“We felt that trying to get pregnant had been dominating our lives for so many years we decided to take a six-month break from treatment,” says Vicki. The Norfolk couple’s children are among the first 1000 babies to be conceived at Bourn Hall Norwich, but as always, behind the happy photograph there has been a long, difficult journey.
“After our wedding we did what many newly-weds do and started trying for a family straight away,” says Vicki. “We hoped that we would be just like everyone else and get pregnant quickly.”
Unfortunately for Vicki and her husband Ricky they were unable to conceive and as time went on their hopes of becoming parents early on in their marriage began to fade.
“It seemed as though everyone else around us was falling pregnant with amazing ease,” says Vicki. “After 18 months we realised that things weren’t happening for us and we went to see our GP, who did some initial tests.”
Fifty percent chance of male factor
The tests revealed that Ricky had a low sperm count and the couple, who live in South Norfolk, were referred to Bourn Hall. “We were seen really quickly, about a week or so before Christmas,” says Vicki.
The couple were told that they needed IVF treatment, but sadly they were not able to access NHS funding. At that time South Norfolk CCG had withdrawn funding for IVF. (In 2019 CCG re-introduced NHS funding bringing it in line with the rest of Norfolk).
“It was yet another major blow to us starting our family that we hadn’t expected,” says Vicki. “Thankfully we had family who helped us to fund our IVF and we were able to begin our treatment shortly in to the New Year.”
Bourn Hall always recommends that both partners are investigated as there is a male factor in fifty percent of infertility cases. Although a shock to be told that you have a low sperm count or even no sperm in the ejaculate, it may still be possible to father your own child.
For couples where low sperm count is a factor, IVF with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is a lab technique where once the woman’s eggs have been collected a single selected sperm from her partner is injected in to the centre of each mature egg to improve the chances of successful fertilisation.
“We had a round of IVF with ICSI and after the blastocyst stage we ended up with one viable embryo, not quite the result we wanted but one was better than none,” says Vicki. “After the long two-week wait we got the ‘big fat positive’ pregnancy test result we hoped for and nine months later our gorgeous son Dylan arrived – and life changed for the better.”
Taking a break to survive the journey
Just over a year later the couple went back to Bourn Hall to try for a sibling but after three unsuccessful attempts they took a step back for a while.
They decided to take a step back for a while.
“Amazingly after making this decision I fell pregnant naturally within a month. We couldn’t believe it but there it was. Sadly at 11 weeks we lost the baby.
“We decided to take a break again after this and left ‘all things fertility’ for about a year. This gave us time to be able to go back into it with everything we had.”
One embryo or two?
The couple returned to Bourn Hall in September 2020 and after further IVF/ICSI treatment had 10 embryos after the blastocyst process. “That was more than double the previous rounds combined,” says Vicki.
If a woman has more than one good quality embryo it is now considered best practice in the UK to have only one embryo transferred to the womb and for the others to be frozen. In some cases however, for example with older women or patients with multiple failed cycles who are less likely to be successful overall, it might be appropriate to have more than one embryo put back.
“As we had so many embryos we took Bourn Hall’s advice to have two embryos implanted this time around,” says Vicki. “After having had three unsuccessful transfers we didn’t want to keep going on this IVF journey for years to come.”
After embryo transfer the couple were advised to wait two weeks before taking the pregnancy test.
Bourn Hall Norwich celebrates 1000 babies
“I didn’t need to wait that long to know that I was pregnant as a couple of days before my test date the morning sickness kicked in, very early and very real!” laughs Vicki.
In the Summer of 2021 Vicki and Ricky welcomed twins Elliot and Jack.
“Without all the fantastic staff at Bourn Hall Norwich we wouldn’t be where we are now, with the most amazing family. Dylan has just started school and is accompanied on the school run every day by his baby brothers. Our lives are so much better than we could have ever imagined.”
Vicki, Ricky, Dylan, Elliot and Jack came back to Bourn Hall Norwich to help celebrate the clinic’s 1000 babies milestone.