Our experience with the NHS has mostly been very good. We've had appointments with friendly experts who've provided us with lots of information and our process has ticked along relatively smoothly within the timeframe we were told to expect. There have, however, been 2 quite frustrating hiccups: the first when the bloods to check my hormone levels ended up being tested for glucose levels instead (good to know but not what I was there for); the second when we learnt that my husband's semen sample had somehow - and I dread to think how - been misplaced.
Arranging a repeat of these tests was pretty annoying but, as a much-obliging recipient of NHS treatment, if I get offered a date, time and location - I make it happen. It does sometimes mean declining a meeting that I really should attend and spending the morning on the other side of town for impromptu blood tests; it does sometimes mean backing out of a business trip at the last minute and it does sometimes mean several weeks of thumb twiddling whilst waiting to hear back about the next step.
The NHS, as wonderful as it is, simply cannot be expected to provide their services around my work schedule and this is part of the fun and games I’ve learnt go hand-in-hand with their IVF package. Fertility appointments, medication and timed intercourse all need to be factored into my diary, slotted in either side of my work commitments and then cross-referenced against my menstrual cycle. I call it "fertility maths" and it’s quite a challenge....but one that I graciously accept.
In the final stages of our fertility testing, I needed four appointments to happen in the space of a month and I found it incredibly stressful. It involved a lot of diary changes, a substantial amount of grumbling and 4 awkward conversations with my boss about taking time off. Somewhere in-between the 3rd and 4th appointment, I was on a flight back to London and sat next to a lady from the US who had her leg strapped in an enormous support boot after falling down a flight of stairs and breaking it in 3 places. She explained that even though her injury happened back in The States and even though she had insurance, it still cost her $6,000 in medical bills. If she’d have heard me the week before complaining about the free treatment I’m receiving from the NHS, treatment designed to help me make a baby, she would’ve removed her boot and whacked me round the head with it.
Missing bodily fluids and one-legged Americans aside, one of the key benefits of private fertility treatment is that you can fit appointments around your schedule - to some extent. When there's no such thing as a waiting list and clinics are open for longer hours (sometimes even weekends), it's far easier to find more convenient times for your tests and procedures …as long as you can afford to pay for it. Choosing IVF with a private clinic doesn’t always guarantee better odds of making a baby and it doesn’t always guarantee a better service but what it can guarantee are shorter waiting times, a quicker turnaround for results and more flexibility to fit around your schedule.
Lauren, The Dinky Blog
Lauren - Guest Blogger
"It's taken a long time to accept that - for us - becoming parents will involve plastic cups, a bathroom full of medication and A LOT of time with my legs in stirrups - all the romantic stuff. Who knew it could be so hard?". Lauren and her husband await IVF treatment with the NHS. After 3 years trying to conceive and 2 failed rounds of IVF they both feel nervous but optimistic about their upcoming frozen embryo transfer. Lauren has been writing about their journey on her blog - The Dinky Blog - in the hopes that it will help others muddling through similar challenges to find some normality (and perhaps even humour) during a tricky and uncertain time.
The situation we are currently in is a cause of concern for everyone, but particularly those who have had to have their fertility treatments put on hold. If you are in this situation and found that to access the things that would normally help you cope is restricted, practicing positive thinking and mindfulness could help with managing any concerns or stress you are currently dealing with.
I know that this is a frustrating time for our patients who have been waiting to start treatment, but we are here to support you as much as possible during this time. Here are a few suggestions that you can do during lockdown so that you are as prepared as possible for when you begin your treatment.