“Not having a baby was like a black hole in my heart that wouldn’t be filled until I had him or her in my arms. My internal body clock was so loud I just couldn’t ignore it,” says Sarah, from Southend about her IVF journey. Southend CCG are currently consulting on whether to cut all funding of IVF.
Sarah says: “I have always wanted children and I am a big planner, first baby at 25 and so on. When we started trying, it seemed like everyone around us was getting pregnant. I thought a baby would come naturally and quickly and we were frustrated when this didn’t happen.
“After a few months with no luck, I did some research and realised there were some lifestyle changes we could make to improve our chances. We cut down on alcohol, started taking vitamin supplements, did more exercise and lost weight, but still I couldn’t get pregnant.”
After a year without success, the couple were referred for fertility testing and were shocked when told that they would only have a slim chance of conceiving naturally. A semen analysis revealed poor motility (movement) and morphology (shape). Sluggish sperm find it difficult to reach and fertilise the egg. The consultant said they had only a limited chance of conceiving without medical intervention and so they were referred for NHS-funded IVF treatment.
Choosing Bourn Hall was an easy decision as Sarah explains: “My aunt had been treated there successfully about 10 years ago and so we knew that’s where we wanted to go. On top of that it is where IVF began so we knew we were in safe hands!”
They attended a seminar for new patients and had their first consultation just a few days later. Sarah remembers: “At the seminar, we met other couples just about to start their IVF journey and realised that we were not alone. We learnt a little about the science behind IVF and I found the whole process fascinating and nerve-racking at the same time.”
Sarah talks about her experiences of the IVF journey in the video below
Coping with fertility treatment
Thinking back to this time Phil says: “Knowing it was ‘my fault’ that we were there and having to go through all this did make me feel guilty but you just have to carry on and get the help you need. I also felt bad because I could see Sarah going through all the treatment and what I had to do was nothing in comparison.”
Sarah and her husband Phil knew that fertility treatment could be stressful,so the couple had a game plan to help them cope.
Sarah explains: “Both of us knew the treatment could put pressure on our relationship but we were prepared for this and were able to cope. Phil came with me to appointments and we had time to talk in the car. Phil is not a big talker so we made a point of always stopping at a service station on the way home from the clinic to take stock and chat about anything that was worrying us.
“We also started walking a lot as it was a great way for us to clear our heads. We tried not to bottle anything up. I told lots of people I was having IVF and I don’t think it is anything to be embarrassed about… that is how taboos are created.
“I started a blog and used it to write down my thoughts, keep myself organised and focused as well as keeping friends and family informed.”
No longer have that empty feeling
The Couple had a treatment called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – a type of IVF where a healthy sperm is carefully selected and injected directly into the egg to fertilise it. This is a successful treatment for male factor infertility as only one good sperm is required.
Two weeks later, Sarah took a pregnancy test and was overjoyed when it came back positive. Despite a bit of morning sickness, her pregnancy went smoothly and baby Emma was born at Southend hospital weighing 6lb 15oz.
Sarah says: “Emma is a fantastic, healthy little girl and she’s an absolute joy – despite the odd grizzle from time to time! I no longer have that empty feeling inside anymore, there are no more gaps, I am finally complete.”
Phil adds: “Now we have our beautiful baby girl which makes everything worth it. We now have the family we so wanted and needed. Our life begins as a family which is one of the best feelings in the world.”