I felt excluded from the ‘mummy club’

Mothers’ Day can be a painful reminder for many women of the things they are missing, which for Lina included friendship. 

“I felt there was a ‘Mummy Club’ that I was excluded from,” says Lina, now aged 38. ‘All of my friends from school and university were already on their first, second or third child. As much as I had tried to keep up the relationships, I was just ‘not there’; we just couldn’t find points of interest to talk about.”

Lina was 30 when she met her husband Fabio through his brother, who was a work colleague. The two hit it off straight away and they moved in together after three months; they started trying for a baby a few years later.

“I was 33 when we first started trying for a baby and I didn’t want to be an ‘older mum’ and reach 40 without having had a child.

“We carried on trying naturally but nothing happened. I was getting impatient and just wasn’t happy to wait so I went back to my GP. We were both referred for hospital tests at Addenbrookes. None of my test results flagged up any problems but Fabio’s sperm tests revealed he had low sperm count and motility.

“We were told that we would be unlikely to conceive naturally, and that IVF would be our best route.

“Fabio did some research and decided to fly to Italy to see a specialist and undergo a procedure to unblock his ducts which it was hoped would improve his sperm count. He was still hoping to conceive naturally at this point, but the procedure didn’t really give him any substantial improvement.”

“Initially we went to another clinic as they had a special offer, but we realized that it wouldn’t be suitable for us as we would need ICSI. The clinic also felt very busy.”

(ICSI a procedure where a sperm is injected into the egg during IVF treatment.)

Lina with Luciano
Lina with her son Luciano

If you have tests from another clinic you are welcome to bring them to Bourn Hall for a second opinion or advice on your options – do contact us to discuss. 

Lina with Luciano

Going abroad was more expensive

“At the time there was no NHS funding for IVF in Cambridgeshire so we knew that we were going to have to fund our own treatment. Fabio and I looked at our options. I am from Lithuania and Fabio is Italian so initially we looked at possibly having IVF abroad, but by the time we totalled up the cost of flights and hotels and meals it would have been much more expensive.

“As we live in Cambourne we then looked at Bourn Hall because the Cambridge clinic was so convenient to us, literally next door, and we would be able to go there without having to get on a plane or take lots of time off work!

“We went to Bourn Hall for an initial consultation in November and the consultant was so accommodating, so friendly; she gave us so much good information and explained everything very clearly.

“I had my egg collection in February. Because of Fabio’s low sperm count and motility the eggs were fertilized using ICSI, but the embryologists managed to get plenty of good quality sperm out of his sample.

“Unfortunately, I developed a polyp in my uterus which needed to be surgically removed so we couldn’t have an embryo transfer straight away, and the embryos which had been created were frozen.

“We went back to Bourn Hall for a frozen embryo transfer; I did the pregnancy test after the two week wait and it was negative.”

Feeling isolated by infertility

“The day later my period started. I felt very bitter and very angry with everything and everyone.

“I then found out that one of my friends back home in Lithuania was about to give birth and she only told me when she was literally nine months pregnant and about to go into hospital.

“I realised that other friends had known about it but didn’t want to share her good news with me. So even though everyone had the best of intentions it was quite hurtful for me to have been kept in the dark about my friend’s pregnancy.

No time to waste

“After our first frozen embryo transfer was unsuccessful, we decided to go back to Bourn Hall fairly quickly as we didn’t want to leave it too long. Second time around our frozen embryo transfer was a success.

“I took my pregnancy test just before Christmas, on 17 December, and we could barely see the line, so it was a bit of an anxious wait until we took a second pregnancy test a week later. We took the second test on Christmas Eve and the two lines were so bright!

“I called my mum and I was crying and she said to me ‘this is the best Christmas present for all of us’.

“I was so excited – it really felt as though we had our very own Christmas miracle.”

Lina and Fabio celebrate Luciano's first birthday
Lina and Fabio celebrate Luciano's first birthday
Lina and Fabio with Luciano

Now in the club

Lina and Fabio’s son Luciano was born on 18 August 2021 at Addenbrookes Hospital.

“I was just so glad when he finally arrived,” says Lina. “It felt surreal. We had been waiting for so long to become parents and here he was in front of us. He is a sheer bundle of joy and I really enjoy being a mum.

“I would absolutely recommend Bourn Hall. From the moment we arrived we had a warm welcome, the staff were smiling and everyone was so friendly. They really looked after us.

“Once I told my friends that I was pregnant, it was as though a ‘secret door’ to the mummy club opened. I felt like ‘okay, now we have common interest points I am back in the club’.”

Independent fertility counselling

Finding the right person and time to talk about infertility can help

“Infertility can slowly impact on relationships, work life, social life and finances if allowed to,” says Jackie Stewart, Independent Fertility Counsellor at Bourn Hall Clinic. “It can lead to a feeling of being in limbo, with decisions to book holidays, career choices, moving or renovating a house often put on hold until ‘treatment is over’. These feelings are all natural.

“If you recognise that you are experiencing this, please be reassured you are not alone.

“By giving yourself the best support and allowing some of these feelings to be present, it is possible to work safely with these thoughts and feelings. Give yourself permission to feel sad and to grieve for the sense of loss you are feeling.

“Specialist fertility counselling support is available for patients in treatment and for those working towards infertility resolution to help support your feelings and to provide helpful information.

“It can be comforting to know help is at hand if you are struggling at any point. Accepting and talking about your feelings can be a scary prospect, but it can also be easier than resisting them continually.

“It can help to find the right time and person to talk to in confidence, somebody you trust who will understand your feelings. This could be your partner, a close family member or friend, or a work colleague. It can also help to speak to an objective outsider like a professional counsellor, a GP or other patients who can empathise with you.”

Jackie talks about these feelings and coping strategies that couples and individuals can use to help them through IVF in the Fertility Blog and also at the Fertility Support Group, which is held every month.

Related articles