“Surrounded by children, I always assumed I’d have my own one day. My sisters both have three children and, as a Children’s Support worker, my days are spent helping disabled children and their families across Oxfordshire.
“After meeting Daniel, we followed the path all our friends were taking. In our early twenties we moved in together and then married a few years later, but that’s when our journeys differed. Our friends then started announcing their pregnancies, but we didn’t have any news to share. At first I put it down to a half marathon I was running, thinking my body was focussing on that, but after a year, we couldn’t ignore it anymore. We went to our GP, who ran a few tests and referred us to Oxford Fertility for more.
“Arriving at Oxford Fertility feeling tense, this soon left us. At the clinic, there is a sense of calm, it’s pristinely clean and the team really took the time to understand us. Their tests identified that, although Daniel had good quality sperm, he had a low sperm count, and that this had most likely been caused by a late diagnosis of mumps when he was twenty-one. It meant that although technically it wasn’t impossible for us to fall pregnant, the chance was very, very low. In fact, the odds were so poor, after trying to conceive for two years, we would qualify for IVF funded by the NHS.
“When we returned to Oxford Fertility to start treatment, I was struck by how closely everything was monitored. We had lots more tests and as we approached egg collection, I booked the week off work, whilst my eggs were scrutinised, checking their size and quantity every day, so that they would be gathered at exactly the right time. We both felt confident, as my eggs were of good quality, the majority fertilised and the embryos grew well. After the transfer I started to notice the signs of pregnancy, and I felt hopeful. But the drugs needed to help the procedure had fooled my body into thinking I was pregnant, and our test result was negative. We were devastated.
“In our review appointment with the consultant, there was no clear biological reason for the failure. We were just unlucky. We could return to try again once my body was ready, but it took my mind far longer. During that time, if someone had tested me, I’m sure I would have been diagnosed with depression. I had no energy and I found it difficult to see my nieces and nephews and our friend’s new babies.
“But after seven long months I was ready to start again. We had two good embryos that had been frozen, which meant we wouldn’t have to go through the full procedure. This was particularly helpful, as this time we would have to fund the treatment ourselves, and the combination of using an existing embryo and not using as many drugs, meant it would be far cheaper.
“Starting the process, again my body showed pregnancy signs, but I didn’t have as many drugs in my system to fool my senses. I was due to take the early pregnancy test the day I was going for a job interview, so I took the test a day early and I was blown away when it was positive! Then, thirty six weeks later, our little baby girl Poppy arrived early, eager to enter the world!
“Being a mum is everything I thought it may be and more. She’s just fascinating; I sometimes let her fall asleep on me for her afternoon nap and I just look at her, amazed.
“We are so thankful that we were able to have our first fully cycle of treatment funded by the NHS. We didn’t have the money; it would have meant years of saving, and cutting out any holidays or rewards, or going into debt. Neither of these is ideal when you are already feeling fragile about your situation.
“We’re also so thankful to the team at Oxford Fertility. They spent time to diagnose us accurately and develop a treatment plan to precisely meet our needs. You can also tell the staff really care and can judge exactly what emotional support you need too. We hope to return one day when the time is right.”