Michelle ' Interview 21

Age at interview: 29
Age at diagnosis: 28
Brief Outline: Michelle and her husband were given a 3% chance of getting pregnant naturally. After an unsuccessful IVF with ICSI treatment, they conceived naturally.
Background: Michelle is an insurance manager and lives with her husband (Brian - Interview 22_. Ethnic background' White British.

More about me...

Michelle and her husband started trying for a baby as soon as they were married. When nothing happened during the first year, they started to get worried. Investigations at the GP, the local NHS hospital and finally a private clinic revealed that her husband had a poor sperm count and the couple had a 3% chance of getting pregnant. Doctors advised IVF with ICSI, and they went through one unsuccessful cycle. They tried to pursue treatment privately and on the NHS, and while waiting for investigations at their local NHS hospital, they discovered they had conceived naturally. Michelle was eight months pregnant at the time of the interview. 


Michelle heard her sister-in-law only took 3 months to conceive, and she described how anxious...

And how quickly did you realise that there might be a problem?
I don’t think you realise there’s a problem until you actually have to go to the doctors and ask them. Because my sister-in-law had not long fallen pregnant with her first one. And she was like, ‘Well it only took us three months.’ I was like, ‘Oh that’s good, just the last three months’. I was like after 3 months [hammering] well I’m not pregnant. You know so I waited until six months and then I gradually started to get more impatient. Every month you wait to see what happens and it’s. I mean I only had to be two hours late and I was down the chemist for a pregnancy test. You know [laugh]. I think we were the official sponsor at one stage [laugh]. But we left it for 12 months before we went to the doctors.

Michelle found it embarrassing to see her GP with concerns about conceiving.

How did you feel about having to go and see the doctors to get pregnant in the first place? Did it bother you to have to go and have injections and investigations?
I think to start with you feel a bit embarrassed because you just take it for granted that you’re going to, it’s going to happen. And after a few months we bought books and they said that most couples it’s, you know, after twelve months. And as you, as soon as you hit thirteen months and you’re not pregnant you think well why not, have to go and tell the doctor because I think they. They’re so, what positions are we doing and how many times a week you’re having sex. 
[laugh] Yeah they were, I think there’s a bit all the temperature taking was, well it’s not embarrassing obviously when you’re at home and you’re taking your temperature. When you go back and you’ve got all these graphs and charts and it was up and it was down and then nothing seemed to come of it. It made no difference. There wasn’t. It’s not as though you sat now with an Excel spreadsheet and analysed it all. No, it was like, thanks for doing that. So why bother. You know I’d even gone from the first month with all these charts from a normal thermometer I upgraded to a digital just so I was more accurate [laugh]. 

Michelle and her husband had the money to pay for one round of ICSI privately and were devastated...

So describe to me what the treatment was like?
It. When we first went for the appointment to get all the injections and that it was really exciting and it was such a positive move. And you think well it’s finally going to happen. And you get presented with this big box of needles and you think, oh my god. And [husband] had his crash course in how to do my injections. And it was ok to start with because you go away and you’ve got your injections to think about every day and you have to have them at the right time. You can’t have them late. You’ve got to keep them in the fridge.
And then after a few days I started going black and blue with all these bruises and I was thinking it doesn’t matter. It’s going to be perfect. And you carry on with it and went back for our scan and they said, ‘Oh we expect you know, to have about ten eggs’. And I’d got five and that’s a bit of a shock. I cried a lot then in hospital. It’s not as if it’s my fault and I’d done something wrong. And they said we’ll change your dosage of your injections. 
And then going back in to have the egg collection frightened the life out of me. I’ve never been put out before and I was convinced that I would be able to feel them doing everything and I wouldn’t be able to speak. And I can remember coming around in this room. Them giving me the injection to start with thinking, that’s not going to do anything. And then hearing them say my name thinking I knew it wouldn’t work and having this pain and thinking, ‘Oh they’ve done it,’ [laugh]. That was quite painful afterwards, very, very sore and very sensitive. And then you don’t sleep because you’re waiting for the phone call next morning to hear if, you know, the eggs have taken. And then you don’t sleep the next night because they ring you every day to tell you how they’re doing. And then we had, I had them collected on the Friday and we went back in on the Monday and they said, ‘Would you like to see under the microscope?’ And it’s amazing to see them. Oh that could be our children.
So you sat and leant over a microscope and looked at them?
Yeah. And I saw them before they were put back. And they were gone. [Ha] it’s...
So how many did you have put back?
Two. We had two put back.
And then you had to go and wait two weeks?
Two weeks, two very long weeks. Before we’d had to think about the injections every day and it’s sort of, oh tomorrow I’ve got an appointment and the next I haven’t but another one after that. It was just two weeks of nothing. No appointments, just waiting. And it’s just like a lifetime.
I was all ready with our pregnancy tests and I had a show of blood the day before and at work I was just numb. And they said, oh no you’ll could still be pregnant. You just need to go home, put your feet up. Do take your pessaries.
That was a right performance. And you’ve. When they say to you it doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant, you could still be. In the morning you think, ‘I’m ok.’ And you don’t sleep and then we did two tests next morning and I can remember doing it and getting back into bed and waiting for [husband] to come back in the bedroom and tell me. And he was crying. So. I can remember having to ring my Nan. We’ve done a test Nan and it hasn’t worked’. She said, ‘Oh you don’t want to take no notice of those new tests,’ [laugh]. And she went, she meant well by it but it didn’t help.

So it was very hard. And then we just sort of laid in the bed and cuddled each other but you don’t know, you don’t know what to do, what to talk about to each other, it’s not like oh well shall we go shopping [laugh]. Oh well what do we do now? Very hard. Felt very empty. We used to go to, we ate for comfort so go somewhere nice for lunch and as soon as we walk in, see a high chair. I go, ‘I’m not staying, I’m not staying’ [laugh]. Let’s go somewhere else. So...

How long did that numbness last?

I think it was about May when we found out I was pregnant.

So a year?

Yeah. I didn’t know even when we got our letter from [hospital] to say we’d been approved for the treatment. It’s an automatic thing. You just cry. I said, I don’t know if I can face it. I don’t know if I can go through it again. You feel as if you put all your energy into picking yourself back up. I don’t know if I can. If I pick myself up again to face it. So now we’ve been so lucky you know our luck has changed. I don’t know if I could have kept going on and on. When you read all these people on different websites and they’ve six times, now it’s seven times. You think, ‘Oh where does their money come from’. So how are you strong enough to keep doing it and being knocked back again. Don’t think I could have.

Michelle was pregnant with her first child who had been conceived naturally after failed ICSI...

And what was the early pregnancy like? Were the first few weeks quite hard waiting to get to 12 weeks?
To start with I think, you know, for the first week or so it was like, oh we never thought we’d get this far. So even if, you know, I miscarried with it wrong, we knew we could do it again on our own. But then gradually after that, the first weeks, we’d been through so much already, can’t bear to think about that. And yeah it was a, a long wait to get to 12 weeks. And my mum had quite a few miscarriages herself and she had a little boy before me who died. And so she was like, we’re not going to buy anything until you’re 12 weeks. And then it was 12 weeks, I’m not going to buy anything until you’re 16 weeks. Then I’m not going to buy anything until you’re 20 weeks [laugh]. So then you know. She used to ring me every day and check out how I was and [husband] fussed over me nonstop and I milked it for all I could [laugh]. Yeah it was. 
And we had a scan at 7½ weeks because of this swelling this way just to check that it wasn’t ectopic. And we have a little scan of a picture of what looks like a baked bean. So I ever since then we referred to the baby as beany. So I’m a bit worried that that’s going to stick now [laugh]. So yeah that was, it was. We felt a bit more relaxed when we saw it was in the right place. It was 7 weeks and when you saw it at 12 it’s obviously a little person. 
Well just emotionally do you think it’s. I mean obviously you haven’t had a pregnancy before to compare it to. Do you think it has been different because of what went before?
I was a very, keen to be one of those people that wasn’t going to keep moaning that this hurt and that hurt and this ached, that ached. Whatever hurts and just be grateful that I’m pregnant. And I have been really lucky. I mean my cousin really went through it and I used to listen to her on the phone and thinking, what now, at least you’re pregnant. When I saw her and I saw the state she was in. She was on crutches and she can’t walk. I am so lucky. But you know, people keep saying. I have got this thing which is awful. I think I deserve an easy labour because I had all the problems before. I’m adamant that that’s what I’m going to have.
Those people who are like, ‘Oh we tried for a couple of months and we fell pregnant. It’s so easy and the labour had no stitches. I had no this. And I thought, well that’s not fair. She had one or the other [laugh] which is terrible [laugh]. We went for a walk about at the hospital and they showed where everything was. Went into like a dayroom and there was someone sitting in there with their baby. 
But I’m determined I’m not going to have any complications. I said to [husband], ‘At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if I push the baby out with my nose [laugh]. I have it, It’s healthy it’s all ours, that’s the main thing. 
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