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episode OUTLINES

Episode 1 - Where do you start on the Infertility Journey? And who do you go with?

Well we started at The Fertility Show in London.  This episode looks at how that microcosm of weird and wacky practices, hospitals touting for your business and awkward couples summed up the next five years. A rundown of what to expect from a male perspective and how it all starts with a discussion around your desire to have children and timetable.

 

  • Facts and  Figures on the chance of success of IVF and getting pregnant

  • Working out who is top of league of Fertility hospitals via the HFEA.

  • Some practical tips for the start of the  Fertility journey from a male perspective.

Episode 2 - First consultation and great expectations.

What to expect in that first fertility consultation and how to make your choice of hospital for IVF Treatment.  Working through the pricing, your  budget and choices.  Most importantly  how you and your partner are going to get through this together?   Oh and why no one was interested in my super fertile 70 year old grandfather when they take your medical history.

 

  • Your role as a partner in the consultation.

  • Some practical  tips on how to get the best out of the consultation

  • First introduction to Dr Alison Taylor who saw us successfully through the next four years

Episode 3 - Test Test Tests  THE MOT and sample jar

Handling awkward questions in that fertility consultation. A look at when the infertility spotlight turns on the man and how that feels. That moment when you mentally go through your sexual and relationship history and realise it needs to be public.

 

Preparing yourself for that wonderful first sperm test.  The lowdown on what tests to expect, what the results are  and how to handle them. A great discussion about male infertility and the workarounds.

 

  • Facts about male infertility (Fact or Fiction)

  • How to understand your sperm test result.

  • An introduction to Dr James Nicopoullos, Clinical Director and specialist in Male Infertility

Episode 4 - Fertility Bingo and Roulette with our life savings

Relationship advice on how to  manage that “Cost of IVF treatment” conversation.  Balancing the probabilities and uncertainty of fertility treatment with the cost. A look at what are the different types of fertility treatments. Some practical money saving tips from our expert  Dr Alison Taylor.  

  • How to manage the cost of fertility treatment

  • The Glastonbury headliners of IVF

  • What exactly is ICSI IVF?

  • Money saving Tips from our expert  Dr Alison Taylor

  • The gamble of focusing on a  baby and how much to spend

 

Episode 5 - Needles and bruises. Our first fertility treatment

So we commence with the IVF/ICSI  treatment cycle number 1 and I’m trying to work out what my role is, as well as grappling with handing over £400+ for a round of fertility drugs. I also outline the five mistakes that you can make when injecting your partner with a syringe.

We meet Liz Own  the  Lister hospital sonographer (Ultrasound scanning) and ask what the hell you are meant to be looking out for on those first IVF scans. Finally we look at why we ended up at A&E rather than the  Fertility clinic before we even got started.

  • Pharmacy tips and tricks to reduce the cost

  • Acting in solidarity with your partner and feeling useless

  • Tips on administering injections for fertility treatment

  • What is ovarium hyperstimulation?

 

Episode 6 - Egg Collection and fertilisation - hopefully

So we’re at the point in our IVF journey on Egg Collection day, there is a nervous wait as the female goes  under anaesthetic, the man normally gets the call to do his  bit  and you anxiously wait. This is our story.   How many eggs if any will they collect? Will they fertilise? Will they survive and reach blastocyst  stage? Will we go through to the next stage? It's like x factor but even worse.

We meet one of the  Embryologists who are so important in this process.  Can we make it through to the next stage?

  • Facts about ICSI - how it works

  • The male partners role on Egg Collection day.

  • A chat with our embryologist Emma Whitney, Lister Hospital and ask the questions I wish I had asked at the time

  • What happens under the laboratory lights during fertilisation.

 

Episode 7 - Embryo Transfer and Hope

As first timers, we couldn’t be anything but hopeful on our first Embryo Transfer day. I talk about the process of our blastocyst being transferred and how it can all seem overwhelming and confusing - especially when you’re looking at the screen and the doctor is asking  “Can you see it?” (No is the answer, but I say yes anyway.)

It's not a straightforward stats game but I get an expert to help us make sense of the numbers as we begin the anxious 10 day wait for positive news.

  • Expert explanation of what a Blastocyst actually is, what the quality coding means and what the chances are of success  from Emma Whitney, Embryologist.

  • Day by day what happens up to the Embryo Transfer and then the longest 10 days wait of our lives.

  • What's it like working on 20,000 transfers. A chat with Sonia Fuentes Lorente our ultra positive Embryo transplant nurse.

  •  The difficult decisions - 1 or 2 blastocysts and why defrosting an embryo is  possibly quicker than turning it round to three in the microwave. 

Episode 8 - Needles and bruises, endless IVF cycles (sustaining hope and routines)

Onto another attempt after a negative pregnancy, we fast forward through 3 years and countless rounds and embryos, it feels like an endless cycle.  How do you sustain hope when your results and biological clock are heading in the wrong direction?  In IVF what are the  further tests to rule out other issues and what we tried to improve results (Genetic testing, Sperm DNA fragmentation test, Endometrial Scratch, supplements) Expert advise on what  can help improve your  chances. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Dr Alison Taylor talks through the importance of the Sperm DNA fragmentation Test and explains about sperm damage.

  • Emma Whitney the Lister Hospital  Embryologist outlines when is the right time for Genetic  Embryo testing.

  • Fact check on the effects of age on your sperm and nutrients.

  • Sustaining hope with constant bad news.

  • Tips on deciding when enough is enough.

  • Celebrating light at the end of the tunnel with a cup of tea.

Episode 9 - Loss - A male perspective on miscarriage

You have to have something in the first place to lose it, and that in a way is crueller.

This episode discusses a  difficult topic - loss. Nothing can prepare you for the  pain of a miscarriage, but it is important to remain as a team at this time. Whether you feel strong or not, you’re in it together and the support of each other is vital.

But here's the but. There’s not much written on this subject  from a male perspective and it can be a difficult burden for the partner when you don't have the physical pain .  I talk about how to let yourself grieve and giving yourself time to accept. I'm also joined by a counsellor at The Lister Hospital who provides some practical advice.

Facts and figures.

  • Dealing with mental pain as well as physical.

  • How to break the news to your family and cope with work.

  • How to move on and think about the next stage in your fertility journey as a couple.

  • How to mark your loss in a way that means something to you. 

Episode 10 - What’s the alternative?

This episode discusses alternatives during fertility treatment. Adoption, sperm  and egg donation - anything that may give us the family we so desire. The reality of this can be difficult, and there are a huge amount of emotions. At this point it’s easy to blame each other, but the blame game is a game no one wins.

Once more we found that that the decision making process is a difficult one with complicated legal or ethical issues.  

  • List of  the alternatives and some facts on success rates.

  • A discussion with Zoe Townsend, Counsellor at The Lister Hospital on the moral and legal considerations.

  • How to decided when it is time to give up, take an alternative or when to stay determined. 

  • A shout out to the excellent Conception Donor Network.

 

Episode 11 -  Superstitions, diets and belief in anything

We tried everything. Wacky diets, rituals, natural remedies, strange looking herbs.  Some things for 2 days, some things for 5 years, will we ever know what made the difference?

I delve deep into the hit, misses and maybe we found throughout the process - and look at what did and didn’t work for us.  We talk to a Reflexologist and the Doctors at the Lister Hospital to get their take on alternative approach.

This includes:

  • Ways to reduce stress 

  • Drink and nutrition

  • Reflexology at Soma Therapies in North London

  • Supplements, herbs and vitamins

  • Alternative therapy

  • Keeping a positive mindset

  • And just doing your best.

Episode 12 - The last throw of the dice

What do you do when you think that you are at the end of the Fertility Road and you have one last throw of the dice?  In this episode Trish and I took the hard decision to put our fertility treatment on hold and recharge our batteries. We had one "good" embryo and we put it in the freezer.   We get married, come back and go again but nothing goes according to plan. We were running out of time and cash, but remember "It only takes one."

  • How do you decide when enough is enough or when to carry on?

  • Reflections from Dr Alison Taylor on tough conversations and miracles

  • Top Tips for Embryo Transfer day.

  • Managing expectations with your best mate and family. 

  • What does a pregnancy test actually measure?

 

Episode 13 - Is everything Rosie!?

The story is not quite over as Episode 13 starts. But, after another set back we  finally get the news we have been waiting for and  we are let out into the big wide world! It came as a shock leaving the  Lister clinic to go and  deal with the normal pregnancy dramas that others go through and there are still lessons to be learned.  This isn't a 9 month journey this is a six years 9 month journey and there is a lot of anxiety and pressure that goes with "Being pregnant after fertility treatment." 

The final episode tells the last chapter in our story and the miracle that is now our daughter Rosie. I talk through some tips on how to get you through this final exciting, but stressful stage.  

 

 

  • The importance of hope and never giving up

  • Facts around bleeding in pregnancy

  • What to do if you are still on your own personal journey

  • A bonus montage right at the end. Keep listening!

 

 


A shout out to all those that made this journey and podcast possible

Thank you for listening , this has been series 1 of IVFDAD, stay healthy , stay positive and remember, it only takes one.