“It was on our first holiday 15 years ago, that we first started talking about how we’d build a family together. We just assumed it would be simple, but after moving in together and trying for a baby for four or five years with no success, we visited our GP. Although I was 34, they reassured us and advised to try for another year, after which they’d run some tests.
I did have a few scares and every time the clinic was brilliant and arranged a scan swiftly to check everything was OK.
“After that year, we returned to the GP. At the same time I also had a cyst that needed draining, and during that operation, we discovered I had stage four endometriosis and the chances of becoming pregnant naturally was very small. We also learned I’d just passed the cut-off age for NHS funded IVF. It felt so unfair and I was devastated.
“After my operation to remove as much endometriosis as possible at the John Radcliffe Hospital, it was clear we needed IVF to conceive and so we self-referred to the Oxford Fertility Unit. Given the delay in testing by our GP, we asked the CCG to fund our treatment, but our appeal was declined.
“Entering Oxford Fertility, we felt very nervous and confident, but as the first cycle progressed, our optimism left us. My body didn’t respond to the drugs as we had hoped and so we stopped the cycle, this was difficult but in hindsight the right decision. I researched what to do to help produce more eggs during IVF and came across a crazy protein diet that involved drinking a lot of milk. I didn’t know if it would help, but before starting IVF again, I would do anything I could.
“Finding the journey hard, I found support such as the fertility friend’s forum and a close family member who had also gone through IVF. We also asked people not to ask how we were; we would let them know if there were any updates. As although people’s questions and messages were born out of care and concern, we found answering them very distressing.
“Going into our second cycle, we were a little more guarded. But I produced eight eggs and five fertilised, and so things seemed to improve. But then we faced another hurdle. When it came to the transfer day, the procedure had to be put on hold, so our two surviving embryos unexpectedly had to be frozen, to allow time to address the problem. We left that day completely broken, bereft and emotionally spent.
“We felt anxious for the next 366 days, not knowing if our little creations were going to survive the freeze as well as the embryo transfer.
“A month later, after starting the third cycle of drugs, we returned, but faced yet another challenge. Scans revealed that my womb had some unexplained fluid from my fallopian tubes. The team recommended we shouldn’t proceed and so we chose to wait for an operation to have my fallopian tubes removed. We had to wait six months.
“During this delay we took a holiday. We needed it. We booked into an adult only hotel, as we really didn’t need to be reminded of children or the family holiday we’d once dreamt of.
“After my fallopian tubes were removed, we returned to Oxford Fertility, one year and a day after our embryos had been frozen. This time it worked, our fourth frozen cycle. After so many hurdles, I was finally pregnant. We couldn’t believe it – I took about twenty pregnancy tests! There had been so many devastating set-backs, but we couldn’t give up. I was convinced something would still go wrong. I didn’t really believe it until George was in my arms.
“I did have a few scares and every time the clinic was brilliant and arranged a scan swiftly to check everything was OK.
“George is amazing. The love he has brought to us and our wider family and friends is incredible. We still can’t believe we finally got there and we have a beautiful baby boy.
“Our long journey has been distressing and traumatic. We don’t want people to underestimate the emotional impact this can have on you, as an individual, and as a couple. We strongly recommend anyone going through this to access the specialist counsellors available. It is crucial to communicate together feelings and emotions regularly and identify when one or both partners are feeling low. Recognise the signs and process them as they emerge, it will alleviate unwanted additional trauma.
“The team at Oxford Fertility were absolutely brilliant, everyone was so compassionate, caring and understanding. Oxford Fertility collectively were amazing but together we recognise particular individuals who we felt walked our journey with us, guided and reassured us when we were at our most anxious and vulnerable. Their professionalism, empathy and understanding supported our resolve to continue and eventually achieve our wish of having a baby of our own.
“We are so in love with our gorgeous George and we are FOREVER thankful for the help we received from the Oxford Fertility Team.”