So, full of optimism and hope in the expertise of the fertility clinic and with very little done in the way of research, discussion forums and so on, we flew 1300 miles from London, UK to Kiev, Ukraine in August 2006.
We’d never been to anywhere in the former USSR before and didn’t know what to expect. The airport was neither modern, nor antiquated, and we found the ‘tour company’ intermediaries waiting for us beyond departures. It was not like a typical package holiday and as we boarded the transfer coach we met for the first time other couples that were to undergo some from of IVF treatment. We were glad to find that some people were friendly; others preferred to keep themselves to themselves. Although we had departed from the UK there were a number of people from other countries on the visit.
We were driven through the suburbs of the City and were dropped in one of two hotels. The majority of people stayed in the one we did – the Rus. The other hotel, The Premier Palace, was considerably more expensive per night basis. Given that the women would be unable to use the gym or swimming pool for the duration of their stay, we decided that it was costing us enough for the privilege of the treatment.
There were a few administrators from the London clinic staying with us in our hotel, and so it was good to see some familiar faces. I think that it was suggested on the first night that – although the hotel had a restaurant – it would be interesting to make the short 10-15 minute walk into the ‘town centre’. About a dozen people met up to do this. we went to a Pizza Hut franchise, familiar food for Westerners. No-one wanted to end up with a dodgy tummy when there was important work to be done over the next couple of days. A funny moment was when the drinks order was taken – the men all had beers; the women were all on soft drinks! Over the course of that evening we spoke to many couples, and learned many things:
1. That IVF treatment does not always work – people were back for multiple visits
2. That some people come back a LOT – over 5 times for some people.
3. That there were some success stories; some had come back for a brother/sister to their first success story.
4. That the attitudes of friends/families back in the UK was such that many did not choose to share the fact that they were going on such a ‘trip’ with others. This was consistent with the way we felt.
Because it’s been so long ago I can’t remember precisely what happened on each of the days, however it was necessary for me to go to the hospital for my sperm donation on one visit – during which I went into a very clean room to enjoy the facility of porn on a big telly whilst I dropped off my ‘part’ of the process into a specimen jar (which I then tactfully was advised to leave near a serving hatch and depart the room).
Then a day or two passed and we were advised of the specific time of our ET (embryo transfer). We then went to the hospital (which involved the ‘tour agents’ ferrying us across in a taxi minivan battling the crazy traffic conditions across the city); us sitting in the waiting area of what was a very plush privately-funded dedicated maternity hospital; and then being called in – couple by couple – to find out how well the embryo cell growth had been on the eggs we’d been donated. Then with the consultant we were given the choices for how many eggs to transfer. For us, we had three eggs of very high quality – and we decided to go for transferring two of them. This would be on the basis that it was likely that at least one would ‘take’.
So with Mrs Rooster up in stirrups, an assistant came over with a very long syringe contraption; we were asked to confirm who we were; and then the transfer took place. All relatively pain-free; and a little ultrasound photo given to us to confirm – well, to confirm not very much really.
In total we were in sunny Kiev for about four days. We returned home, full of hope, for the two week wait…