A Cambridgeshire man who spent years thinking he may never be a Dad, and even considered going abroad for fertility treatment, is looking forward to spending his first Father’s Day with his baby son.
Fabio, an acoustics consultant, met his partner Lina, an events organiser, through work connections just after Lina had turned 30. The couple were both very family orientated so they soon started trying for a baby.
80% of couples will become pregnant within a year of regular, unprotected intercourse, but for Fabio and Lina it would be another five years before they finally realised their dream of becoming parents.
Fabio remembers the stress of this time: “Lina was very clear that she didn’t want to be an ‘older mum’ as there are so many more risks associated with the pregnancy, so, we really felt like the clock was ticking.
“As a couple Lina and I felt like a family and wanted to grow to what we thought of as the perfect family, with a son and a dog.”
Further adding to the couple’s psychological pressures, many of their friends and families were having children, with people they knew at university having second and third children already.
Eventually after 18 months Fabio and Lina were referred by their GP for hospital tests, which revealed that the couple would not be able to conceive naturally and would need IVF treatment with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). This is when a single sperm is injected directly into the centre of a mature egg using a fine needle to create an embryo in the laboratory. The technique is often recommended to couples where there is an issue with the sperm such as motility (movement).
At that time Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG was one of the few in the country that did not provide any NHS funding for fertility treatment, so the couple would need to self-fund. A private clinic connected to their nearest hospital was having a special offer so the couple saw the consultant there, but soon found they didn’t meet the criteria, as the offer excluded ICSI.
Fabio continues: “When we knew that we were going to have to pay for treatment ourselves, we started looking at all the options, including alternatives to IVF. As I am from Italy and Lina is from Lithuania we considered having IVF abroad, but by the time we totalled up the cost of flights, hotels, meals and taking time off work it was going to be cheaper and more convenient to have the treatment here, so we chose Bourn Hall.”
Lina was happy with the choice: “Everyone at Bourn Hall was so friendly, and we didn’t feel like we were rushed or bothering people. We could also get there easily without having to take lots of time off work – or get on a plane!”
The couple, who live in Cambourne, had a freeze-all cycle where all their embryos were frozen, but just as they were due to continue treatment the UK went into lockdown and the couple had to wait several months for the clinic to reopen. The couple were devastated when the first cycle of treatment was unsuccessful.
“Attention and care during the IVF treatment focuses on the woman for 99% of the time,” says Fabio, “which is fair enough considering the stress that a woman needs to go through during the IVF process. It’s normal that Lina got everyone’s attention after the first failed attempt. I felt extremely sad and powerless – we wanted something so bad but it seemed there was nothing, not even the science, that could help to achieve it. However, I tried to focus my attention on Lina and share with her my natural positivity and support.”
Their second round brought good news. “We found out on Christmas Eve 2020 that we were finally expecting a baby – it was a Christmas miracle!” laughs Fabio.
On 18 August 2021 Fabio and Lina welcomed their son Luciano.
“We were just so glad that he had finally arrived,” says Fabio. “It felt surreal; we had been waiting so long to become parents and finally he was here.”
Now Fabio is looking forward to Father’s Day.
“It has been a real rollercoaster journey for us both and at times I thought that maybe I was never going to be a Dad,” says Fabio. “Now that Luciano is in my life I cannot stop smiling. Celebrating Father’s Day with him for the first time this year is going to be very special indeed.”
Since Fabio and Lina had their treatment NHS-funded IVF has been re-introduced in Cambridgeshire and eligible couples are now entitled to one round of NHS-funded IVF – one fresh and up to two frozen. Bourn Hall, which is commissioned to provide NHS-funded IVF in Cambridgeshire, is holding a webinar on the 28th June aimed at men on their own fertility journey. It will include a discussion by Mr Oliver Wiseman, a specialist in male fertility, on how to boost natural fertility and the options for those with a low sperm count, and a talk by Fertility Counsellor Jackie Stewart about how men can improve their own mental wellbeing and support their partners. To book a place visit bournhall.co.uk/events.