“When all my friends were getting pregnant I was happy for them but I had to be brave emotionally,” says Laura from south Essex, speaking ahead of Fertility Awareness Week (October 29 to November 4), who has realised that the pill concealed infertility issues.
Although Laura had suspected that she might have difficulties getting pregnant she and her husband Jodie tried for two years before seeking help. Laura is encouraging others to get advice earlier.
“I was way behind all my friends who had all had babies,” says Laura. “I had always imagined myself as a 1950s housewife at home with a baby and a Labrador but ended up focusing on my career, which wasn’t really me. I just hadn’t met Mr Right.
Pill concealed infertility
“I met Jodie when I was 34 and we tried for a baby for two years before seeking help. I had always wondered if I might have problems getting pregnant as all of the women in my family suffer with heavy periods and my mum used to get so anaemic that she had to have regular iron infusions and ended up having a hysterectomy when she was in her forties.
“My periods didn’t start until I was 17 and were so heavy that I used to have to take time off from college. I went on the contraceptive pill when I was 18 and then after getting serious migraines I was put on the progesterone-only pill. I ended up not having periods at all so when I came of the pill I didn’t know what my ‘normal’ cycle was.”
The couple went to see their GP who sent them for hospital tests which couldn’t find a definitive reason for them struggling to conceive.
“I found being told that we had ‘unexplained infertility’ incredibly frustrating,” admits Laura. “I was desperate to have a ‘reason’”.
Laura was put on an ovulation induction drug for six months and went back to hospital for regular checks but she still didn’t get pregnant. She was then advised that their best chance of having a baby would be to have IVF treatment.
“We chose to go to Bourn Hall Clinic and it was really handy being able to drive to their clinic in Wickford,” she says. “When we had our treatment it was a satellite clinic and we had to go to Colchester for the embryo transfer but now Bourn Hall has a brand-new full-service clinic in Wickford so if we had been having treatment now we could have had everything done under one roof.”
Anne O’Leary, Bourn Hall’s Regional Lead Embryologist at Wickford, says the new full-service fertility centre is already seeing positive results: “One of the first patients treated at Wickford is pregnant, just 6 weeks after the very first embryo transfer was performed.”
The pregnancy was confirmed with a fetal heartbeat. At 6 weeks the baby’s heart has four chambers and is beating twice as fast as yours.
“Twelve patients have had egg collections so far, so we are all just hoping for more good news.”
First time lucky
Laura and Jodie were delighted when their IVF treatment at Bourn Hall worked first time. “I woke up on the day I was due to take my pregnancy test and went downstairs in the dark to pee on a stick,” says Laura. “I took the stick through to the kitchen and saw that the test was positive and in that moment my whole world suddenly changed. I woke Jodie up and told him and then I went to work!”
Nine months later Agatha was born and she will be celebrating her first birthday on October 18.
“None of us could imagine life without her,” says Laura.
“There is so much that can be done to help people struggling to get pregnant and I would advise anyone struggling to conceive not to be embarrassed and to seek help sooner rather than later.
“It might be that some simple lifestyle changes could help you to conceive naturally and if it turns out that you need fertility treatment the younger you are the better.”
Fertility Fayres offer advice
Bourn Hall Clinic is hosting two free Fertility Fayres during Fertility Awareness Week – one at Wickford on 27th October and the other at Cambridge on 3rd November – to help people, even those just thinking about their future fertility, to gain the advice they need.