When a hospital scan revealed Endometriosis and Adenomyosis, plus a low egg count, Lucy was told it could be now or never if she wanted to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a mum.
Lucy’s periods had always been painful and prolonged, which had made her tired and lethargic. Talking to friends, she’d begun to realise that her periods were in a different league to those of her friends. As a teenager she’d been given birth control pills and told there was nothing to be done.
But by 29, Lucy, a postal delivery worker, knew her own body and knew things weren’t right. The pain had even led to a collapse at work on her postal round.
“I was in the middle of my round,” she said. “And I had this most excruciating pain. It was just awful, and I was panicking and looking around thinking I don’t want anyone to see me.” Lucy collapsed and was taken to hospital, where it was discovered that a cyst had burst.
An MRI scan then revealed that her left ovary was entirely covered by a large cyst and was webbed to the back of her uterus. She had endometrial tissue growing into the muscle of her uterus, a condition known as Adenomyosis, plus Endometriosis (tissue growing outside the uterus) in her bowel and her large and small intestines.
Both conditions affect up to one in ten women and studies have shown that those with Adenomyosis are 42% more likely to also experience Endometriosis.
An initial laparoscopy cleared out the endometriosis and Lucy felt fine for the next two years, giving her the confidence to start thinking about motherhood. Lucy and her partner Ali were both in their mid-thirties. As a female couple, either one could have carried their first baby, but Lucy had always dreamed of being a mum and felt that this was her time.
The couple knew that Lucy’s condition could be a factor and her symptoms had started to worsen. Doctors confirmed that the endometriosis had recurred, plus, her egg count was low. If she wanted to try IVF, it was now or never as a further laparoscopy would be needed within a matter of months, and after that her egg supply could be further depleted, making it less likely that she could conceive using her own eggs.
The couple discussed their situation with the team at TFP Oxford Fertility, as they had read lots of positive reviews about it and the clinic was near their home. Immediately, they felt in safe hands. Lucy and Ali decided to go for it. “They didn’t say I would definitely get pregnant,” said Lucy, “But there was a chance and we both decided to embrace it wholeheartedly.”
Lucy felt fantastic during the first weeks of the IVF process. Stopping her periods and putting her body into early menopause to manipulate her cycle, gave her ‘the best relief ever’ from her endometriosis symptoms. “I was relaxed, I was re-energised, and I was ready to go,” she said.
Prior to starting treatment, the couple had counselling to ‘check we were both on the right page and understood seriousness of having a child together’. As they were using a sperm donor, implications counselling was important to help them explore and understand the emotional and legal aspects of using donor sperm, and most importantly, consider the implications for their future family.
Lucy and Ali enjoyed choosing their sperm donor. They researched a number of sperm banks and eventually chose from a European one because they found a donor who just felt right. They loved his personality.
Our Oxford team retrieved eight eggs from Lucy during her egg retrieval procedure. All eight were fertilised. Subsequently, though, seven embryos stopped growing and the embryologists nurtured the remaining one until day five. TFP Fertility uses EmbryoScope™ time-lapse technology as standard, a special incubator with built-in cameras, to ensure the embryo is kept in the best possible condition for those five days until it becomes a blastocyst.
Then came transfer day. Lucy and Ali recall watching the embryo transfer tube pass through the cervix and into the uterus, finding exactly the right spot for the embryo. “There’s this magical moment when you see the embryo come out. It was lovely,” said Lucy.
The two-week wait for the time of the pregnancy test was an anxious time for Lucy and Ali to see if Lucy was pregnant and Lucy experienced some negative thoughts. She said: “I thought this is it. I only ever wanted to be a mum and the embryo is not going to be there. Luckily Ali was the opposite. She was positive and hopeful, and I needed that in my life.”
Ali said: “I just wanted to make sure Lucy was as calm and comfortable as possible. I remained positive and I always had this feeling that Lucy was pregnant. There were signs, too. Lucy had a metallic taste in her mouth and swollen breasts. I just knew it was our time and the beginning of our dream coming true.”
Throughout the process, the clinic team were on hand to give comfort and reassurance, a ‘godsend’ which helped Lucy cope with her anxiety and worry.
Two weeks after the transfer Lucy took a pregnancy test, feeling ‘petrified’. It was also the anniversary of the death of her beloved uncle, Peter. “It felt like a billion to one chance – a miracle – but I was pregnant,” said Lucy.
And their gorgeous little boy Bohdi, who arrived nine months later, has wild hair like his mum and is playful and cheeky just like Peter.
Reflecting on her condition and her dream of motherhood, Lucy said: “You don’t realise when you are young that you have a limited amount of time to have good enough eggs to make a baby. Then when you get older, you realise endometriosis can be life-changing and it could rob you of your happy ending. Thankfully, for us, the story has the happiest of endings.”