It turns out it really is a rollercoaster ride.

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So, I had a friend a while back who was going through IVF treatment. She’d had trouble having kids, and I understand now from a distance of many miles and little contact that eventually it was successful. It always seemed like an incredibly fraught process, one with infinite possibilities to make one suffer and a required the provision of a cornucopia of hugs from friends and colleagues.

But as we start out down this pathway to child-having, I am in awe of how quickly we have entered the phase of emotions swinging from wildly positive to wildly negative.

We went, tonight, to an open evening at a Fertility Clinic. Whyfor? We’ve already been to another clinic, indeed have handed over piles of cash to them. Well, when we first turned up we were already set on the most basic course of treatment we can get in the UK, and we were upsold, as it were, to a low-drug-dose form of IVI. On Monday we’d girded our loins, and prepared ourselves for the ‘big moment’ (phone) appointment, with a phone call to say “Yes, that’s what we’d like to do”. My card was prepped for payment, just in case, and we were all set for action.

And before it started it went downhill. Yet again, they were late ringing us, and failed to tell us that they’d be late. The person we spoke to when we rang them didn’t apologise. Bear in mind that last time they forgot to ring us at all, and failed to apologise at all for not ringing us. This time, however, they said ‘Oh, she’s been on another call, and is just about to ring you’. 15 minutes later they rang us back. Well, okay… but our notes are not so long and complicated as to take 15 minutes to read. So, not an ideal note to start on. I mean, it’s stressful, right? This whole experience is actually stressful. ‘Just about to ring’ and ’15 minutes’ are not the same thing. Especially not when I’ve woken up early from sleeping for a night shift to be awake for this call, and now, with us being about 35 minutes behind where we should have been I’m going to spend the entire call clock-watching because I need to shower/eat/dress/go. Definitely not ideal.

Then the doctor informs us that the previous doctor shouldn’t have suggested low-dose IVF treatment, because she doesn’t think it’s what they would recommend. Well, actually, they artfully avoid specifically stating we should be doing full IVF, going on about ‘slightly higher dose’ until finally Kathryn manages to get them to understand the question ‘is that full dose IVF?’ And not get back the answer ‘Well, they’re both IVF’. We gathered that, thanks. The hint’s in the name. And it turns out that yes, it’s not some odd-mid-way point they don’t mention in their literature. ‘Slightly higher dose’ means ‘pay the full whack for full-dose’.

However, we have done all our sums, based all of our calculations, prepared everything for this sum of money that you recommended. Now you’re saying it’ll be £2k extra, thanks, and you’re probably still going to suck in terms of your ‘bedside manner’.


Of course, when we start using phrases like “can’t” and “won’t be able to” the doctor backpedals and suggests that they could do low dose IVF… at which point we start to feel a bit like ‘are you just trying to extract every last god-damn penny from us’.

And suddenly we’re cast adrift. We don’t have £2k extra kicking around spare. I’ve checked in the piano stool, there were some french francs and a ball of fluff. That do? No? Well, maybe you should have said this earlier then.

Of course, having had an insanely stressful phonecall I then have to head off to work, leaving poor Kathryn at home with this bombshell, and me at work feeling lousy as I gradually come down with a cold.

Which brings us to today, when we tried another clinic, who based on what we said suggested that Egg Donation might well still be a possibility*, and who’s staff seemed far more genuinely concerned about us, and more that the money was a frustrating inconvenience.

Of course, it is the NHS clinic, which reminds me why the NHS is ace. And of course, we still have to pay, although the clinic team seemed fairly sympathetic to the unfairness of NHS rules which say you have to have had 10 cycles of IUI through a clinic before they’ll give you NHS-free-IVF (unless you have some documented health problem that will prevent conception). Of course, you might well not know about a documentable health problem until you’d tried to get pregnant…

…which brings us back to the endless cycle of self justification.

My general opinion on IVF is that either no-one should get it free, or everyone should. If that means everyone only gets 2 cycles instead of 3, or one and then graduated payments kick in, then so be it. But the current guidelines are unfair because getting sperm in the UK is hideously difficult, and making the process for lesbians cost in the region of £10k, when a hetrosexual couple could rock up and say ‘oh, we’ve been trying for 10 months and it hasn’t worked’ when they’d only had a few months of trying and get accepted is, well, unfair. Anyhow. Enough late-night grr. I’m having a little bout of insomnia courtesy of my cold, and was hoping this might make me feel more tired. It’s now 1am, and I still feel awake. *le-sigh*.

Not entirely sure what to do about that. P’raps go and lie in bed some more.

* And were having a handily placed lesbian open evening.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at