Naomi was only 16 when a blood infection put her in hospital on life support fighting for her life. As she began her slow recovery she was told complications from the appendix operation may have made her infertile. But Naomi overcame all the odds and on Saturday (October 16) she got to have her fairytale ending when she married fiance Liam – with her IVF baby Enzo as pageboy.
“It was such an emotional day and especially poignant for my mum and dad,” says Naomi. “They went through so much emotional turmoil all those years ago when I was in hospital, not knowing whether I was going to survive and what the future held. For them to see me in a bridal gown walking down the aisle with their grandson as pageboy, the child they thought I might never have, was just incredible. It was the happiest day of all of our lives.”
Complications from appendix operation
Naomi still vividly remembers the day, as a teenager, that she was rushed in to hospital. “It was the day I was due to start my GCSE exams and I had woken up with stomach pains,” she says. “The pain was intermittent and I thought I felt okay so went in to school for my first exam but then I literally passed out in the exam room.
“I was taken to hospital where it turned out that my appendix was really inflamed and about to burst so the decision was taken to remove it. I then became very unwell with an infection and three days after the operation I was put on life support after developing sepsis and stayed in hospital for six weeks.
An infected or burst appendix can lead to infection which can spread to other internal organs including in women, the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This can result in scarring or blockages and affect the ability to conceive naturally.
“When I came out of hospital I had missed all of my GCSEs. I was in a wheelchair because I was so weak and my weight had plummeted to around five stone,” says Naomi.
“The doctors were honest with my parents and said it was possible that I might not be able to have children. It was too much for me to take in at the time as I was still pretty young and my main priority at that stage was re-sitting my exams and getting in to college.”
However Naomi always knew that she did eventually want children and so, a few years later, as her friends started to fall pregnant, she decided to investigate her chances and was referred to a gynaecologist. A laparascopy revealed that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked. Naomi was told that whilst it might still be possible for her to get pregnant naturally she had an increased risk of miscarriage or having a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
Met someone special
When she was 25 Naomi met Liam. “I knew from the start that if I met someone special and we wanted to settle down that I would have to explain that I might not be able to have children,” says Naomi. “Thankfully Liam was really understanding.”
The couple tried to conceive naturally for 18 months with no success – and the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy was scary. They were referred to Bourn Hall Clinic in Norwich for NHS-funded IVF treatment.
At Bourn Hall Naomi was given fertility hormones to stimulate her ovaries to produce eggs – which were then collected and mixed with Liam’s sperm to fertilise in the clinic’s laboratory. One of the resulting embryos was then transferred to Naomi’s womb.
The couple’s IVF treatment at Bourn Hall was successful at the first attempt.
“I took a week off work after the embryo transfer and on the fourth day I started to feel sick and my body felt different,” recalls Naomi. I didn’t want to get too excited but I just had a feeling that I might be pregnant.”
Enzo was born on January 2, 2020. “He was nearly two weeks late, he kept us waiting over Christmas,” laughs Naomi. “When he arrived we just sobbed and couldn’t stop staring at him.
“My parents, who have supported me and Liam every step of the way, were delighted and now completely dote on Enzo.”
Get fertility advice
For many couples struggling to conceive it can come as a complete shock and they want to understand why they are not able to get pregnant whilst others – like Naomi – may already have a reason to suspect they might struggle to conceive and want to find out more about their options.
Naomi offers the following advice:
“What I would say to anyone struggling with infertility is to try and stay positive and hopefully you will get the result you need. Bourn Hall were amazing throughout our treatment, they gave us the best gift of all, the gift of life, and we felt supported all the way.”