Lynn Harris talks us through three gruelling rounds of IVF – from discovering her low egg count, to the ‘collection’ surgery that never yielded what she’d hope it would, almost giving up but then conceiving her now four-year-old twins Ottilie and Livia…
Lynn Harris was born and bred in the US but has been living in London for 17 years. She is mum to four-year-old twins Ottilie and Livia, and the founder of Otti & Liv – “good stuff for young twins”.
My partner and I had been trying to conceive for a few years with no luck so got checked out. It turns out I wasn’t producing very many eggs so we were referred for IVF – to begin immediately.
I’m not going to dress this up, going through IVF is emotionally distressing. Given the way it makes you obsess about your every thought, I could probably write a book on the experience. But to sum it up in some way, for me it was the ultimate life lesson in perseverance, emotional maturity and self restraint.
I totally changed my work life to avoid stress and took up the daily routine of injections. I was having regular vaginal scans by random people several times during each course, trying to forget that I had a ridiculously low statistical, almost futile, chance of actually conceiving. But these were not the most difficult things to endure.
The most difficult part was after ‘collection’ surgery, where any viable eggs that grow are collected for potential fertilisation. This is when I would sit in a post op room full of other women going through the same treatment, screened off by thin sheets. I could hear the consultant going around one by one, giving everyone the good news about how many eggs were retrieved. The more eggs collected; the a better chance of actually conceiving a baby. The average number is around 12.
I was so distraught by my paltry collection count that in the final days I almost stopped taking the drugs
I’d listen, blah blah blah, great news 14! Blah, blah, blah 10, and on and on. The consultants were always extra comforting when they delivered my news. I never had more than three or four. It was devastating. My body was not working, even under the extreme injecting and supervision. My chances of conceiving were always at the very bottom of the barrel. This would flatten me for days.
On our third and final round, I was so distraught by my paltry collection count that in the final days I almost stopped taking the drugs and started on a bottle of Prosecco. But I didn’t get far, because a good friend talked me off the ledge. And I owe her because those two seemingly insignificant eggs became Ottilie and Livia.
Even though we went through almost two years of IVF and I am the happiest I’ve ever been in life to have my miraculous girls, being a mother is HARD. It’s the relentless day-to-dayness of it, the repetition and working out how to best support and lead them at different ages without losing your mind.
Although, having twins that act and react very differently, I also realise that their born personalities are playing a huge role in determining how they react to things. This is at least a little comfort when I think I’m being a terrible mum.
Have you been through IVF? What did you find most challenging about your journey?