When Fionnula met Jack six years ago she fell pregnant whilst on the contraceptive pill. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. However, it left the couple keen to start a family. After four years of trying they started IVF at Wessex Fertility in Southampton (part of The Fertility Partnership), in February 2020, only for it to be put on hold due to the coronavirus.
Fionnula explains: “After I miscarried, it left Jack and I wondering what it would have been like to have a baby so in 2015 we decided that I would stop taking the contraceptive pill and try for a family.
“After a year of trying we visited our GP who referred me to a gynaecologist. I was then referred to a fertility consultant who provided treatment to help me ovulate, but it was unsuccessful. Following four years of lots of tests, I was eventually diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and endometriosis. The doctors also discovered that the morphology (shape) of my partner’s sperm wasn’t quite right and unexplained infertility was diagnosed.
“In December 2019, I was referred for IVF by my GP. We qualified for NHS funded IVF and decided that Wessex Fertility was the best clinic for us.
“Our first appointment with Wessex Fertility took place in February 2020. I had scans and blood tests and we completed all the forms. It was very quick and we started IVF at the start of March.
“Just before I was due to have my eggs collected the coronavirus started. On 20th March, just before the clinic closed, my eggs were collected. I was one of the last patients to have my eggs taken and frozen.
“I felt really sad for us but also guilty that I was feeling sad at such an uncertain time when there was a pandemic and people were dying. I really felt like I was grieving as we were so close to becoming parents. I experienced panic attacks as working at the hospital and being on the frontline was really overwhelming at times.
“But I focused on the fact that we had embryos frozen and some were really good quality. It really was a bittersweet time.
“I called Wessex Fertility for an update in the middle of April. They advised me that there was no update but to email them with my period dates for April and May. They explained that I could start my medication at home whilst they put measures in place to prepare for reopening, although there was no guarantee that the clinic would be allowed to reopen, so it could have been a waste of time. We were also really keen to start treatment as we’re getting married April 2021 and wanted to have a family beforehand. If we didn’t fall pregnant so that I could give birth before we married, we would have had to postpone until after the wedding.
“I am so grateful for the dedication the team at Wessex Fertility put in to give me and my partner the best chance of having a baby before getting married.
“As soon as the clinic reopened I was very honoured to be the first patient to have my embryos transferred and our baby is due on 10 February 2021.”
Discussing the difference in treatment from before coronavirus, Fionnula said: “There is less face-to-face contact with more contact via Skype and telephone. The support Wessex Fertility has provided is exactly the same as if it had not happened. It has been five stars. They have been so reassuring and no matter what crossed our paths they have always had a plan.
“Dr. Sue Ingamells did a lot of our scans and the transfer. All of the staff have been lovely and always had a smile. I am so grateful to them all.”