“You're all I want for Christmas
And if all my dreams come true
Then I'll awake on Christmas mornin'
And find my stocking filled with you”
When baby Rocco Stocking was born on Christmas Day 2016 he was a dream come true for parents Lynsey and Rocky. The couple had struggled with infertility and miscarriage and to have him at last in their arms felt like a miracle in Colchester.
This Christmas he will be spending his first birthday being thoroughly spoilt by his doting parents and grandparents who still can’t quite believe he is here.
Lynsey, 32, explains that the couple got engaged in their 20s and had both always wanted children so soon started trying for a baby. They married in June 2013 but sadly had an early miscarriage at eight weeks the following year.
“It had been a year and a half of trying for a baby and I was ‘oh thank goodness it has happened’ and then the rug was pulled out from under our feet,” explains Lynsey. “It was back to square one and never did happen again.”
Eventually the couple went to their GP for advice and investigative tests at Colchester General Hospital. Lynsey had hoped that the tests might give them a reason for struggling to conceive but no identifiable medical reason could be found and they were told that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ which accounts for around a quarter of cases of infertility in the UK.
Lynsey continues: “I felt really frustrated; we were young, fit, neither of us was overweight and I had periods like clockwork. Rocky gave up smoking specially when we started trying and that had been quite hard for him. You think ‘what more can we do?’”
The couple were told that they would be eligible for referral for NHS-funded IVF treatment.
“They were talking about pulling the plug on NHS funding and I was getting quite anxious about that but we got the go-ahead from the CCG so it felt like our big chance,” explains Lynsey.
“I was a bit scared, but we chose Bourn Hall Colchester for treatment and they were brilliant. I quite liked the routine of waking up and knowing which injections to take at certain times and getting a bit of control back.
“I got a positive result from the first cycle of IVF, but then lost it again after only three days. It was very sudden from joy to despair. It was a double-blow.
“I wanted to get Christmas and New Year out the way and started again in February 2016 with a fresh cycle.
“During my first IVF treatment I produced loads of eggs but not of great quality. The second treatment was my last chance at NHS funding so I felt under pressure.
“Rumours are that protein is good so I started eating a lot of chicken and eggs and cutting down on carbs.
“For stress relief I got a Fitbit and used to walk to work in the morning. By pounding the street, I made sure I got fresh air every day; I enjoyed it as it uplifted my mood and helped to give me something to focus on.
“I don’t know if it helped but second time around I got higher quality eggs. One embryo was transferred and three were frozen and so I felt more positive.
“I got so nervous before the pregnancy test, because of the disappointments I had experienced in the past. I did the test four days later than I should have done and waited so I could do it at the weekend. It was positive, so I wrapped myself up in cotton wool after that until the six-week scan which gave me a due date of Christmas Day. At first I was just relieved and then ended up getting quite excited about it as Christmas is such a special time of year.
“I absolutely loved being pregnant, even though I did have morning sickness at the same time every day at 9am!
“When I was told at my six week scan that the baby’s due date was Christmas Day I didn’t believe that he would actually arrive on that day. But sure enough he did! I was in labour for two days and tried really hard to get him to arrive on Christmas Eve but he arrived at 1.30am on Christmas Day! He was the first baby born on Christmas Day in the area.
“I can’t wait for Christmas this year. I missed everything family-wise last year. I was in hospital for five days and Rocky was back and forth coming to see us and trying to see family. He was shattered.
“This year will be a much more relaxed family-orientated affair with a proper Christmas dinner; although the hospital one wasn’t bad, I prefer my mum’s!
“On Christmas Day we will do Rocco’s birthday in the morning and then Christmas in afternoon and that is probably how we will do it for the next few years”.
Lynsey cannot believe how much her life has changed in the last year. “I absolutely love being a mum and Rocky has got a really good bond with him, they are both boys together.
“Every single member of staff Bourn Hall is fantastic, from the nurses to the girls in the labs to the consultant to the wonderful receptionist. When I lost my first cycle they were lovely, really sensitive, looked after me and remembered me when I phoned two months ago and they said bring Rocco in and they all fussed over him. I would go back there in a shot if I needed to and I have recommended them to my friend.
“I would love to have more children and we will try again naturally but we have been blessed with Rocco. If that is where we stop he will always be our miracle baby.”
Christmas can be a particularly painful time of year for couples trying to conceive and Lynsey offers words of encouragement to others based on her own experience.
“Don’t lose hope,” she says. “Remember to look after yourself. Most importantly talk about how you are feeling to loved ones and friends.”
“When I had my first miscarriage I didn’t tell anyone, but I did the second time and it was definitely better. I would recommend that people struggling with infertility talk to their support network.”
Only a small number of people require IVF – there are many ways that natural fertility can be boosted and other assisted conception treatments can be offered at Bourn Hall’s fertility clinics.
Bourn Hall Clinic is offering free consultations with a fertility nurse specialist until Easter 2018. The consultations are available at Bourn Hall’s Colchester clinic and also the new clinic when it opens in Wickford next year. Advice will be given on a range of measures that can be used to help people become parents.