 (I’ve had 3 so far, not sure how many more will be needed)
Medication – £ 1190
A top tip we were given was to check prices at Tesco and Asda as these have the lowest medication mark ups. Our fertility clinic recommended a private pharmacy in Knightsbridge which was certainly pricier. We did pay the extra to have the Pergoveris in pre-prepared pens.
We’ve also had to pay a £900 admin fee as we’re doing surrogacy. And will have to pay for egg collection, embryo testing and freezing.
Have there been any side effects from the medication?
Not yet. I have been warned that I’ll probably feel very tired, bloated and that my sleep could be impacted by the Dexamethasone medication. I would imagine I’ll also get a bit emotional/hormonal. For now I’m trying to keep on top of my mental health with exercise and reducing stress. I do find myself questioning things, and going over details at 4am, like should we be storing all our embryos in the US vs keeping some in the UK in case the law changes.
I’ve got two weeks off work which has worked out perfectly, and reduces my stress of Covid exposure on the wards. That was a major source of worry. We don’t have insurance on our medication/scans so if I contracted Covid during this process, we’d have to stop and start again completely when I tested negative!
Week 1 IVF Diary
I went for a blood test to check my FSH, Oestrogen, LH and Progesterone levels. I’d had them done the week before and they were too high to start injections, but this week they were just right. I had the call from the clinic to give the go-ahead to begin injections the following day.
Tom and I also had our FDA (Food and Drug Administration) medicals with a private doctor to enable us to be able to transfer our embryos to the USA when they’re ready. Another £700+ for them to ask a few very basic questions.
I started my first injection, thankful for tips from friends that have been through egg freezing/IVF to numb the area first. I got up at 6am to give myself the Pergoveris and take the Dexamethasone before a 2 mile easy run with a friend. The first injection I realised I hadn’t actually pushed the pen in far enough so instead of giving myself a 200 iu dose, I’d only injected 37.5 iu so had to do the injection again!
No side effects yet, although I felt like I was second guessing it all day! Had dry needling, cupping and some phyio for pain relief in my neck/back and head which felt great. Slept like a log.
More early morning injections and pills before work. Took a Peloton spin class after work, keeping it VERY easy and going with the lower end of the. recommended resistance. I was feeling pretty tired but I didn’t know if that was due work, medication or general pandemic life. Also feeling SO thirsty… I think I drank 3 litres of water plus tea, coffee and a smoothie.
Morning injections and 2 and a bit mile run/walk. No side effects or issues this morning, thankfully (other than still super thirsty)!
First scan to check the progress of the medication and follicle growth. I was supposed to have an 8am scan but wasn’t actually seen until 8.30. Luckily the scan was quick and I didn’t need a blood test. The scan showed that I had 21 follicles which our doctor said was better than average! (check out my Reel on our first STIMs scan)
I also had the go ahead to start the extra daily injections (Fyremedal) that morning which meant Tom had to do an emergency drug drop off at work and I had to take the injection in the hospital bathroom. I’d been warned that these needles were quite blunt and would need some force to inject it. The Fyremedal was a little painful, and stung a little but quickly wore off. And icing the local area was key!
No exercise after staying very late at work to get everything done!
Injections were less smooth this morning, I gave myself 200 iu of Pergoveris but the pen stopped pushing with 37.5 iu still to go. I re-injected but it seems the pen was empty, so I gave 37,5 iu from the new pen then the Fyremedal (which took two attempts to inject). All in all, four injections.
Slept terribly the previous night so had an afternoon nap and felt a lot better! Took an easy Peloton spin class, dog walk and very easy run/walk class led by my friend Heather on iFit!
Let me know if you have any other questions – I’m happy to be as open as possible about this because I know it’s not something that everyone feels comfortable enough to share/ask about! I’ll be continuing to share daily updates on my instagram – give me a follow there if you don’t already!
Love how open you are about this! I have PCOS and while I was able to eventually have 2 little girls, there were a lot of tests and medications along the way. Hoping all the best for you and that you find a surrogate who is a great match for you guys!!
The very best of good luck. G
Awesome thank you for your insight
Good luck. But does that mean the Boston Project is no longer happening?
Boston Project is definitely still happening!
Fifty Five thousand IVF individuals/couples in the UK in 2018!
I received a very quick reply from the CCG here. It was a short and sharp letter but my circumstances are very different to yours. Giving you my best wishes for the support you need from your CCG.
I’m curious as to why surrogacy involves the same process as adoption. Is this one and the same, generally? If I were to be a surrogate then I feel like I would have absolutely no bond with the pregnancy and unborn child at all. Nobody gives away children to Social Services on the basis of ’emotional surrogacy’.
Sending my best.
Thanks for sharing your experience Charlie! Best of luck with your surrogacy journey.