Amber Izzo's IVF journey
A Personal Story
Amber is a prominent figure in the TTC community. She is one half of the podcast “Am I ovary acting?” and the founder of @fightforIVF - a campaign against the IVF Postcode Lottery across the U.K, fighting for fairness and equality.
Words by Amber Izzo
10 December 2021
I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a mother. I was a very headstrong child. Even in my teenage years, whilst I knew I wanted to be a woman with a career, my priority was always being a Mum. I wanted 6 children. And while my husband soon insisted that we drew the line at 4, a big family was something I had longed for. Even as a child, I wished my sister and I had a brother to add a third to the sibling duo.
Amber and her sister aged 5 and 3
After three and a half years of trying to have a baby, I heard the words nobody trying to conceive wants to hear, "I'm sorry... you won't be able to get pregnant without IVF." By this point, we had already endured years of disappointment. The same heartbreaking negative pregnancy test every month, the sinking feeling when I saw yet another smear of red blood on the crisp white toilet paper. It made me cry more tears than I ever thought possible. I convinced myself it was all part of a plan - maybe I was meant to be married or be more financially secure... The truth happened to be far from some cosmic plan. As it turns out, I not only had a diagnosis of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) but also two fully blocked fallopian tubes that rendered me medically infertile. I will never forget the moment I heard the news that shook and changed my world. I was sitting in the hospital bed, sipping English Breakfast tea and eating a dry custard cream. I remember the feeling and taste of warm, salty tears running down my face like an overflowing river - water rushing towards the delta. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I understood the mountain I had to climb to become a parent.
at the time, IVF was not covered by the NHS where I live in Cambridgeshire. We were on our own.
My immediate reaction was to just throw myself into IVF. I chose a clinic within a matter of days and sent numerous emails trying to arrange consultations. We even looked at egg sharing to keep the costs down. In hindsight, I was simply trying to cope with the situation at hand when in fact, I needed to grieve. Grief is one of the most unspoken parts of infertility. You go through the motions of trying to make sense of how something you have yearned for so deeply has been pulled from beneath your feet. Something so many people attain so easily and freely.
It wasn't long before everything came crashing down. I can't describe the following six months as anything other than trying to walk through a heavy cloud of thick, black, viscous smoke with granite blocks tied to my feet. I felt severely depressed- like I couldn't escape my fate. I couldn't breathe without feeling the weight in my lungs. I couldn't speak without hearing the hopelessness in my voice. Infertility was everywhere I looked. I was reminded of my affliction by the most ordinary of scenes- the cry of a baby in a supermarket, a baby seat in a parked car, the spare bedroom I had always intended to be a nursery... It was the laparoscopy scars on my stomach, my husband in every touch, every penny I spent knowing that to grow our family we needed thousands of pounds we did not have.
Amber in the hospital, 5th September 2018, 17:04.
I had been awake 30 minutes and in those 30 minutes my world had been turned upside down, and I had been told I was infertile. I had two blocked fallopian tubes, which I would go on to have removed, and I would never have a child without specialist fertility treatment.
i had my tubes removed 6 months post-diagnosis and only then, in hindsight, was I really ready to start exploring the option of IVF treatments.
I had always read in the news about how expensive IVF could be. It was common and accepted to hear figures around £3,500. However, I was naïve and foolish to have believed it. When we actually started adding it up we were looking at totals of between £5,000 - £12,000 per cycle! I had no idea how we would be able to afford that. Without our family helping, we probably couldn't have.
Now, with fresh cycles under our belt, preparing for a third IVF treatment and still without that positive test, we have spent more money on IVF treatment than I dare ring up a total for. We are now close to the £15,000 mark. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that at one point, we worked 5 jobs between us to fund it. There have been times where we've considered letting go due to our financial situation. Perhaps the only thing that keeps us going is the hope that one day, we will look at those big bright eyes staring up at us and understand that the love we feel was worth every injection, every sleepless night, and every last bit of heartbreak.
Amber and her husband
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