We knew long before we started trying to get pregnant that we were going to need some help to conceive. Ian has a condition called Kleinefelter (XXY) Syndrome, which he knew had made him infertile.
Added to that, when I was younger, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which hadn’t caused me too many problems so far, but we knew it might be a factor when we tried to conceive.
By the time we decided to start trying, we’d had plenty of time to talk through what we both wanted, and the best and only route we wanted to take was to use donor sperm.
We started to look at routes to conception, and straight away we came up against issues of my weight being too high and related issues to do with PCOS. Although we’d been tasked initially to get my BMI below 30, blood tests had shown that otherwise I was fertile and ovulating fine.
It took so much determination to stay motivated and reduce my weight, in the end weight loss surgery was the only way I could lose weight and keep it off. Although this might seem extreme, it was a last resort and I would do it all again to be able to have the chance to have a baby.
We tried several times in an informal arrangement with a friend who had agreed to be a sperm donor. Although we will always be grateful for his support, getting pregnant this way just wasn’t happening for us.
“Although it wasn’t always good news along the way, we were still determined to have a child. And to keep going, we stayed strong together.”
London Women’s Clinic Darlington
At our first appointment we went armed with a long list of questions, and they were all answered by the team that we met. When we asked how long the process would take and were told four weeks, we were shocked it wouldn’t be a wait of months, and excited to get started.
Best of all, although my BMI was still slightly above 30 despite all my best efforts, we were told that as long as it was under 35, they were happy to treat us.
Choosing a donor
We wanted to match Ian’s characteristics as much as we could, while at the same time planning to be open with any child about where they came from.
We had great support from the London Sperm Bank, but choosing a donor isn’t an easy process when you simply get to see eye colour, hair colour, race and few other details. Availability of sperm changed quickly, and it was tricky to settle on one donor until we went through a process of elimination to select the right one for us.
We went through counselling with the clinic to make sure we understood all the implications of using a donor for us, our children and our families. Then we bought the donor sperm online and we were all set to go.
Our consultant and nurse gave us step-by-step guidance as to what we could expect for our first course of treatment, and with dates and medication all discussed we finally had our plan in place.
Our spirits were lifted with what was finally happening, and after two weeks of injections and following our plan I had 18 eggs collected, of which 14 were fertilised, and one embryo was implanted.
After years of trying and waiting, that final two week wait seemed endless, and then suddenly our infertility journey was done, we were so happy that IVF had worked first time for us.
Our happy ending
We were very lucky in the fact that lockdown happened just as we found out we were pregnant. We had to go to our first scan for viability during lockdown, which was a surreal environment to be in, but it also started an exciting new chapter for us.
The staff at LWC Darlington made our journey so much better, as soon as we entered the clinic we were met with happy smiley faces, whether it be from Jane on reception or Lorraine in the office, and Jackie our main nurse was absolutely fabulous and put us both at ease. These people were interested in our journey from start to finish.
Now we are relaxing into the last few weeks of pregnancy and the realisation of our long-held dream as we look forward to meeting our baby girl for the first time.
You can read more about Kelly and Ian’s journey on Kelly’s blog, Our journey to parenthood the hard way.