IVF failure is more common than you think. With such a big topic, it would be impossible for me to offer advice for IVF failure in one blog post. There are so many reasons behind IVF failure and the emotions surrounding failed IVF are complex. I can only share my experience of coping with failed IVF in the hope that it helps someone else going through the same thing.
Why did IVF failure happen to us?
After my first egg retrieval, my husband and I were told that they had retrieved eleven eggs. We couldn’t believe it. We had no idea what to expect but we wrongly assumed that with eleven eggs, one of them was bound to make it. We joked about having eleven children. It just hadn’t occurred to us that none of the eggs would fertilise. We were wrong. After the egg retrieval we went home and waited for the phone call to tell us how many of our eggs had fertilised overnight. I got the call just after 9am the following day. It was utterly devastating. I remember feeling as though my legs would give way. I cannot think of another time in my life where I have felt so utterly distraught and, in a way, I am thankful that I have had such a lucky life so far to have only experienced this pain just once.
How did we share news of our IVF failure?
My husband was on the phone to a colleague upstairs and I remember barely being able to stand at the bottom of the stairs and call his name. I couldn’t speak. Looking back, I must have been in total shock. My husband came downstairs and I told him the news. He was as shocked and devastated as I was. About an hour later, I felt an overwhelming urge to tell everyone in one go that our IVF treatment had failed. We had told lots of family and friends about our treatment and I couldn’t bare the idea of having to explain to them time and time again what had happened. So I sent a text message to everyone to say it had failed and we both received cards, flowers and messages of support which was lovely. We genuinely felt like we were grieving. We were grieving the loss of our eggs and what they may have become but most of all, we were grieving the loss of hope. We were only going to do IVF once, as we were told that IVF would only be funded by the NHS once per couple, so at this point we told ourselves that we would never be parents.
How did we cope with IVF failure?
A few days later, I decided to throw myself into a fitness regime. I went to the gym every single day, running on the treadmill as though with every step I took I was running further and further away from our grief. Three weeks later I was starting to feel like my old self, I had got my body back after a few weeks of poor diet and no exercise, as well as losing the extra weight I’d gained through IVF treatment. I felt as though I was ready to move on from thinking about IVF because it was too painful to keep thinking about it. And then we had a call from our fertility specialist asking for a meeting to discuss the next steps. We had already agreed that there would be no more next steps because we couldn’t afford to pay for IVF. But we went to meet with the fertility specialist and they offered us another free round of treatment because they considered failed fertilisation to be an exceptional and rare circumstance.
So we did it – and now we have a beautiful baby boy. We still can’t believe it.
There are many reasons behind IVF failure and there are many issues to address if you experience IVF failure. For coping strategies, download How to Cope with IVF.