It came as a surprise to Emma-Jayne that in five years of trying she hadn’t become pregnant: “I’ve always wanted to be a mum and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I think I would be good at it.”
Emma-Jayne met her husband Malcolm when she was in her teens and they both knew they wanted children.
“I was 19 when we first started trying and I am now nearly 26,” recalls Emma-Jayne.
“As time went on it got harder. I was working with children with disabilities and pretty much all my friends had children. I got emotional every time someone said they were pregnant; it was very very difficult.
“I didn’t have any problems with periods – not always clockwork, but fairly regular – so I thought it would just happen.”
After five years the couple went to their GP. A HyCoSy test showed Emma-Jayne’s fallopian tubes were clear but Malcolm had a low sperm count and low motility.
“The hospital gynaecologist looked at our results and said the only way we were going to conceive was with IVF.”
NHS funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall
Fortunately, the couple were eligible for NHS funded IVF and they chose Bourn Hall clinic in Colchester for treatment. As they live in Ipswich, Colchester was the closest Bourn Hall clinic and they started treatment at the end of 2015.
“We were advised to try ICSI,” continues Emma-Jayne. “This is where one sperm gets injected into an egg to help with fertilisation.
“I started my injections to stimulate the ovaries in February 2016 and was scanned every other day to decide when to take the eggs out.
“I produced 11 eggs; ten eggs were inseminated and nine eggs fertilised, but only one made it to day five, blastocyst stage, and this was put in my womb.
“It didn’t feel real even though I had been preparing myself the previous month. I was told to carry on with daily life, but no heavy lifting etc., then wait for two weeks to take the test.
“I felt content during those two weeks; I can’t really explain it – a bit emotional and excited and I couldn’t wait. I took the pregnancy test and it came up positive so I phoned the clinic and they called me in at four weeks for the first scan.”
That was when problems started.
“The nurse said it may not be an ongoing pregnancy as there was not enough amniotic fluid in the sac. It had stopped growing at six weeks, at ten weeks the heartbeat was low and at 11 weeks there was no heartbeat. The baby had died.
“This counts as miscarriage and we were heartbroken. Bourn Hall cared for us through to that point and then we went to Ipswich Hospital to confirm there was no heartbeat.
“From there I didn’t know what to do, I was in a dark place. So, I thought I would pick myself up and try fostering. The social worker seemed very happy with us as I had worked in childcare before. On paper, we looked perfect but two weeks later we were told ‘no’ as we had had IVF – and that was all they said.”
The couple still had the option of another cycle of NHS funded IVF so Emma-Jayne phoned the GP and asked to be referred again.
“I had a higher dosage this time and was having injections all over Christmas. Just after New Year 2017 the eggs were taken out. I got 17 eggs and all of them were fertilised; just one looked as though it had made it so I took that one chance.
“I missed a period in the two-week wait but after one week and five days I started cramping so I rang the clinic. They said this can happen but I knew in myself it was something to worry about and that night I had heavy bleeding and I knew it was game over.
“I took a pregnancy test and it was negative on the 14th day – and that was it. We had two cycles of NHS funded treatment and then it just ended.”
Making a mental shift
Emma-Jayne is pleased that they had the chance to try IVF.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t given it a try. We had a positive experience at Bourn Hall and amazing encouragement and support from family and friends so we just carried on.
“I found me and Mal became closer as a couple and a lot stronger seeing each other go through such heartache.
“Something I would say to a couple in a similar position would be to give treatment a try; just because it didn’t work for us doesn’t mean that it won’t for them.”
The couple are moving on with their lives: they got married in July 2017 and Emma-Jayne now juggles running her own business selling gifts, handcrafted chocolates and arranging bouquets, with caring for her grandma.
“I am never going to forget it, and it is always on my mind – especially when, for other people, becoming pregnant and starting a family seems an easy process and has been so hard for me and Malcolm.
“Of course, I would have loved the experience of being pregnant and giving birth to a baby but we have made a mental shift. What matters to me above all else is being a mum, however that comes about, and so we have decided to look in to adoption. If I can hold a child in my arms and we can be a family I will be happy.”