Joanna tells the story:
Gary and I got married in 2012. We both work in insurance – that’s where we met. To be honest, we weren’t really considering having children straight away. We wanted to move on at work a little bit. Then in 2018 we decided to start a family. It had been long enough, with family pestering us!
But it just didn’t happen and we don’t know why. We tried for more than three years and it really took its toll. It is so tough, when you want something so much and it’s not working.
The doctor referred us for the usual tests at Frimley hospital. The timing was quite lucky, as this happened just before COVID, when everything stopped. They found out that I have pre-polycystic ovaries – the condition can make your period very irregular and if its more serious, can lead to infertility.
But in my case, they said, just carry as you are. Yes, you have problems with your ovaries, but it shouldn’t cause infertility. Still nothing happened, so, after another consultation with the hospital, our ‘undiagnosed infertility’ was made official and we were referred to the Thames Valley Fertility clinic.
I’d previously attended an online open evening at the clinic and really liked it. A senior consultant had talked to us and a couple of the nurses. The team answered all our questions and it was informative and excellent. Although the Maidenhead-based clinic was new, I knew it was part of a wider group, so that reassured me.
We qualified for one full cycle of funding on the NHS and by the time that came through it was September and life was pretty-much back to normal at the clinic.
I had two weeks of injections and even though I was on a mild version of the medication, my ovaries over-produced eggs. Over-production means you can’t do a fresh cycle of egg collection, you have to give your body time to recover. So, the team did the collection straight away, then they did manual ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) to increase the chances of fertilisation, and then froze all the viable embryos.
Unfortunately, egg transfer day didn’t go according to plan, purely because the medical team couldn’t get the embryo to where it needed to be. Gary wasn’t allowed in with me, due to post-COVID rules, and was in the car park. He thought I was taking ages and then he saw me running towards him across the car park, in tears.
The doctor recommended an operation to clear my passages and we decided to go private and get it done straight away. The clinic team were great. They knew what was going on and really supported me. After the operation, they did a trial embryo transfer to make sure they weren’t causing any distress internally. The consultant was amazing but even the trial was hard. It seems there was a u-bend in one of my tubes, so maybe that’s why everything was so difficult.
They did the real transfer and it worked, but then the pregnancy failed after two weeks. So at this point we decided to pay for another round.
It worked – and now we have baby Elliott – so we got there in the end!
The pregnancy itself – oh my gosh – it wasn’t fun for the first 16 weeks. I was so sick. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought the IVF would be the hardest bit to be honest. But after that everything was find and my 9lb 7oz baby boy arrived. I’d grown a whopper!
Life now is wonderful. It is brilliant. It is hard, but after the first weeks you settle into a routine and it is bliss. I’m loving every single second. Gary had a shock to his system, I think, but now he seems OK.
As for the clinic, they were brilliant. I loved all the girls, they were wonderful. The consultants were lovely and I can’t praise them enough. I’ll call them soon as we want to try again, to start off a brother or sister for Elliott. We have five embryos left in storage. I am 36 and so I want to get on with it.