Spending the festive period with their lockdown baby daughter Mia will be a dream come true this year for Marianne and husband Michael from Suffolk.
“Christmas is going to be so special this year because after trying for a baby for so long this will be my first Christmas as a mum,” says Marianne.
Mia was born on the first day of lockdown, 23 March, after Marianne and Michael had successful fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic. The couple, who were teenage sweethearts and have been together for 15 years.
“It was a shock when I couldn’t get pregnant as you spend so many years being cautious that you think it will be really easy when you actually start trying.
“As soon as we got married people would ask us ‘when are you going to have a baby’? It didn’t worry us until about five years later when a lot of our friends had started to have children and I found it really difficult. My stress levels started to really mount.”
After a year of trying the couple went to see their GP and were referred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for tests and these took about 9 months. They were told they had sub-fertility and could try for longer, but the consultant was able to fast-track their referral for IVF to avoid another wasted year.
Fortunately, the couple live in Suffolk where some NHS funding for IVF treatment is available and they did their research and opted to go to Bourn Hall Cambridge for its reputation and to avoid going to London for egg retrieval.
“We loved the fact that Bourn Hall was the first IVF clinic in the world and that the pioneers who set it up were behind the birth of the world’s first IVF baby Louise Brown,” says Marianne. “Michael’s surname is Brown and we thought that was fantastic and it was obviously meant to be! We found everyone at Bourn Hall so helpful and it made our journey a lot easier.”
The couple were delighted when their IVF treatment worked first time. Michael played it cool though. “I couldn’t bear to look,” says Marianne, who took the pregnancy test before she went into the shower and asked her husband to tell her the result. “…..and he was like yeah um and just didn’t say anything and then I thought ‘oh well I am not pregnant’ and then I came out and looked at it and thought oh my god I can’t believe it. I had never seen a positive pregnancy test before, and I thought I must be dreaming. I then took loads more just to double-check!”
Marianne didn’t allow herself to get too excited in the initial stages of her pregnancy until she felt more confident the pregnancy was progressing normally. “I started to relax a bit more once I felt her kicking,” she says. “It was my reassurance that she was there and it felt like having my best friend who I hadn’t met yet with me all the time. It was a really special feeling.”
The couple were already in hospital when lockdown was announced as baby Mia was breach. They opted to have a caesarean and Marianne was booked for the 23rd March without then knowing what a momentous day that was to become.
“Having a baby in the middle of a pandemic has been very different to how we imagined. It has given us time alone to settle as a family,” says Marianne.
“The grandparents first got to meet Mia through a window and she was only held by myself and Michael until she was three months old. We had no visits from health visitors, but we made it through and, looking back, this has been amazing for us as a family. Mia has changed our world for the better and we consider ourselves lucky to have had her in 2020 where working from home, if possible, has become the norm.
“We are so excited about Christmas this year. We will be playing with Mia and giving her as much attention as we can along with her grandparents who are all really excited about seeing her. I am not too worried about Santa and presents, Mia has shown me what family really is, just to be present and connected with her.
“The science behind IVF blows my mind and Mia is just so amazing. We will forever be indebted to Bourn Hall Clinic for giving us the best year of our lives yet.”