Me and Nat, my wife, are expecting our first baby in a couple of months. We conceived via IUI and this is our journey. It took 387 days to get our first positive pregnancy test, I still remember it like yesterday.
The Process and Prices
Our journey started with a doctors appointment at which the doctor was so lovely and got us booked in for all the tests ready for an NHS fertility referral. Although the first doctor I saw did actually tell me to “google it”. We decided to look into private and NHS simultaneously. The private clinic we saw did lots of initial tests and revealed I have a lot fewer eggs than most women and an unusual shaped womb meaning I couldn’t share my eggs and therefore would have to pay full price, around £3000 for IUI (inserting sperm) and £12000 for IVF (fertilising the egg outside the womb and then reinserting it). Obviously a bit of a shock and not something we could really afford so private was out the window.
The NHS had longer waiting times (about 3 months referral and 3 months for all the pre tests) but it’s a lot cheaper £1200 per IUI and £1700 for induced IUI (extra stimulating drugs to release more eggs) after 6 failed attempts you get one free round of IVF. I really didn’t enjoy the journey it really felt like we were being judged at the start, having to be a certain weight, living a healthy lifestyle and counselling to check we were ready to be parents. The treatments weren’t fun either due to my weird shaped womb it took 3 women 45 minutes poking around to get to my cervix, my thought process was it can’t be worse than childbirth!
Overall it took:
- 10 blood tests
- 20 cycle stimulating injections
- 26 internal ultrasounds
- 5 IUI attempts
Choosing a Donor
I was so against choosing a donor, I didn’t want to tailor the characteristics of my baby and would have been happy with whoever they were, regardless of skin, hair or eye colour. The NHS like to match the donor to the parents so we got the choice of three with similar characteristics. We know the donor's ethnicity, hair colour, eye colour, sexuality, build, height and blood type.
Our donor will remain anonymous until our child is 18 when they can choose to find out their name and address (at the time of donation unless they update it). Some donors leave a letter to explain why they donated which I think is a lovely idea.
We chose not to reserve sperm for the next child so that they’re genetically siblings. It didn’t seem important to us, and we thought if one child wanted to know the donor's details and the other didn’t we didn’t want to cause any animosity between them.
The Emotional Side
It’s been one of the toughest times of my life and I’m really debating whether I can go through the whole process again, it will likely be Nat getting pregnant next time if we do have another one though. Every attempt you have two weeks to find out if it’s been successful and every time I got my period it broke my heart a little. I started getting obsessed and stressed which meant the treatment was less likely to work. I had to stop playing rugby regularly in case I was pregnant and sport was my biggest calming mechanism and it all got really overwhelming at times. Every time we saw a pregnancy announcement or baby clothes it brought back the sadness. The worst was when family members or friends would remark about us not being pregnant yet, we weren’t very open about our journey at the time and whilst I knew people didn’t understand it was still so hard to hear. Towards the fifth attempt I started to prepare myself for the fact I might not be able to have children. Luckily I had my wife to get me through it all even when she was hurting too.
Within a year I went from all the excitement of wanting a baby to being told it was now or never at 23 years old as I’ve got fertility problems to then five failed attempts of IUI, needing extra stimulating drugs and finally getting the good news. Now I’ve had 7 months of stressing that something awful will happen during pregnancy and I’m sure I’ll worry all the time when they’re out but so far everything has gone well and I’m so impatient to meet the newest little pickle.