The rest of the week was spent in a blissfully calm and happy state. This was the first success we’d ever had with IVF (albeit minor) and for the first time in a long time, I had much to be hopeful about. I was due to return to Greece for the next part of my treatment in just a few weeks’ time. The clinic was keen to do another fresh cycle using little or no stimulation again in an attempt to get another good embryo to transfer along with our frozen one. This felt like the best chance of success we’d ever had in (almost) three years of trying.
Whilst in Athens, we were aware that cases of the novel corona virus were increasing all over the world. Greece had very few confirmed cases but we still took hand sanitiser everywhere we went and used it regularly. There were lots of people wearing face masks at both airports; Athens and Manchester, but most of Europe was still fairly relaxed about developments at this stage. Once home, things began to change at quite a rapid pace. Within one week of returning, guidelines changed from regularly washing hands whilst singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice – annoying at the best of times – to being told to avoid pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants. Yet, probably because I was in denial, I still hoped that I would be able to get back to Athens as it was so close. All that changed a few days later when it was announced that the UK would be going into ‘lockdown’, although technically, that term was never actually used. At this point, I contacted the clinic to explain that I wouldn’t be able to proceed with treatment as planned and was told that the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) had released guidance stipulating that patients should avoid becoming pregnant at this time. The clinic had cancelled all transfers and all further treatments anyway.
Though this was a huge disappointment, I was acutely aware that things could have been so much worse in terms of our own personal journey. I’d had a hysteroscopy in which a polyp and lots of tissue had been removed, both potential barriers to a natural pregnancy. So, for the first time in two and a half years, we had some hope of getting pregnant naturally. Were that to happen, I hypothesised, our frozen embryo would always be there to use for a sibling. Whilst disappointed I couldn’t return to continue treatment and have an embryo transferred for the first time, I was incredibly grateful that we’d been able to get there at all and make a start on our journey to having a baby through our new clinic.
I continued to feel this way for a week or two, sympathising more with those who had been unable to begin their treatment. It is only now that we are a few weeks into life in quarantine that some of that positivity and hope is slowly diminishing. I am worried I am baking too often and thus ruining my ‘fertility’ diet. I am worried I am drinking alcohol too often and ruining the few good eggs I may have left. I am worried about drinking the odd cup of tea when caffeine is spoken about in the same way Class A drugs might be amongst those suffering with infertility. But I cannot wait endlessly, or so it seems, without having something to keep me sane in these very strange times. I haven’t seen friends or family for months now and the thought of starting my days with wheatgrass smoothies and ending them with a handful of brazil nuts when I have no idea whether my IVF will even go ahead in 2020 seems distinctly unappealing. Plus, I am keen to see whether it is possible to cook and bake your way out of a crisis. I am certainly giving it my best shot.