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Christmas Story: Two little boys
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Christmas story - the tale of two little boys

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Babies Freddie and Robin, who will celebrate their first Christmases this year with their respective families, used to ‘hang out’ in a freezer together at Oxford Fertility when they were tiny embryos. Meanwhile, their mums, Nicola and Katie, were becoming friends.



Nicola:

“I met Katie through Instagram. My husband Tom and I had made the decision not to tell our families about our IVF plans, so being able to connect with others in the same situation made things feel less lonely.


“Tom and I got married in August 2017 and decided quite quickly to start a family. My first pregnancy was ectopic so I had private tests carried out to check my tubes.


“Soon after, I fell pregnant naturally with my daughter, Annie. She was born in May 2019 and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) through the heel prick test. We decided that we’d explore the IVF route if we wanted more children.


"We were advised to go for IVF with Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis and chose to be referred to Oxford Fertility.  This was in March 2020 and two weeks after this big decision the whole country went into lockdown.

“In July, I managed to speak to the clinic. They were brilliant. They talked through timings and arranged a consultation for us and things moved quickly from there.

 

“We were fortunate – of the embryos sent to be tested, five weren’t affected by CF.  So, the transfer took place on 16 December. Then I did a pregnancy test on Boxing Day and made a recording of the moment when I checked the result. There’s a gasp on the video!  The IVF had worked and I was pregnant. I was quite shocked.


“Freddie was born 1 Sept. If he’d been born on 31 August, he would have been the youngest child in his year at school. Now, he’d be the oldest.  It was funny in hospital – lots of women were in the same situation.


“Freddie has completed us as a family and we won’t have more children now. I feel blessed with what we have got and I’m soaking up everything he’s doing right now and appreciating every day.


“When Katie and I had first started chatting, mid-way through the IVF process, we realised we were living parallel lives. Katie was also being looked after by Oxford Fertility and going through IVF with PGD as she was a carrier of a known condition.  We met in person half way between our homes when we were both heavily pregnant. We also met last month and introduced our babies to each other, which was wonderful.


“I still get women contacting me through my Instagram page. I feel like my page has helped people as they can see my whole journey.

“I cannot fault Oxford Fertility, from start to finish. Everyone was straight with us about timelines. The whole process has been incredible. I’ve recommended Oxford to a lot of friends if they are in the CF community and want to expand their families.”



Katie:

“There’s another Tom in this story – my husband. Tom and I are both opera singers, that’s how we met. We were married in 2018 and I got pregnant quickly. Everything seemed normal but at 34 weeks we realised the baby wasn’t growing and I had low amniotic fluid levels. So, Leia was delivered early as they were worried about her.


“After a lot of tests, we discovered she has a rare form of Mitochondrial disease, which affects the brain, kidneys, heart and muscles. There are many types of this disease and sadly, on average, every day, one child in the UK is born with a form of it.

“The type Leia has is very rare, so we were lucky to get a diagnosis and even luckier when the responsible gene was identified. As Tom and I carry the faulty genes, we were told there’d be a one in four chance it would happen again. We could try to conceive naturally or go the IVF route with PGD, just as Nicola did.

 

“I found Oxford Fertility through my own research as I was looking into places with NHS funding to have IVF with genetic testing. It had amazing reviews. However, at that point I found out that we were pregnant naturally.  Then unfortunately we found out at 13 weeks that the baby was affected again, so we compassionately ended the pregnancy, it was a very difficult time and we knew for certain that IVF was the route for us. 

“The Oxford team knew all of this. I’d already been in touch with them before the pregnancy. We had had the consultation, but had put everything on hold. It was traumatic ending to the pregnancy but the team were amazing. They said, let’s get the ball rolling again for IVF. That really helped me.


“Everyone made me feel looked after. I was never kept waiting. They always replied immediately and it was really reassuring. The clinic was easy for parking, too, which makes a massive difference if you live in London, like we do.


“To prepare for the PGD process, we sent off cheek swabs so they could create a specific test to check our genes. Then they collected 14 eggs and out of those, six were fertilised and matured into blastocysts. At this stage, they were checked for faulty genes. This was an anxious time.  I thought, what if all of them were affected? What if I had complications? But I did trust the team and that helped a lot. Four of the blastocysts came back unaffected with the disease.

“We were happy but it was quite weird. When I met Nicola, later, we laughed when we realised our boys had been hanging out in the freezer together during that time period.

“I got pregnant on the first attempt and went on to have an elective caesarean. It was a lovely experience.  Robin was beautiful and healthy and big and perfect. He was just shy of 8lb and he fed straight away.

“I’d never met anyone who had had IVF, apart from a friend in Ireland and that’s why I set up an Instagram account and got chatting to Nicola. It's so lovely that our boys are only a few weeks apart. They’ll grow up together and become little men together. Nicola’s been a good support to me and I hope I am the same to her.”

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Christmas Story: Two little boys
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