Gemma and Matthew, from Norfolk, knew from the beginning that having a family wasn’t going to be straightforward for them as Matthew suffered a football accident when he was younger.
“At the age of 14 my GP told me that I would not be able to have children,” explains Matthew. “At the time it didn’t really matter to me – I was so young – but having become an adult and seeing our friends become parents my perspective has changed.”
Having been introduced by a friend, Gemma and Matthew started seeing each other in 2010 and after a year began trying for a baby. However, Matthew thought the likelihood of being a father was nearly impossible.
Gemma says: “Initially we were optimistic and hoped we might conceive naturally so we tried for eight months, but looking back, that time was more about us realising we needed to see our GP and get help if we ever wanted a chance of having a baby.”
If a couple has not conceived naturally within 18-24 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse, they would be advised to see their GP to initiate tests. If there is a definite cause for the infertility, such as identified male infertility, then a couple can be referred sooner.
Tests showed that Matthew was not infertile but had a low sperm count with low motility and so they were referred for NHS funded infertility treatment.
“From the list of clinics we were offered we chose Bourn Hall for its great reviews, experience in dealing with male infertility,” says Gemma.
Various male infertility procedures were discussed including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where during IVF treatment a single sperm is injected into the centre of each mature egg to help fertilisation occur.
“Our consultant talked us through our options and showed a slide show, which was very helpful as before we didn’t know what was involved, especially with ICSI”, recalls Gemma; “it made the whole process much clearer.”
Unfortunately the first cycle was unsuccessful. “We were devastated,” recalls Gemma, “but thankfully we had two embryos frozen so we could try again.”
Worried that their second attempt might also fail, Gemma took her pregnancy test at 5:00 am so Matthew could be present to support her and know the result before leaving for work.
Fortunately the test was positive:
“19th May is etched in my mind as the result was positive!” says Gemma. “I was overwhelmed with happiness and excitement as well as disbelief that we might become parents.”
Matthew adds: “I felt unbelievably happy and shocked. It was an incredible feeling seeing the positive pregnancy test and knowing I was going to become a dad.”
After suffering some initial morning sickness the rest of Gemma’s pregnancy went well and Ava was born in January.
“Having Ava is absolutely amazing,” says Gemma. “To go from thinking you can’t have a baby to then having your own in your arms is incredible. The journey was scary at moments, such as when I had to take the injections, but it was totally worth it!
“The staff were lovely and I can only say positive things about Bourn Hall. We would certainly choose them for any future treatment which would now be self- funded as we are no longer eligible for NHS funding now we have a baby.”