When fertility treatment fails
Saskia describes how her IVF cycle for her second daughter didn't feel right through the first...
Michelle and her husband had the money to pay for one round of ICSI privately and were devastated...
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.
Catherine felt that could have done with more support after her first cycle of IVF didnt work.
Fiona described the massive toll her failed treatment had on her.
Maggie conceived naturally. But she miscarried, an experience she and her husband found devastating.
So we went to the second hospital. They examined me. The bleeding at this stage had kind of abated a good bit. And they said that because my cervix was still closed that that was actually a good sign and that it could have just been a scare. They said it, by this time it was the middle of the night and they said, “You, you may as well stay here now, you know, stay in overnight, and just go home in the morning.” We were really really lucky because there was actually a hospital bed in a little private room, and it had a chair, a reclining chair, so my husband could sleep there for the night. I got in the bed. And we did, we did actually sleep really well surprisingly. We slept, got up the next morning, there was not much blood. We had to be, I had to be checked by a GP, a doctor before I could then be discharged. And they checked me. Everything was fine. They said, “You can go home.” I got up to go to the loo and then there was this horrible rush. I’d never experienced anything like it. Just, the baby just came away, or what was there. And I remember ringing the emergency bell in the toilet and a nurse coming through and she said, “God, didn’t we tell you last night you’re supposed to use a bedpan if you go to the loo?” And I remember standing there looking down into the toilet, thinking, “That is my baby. That’s like four years to get to this stage. And you’re upbraiding me for, you know, ignoring hospital protocol.” And I remember just being devastated. And I really snapped back, “Well, you know, it was my baby. If you want, I’ll get it.” And I think then she realised, you know, how close to the edge I was, because I did really snap. And then I went home. And that was it.
Clare described her two miscarriages, one after IVF and the other after conceiving without...
When her ICSI cycle failed, Liz felt as though she was hit by a domino of grief.
For Clare, her sense of loss due to infertility is huge. She felt it was a grief that would never go away.
I mean the grief starts very early on I think, when you find out that you have to have fertility treatment. I think even before you start the infertility treatment. It’s not just kind of the grieving that we’ve done since the miscarriages. We, we haven’t had a failed cycle, and a lot of our friends have had the grief of, of going through the whole IVF cycle and getting nothing, getting to the end of it and getting a negative result. But I think even going right back to when you first find out that you have a fertility problem and you’re not going to be one of the majority that just, you know, goes to bed and makes a baby, I think there is an enormous amount of grief there in dealing with a loss of something that’s, that, you know, as I say should be so natural and so special. And I think for, particularly for the person, the part-, member of the, you know, the couple, the, the man or the woman who finds out that it’s potentially their fault is a very loaded word, but their problem that is causing that, there’s a lot of grief around that as well. I think it’s, it’s coming to terms almost with a loss. You know, it’s a loss of your ability to conceive in the way that everybody else takes for granted. And then you’ve got to come to terms with having to actually go through an IVF cycle. And then of course we had the grief of the loss of the, the children we conceived through the IVF as well. As I say we haven’t even encountered the potential loss of a cycle that comes to nothing, that is negative. And we have friends who’ve been through countless negative cycles. And the depths of loss there as well just must be horrendous, and misunderstood I think. People think, “Well, you’ve done an IVF cycle and it didn’t work. But where’s the loss?” But what they forget is that every IVF cycle creates embryos. And to, to the IVF patient those embryos are the beginnings of a baby. And even if they don’t implant, even if that cycle comes to a negative, those women and, you know, those couples still do talk, or some of them do talk about those, those lost babies, those babies that have been lost, that were never implanted, that never grew into anything, never developed into a child. But there’s still that constant sense of loss. So I think the, the loss in infertility is huge, and ongoing. It’s like a bereavement that never ends. Because as with, you know, with most bereavements, you have the bereavement, you go through very very huge depths of grief and anger and sadness, and then gradually you start to rebuild your life and start to move forward. But with infertility there isn’t that ability to move forward, because it never stops. It just goes on and on and on and on for years and years and years. And obviously at some stage it has to either come to an end in terms of, either you’re successful in completing your family, or you have to draw a line in the sand and say, “We’ve had enough and we can’t do this anymore.” But I think, either path I think you will always be left with that grief. I think even if we are successful and we do have a family, I don’t think we’ll ever really, well, we won’t ever forget what we’ve had to go through to get that family. We won’t ever forget that we’ve had all these years of our life kind of taken from us because of the infertility, and because by now we should have completed our family, we should have had at least two or three children. You know, we were planning to have a big family and we wanted them quite close together. So in four years we could easily have had, you know, I probably would have been pregnant with my third baby at this stage if everything had panned out the way it should have done. And that’s hard to come to terms with that grief. It’s hard to come to terms with the thought that all that’s gone and you can never get it back. So, yes, I think the, the loss is huge.
Sandra tended to shut herself away after a cycle failed before she felt strong enough to talk to...
Naomi was surprised how long it took her to recover from a failed cycle. She never expected...
* A delayed miscarriage (also known as a silent or missed miscarriage) is where the baby has died or failed to develop but the woman’s body has not yet miscarried the baby.
Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.