I’m going to start by saying – I know how lucky I am to live in a country with free healthcare and the opportunity to have fertility treatments like IVF for free. However, that’s not to say the NHS is not without it’s rules and guidelines, and believe me are they strict.
Having being diagnosed with PCOS in 2014, the only positive I had been left with was the knowledge and reassurance that if I ever needed it I would be entitled to fertility help from the NHS. However, I was never told there were terms and conditions.
Late 2016 Mitch and I decided to start the gruelling process of trying for a baby, knowing it would take us an incredibly long time but that we should get the ball rolling. In January this year after realising I hadn’t had a natural period in 5 years, we agreed that I should go to the doctor to see what was going on with my body and to see if there was anything that could be done to help us. As we’d moved to a new area in November I had never met my GP before, so as she scrolled back through my previous test results I sat and filled her in on my medical history. She suddenly went silent and made some ‘hmmm’ noises while looking at her screen before eventually saying ‘I’m really sorry that no one seems to have ever told you this, but while your eggs are healthy you don’t ovulate which would pose a problem for conceiving naturally’ she then said that my best option would be IVF and that she was going to refer me to our local fertility clinic and that they would help us from there.
A few days later when I called the clinic to make my appointment the receptionist said that she’d noticed I hadn’t been asked the pre-screening questions and that we would need to run through those quickly . She also made a point of telling me that I should answer these questions honestly as I could face legal action, I thought that was a little odd and wondered what they could possibly ask me but I agreed anyway. The questions were basic and simple until … ‘Do you or your partner have any living children from this relationship or a previous one? I paused and shamefully considered lying before replying with ‘yes my partner has a son from a previous relationship who we only see two saturdays a month’ she put me on hold for what felt like an eternity before coming back and saying ‘You are not entitled to have a baby via the NHS. Your case will be closed and I will be writing to your GP to confirm this’
I’d taken a break from work and gone to my car to make that phone call and I’m so glad I did because I just fell apart. I felt like my whole world had collapsed around me and I couldn’t breathe. The one shred of hope I had held on to for the last two years had been ripped away with no warning. I phoned Mitch in tears and he had no clue how to respond either, he just kept apologising and felt he was to blame – he isn’t. A few hours later I told my friend Louise everything. She was horrified yet amazingly supportive at the same time, and has even started fundraising for our treatment. Not just our treatment though, Louise has decided to start a charity – Miracle Families. Once she’s raised the money for us, she aims to keep raising money to fund one round of IVF for couples who have been refused IVF through the NHS and I will be helping her too (I’ll leave a link at the bottom for more information)
I’ve definitely struggled to cope over the last few months. Some days I’m great, other days I’m an absolute mess, and honestly I don’t think I’m ever really going to begin to get over it but I just keep going.
The thing I have really found here is how lonely it is. Even when you tell people what’s going on, they never know how to react and end up upsetting you and insulting you while thinking they’re helping. Making you wish you’d never opened your mouth, and ultimately making you feel more lonely and ashamed than you did in the first place.
Who knows, maybe one day someone will say something and my automatic reaction wont be to cry and hide from the world. Until that day though I will remain an avid member of this amazing community, the only people who make me feel less alone.