I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when I was 18, and I knew from that point that when I wanted to have a child in the future that it was going to be difficult.
My partner, Garry, and I had tried conceiving naturally for a few years and even turned to the NHS for treatment, but we had no luck. We underwent several rounds of IVF with fertility clinics in both Manchester and Bath, but these were ultimately unsuccessful, as they were only ever able to collect a maximum of 5 eggs.
We continued trying over the years, but after experiencing several chemical pregnancies we knew that we needed a change. After taking a break to visit some relatives in Australia, we came home and decided to attend an open day at London Women’s Clinic in Bristol. From the moment we walked through the doors, we knew this clinic was for us.
We spoke with Dr Thackare who sat down and listened to what we had to say. Unlike the previous doctors we had dealt with, she seemed much more knowledgeable about pregnancies with PCOS and was able to think of so many suggestions and different treatment types for us there and then. This impressed us, as we felt like she was invested in our journey right from the start and genuinely cared about helping us create our family.
Soon after, we began treatment, and this time they were able to collect 21 eggs! This was a huge difference from our previous cycles and a great start, and we had 8 blastocysts formed. We were able to put some back in, which turned into a positive pregnancy test, but ultimately miscarried later on.
By this point, we had been trying for a baby for several years and were starting to struggle. But then a friend of ours reached out to us and asked if there was anything she could do - she even suggested being our surrogate.
We had already considered other options like surrogacy or adoption, but having my friend suggest it to us made it seem so much more real. We spoke with our doctors who agreed that we had exhausted all means and that a surrogate would allow us to have our family, so they were very supportive of the decision.
In 2019 we started the surrogacy journey, which involved additional testing of my embryos and counselling for my partner, myself, and my friend. This was really useful to us as it meant that we were all on the same page and felt totally comfortable about our situation. The four of us – myself and my husband, and my friend and her husband – even agreed that we should have a designated communication plan to help us through our journey. We enlisted the help of a 5th friend who would act as an impartial sounding board so that any time one of us needed to vent or express our worries, we could do so to someone who wasn’t involved in our journey. Thankfully, my husband and I are pretty good talkers, so I never felt like I couldn’t say something to him if I was worried or frustrated.
Not much long later, we had the first embryo transfer, which we unfortunately had to abandon. A few months after we underwent a second frozen embryo transfer which didn’t take as my friend’s body wasn’t reacting to the medication in the way that it needed to. But 3 months later in October 2019, when we had our third embryo transfer, we received a positive pregnancy test!
The staff at London Women’s Clinic were amazing – they were understanding, supportive, and friendly. We had a great experience with them and felt like everyone was invested in our journey.
I was extremely happy but also very nervous, as we had experienced heartbreak before. My previous miscarriages had happened around the 16-week mark, so even when we were several months into the pregnancy, I still felt unable to relax. The clinic was incredibly understanding of this and allowed us to have an early pregnancy scan to check that everything was going okay, as well as another scan around the 9-week mark too. This gave us extra peace of mind that our baby was thriving, and that our friend was okay as well.
Then, in July 2020, our daughter Isabella was born.
After 20 years of knowing about my PCOS diagnosis and struggling to get pregnant, and 11 combined rounds of both IVF and ICSI treatment, it was such a relief to finally have the family that we wanted.
Our journey to having our daughter wasn’t easy – I always thought that IVF would work and didn’t imagine that I would need a surrogate. But the process went a lot smoother than I initially imagined. We had no attachment issues and there were no concerns about me not being able to bond with my daughter – overall, the process brought my friend and me a lot closer together.
I’m so grateful to London Women’s Clinic for helping me create my family. The staff at the Bristol clinic were absolutely amazing, and we truly believe that if we had gone to any other clinic then we wouldn’t have the family that we do now. When the time comes, I would definitely consider using a surrogate with London Women’s Clinic again – but for now, our hands are pretty full with just the one daughter!