National Fertility Awareness Week #IVFis40 what does this mean to us?

#IVFis40 Happy 40th Birthday Louise Brown! 

It’s 40 years since 10 November 1977 when Louise Joy Brown – the world’s first IVF baby - was conceived. Today Fertility Network UK are commemorating the anniversary by sharing #IVFis40 facts, milestones and memories, including when IVF does not work.

I was in my parents kitchen and heard that Louise Brown had been born. I thought that was weird - does she look like a test tube, how do you get a baby out of test tube?! This was before I knew about the facts of life!, and went back to annoying my brother probably. Either way, it was a bit of news that passed me by mostly but I do recall being told about it briefly in school even if the emphasis was how women got pregnant and avoiding this until we were ready. Infertility wasn't talked about and childless people in the little village where I grew up were seen as odd.

I didn't think we'd ever have to go through IVF and I knew very little about the process when we started, though I recall being overwhelmed by the number of couples who filled a big room at Bourn Hall for a presentation which we both left feeling like it was going to work. I bought a baby grow with 'Scilly Baby' on the front on holiday on the Isles of Scilly after I'd recovered from OHSS after our first round, full of optimism despite a serious health scare. The sad truth is that more cycles fail than work and the legacy of IVF is painful. But we all deserve a choice as #IVFGoldStandard campaign demands.

How do I feel about it now? Regret because I strongly feel more research is required into the after effects of the medication that is taken, and as society we need to talk about it more. There is an incredibly amount of ignorance about what this process involves. There is also very little out there for survivors who need mental healthcare. 

But I'm also proud I tried it. Both of us have a needle phobia, so managing to do daily injections showed strength that neither of us thought we had, and I guess that on most days, some six years now since our last round, we cope with the legacy it has left. But it has changed us as a couple, oddly immune to others loss and always aware of this gap in our lives and how we both cope with other people's children and pregnancies is very different. I'm still fragile and introverted, my husband much stronger and that's not without challenges and tough conversations.

What's your feeling about IVF? Do you remember the birth of Louise Brown? Do let me know on social media or in the comments below. You will find many of us talking about this on the hashtag  #IVFis40