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Nicole the Fertile Chick: Opting For Assisted Reproduction

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Opting for assisted reproduction was not an easy decision for me. I absolutely did not want to even consider anything like that, as I was convinced I was well and fully able to conceive a child, without any medical intervention. It took me almost 30 cycles to finally decide to go the assisted route, and this was because I had well and truly had enough.

Basically, I had reached the end of my tolerance limit. I had cracked, broken, call it whatever, I had gotten there. In my case, considering that I did have one functional tube, with decent ovarian function, I probably could have kept trying for longer and could possibly have gotten pregnant naturally….eventually. But with age 34 knocking, and almost 3 years of mechanical sex and countless heartbreaks later, I knew I could not go one further cycle on my own. So, that fateful cycle, as soon as my period came, after having one final cry, I scheduled an appointment with the first of many fertility clinics, and never looked back.

It could be a function of faith, individual tolerance level, or maybe even plain laziness. Whatever the deciding factor, it differs from couple to couple. I know a couple that started speaking with a fertility specialist 6 weeks after their wedding. They had actively been trying before they got married, so by the time of their wedding, they already had a red flag. I also know couples still dragging their feet after almost 10 years of trying. To some of the couples in the latter category, the acronyms IVF and IUI are foul curse words not to be even considered.

There are some couples whose religious beliefs prohibit such options. Frankly, I’m a firm believer in our God being a miracle working one. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. I know of so many couples that have conceived, naturally, when medical science seemed to conclude otherwise. A friend’s friend was able to conceive even after a botched appendicitis surgery destroyed almost all of one ovary, and left the other very damaged. She had just about resigned herself to fate when she got pregnant, seven years later. Yep, God still is in the business of performing miracles. That said, I also believe it is this same God that has blessed us mankind with the science of assisted reproduction. So opting for assistance is not a cop-out on one’s faith, but just trusting God to carry you through another route. If medical interventions like chemotherapy are readily acceptable for cancer treatment, I don’t see why there should be a different point of view for fertility treatments. I am Roman Catholic, and IVF is not a particularly happy topic in our fold. But as my hubby and I were not going to be destroying any of our embryos (the remaining of which are being kept frozen till we are ready), I was able to convince my very Catholic parents that it was a worth a go. And we’re all glad we took the chance.

For some other couples, it is not about religion. They just cannot fathom the idea of the process. I had a discussion with a friend the other day, and her jaw literally dropped to the floor when I started talking about the injections, and how I had to have my eggs harvested. She just could not comprehend! For her, it would be a far less harrowing experience to continue trying naturally, than to subject herself to the Dr-Who sounding shenanigans. However, couples that fall in this category soon come around, usually when their elastic limit breaks, and they have reached their own tolerance limit. You see, when a couple gets to this limit, even if it means getting on a spaceship and flying to Planet Mars to get their baby, they’ll do it. Okay, I kid. But you get my drift.

However, the most common deciding factor, unfortunately, is finance. A lot of the assisted reproduction chatter is amongst women who fall in the middle to upper class of society, for whom the typical pricing for such treatments (ranging from N100,000 and upwards, for IUI, and from about N1 million for IVF) is within reach. But infertility also afflicts the lower income members of our society, many of such couples have also been trying for a baby for years, and would like to be given the chance to decide whether or not to go for assisted reproduction. But, unfortunately, this is choice is out of their hands. It is heartbreaking to know that there are options, but that these options are not within one’s reach. One day soon, I would like to reach out and help women in this situation, as I think we should all be given a fair chance. The decision of whether to opt for assisted reproduction or not, is not one that should be made for you, least of all by such factors as finance.

In my opinion, these are the questions you need to ask yourself before considering assisted reproduction:

Am I ready for it?
You need to have arrived at that place where you are certain it is the right option for you, and not via any means of coercion. If you are not mentally bought into the idea, it is best to wait until such a time that you are.

Am I physically ready for it?
Apart from the necessary testing (HIV, Hepatitis, hormonal function, semen analysis, etc.), you need to ensure that your body is in a good physical condition to endure assisted reproduction. It is usually best to eat healthy and ramp up your exercise routine, to ensure that you are in good shape for this, sometimes, physically grueling journey.

Am I emotionally ready?
The truth of the matter is that assisted reproduction, IVF particularly, is not for the faint hearted. Before embarking on it, it is IMPERATIVE that you realize that success is not guaranteed. Odds are high that it might fail. It is critical to prepare for this possibility, as IUI/IVF failures can be particularly devastating. This is understandable, considering it is such an incredible build up, starting sometimes 6 clear weeks before the actual procedure, and culminating in a pregnancy test that could end up positive, or negative. Even though one should not plan for failure, one must be prepared for it. Expectations need to be managed. Also, the drug administration process can be just as emotionally tasking, involving self injecting, vaginal scans, etc. It is critical to be ready for about 2 to 6 weeks of shots, or even longer. If you are not sure you can scale this hurdle, it is perhaps best to wait until you can.

Am I financially ready?
Yep, finance again. Unfortunately, it is the cold reality. To be able to make this decision, we need to be true to ourselves and answer this question honestly. Before deciding on assisted reproduction, especially IVF, you need to be sure you can afford the procedure, from start to finish. I would suggest having enough funds for at least 2 cycles, so that if the 1st cycle fails, there will not be too much of a gap before the next fresh cycle, or a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). And even in the event of a successful cycle, you have to be sure to have enough funds to cover pregnancy related medical costs, childbirth, and child care. So yeah, you need to be financially ready.

If these questions can be honestly answered, and you, as a couple, have addressed any personal reservations you might have, you are well and truly ready to walk into your preferred fertility clinic to discuss your options.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

22 Comments

  1. Percy

    December 15, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Fertility! Hmmm I remember when I was TTC,the hustle was real! How I turned to a crazy vegetarian:yes eating or blending fresh brocolli,ugu,celery…the folic acid,I even went to National Hospital here in abuja to inquire if they do IVF because we didn’t have much for all those fertility clinics in Abj…..to God alone be the glory I am jst a few weeks to delivery. So I have this family inlaw that is TTC too for 3+yrs now,yes she Wants kids but I don’t knw if its ignorance or something else. You dare not adivce her oo na trouble they wll call family meeting untop ya head.I can’t even direct her to this page or talk about eating healthy,living healthy and her choices in regard to infertility/fertility. And she can even afford IVF. I feel bad for her knowing that her suposed inlaws and her husband are already talking behnd her. Its well! Sorry for my long comment#wink

    • zee

      December 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

      hi pls what did you do?my elder sis in abj and its been 10 yrs.i want to give her a great birthday present next yr and this is what i have in mind…assisted reproduction.pls reply me thanks.

  2. Nefertiti

    December 15, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Thank you Nicole. Please can u write up something for cases where love was denied bcos of genotype issues? And what are the possible solutions in this regard?

    • Anonymous

      December 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      In my opinion, there is nothing like love when it comes to genotype!! Don’t try it please. Just perish the thought!
      I have sickle cell anaemia and I wouldn’t advise anyone to bring kids into this world to go through such horror. The pain when you have a crisis cannot even be compared to childbirth! I can tell you authoritatively cos I have experienced both and when I was in labour, i actually slept off cos to me the pain wasn’t so bad compared to the crisis I usually go thorough. The pain is so bad, when I was younger, i used to ask God to take me away just to stop the pain. I would cry and hold myself hard, take as many painkillers as i could and even overdose just to stop the pain. And forget that story they tell you guys that you can outgrow it once you reach the age of 21, na lie!!! Big fat lie!! You never ever outgrow it. I’m in my forties so I know.
      Sickle cell anaemia also affects your academics. Imagine having crisis when you are about to have an exam, and our educational system in Nigeria doesn’t give room for deferment of exams ( U miss it, u fail It!). A lot of people with sickle cell anaemia end up making Third Class. Not because they aren’t brilliant, but because illness gets in the way of their studies. What about the disappointments from the opposite sex? You tell them you have the ailment and they take off like Ussein Bolt! Or you actually meet one who feels He’s God’s gift to you so you should worship him for dating you despite your baggage! Babe don’t get me started on this topic!!
      Finally let me address this issue from the point of view of a parent. Will you be ready to watch your child go thorough such excruciating pain and be helpless to do anything about it? are you ready to spend money you may have saved up for getting yourself something nice like a car, to take care of hospital bills which may come up at any time, unannounced? Are you ready to hear your kids ask you why you decided to go ahead and marry knowing your genotype could have this outcome?? Finally, are you ready for the possibility of losing that child due to complications arising from poorly managed crisis?
      I know there is a way to test your baby’s genotype before they are born but how many babies are you ready to flush out .
      I have 2 kids and none of them are SS. You cant imagine the joy it gives me to watch them play, swim and carry on normally without having to worry about one more illness. i cant stop them from getting other illnesses but I can prevent this and i have.

      Nicole, I’m really sorry I veered off this topic but I just had to chip in my bit(?).
      Thanks.

    • The K

      December 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Wow! More grace to you. I like how objectively you have come across, painting a picture of the most probable situations that could face families/children with sickle cell anaemia. I just wish Nigerians can ask themselves important questions and answer honestly, paying little or no attention to the pressures that come from various sources, making them throw caution to the wind. God bless you!

  3. Anonymous

    December 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Let me quickly answer your question before BN finds the time to do a writeup on this.
    In my opinion, there is nothing like love when it comes to genotype!! Don’t try it please. Just perish the thought!
    I have sickle cell anaemia and I wouldn’t advise anyone to bring kids into this world to go through such horror. The pain when you have a crisis cannot even be compared to childbirth! I can tell you authoritatively cos I have experienced both and when I was in labour, i actually slept off cos to me the pain wasn’t so bad compared to the crisis I usually go thorough. The pain is so bad, when I was younger, i used to ask God to take me away just to stop the pain. I would cry and hold myself hard, take as many painkillers as i could and even overdose just to stop the pain. And forget that story they tell you guys that you can outgrow it once you reach the age of 21, na lie!!! Big fat lie!! You never ever outgrow it. I’m in my forties so I know.
    Sickle cell anaemia also affects your academics. Imagine having crisis when you are about to have an exam, and our educational system in Nigeria doesn’t give room for deferment of exams ( U miss it, u fail It!). A lot of people with sickle cell anaemia end up making Third Class. Not because they aren’t brilliant, but because illness gets in the way of their studies. What about the disappointments from the opposite sex? You tell them you have the ailment and they take off like Ussein Bolt! Or you actually meet one who feels He’s God’s gift to you so you should worship him for dating you despite your baggage! Babe don’t get me started on this topic!!
    Finally let me address this issue from the point of view of a parent. Will you be ready to watch your child go thorough such excruciating pain and be helpless to do anything about it? are you ready to spend money you may have saved up for getting yourself something nice like a car, to take care of hospital bills which may come up at any time, unannounced? Are you ready to hear your kids ask you why you decided to go ahead and marry knowing your genotype could have this outcome?? Finally, are you ready for the possibility of losing that child due to complications arising from poorly managed crisis?
    I know there is a way to test your baby’s genotype before they are born but how many babies are you ready to flush out .
    I have 2 kids and none of them are SS. You cant imagine the joy it gives me to watch them play, swim and carry on normally without having to worry about one more illness. i cant stop them from getting other illnesses but I can prevent this and i have.

    Nicole, I’m really sorry I veered off this topic but I just had to chip in my bit(?).
    Thanks.

    • Nefertiti

      December 15, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you so much for this write up. You have written from an experience you wouldn’t wish for anyone. But I read that IVF is an option that can used to identify SS and would be discarded. And only the viable eggs will be transferred to the Uterus or frozen for the future…

    • Anonymous

      December 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      I have never bee through an IVF procedure so I really don’t know how well it works in this regard. If it works, then that is just splendid. It would help reduce the number of people born with Sickle cell anaemia.

    • Blackbeauty

      December 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      A million hugs dear.

    • Anonymous

      December 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks dear.

  4. Nicole

    December 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Nefertiti, Anonymous hit the nail squarely on the head (thanks, Anonymous :-)).

    While it is true that one can use IVF to select non-sickle cell embryos to transfer, I personally am against having to destroy embryos for any reason at all. It’s just my own personal belief, which I’m not trying to impose on anyone. If you can live with that, then I guess you could consider it an option.

    I am also a carrier of the sickle cell gene, and was in a long-term relationship with another carrier for years. We were even engaged at a point, even though some members of both our families were not in support at all. There was no solution we did not look for, nothing we didn’t investigate. In the end, we even decided to try the IVF option, and even considered the pre-natal genotype screening as well….both of which would have ended with embryos/foetus being destroyed/terminated. In the end, the relationship didn’t work (in addition to genotype issues, he was also a playboy….bad combination….lol). Now, I look back and I am always overwhelmed with relief over not having to go through that kind of hell on earth! I am grateful that God eventually blessed me with the man who was my TRUE match!

    I’m sorry, it might not be want you want to hear. Sending you huge cyber hugs!!!

    • Anonymous

      December 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Nicole.

  5. Emma

    December 16, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I am not married, still single but i always look forward to your topic( the wealth of knowledge)
    God bless you for the information & sharing your story.

    @ Anonymous, thanks ma.
    i have a family friend that was lied to by his wife(she connived with her Doctors, & i guess he was blinded by love too) that she was AA.

    • Anonymous

      December 16, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Lying is not even worth it. I told myself I would never lie to anyone about my Genotype and Thank God I didn’t have to

  6. .....

    December 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Haven been married for almost 3years and not been a able to conceive naturally, I am beginning to consider IVF, but the main issue now is Money, even if I am able to save up(in 6months) for the procedure, the fear of it failing and having to try again is the wahala. Do I start to save all over again. It is well!

    • Nicole

      December 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      It is well, December! God is your strength. I don’t want to to sugar coat things for you, but there are a number of people that have recorded successes with the first try. I know quite a few, even though I was lucky with my 2nd try. Good luck dear!

  7. temitops

    December 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Truth be told!
    Been TTC is d worst situation any woman can eva find herself in ‘my opinion though’ for me it wasn’t funny atal, my dh totally kicked against d idea of IVF, while still throwing it @ my face everytime abt Hw he’s ok n how I was d one dat had problems cos I’ve had a history of PCOS, my inlaws too kept reminding me of how so many ladies concieve at d first trial n dat I should just go and confess my sins n all. Anyway I resorted to taking supplements like royal jelly etc not forgetting d part of PRAYERS + my mum became my best frend @ dat point.. alas I got preggy n expecting my second baby within 2 years… Sorry 4 digressing.
    Just wanted to say dat IVF was not an option 4 den cos dh was not in support of it

  8. bb

    December 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    dear nicole,

    pls wats the best hospital in lagos, u can suggest for ivf, infact which one did u use,plssss

    • Nicole

      December 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Hi bb. You can shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

  9. Ajicarl

    December 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I apologise for throwing this discourse way out of its path. But what is TTC, PCOS? Some of these acronyms are so aggravating *pullshair* when you really want to follow an article. Answers anyone?

    • Nicole

      December 17, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      LOL! Sorry about that Ajicart. TTC means Trying To Conceive, and PCOS refers to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (a condition that can affect a woman’s hormone levels, periods, and ovulation). I hope this helps?

    • Ajicarl

      December 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Nicole. Really puts things in perspective.

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