Nothing would deter this would be mum

Kathleen was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries when she was younger which resulted in a 9lb ovarian cyst being removed via general surgery when she was 30; followed by additional keyhole surgery to remove scar tissue that caused complications from the previous operation. Undeterred she and her partner Paul agreed that they would try IVF for a chance of having a baby when they were unsuccessful in getting pregnant naturally.


The couple met when Kathleen was 25, they both wanted children but with job changes, moving locations and health concerns the pair had to wait until the right time.

Told she could never have children

“I was never told that I couldn’t have children,” says Kathleen. “But having been diagnosed with PCOS I expected there to be a problem. I also had a large ovarian cyst removed and the surgery had left significant scarring.”

After the surgery, the couple tried for several more years before seeking help. Looking at Kathleen’s medical history, her age and knowing her sister had similar difficulties in getting pregnant due to PCOS, the couple were referred by their GP to St Albans hospital for tests.

Blocked fallopian tube and cysts

Following tests, which confirmed Kathleen had one blocked fallopian tube and cysts on her ovaries, the couple were recommended NHS-funded IVF. Kathleen now 39 was just below the age limit.

“Of the three clinics we were offered we chose Bourn Hall Clinic Cambridge as recommended by a friend and convenient location,” says Kathleen.

The couple attended a seminar in July 2014 and booked their first appointment.

“The minute we walked through the door we knew we had made the right decision and we went in with a positive attitude and a ‘can do’ approach.

“Our consultant was very helpful and the session informative,” says Kathleen. “We knew the success rate was lower at our age but we didn’t want to get caught up in any related negativity.”

Paul experiences a major health scare

Just as they were starting their first NHS-funded IVF cycle Paul experienced a major health scare when blood vessels burst in his eye, affecting his vision. Paul was subsequently diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Paul comments: “Following my health scare we were in two minds about continuing with IVF but as we had come so far and we appreciated how fragile life was we wanted to give it our all and carry on.”

Kathleen adds: “The whole ordeal was scary and we were unsure of the future but we hoped that as long as we followed doctors’ orders and tried our best the IVF cycle would have a good chance.”

Sticking with the IVF

In preparation for IVF Kathleen had to self-administer the drug to stimulate her ovaries. Bourn Hall provides all patients with a drug teach session to help them feel confident in doing this.

“I don’t like injections at the best of times so was daunted about doing it myself but I knew it was something that had to be done if we wanted to have a baby.

“I was shown how to inject myself and allowed to practice on a ‘jelly belly’ beforehand.

“Paul was really very supportive and sensitive and I told myself that if I did feel something – bad or good – it was because it was working.

“Luckily I responded well to the medication and produced good quality eggs.”

In early September 2014, 10 eggs were collected from Kathleen and fertilised with Paul’s sperm, of which four made it to blastocyst stage, which is when they have the optimum chance of success. On Day 5 two embryos were chosen to be transferred into Kathleen’s womb and the other two frozen.

The couple receives good news

The day before her 40th birthday Kathleen took a pregnancy test, which was positive. Kathleen attended the Clinic to have her pregnancy confirmed and over the course of her pregnancy was monitored carefully to check everything was going well.

Kathleen says: “You can’t help getting your hopes up and there were days we would doubt the success of the process but Bourn Hall looked after us very well along the way; I had frequent reassurance scans due to my age and previous health problems. The staff helped put us at ease and kept us well informed.”

On 24th May 2015 Harry was born.


“Thrilled to be a mum”

“I remember arriving in the hospital and due to my age being referred to as a ‘Geriatric’. You can’t get wound up about things like this as it doesn’t help and for anyone in a similar situation I would say ignore the figures and enjoy the experience.

“I’m thrilled to be a mum. I never thought it would happen but so glad it has. Age has been irrelevant for us: you deal with any issues as any new parent would.”

Since the birth of Harry, they have decided to donate their two frozen embryos for scientific research to help others.

Paul is great with Harry

Science has also helped Paul whose health has improved. Kathleen says:

“Thankfully Paul’s diabetes and blood pressure are now under control and after eye surgery the sight in his eye has been restored. He is great with Harry and I’m so lucky to have my two men.”

Paul concludes: “The staff at Bourn Hall were very positive throughout our IVF treatment and we could not have asked for better medical staff.  Bourn Hall was a great experience for us and we can’t thank them enough for helping us in the process of getting pregnant. Our whole future is looking rosy thanks to the help, guidance and support we received. Our family is complete thanks to Bourn Hall.”

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12 years of trying before IVF success

Michelle from Suffolk has been through so much – she lost ten natural pregnancies and her first marriage failed under the strain – and she was devastated when her first attempt at IVF failed. Fortunately she was persuaded to have one last try and achieved her baby dream.

Recurrent miscarriage 

Having lost four natural pregnancies during her previous marriage, Michelle (now 34) knew that she had a fertility issue when she got together with Alastair (34) in 2007.

After two months together Michelle unexpectedly fell pregnant but again miscarried a few weeks later.

“It was a very traumatic experience for Alastair and me. I found myself questioning our situation and wondering ‘why me?’.

“Alastair realised that IVF was our best option and so once we’d got over the devastation of the miscarriage we went to our GP.

“He explained that it would take three years before we could be referred for fertility treatment and as I’d managed to become pregnant naturally that ‘you never knew and to keep trying’.”

During their three year wait, Michelle lost two further natural pregnancies.

Ectopic pregnancies

Finally, in 2010, Michelle was referred for investigation at a London hospital. Tests revealed that her one remaining functional fallopian tube was damaged and that all her miscarriages, which had happened within 11 weeks, could in fact have been ectopic: when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb. However no conclusive reason was given and they were told their only way to have a baby was by IVF.

“Not knowing the exact reason for why I had recurrent miscarriage was very difficult to deal with. I had hoped an answer would mean we could do something positive about our circumstances ourselves but IVF now seemed the only option.”

Referred to Bourn Hall for IVF

The couple were referred for NHS funded IVF and chose Bourn Hall’s Colchester clinic.

The couple started their fertility treatment in January 2011. Michelle was prescribed a course of medication to help stimulate her ovaries.

In early April, 18 eggs were collected but only one embryo made it to day five. This one fertilised blastocyst was carefully put into Michelle’s womb.

Chemical pregnancy

Two weeks later Michelle took a pregnancy test, which revealed she was pregnant. Unfortunately she started bleeding three days later. It turned out she’d had a chemical pregnancy, which is when a fertilised egg does not attach itself to the uterine wall.

“This was the first time I ever felt like giving up as I had been at this stage naturally.

“I even declared to Alastair ‘I think that’s it!’ but as it got nearer to us being able to try again I realised that if we didn’t take this opportunity we would regret it.”

Second cycle of IVF

In September 2011 the couple started their second cycle of NHS funded IVF and on a slightly different treatment plan, to try and improve the quality of the eggs that Michelle produced.

On 21st November nine eggs were collected from Michelle. Five days later she returned to the clinic to have two blastocysts transferred.

Michelle then had to wait two weeks before taking a pregnancy test.

“The test revealed I was pregnant but I wasn’t sure as I didn’t feel pregnant.

“When we went for the first scan I was delighted to know they could see a healthy baby inside me and in the right place!

“We then took each day at a time and due to my fertility history went for frequent check-up scans, which was reassuring.”

One last hurdle

The pregnancy was going well until at 32 weeks Michelle started to develop high blood pressure and swelling of her legs. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia and following a scan at 34 weeks taken into hospital. The medical team hoped to help Michelle keep her pregnancy until 37 weeks but unexpectedly she lost her waters at 35 weeks and needed an emergency C-section.

Isobel is born 

On 9th July 2012 baby Isobel was born.

“She’s absolutely brilliant! I’ve always wanted to be a mum and although it’s taken 12 years of trying Isobel has certainly been worth it.

“Alastair has been great, and although nervous to begin with, he was actually the first to feed her and change Isobel’s nappy.

“They are like two peas in a pod and it’s lovely to see them together.”

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Katherine has twins after test revealed blocked fallopian tube

Katherine and Daniel from Essex are delighted to have twins George and Thomas.

blocked fallopian tubes

The couple first started trying for a baby in 2011 but when Katherine hadn’t conceived after more than a year they went to see their GP. “The doctor put me on Clomid and when I still didn’t fall pregnant we were sent to our local hospital for tests,” reveals Katherine.

A dye test showed that one of Katherine’s fallopian tubes was blocked. “It was actually a relief to begiven a reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant,” says Katherine. “I hadn’t had any symptoms and we led a pretty healthy lifestyle so I had no idea what the problem was.”

Referred for IVF

Katherine and Daniel were told that they could be referred for IVF treatment and they opted to go to Bourn Hall Clinic.

Over the next couple of years Katherine sadly had three miscarriages, twice following IVF treatment and once after a surprise natural conception but despite their setbacks Katherine says that she and Daniel did not give up on their dream of having a family.

“I changed my hours to part-time at work to reduce my stress levels,” says Katherine, who is a PE teacher, “and we went back to Bourn Hall for further treatment using two frozen embryos from previous treatment”.

Intralipids to help immune cells 

This time around the couple also had intralipids, which is a source of fat and energy normally injected. It is thought that intralipid is able to change the immune cells in the uterine lining, making the environment in the uterus friendlier towards the embryo.

The couple were ‘cautiously optimistic’ when Katherine fell pregnant for a fourth time but tried not to get their hopes up too much because of the previous miscarriages. Happily the pregnancy went full-term and George and Thomas arrived on 27 March 2016.

“Since the boys have arrived it has been a whirlwind,” laughs Katherine. “We have had lots of support from our parents and we have to be very organised but I can honestly say that it has been worth it. We are loving every minute of it.”

blocked fallopian tubes

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