Diana and Moses Murungi from Basingstoke endured many obstacles in pursuit of fulfilling their dream of having a family. 35-year-old Diana was diagnosed with endometriosis, cysts on her ovaries and fibroids resulting in numerous surgeries. In addition, she suffered multiple miscarriages, caught the zika virus and ended up in intensive care after developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a rare but potentially serious complication of fertility treatment.
Transport modelling consultant Diana explains how, with the help of Wessex Fertility in Southampton (part of The Fertility Partnership), her and Moses (38) finally welcomed baby Siima on 1 November 2019.
Diana said: “When we got married I spoke to the doctor and explained that I was getting married but that we didn’t want to start a family immediately, so he prescribed the contraceptive pill. 18 months later I stopped taking the pill as we wanted to try for a baby. I had always had very painful periods from when I started aged 14, but when I came off the contraceptive pill they got heavier and more painful. I went back to the doctors and they started to investigate why I was experiencing so much pain.
“We started trying for a family and I conceived naturally at the end of 2011 but had a miscarriage. I fell pregnant again at the start of 2012 but had another miscarriage. I continued to suffer with the pain and the doctor sent me to a gynecologist and I was diagnosed with endometriosis, cysts on my ovaries and fibroids, which are common in black women.” It took seven years for Diana to finally get diagnosed with endometriosis. Every time she visited the doctor complaining of stomach pains and high temperatures she was simply given antibiotics.
Continuing, Diana said: “We continued trying but we weren’t successful. Our doctor referred us for fertility treatment. I was naive and thought I’d have fertility treatment and I’d get a baby and it would be all done. I had no idea that it would be an emotional and painful journey.
“The doctor gave us a list of fertility clinics close to Basingstoke at the time; I didn’t know about success rates or the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) so I asked who he’d recommend and he said Wessex Fertility.
Wessex Fertility was really welcoming; it felt really warm. They really wanted to know our story, not just treat us.
"During the consultation, the doctor explained that our case was really complicated due to the miscarriages, fibroids, polycystic ovaries and painful periods but they explained that they would be able to work with us. I was waiting for my period to start so that we could commence treatment but we found out that I was pregnant again. The clinic was really supportive. Sadly, we lost that baby as well. It was particularly difficult as we found out it was a twin pregnancy.
“After that it felt like going back to zero as we had to wait another 12 months to start treatment again. At that time in order to qualify for NHS funding; if you had a spontaneous pregnancy you had to try again naturally, but it didn’t happen. I was really stressed and depressed.
“In March 2017 I met with Wessex Fertility again, this time with Dr Sue Ingamells; she was so friendly, helpful and encouraging. I felt like she was really fighting for me which was really, really touching. She created a plan for us and we started IVF again in 2017. We had our first transfer on our seventh wedding anniversary and I felt it was a confirmation from God. I told friends and family that our family would finally be complete. After the longest two weeks ever, I did the test and it was positive. However, I started having cramps at four weeks and bleeding at six weeks. I was scanned by sonographer, Debbie Bond, and we saw a heartbeat. We’d never seen one before and it was really exciting and reassuring.
“At eight weeks I started feeling really unwell and although it’s common to feel unwell in the early stages of pregnancy, I didn’t feel like it was normal. I was bleeding heavier than I should have been so the clinic advised me to come straight in for a scan. I was shaking. When I arrived they scanned me and the sonographer, Jude Bendell, looked at me and said I’m so sorry, it’s not good news. I felt my world had come to an end and I let out a massive scream. We drove back to Basingstoke. I felt very alone; I was in a lonely and dark place. I had to book time off work. It was a very, very painful time. All my hopes and dreams of having a baby had crashed.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if we’d ever have the baby we longed and dreamed of. I wasn’t sure I could do it again.
“Around my birthday we met Dr Sue Ingamells. We still had three embryos in storage and decided to try again. We had another two cycles and the second time had the last two embryos put in. I said if this doesn’t work then I am not doing it again. It did work but a few weeks later I started to bleed again and lost the baby. I asked the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit at Basingstoke Hospital to confirm the gender and they told me the baby was a girl. I decided then that I was done and I wasn’t going to do this anymore. That was 2017.
“My endometriosis was also getting worse. Whilst I’d been seeing the fertility consultant I was also seeing a consultant to treat my fibroids and endometriosis. He sensitively explained that the only way I would have relief would be if I stopped ovulating and to have my ovaries and uterus removed. It felt like such a big decision. He performed the surgery and did his best to protect my tubes and uterus whilst removing the endometriosis.
“I contacted Wessex Fertility and told them that we were tempted to try again. Dr Sue explained that they would try something different, a PGS biopsy (pre-implantation genetic screening)*. I asked why we hadn’t been offered this before and Dr Sue explained that it’s only offered to women of a certain age as it’s more beneficial and also because I’d had several miscarriages. We decided to go for it.
“Despite the clinic advising me not to travel due to the zika virus, we made the decision to visit family in Uganda, as I felt I needed their support at the time. On my return, Wessex Fertility advised that they could only continue treatment if they tested me for the zika virus. I couldn’t believe it when the test came back positive. I had to wait eight weeks before starting treatment to get the virus cleared out of my body.
“I started treatment and my eggs were collected. I had so many eggs; 47 eggs. The clinic explained that I was at high risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)**. I’d had my eggs collected on Thursday and by the weekend I was feeling unwell and struggling to breath. I called Dr Sue and she told me to go straight to the hospital. I didn’t want to go to A&E as it held so many bad memories so Wessex Fertility called ahead and arranged for me to be taken straight to women’s health.
“When I arrived at women’s health the consultant advised that I needed an x-ray immediately. I didn’t know how serious it was and convinced myself that I was fine. However, the consultant showed me the x-ray and I saw that my right lung was covered in fluid. There were so many consultants. They brought oxygen tubes as I needed help breathing. I was in so much pain. They explained I had OHSS and that they needed to monitor me and I was taken to intensive care. There I was given a local anesthetic and they inserted a tube into my back to drain off the fluid. It was so painful.
“The hospital contacted Wessex Fertility to explain what had happened. The consultant (from Wessex Fertility) came to the hospital to check on me and to update me on how many embryos had been fertilised. Despite how ill I was feeling, I felt so grateful to have some embryos. Wessex Fertility was so good at keeping me updated and really helped keep my hope alive.”
After seven days in hospital including two in intensive care, Diana was discharged. She met with Wessex Fertility and they explained that they couldn’t start treatment until she had completely recovered. When she was well enough Diana started taking the medication that would make her endometriosis and fibroids dormant. At the start of 2019 she was ready for her embryo transfer.
Diana said: “I had the transfer in February 2019 and two weeks later when it was the official test date I woke at three o’clock in the morning and did the test. I couldn’t believe it when it was positive. Moses was away so I took pictures (of the positive test) and sent them to him. The clinic organised an early scan and scanned me every single week up until 12 weeks which was reassuring and supportive. At the five week scan we saw the heartbeat and I knew this was our baby. However, at nine weeks I started bleeding again and I was in so much pain. I thought this cannot be happening again. I called Dr Sue and she told me to go to the hospital. I was offered a scan for the following morning. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a heartbeat.
At 12 weeks I finally saw my midwife; I’d never seen a midwife before and had wondered whether I’d ever get to that point.
On 1 November 2019, Diana gave birth to a baby girl who they called Siima, meaning thankful. “I just look at Siima and cannot believe she’s actually here. We love her so so much,” said Diana.
Concluding Diana said: “My advice to anyone starting IVF or considering fertility treatment is read and research, and make sure you have people close by to support and encourage you as IVF can be a very painful journey. Find a clinic that communicates well with you. Even after the losses, Wessex Fertility was there, helping me come to terms with it. They gave great advice and I always felt that we were in this together, that everyone was on my team. In fact, when Siima was born, after calling my mum and sister, I rang Gillian Dawes general manager at Wessex Fertility, who was a wonderful support throughout my treatment.”
*Pre-implantation genetic screening is a technique which tests whether embryos have any problems with their chromosomes.
**OHSS, although rare, occurs in women who are sensitive to fertility medication which is administered to increase egg production during IVF.