Life for Leonie McCaughren and a rapidly growing number of women in Essex has changed beyond recognition as they look forward to celebrating their first Mothers’ Day (March 22) – after IVF treatment at the new Bourn Hall Wickford clinic – a special day they thought may never come.
For its first full year of operation, Bourn Hall Clinic in Wickford is reporting impressive pregnancy success rates, nearly 20 per cent above the national average. The clinic has so far treated 106 patients and over half of those are pregnant already or have had a baby.
“Motherhood has just been a complete whirlwind – nothing can prepare for how much you love your baby (or how little sleep you get!)”, says Leonie, who was the first patient at Bourn Hall’s new Wickford clinic. She met her husband Chris when she was just 19 and children were always part of the plan. Their baby, called Bear, was born last April.
“It’s gone by so fast, not long after Mother’s Day Bear will be a year old,” she says.
Fertility diagnosis at Wickford
Bourn Hall is the only clinic based in the county to offer both NHS-funded and self-funded IVF treatment and recently staff were delighted to hear that funding for IVF has been reinstated for North East Essex.
Dr Arpita Ray, Lead Clinician for Bourn Hall’s clinics in Wickford and Colchester, says that eighty per cent of couples will become pregnant within one year of trying so couples who have been trying for longer than this should seek advice: “There are a number of steps which couples can take to improve their natural fertility, although this won’t work for everyone, so getting good advice and a diagnosis when you are younger and have more options is very important,” she says.
Bourn Hall recently launched a GP-referred six-week fertility diagnosis and treatment service which offers a good chance of natural conception for women with irregular ovulation – this diagnostic service and ovulation induction treatment is free (even in areas where IVF is not funded).
High IVF success rates
Anne O’Leary, Lead Embryologist at Bourn Hall Wickford, is proud of her team who have worked so hard to achieve the IVF success rates; over half the patients treated so far are pregnant or have had a baby:
“The embryology laboratory at Bourn Hall Wickford is a state-of-the-art facility,” says Anne. “Our pregnancy success rate reflects not only the hard work in the laboratory but also the patient care in the lead-up to egg collection. Our entire team has contributed to this success and we aim to provide an outstanding service.”
Leonie and Chris had NHS-funded IVF treatment, which worked first time. Leonie was so shocked by the result that she drove to Tesco in her pyjamas to buy more pregnancy tests to double-check she was actually pregnant. “I know two other people whose IVF treatment worked first time at Bourn Hall,” she says.
Bear was Bourn Hall Wickford’s first baby.
“Time has gone so fast, it doesn’t feel that long ago we were having our first appointment,” says Leonie.
“It’s hard to put into words how I felt when Bear was born. It was something that we’d wanted for so long, to actually have him arrive was just surreal. I think it took a couple of days for me to actually believe that he was here and not keep thinking it was a dream. He’s almost a year old now and it’s safe to say that being his mum is the best thing that I’ve ever experienced – I never knew that watching a child sleep could be so fascinating and, as he gets older, watching him learn to hold things and crawl and stand is so exciting. Every day there’s something new and, whilst I miss him being a tiny baby, seeing him learn and grow is the best part of being his mum.”
Although Leonie and Chris are not eligible for more NHS funding now that they have a child they are fortunate to have five frozen embryos in store, which will allow them to have embryo transfers without the need to go through a further full IVF cycle and the medication that requires.
Celebrating their first Mothers’ Day
Another mum who will be celebrating her first Mothers’ Day this year thanks to Bourn Hall’s Wickford clinic is Charlotte Rawlinson, who gave birth to her daughter Eloise in July 2019.
“Having Eloise has totally changed our lives for the better,” says Charlotte. “I can’t remember my life without her in it. No one prepares you for the total lack of sleep but it is definitely worth it when you wake up to your baby’s smiley face first thing in the morning.
“At one time I never thought I’d get to celebrate Mother’s Day, I was convinced it would never happen for me. But here I am, eight months into what I can only describe as the best job in the world. It means absolutely everything to me to finally be able to celebrate Mothers’ Day with my perfect little family. A massive thank you to Bourn Hall for making my dreams come true.”