She’s our little creation that I still cannot believe we made!
My husband and I had been trying for a baby naturally for 18 months before we decided to seek advice from our GP. We were referred for some tests, but all our results came out relatively fine; my AMH whilst on the low side, was still at the high end of the lower scale, bordering ‘normal’, my husband’s sperm results were good and there was nothing else that suggested anything was wrong, so we went back and kept trying naturally.
As time went on and still no natural pregnancy, we decided to go for further investigations to try to figure out why we couldn’t conceive. When we went to see the specialist, I told him I’ve always suffered from really bad periods and started talking through all my symptoms with him.
Based on our conversation, he told me then and there that I might have endometriosis. I knew what endometriosis was and also knew that I definitely didn’t want it! My husband, on the other hand, had never heard of it and was very concerned. The specialist recommended I have a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy which later confirmed that I do in fact have endometriosis.
During the surgery he removed any endometriosis tissue he could see and, in theory, I should have been very fertile after the procedure for the next 3 months. So, we went home and started trying naturally again. We tried everything; my diet was amazing, we were tracking my ovulation, I was doing acupuncture and upped my fertility boosting supplements, yet nothing was happening.
This is when we realised that we really needed some medical help and expertise. We came across CREATE Fertility via the surgeon who had performed my endometriosis surgery and attended one of the free open evenings. I really liked the approach of following as natural a protocol as possible and that treatment would work alongside my natural menstrual cycle. I’m someone that hates medication and if I can avoid unnecessary medical interventions and drugs then I will. I have friends who have been to other clinic who only do high stimulation IVF and it sounds scary! The thought of daily injections for such long periods of time, pumping my body full of hormones and having unnecessary procedures such as immune therapy really didn’t appeal to me, although works brilliantly for others.
We were extremely lucky to have been offered 3 rounds of IVF on the NHS and we decided to go for it! I didn’t take IVF lightly at all. When we started the process, I made sure I was super healthy and that I prepared my body the best that I could - I went to see a fertility dietitian, was having reflexology regularly and started taking all the right supplements.
In our first cycle at CREATE, 14 eggs were collected, 11 were mature, 10 fertilised overnight. 5 got to wonderful ‘day 5’ blastocyst stage. It was time for the embryo transfer. Devastatingly though, during the procedure the consultant found a lump which was preventing the catheter carrying the first of our precious embryos from passing into my womb, so all our embryos had to be frozen. I was completely heartbroken. I was not prepared for this scenario where I would come out of the clinic without an embryo inside. I cried all the way home on the train.
After this cycle, I had to have surgery to see what the lump was and if it could be removed. To add another twist to my story, it turned out it wasn’t actually a lump but rather I had an acute angle into my cervix, making it extremely difficult to enter my womb.
I then had to have another surgery to dilate my cervix to make it easier for a catheter to navigate the acute angle. This surgery however, failed. The consultant couldn’t get through my cervix. It was then decided that I would need a further surgical Procedure with two consultants, one being a female cancer specialist used to taking on tricky situations.
All this time having numerous surgeries was pushing back our next attempt at IVF, it was very hard to take.
The next surgery a female specialist cancer surgeon managed after 3 hours to get through my cervix. A coil was left in to help keep me dilated. I had to return to hospital weekly to have it manipulated in order to maintain dilation.
Fast forward another month and back CREATE it was decided that I ought to have mock transfers to ensure the fertility consultant could get through my cervix to avoid further disappointment. Unfortunately the first mock transfer was unsuccessful, they again couldn’t reach my womb. Things were feeling desperate.
Then the fertility consultant at CREATE decided that future mocks and transfers should be carried out with me under sedation as I was becoming more and more tense.
So another few weeks pass and just before Christmas I was back at create to have our first sedated mock transfer and at last, success! They reached my womb and determined that the reason they hadn’t been able to before was because of previous surgeries, a ‘false passage’ had been created in my womb, essentially a hole where the catheter would naturally go down, hitting a dead end. That now needed time (2 months) to heal and close before IVF could be attempted again. An ordeal indeed, but at least we now had some answers!
During this wait before we could attempt a real transfer again, I started acupuncture, saw an Ayurvedic doctor to help with the healing, started castor oil therapy at home plus femoral massage and foot soaks. I threw myself into trying to heal and find some harmony in my body after all the invasive procedures. I even got hypnotised!
Once we were ready to come back for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), I took a 3-month sabbatical off work. I spoke to my bosses and explained that in 3 months I essentially could have 3 attempts at getting pregnant, so I wanted to take the time off and give it everything. They kindly agreed, and I went back to CREATE for my first FET. Unfortunately, I did not fall pregnant so had to go back for my 2nd attempt....
After my second FET, I remember being told that I was pregnant, but that my hormone levels were very low. Fast forward to the 6-week point, I was in the house alone and got this excruciating pain. I had never felt pain like it, it was horrific. I was writhing around, clinging to the bathroom sink. My husband was driving up to Liverpool for work and I just remember messaging my best friend who ended up calling an ambulance for me.
Before I knew it, I was in A&E while my husband was driving back down the motorway to get to me. I ended up having a cervical ectopic pregnancy and was held in the hospital for 5-6 nights. I was given the choice of seeing the pregnancy through naturally, which was dangerous due to my medical history or have a chemotherapy injection which would end the multiplying of cells. I chose to go for the chemotherapy injection, but this meant I wasn’t allowed to get pregnant for 3 months post-injection. My plan of taking 3 months off work to make our dream come true was cut short.
It all happened very quickly. I was pregnant one minute, then no longer pregnant and then wasn’t allowed to try again for 3 months. It was a really dark time. I found it very difficult to deal with it so decided to give counselling a go, which I found useful. I actually felt a lot better after just 5 or 6 sessions.
When I got to day 9 I decided to take a pregnancy test and two lines immediately come up. I just couldn’t believe it; I was actually pregnant. After a few weeks I had my beta pregnancy test and my hcG levels were high this time. I remember being quite sad when I was discharged from CREATE. I didn’t want to leave!
My heart was in my mouth the whole time, every time I went to the toilet or moved around too much. After a little bleed at 6 weeks and again at 7, the pregnancy went well; I was sick a lot at the start but I really started to enjoy it during my 3rd trimester. We found out we were having a girl on Christmas Day and she was really active in my belly from that point (16 weeks) I could feel her hiccup regularly!
In many respects you could say our infertility journey has been quite complicated the whole way along, but I now have a beaming and thriving 3 month old and life is amazing. I feel unreal. I came home with a tiny little tot and she’s our little creation that I still cannot believe we made. It’s marvellous. I often just stare at her little toes and it’s just all unbelievable; she is gorgeous, a miracle.
My husband has been unreal, he has taken to it like a duck to water. He was absolutely brilliant throughout pregnancy and birth and now he is besotted with her. He adores her and whenever he has to go away for work he wants pictures and videos of her all the time!
Not that we weren’t close before, but we are now a proper team for this little baby. We’re making decisions together and we are working things out, fumbling through. We’re making some mistakes but we’re constantly learning. It’s a beautiful process. Just watching two adults be quite vulnerable with each other and trying to figure out what this little tot wants or needs. It’s so nice to have that team spirit with your husband and we’re working really well together.
I cannot recommend CREATE Fertility enough. I think it’s a personal decision and everyone should make their own mind up but I always share my experience. I am very open about IVF treatment, but I understand that some people aren’t. I feel really proud that we went down this route and worked closely with CREATE to make this happen. I think that should be celebrated; it’s a medical marvel. It blows my mind!
It’s such an emotional journey; every step of IVF is a hurdle because you have no control over it. You don’t know how many eggs they’re going to collect, their quality or the quality of the sperm. It’s like a computer game, you’re constantly trying to get to the next level and if you miss you could just end up back to square one. I think before you even get to the IVF stage, invest in your mental health and your support network and you diet so that you can go into it feeling like you’ve done everything you could have done to make it successful. For me it really worked that I contributed positively to it rather than leaving it completely in someone else’s hands.