I have imagined myself having children ever since I can remember. When I got married in 1987, I naively assumed that I would soon have a family, but it came as a shock when my husband said he was not ready. Years went by and eventually he agreed but it just didn’t happen. Despite several medical tests they could find nothing wrong. Eventually our marriage broke up for various reasons, but I have no doubt that our fertility issues contributed.
About thirteen years ago, I finally met my current partner through a walking group. We got on well, shared a love of travel and both wanted children. By then I was 45 and he was 51. I was fit and healthy and I was still having regular periods and just assumed that at some point I would get pregnant.
After a while my doctor sent me to the hospital for a scan where they found I had a large uterine fibroid attached to the womb. One consultant suggested removing it but having a great fear of operations, I just couldn’t face it at the time, especially as I was told that if it went wrong, I could end up with a hysterectomy. It was a risk I was not prepared to take.
When I still didn’t get pregnant, we started looking at IVF clinics on the Internet. There seemed to be so many choices, it was at times, overwhelming. Should we try in the UK or go abroad? What were our best chances? We finally chose London Women’s Clinic in Darlington which seemed to offer good success rates and offered treatments to more mature women. We immediately got an appointment and were treated with great professionalism by caring staff. I was told that my best chances were with donor eggs due to my age. My partner had a sperm test and found his sperm count to be low, but they told us that the healthy ones were swimming fast. I was advised by the doctor to have the fibroid removed but I still could not get over my fear of having an operation. Also, I had just lost my Mum to cancer and I was still too upset to contemplate a serious operation.
London Women’s Clinic offered us the opportunity to participate in their egg sharing programme and we decided to accept this. We travelled to the clinic for a final scan to check that my womb lining was thick enough to support a pregnancy. We felt full of anticipation as we went home. However just before I was due to have an embryo transfer the clinic phoned me to say that unfortunately the donor did not have enough eggs to share with me. I was distressed but a few days later phoned the clinic to say that we wanted to try again.
In February 2013, we received another call from the clinic in Darlington to say they had found a new donor. Even though I felt quite tired from travelling and the whole IVF procedure, I felt upbeat. We almost began to enjoy our trips to the clinic, it bonded us closer together.
After taking fertility medication for another six weeks in preparation for another transfer, I got a phone call to say that we could not continue the procedure as the donor had experienced Ovarian hyperstimulation. This is a potentially life-threatening condition which occurs in its severe form in only 0.05% of cases. This time I was really upset. The clinic staff were very understanding and said that at least I could try again. Sadly, the donor would not be able to try the procedure again. I’d built up my hopes to have a child so much that I felt I needed a break and time to think.
A little while later I met a lady who happened to live in the same street as me who had had a major gynaecolgical operation and was waiting for IVF using her own eggs. When I got home I started thinking that maybe surgery wouldn’t be so bad if you had the right surgeon. London Women’s clinic in Darlington kindly sent a letter to my GP asking if I could see the gynaecologist/surgeon the lady had recommended. She gave me such confidence that I decided to go ahead with the operation.
Just before Christmas, I got a phone call from the clinic in Darlington to say that they had found an altruistic egg donor who had called into one of their London clinics. “Were we interested?”. We had only received brief details about the donor but somehow the match just “felt” right. A few days later we were back at the clinic where my partner gave a sperm sample. Now the matter was entirely out of our hands, all we could do was wait.
We were in France when we received the first phone call to say everything was going well with the donor. It was an early Saturday morning when the phone rang. It was the embryologist saying eight embryos had been successfully created. We had decided to allow the laboratory to take the embryos to blastocyst stage which we were told could give us a slightly higher success rate. A couple of days later, the embryologist phoned us again to say.
“I am pleased to say that you have five beautiful embryos.” We were both absolutely delighted.
My first transfer with two embryos sadly didn’t result in a pregnancy. After all we had been through I was very upset and disappointed. However I continued with acupuncture, received counselling from the clinic both of which helped to pull me through a difficult and emotionally challenging time.
Shortly aftertwards I decided to try again. The transfer process was a little painful but I had asked the clinic if I could play some soothing music which helped me to relax. As we watched the process on a screen, I felt very emotional. Potentially here a new life was beginning. When I came out of the room, I felt like I was floating on air.
The ten day wait was harder this time and I did feel a little scared at having to carry out another pregnancy test. I went away for a couple of days by myself as I felt I wanted some quiet time. I visited museums, art galleries and an aquarium which helped to distract and calm me.
On the morning of the test I was up at six am and when I got a positive result I simply could not believe it. I was over the moon and so was my partner and the staff at the clinic.
When my first scan showed the baby’s, heart beat I could not have been happier. Exactually eight months after the transfer our beautiful daughter came into the world following a caesarean. The hospital staff were brilliant and everyone from the tea lady to the nurses, Doctors and cleaners came to see her.
Our miracle daughter is now three and I still look at her and can hardly believe she is here after waiting so long. We are truly blessed to have her and I cannot thank all the people involved enough, especially those at London Women’s Clinic and our wonderful egg donor for helping to make our dream come true.