“You’re not IVF anymore, you’re just like everybody else”.
These are the words that came out of my mother-in-law’s mouth last week. I have to say that I couldn’t disagree more, and it stirred up a lot of old emotions relating to people just not getting it.
I’m currently 36 weeks (on the month countdown now!) and I apologise for being so absent. I realise I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with so many of your blogs.
Generally speaking, things have been fairly straightforward – I have had to leave work much earlier than expected due to Pelvic Girdle Pain (who thought back pain could be so excruciating…) and have had a few growth scans as the bump has been pretty static over the last month so god knows where this baby is hiding itself, as it seems to be growing satisfactorily!
Every single day though, I count my blessings. I realise how grateful I am that IVF exists; that it was financially accessible to us; that we drew the long straw in the Russian roulette that each cycle is; that despite the few scares along the way, this baby is healthy and is very nearly fully cooked. I will NEVER forget how being a fertility patient feels (I may well be one again sometime in the future), and I find it insulting, the suggestion that that is all in the past and can therefore be dismissed.
Mother-in-law’s little episode came amidst news that the NHS is going to be dramatically cutting funding for fertility treatments. For those of you outside of the UK, the NHS is AMAZING, and we are incredibly lucky to have it. Our tax contributions as a nation fund pretty much entirely free healthcare (I say pretty much as things like prescriptions for medications are charged at around £8.50 flat-rate for each med, and dental treatment again has a flat rate depending on what you’re having done – so these are not free but heavily subsidised). NHS Trusts around different regions of the UK manage their own budgets to an extent, and some novel treatments, like new cancer drugs, and things like fertility investigations/treatments are offered variably, depending on whether they’re deemed to be cost-justified, and this is a postcode lottery. Where I live, I am funded for fertility investigations, but no treatment at all. 20 miles down the road, a couple will get THREE FREE cycles of IVF on the NHS. In another region 7 miles down the road, a couple will get one cycle.
However, with many billions of pounds savings that need to be made, these few areas that do offer IVF currently will likely soon be withdrawing it, as it is classified as “non-essential”.
My husband and I debated the justness of this – why, when a healthy couple who look after themselves and both work and pay into the system, is it fair to be denied access to treatment on the NHS because it’s not clinically necessary for a couple to have a family? Why does an unemployed obese, smoking diabetic get his emphysema, his diabetic complications, his heart disease treated free of charge when he’s made life choices that lead to his clinical condition?
So hard to get your head round, isn’t it?