“I met Rob when I was 35 and he was 38. After a couple of years together, we started planning for a family. Following years trying to conceive, a visit to see our GP confirmed what I’d suspected for a while, I have endometriosis. Since coming off the pill, my periods had been very heavy plus my sister and mum suffer from endometriosis too.
“I was given tablets to reduce the blood flow, but I needed an operation to remove the tissue that had grown around my uterus. Whilst undergoing this procedure, the consultant discovered my fallopian tubes were blocked, putting me at risk of an ectopic pregnancy. They also detected that I had small ovaries and a low egg count. Rob was also tested and learned that his sperm count was low. The odds of conceiving were stacked against us and IVF offered our only chance of having a baby.
“By now I was three months too old to meet the criteria for NHS funding. But as private patients, we could be treated anywhere. Oxford Fertility treats NHS and private patients and was recommended to us. Looking at its results and the research it conducts, it felt like the right place, plus it has a clinic near to us in Gloucestershire, where we could go for most appointments. Later I learnt that two of our friends had also attended Oxford Fertility, each becoming parents.
“The whole idea of IVF was overwhelming, new and stressful, but the nurses were absolutely fantastic. They were so knowledgeable and calming. They shared a lot of information with us. We could access all our treatment information and communication on a patient portal online, call any time with questions, and the team in Gloucester and Oxford worked seamlessly. We couldn’t fault it. I had bad side effects to the nasal spray, I was very emotional and experienced hot flushes. But they were there for us and gave us the support we needed.
“Apart from my endometriosis surgery, I’d never been in hospital, so when it came to the egg collection and embryo transfer procedures I was quite nervous. But the consultants were amazing and explained everything and it didn’t feel clinical. I’d produced three good eggs, although only two progressed into embryos that were viable. After these had been transferred, we returned to the hotel that we’d decided to stay in near the clinic, and I slept all afternoon and through the night. I just felt peaceful.
“Our early pregnancy test was positive, and our first scan showed a heartbeat. We were so happy, but couldn’t jump for joy, as we were both very aware things don’t always go well. But I did really enjoy being pregnant, especially when I could feel her moving.
“Because of my age, my blood pressure and pain in my pelvis, I had been advised that I would need a c-section. I was hesitant at first, but gradually had come to terms with it.
“But a month before our due date, the world changed. The Coronavirus Pandemic led to new restrictions in services, with everything changing on a daily basis. At that time there weren’t many cases in Gloucestershire, so I wasn’t too worried. For us, it meant that if I had a c-section, Rob would be able to be there for the birth. I was far more worried about our baby arriving safely and having a needle in my back. But despite a rise in my blood pressure and the c-section being earlier than planned, it all went well and Lexie arrived, a very health 8 lb 15.5 oz.
“It was only after her birth that the impact of COVID-19 sunk in. The maternity ward was very quiet, with every other bed empty. Nurses passed in PPE and spoke to you quietly through masks. I couldn’t wait to go home. Even leaving hospital was odd, walking through the back door with a nurse, meeting Rob in the car park, as he wasn’t allowed back into the hospital after the operation two days earlier.
“Since arriving home it has also been strange. Our parents haven’t been able to meet Lexie yet for a cuddle, we don’t want to walk to the shops, and my baby groups are all online. I’m so glad we had attended NCT classes before, so at least I know a few other new mums in the real world, even though we’re only connecting over what’s app.
“But Lexie is fantastic, absolutely phenomenal. She is such a chilled little girl, with so much blond hair. We love her so much. And Rob is also getting to spend so much more time with her, as usually he works in London from Monday to Thursday, and so he is getting a lot more father bonding time, which is so special.
“Our journey to meet Lexie has been long, full of experiences we will never forget. We are so thankful to the whole team at Oxford Fertility who made such a difference and made our family complete.”
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.