Katie and Paul Fletcher, from Waterlooville in Hampshire, had always taken it for granted that they would be able to have a baby, so when they struggled to conceive they started to feel concerned. We spoke to them about how, thanks to NHS funding, they were able to achieve their dream of a beautiful little baby.
The couple started trying for a baby in 2008, but after 2 years without falling pregnant, Katie, then 25, grew concerned that something was wrong. They went to their GP and were referred for some tests at their local hospital’s fertility unit. “I had a hysterosalpingogram test and it showed that there was no blockage in my tubes,” explained Katie, “I also had a blood test and pelvic scan which showed that I had mild polycystic ovarian syndrome but that it shouldn’t cause a problem getting pregnant.” This meant that they had mostly unexplained infertility as neither of them had an obvious reason for them not conceiving. This diagnosis can be very frustrating for patients who often prefer a reason why it isn’t working for them.
You take it for granted that you will get pregnant, so when it doesn't happen you "Why us? We would be great parents", it becomes very upsetting.
Katie embarked on 3 Clomifene cycles and 2 rounds of IUI over the course of 18 months at their local hospital fertility unit but found the side effects from the medication made her feel very unwell. Sadly both cycles were unsuccessful. Paul remembers the effect it had on Katie, “Kate was getting very down, especially during the IUI, I tried to support her as best I could. She was really overwhelmed by the side effects and we were both disheartened when it didn’t work.”
Katie and Paul then returned to their GP who informed them that as Katie was over 30 and they matched all the other criteria, they were eligible for an NHS funded cycle. This was fantastic news for the couple who had already spent a lot of money trying to get pregnant. With NHS funded treatment, patients in Hampshire are given 1 cycle of IVF (now including a frozen cycle if embryos are available to freeze and the fresh cycle is unsuccessful) including all their drugs and required procedures. This gave Katie and Paul the chance of being parents and achieving their dream.
“We were recommended Wessex Fertility by a friend who has had successful treatment with them. We went along to one of their seminars and were really impressed by the professionalism and friendliness,” describes Katie. In early 2014, 6 years after they started trying for a baby, Katie started an antagonist cycle at Wessex Fertility, based at the Freya Centre in Southampton. Katie describes the treatment process as being a much easier journey than her IUI.
We felt we could take a step back at Wessex Fertility and they would take care of everything for us. We felt relaxed and didn’t have to worry about anything. The treatment was simple and straightforward and hardly had any side effects at all. I just had a much more positive mindset and felt full of hope.
Katie attended her egg collection appointment and had 6 eggs collected, these were inseminated and the resulting embryos monitored for their development. Katie and Paul were informed that 3 embryos were good quality but 1 was better developed than the others – this embryo was chosen for transfer and the other 2 were frozen for future treatment. They then embarked on the 2 week wait to find out whether their treatment had been successful. “About a week after my embryo transfer I had very bad pains. I phoned Dr Sue Ingamells at 2.30am and she made me feel more reassured and booked me in for a scan first thing in the morning,” explains Katie. Katie had mild OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome) which can sometimes happen as a result of the hormone drugs given to stimulate the ovaries. She was signed off work and given advice to make her feel better. She then had a blood test to assess the pregnancy and was phoned later to say that she was pregnant! “I couldn’t believe that there was a little life inside me already. We were being very honest and telling people about the IVF process so that we had lots of support. We called them all and told them the good news and there were lots of celebrations,” remembers Katie, “we felt so blessed that it happened first time for us.” The couple were very careful through pregnancy and embraced every moment.