Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosis

“I had suffered with painful periods since my teens,” says Charlotte from Essex. “I just assumed that it was perfectly normal for women to want to pass out and throw up every month. I then started getting other symptoms which my doctor thought was irritable bowel syndrome and gradually over the years it got worse and worse until it was really interfering with my life”.

Charlotte’s symptoms became so severe that initially doctors thought she had bowel cancer.

“My first surgery was for a blocked bowel and inflamed kidney,” she says.

It took ten years for Charlotte to get a diagnosis for her symptoms – endometriosis – a condition which recent research has shown takes an average of seven and a half years for a woman to get a firm diagnosis from first seeing a doctor.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus which sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb and it is estimated that up to 50% of infertile women have the condition.

The option to freeze eggs before surgery

When Charlotte and her partner Mark moved into their first home together in 2016 they started planning for the future.

“I am five years older than Mark and we wanted to have children so agreed that we would start trying for a baby that Christmas,” says Charlotte, aged 33.

Unfortunately the baby plans had to be put on hold, as Charlotte needed major surgery due to complications with her bowels, kidneys and fallopian tubes.

“My fallopian tubes had filled with fluid and I was told that I would need an operation to either flush them out or remove them. I knew that without my fallopian tubes which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus I would not be able to conceive naturally and would need IVF,” she says.

Half an hour before Charlotte went in to theatre for surgery she was given the devastating news that the surgeon might also need to remove her left ovary if it got in the way of the procedure. The ovaries produce and release a woman’s eggs and the removal of one ovary would have dramatically reduced Charlotte’s egg supply.

“I faced the prospect of having one of my ovaries taken out without having had the chance to harvest any of my eggs,” she says.

“I was asked by the doctors if anyone had discussed with me the option of freezing my eggs,” says Charlotte. The conversation came just thirty minutes before a major operation to resolve problems caused by endometriosis. Charlotte was given a consent form for the removal of her fallopian tubes and, if necessary, one of her ovaries. “I said ‘isn’t it a bit late now?’

Fortunately, when Charlotte came around from the operation the surgeon had been able to save her ovaries, but the experience is still shocking to her as at the time she was desperate to have a baby.

“I was enormously relieved that it hadn’t been necessary to remove either of my ovaries but I am still surprised that throughout my many visits to hospital I was never given the option to freeze my eggs as an ‘insurance policy’ in advance of surgery,” she says.

Cryopreservation at Wickford

In February 2018 after she had recovered from her latest surgery Charlotte was keen to start a family and went to see her GP. “I felt like I was running out of time so I decided to get the ball rolling,” she says.

Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosisCharlotte and Mark were referred to the new Bourn Hall Clinic in Wickford which has a cryopreservation service that allows people to freeze and store eggs or sperm ahead of medical treatment.

“Bourn Hall made it really easy for me,” says Charlotte. “Everyone there was lovely and made everything very clear and easy for me to understand. I even didn’t mind the hormone injections to stimulate my egg production. I got Mark to do them for me. I know it sounds crazy but having spent so much of my life in hospitals having IVF was easier than anything I had done before!”

The couple were delighted when their treatment worked first time and they found out they were pregnant in November 2018. “I had a feeling the IVF had worked because I felt different,” says Charlotte. I took the test and couldn’t bear to look at it and so I put it on the side and told Mark to look at it. When he told me the test was positive I just burst in to tears, it was the best day ever. We were so excited.”

Charlotte and Mark’s daughter Eloise was born in July 2019.

“Being a mum is truly amazing,” says Charlotte. “I’m loving every minute, even the sleepless nights! I miss being pregnant too.”

Charlotte urges anyone with her condition to not give up hope of having a family.

“What I would say to anyone else with endometriosis is that even when you are at rock bottom and think you are never going to recover and get pregnant I am proof that it is possible”.

To help you preserve your opportunity of having a child in the future, egg freezing treatment is available at our IVF fertility clinics in Cambridge, Colchester, Norwich and Wickford. For further information go to our egg freezing page here

Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosis

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Triple delight for Cambridgeshire mum debilitated with endometriosis

Endometriosis affects around 1.5 million women in the UK and is a painful and debilitating condition which is a common cause of infertility. Amy from Ramsey in Cambridgeshire suffered with it particularly badly whilst at the same time trying to conceive with husband James. Eventually surgery and IVF treatment enabled the couple to have children together.

Secondary infertility 

“I came off the contraceptive pill when I was in my late twenties so that we could try for a baby,” says Amy, aged 35. “I already had a daughter from a previous relationship so I hadn’t anticipated for one minute that we would struggle to conceive.”

After a couple of years of trying to get pregnant Amy noticed that she was starting to experience crippling pain at certain times of the month.

“It literally felt as though I was being stabbed in the stomach,” she says. “I was hospitalised twice and initially the doctors thought I might have appendicitis or an ectopic pregnancy.”

Endometriosis everywhere 

Fertility testing proved inconclusive and Amy still didn’t have a diagnosis for her pain.

“I was told it might be irritable bowel syndrome so we kicked up a bit of a fuss because it was so bad I would faint and just need to lie on the settee. James was having to take time off work to look after me,” she says.

Finally Amy got a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis, a common cause of infertility, following an exploratory operation.

“The surgeon found a blood cyst on one of my ovaries and the endometriosis was everywhere,” says Amy. “My fallopian tubes had become attached to my bowels and the endometriosis was all over my ovaries”.

After being advised that their best chance of a pregnancy was having IVF the couple initially went to Cambridge IVF but sadly after two rounds they were unsuccessful.

“We were devastated after our second treatment hadn’t worked and we thought, what are we going to do?” says Amy. “The treatment had taken its toll on my body and I felt really drained and my hair had started to fall out.”

Personalised care at Bourn Hall 

“Finding out that Bourn Hall Clinic was so close to us we decided that we wanted to give it a try because we wanted to ensure that we had tried everything before we gave up.

“As soon as we walked through the door at Bourn Hall we felt relaxed, the building feels quite homely, not at all like a hospital. It was lovely and quiet and we felt really happy with our decision to go there.”

Amy and James were given a personal treatment plan.

“With our two IVF previous treatments I had started bleeding a few days after embryo transfer,” says Amy. “At Bourn Hall our treatment was adjusted for us and I was given a low dose of aspirin and blood thinning injections as well as an endometrial scratch.”

Endometrial scratching is a relatively simple procedure which makes a small scratch in the lining of the uterus to improve the implantation rate when embryos are transferred to the uterus. Although there is little scientific evidence to support this technique many clinicians have observed improved implantation rates.

Another difference in the couple’s third treatment was that Bourn Hall transferred blastocyst embryos after five days developing in the embryology laboratory instead of the three day transfer they had at their previous clinic.

Successful IVF with endometriosis

Two weeks after embryo transfer and the day before Amy’s 35th birthday she took a pregnancy test. “The test was positive but I felt deflated and couldn’t trust it because of my two previous bleeds,” she says. “I didn’t want to get too excited and be let down again.”

Thankfully this time Amy’s pregnancy was viable – but the couple had a very big surprise in store.

At the couple’s six-week scan at Bourn Hall they found out that not only had both embryos taken but one of them had divided and that Amy was expecting triplets – a singleton and identical twins.

“It is just one of those things that you don’t expect to hear when you go for a scan,” says Amy.

“I don’t think we spoke all the way home in the car we were in complete shock! I was thinking ‘oh my god what am I going to do, where are they going to go? My house isn’t big enough, my car isn’t big enough but then I slept on it and thought ‘it is going to be okay, our house is big enough we just need to get a new car, it will be fine!’”

On 15 June 2018 Amy gave birth to her three baby girls: Roni and Lola who are identical and their sister Isla.

Life now is “hectic” laughs Amy but she wouldn’t change it for the world.

Work as a tag team

“James has taken a year off work to help me and we work as a ‘tag team’,” she says. “He wants to enjoy it as the girls were a long time coming and he wanted to take time out and help me with the three of them. The girls are pretty good sleepers and we take it in turns to get up early with them.”

As for Bourn Hall, Amy says: “We are just so grateful. The staff were all so lovely, every step of the way, and we are so glad that we went there for our last try, not just because we got our three babies but because it was such a nice place to go.”

successful IVF with endometriosis

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More information about Successful IVF with endometriosis

Mum overcomes secondary infertility

Secondary infertility is a term used when someone has conceived and had a child without difficulty but is then unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to full term again.

“It never occurred to me that I would have problems conceiving in my twenties after having an unplanned pregnancy in my teens,” says Joanne.

Joanne, now aged 39, encourages others to get advice as early as possible if they are struggling to conceive.

“I met my husband 20 years ago when we were both 19 and I already had a young daughter, Chanelle, after falling pregnant when I was 16 and still at school,” reveals Joanne.

“We saved up to buy our first house together. I had lots of family support with childcare for Chanelle and I worked my way up to a management role in a bank.”

When Joanne was 26 she stopped taking the contraceptive pill.

“We thought we would see if I got pregnant but we were quite relaxed about it at that point.  Our lives were really busy.

Felt guilty 

“After I turned 30 however we started actively trying for a baby and I was surprised that I just wasn’t getting pregnant. I felt really guilty for Ian in case the problem was with me and I had already had a child. I was worried it would put pressure on our relationship.”

Joanne had suffered with painful and heavy periods since she was a teenager. The contraceptive pill had eased her symptoms, which returned when she stopped taking it.

“I wondered if I might have endometriosis but it can take years to diagnose,” she says.

She eventually went to see her GP for advice.

“My GP was really good and when I told him how long we had been trying to conceive he referred us to our local hospital for tests. I hadn’t been expecting that and it finally felt like we might be getting somewhere.”

Specialists at her local hospital put Joanne on an ovulation induction drug, clomid, for 10 months and conducted a series of tests on both her and Ian.

“Ian’s sperm tests came back as all fine and it was found that I did have mild endometriosis but it was not considered bad enough to affect my fertility,” says Joanne.

Unexplained secondary infertility 

The couple were told that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ and that their best chance of having a baby would be to have IVF treatment.

“As I already had a daughter we were not eligible for treatment on the NHS,” says Joanne. “We started saving up.”

A check-up with her GP a few months later for ovulation pain however brought with it some news she was not expecting.

“My GP told me that the criteria for NHS funding had changed in our area and that if a couple were in a relationship in which they could not conceive, even if one of the partners already had a child from a previous relationship, they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment.

“It was brilliant news.”

Joanne and Ian had IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham, near Norwich, and were delighted when Joanne fell pregnant after their third cycle of treatment.

“It was so strange because when I had Chanelle I was a teenage mum but when I fell pregnant for the second time I was classed as a geriatric mother. I didn’t feel any different in myself and it made me feel really old,” she laughs.

Daughter Edie was born in October 2017.

“It was surreal when she arrived; she was finally here and she was alright,” says Joanne.

Big sister Chanelle is now 22 and studying for a degree at university. “She is like a second mum to Edie,” says Joanne.

Chanelle, Edie and Joanne

“We feel very blessed as a family to have Edie but are acutely aware that for others the struggle goes on.”

Joanne urges anyone worried about their fertility, whether they already have a child or not, to seek advice sooner rather than later.

“Go to your doctor if you have concerns.  Be quite persistent. Don’t put it off and think ‘maybe something will happen’ because time can fly by.

“If you feel that there might be issues with your own health make sure you mention it and don’t be fobbed off.

“There is so much that can be done to help people struggling to get pregnant and I would advise anyone struggling to conceive not to be embarrassed and to seek help.

“For a lot of people some help with lifestyle changes or simple medical intervention could help them conceive naturally and if it turns out that you do need fertility treatment as I did then the younger you are the better your chances.”

Bourn Hall provides free consultations with a fertility nurse specialist – do take this opportunity to get good advice.

Mum with ‘invisible’ condition offers hope to others

Paula remembers only too clearly the pain she felt every time she heard that yet another friend or family member was expecting a baby. After suffering an early miscarriage as a newlywed she had been unable to get pregnant again naturally.

“I had always suspected that I might have problems conceiving,” says Paula, “as I had really irregular periods. So when I had a miscarriage five weeks after I married my husband Mark it was a real surprise as I hadn’t even known I was pregnant. Things hit me really hard, I was devastated.”

After the miscarriage Paula and Mark carried on trying for a baby but nothing happened.

“Slowly, one by one, lots of my friends started getting pregnant,” says Paula. “I wanted to shut it out. I would put on a brave face and smile and then go back home and think ‘when is it going to be my turn?’

Paula and Mark went to see their GP, who sent them for tests.

“Mark’s tests all came back fine but my blood tests showed up some abnormalities,” says Paula.

A laparoscopy revealed that Paula had severe endometriosis as well as polycystic ovary syndrome.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus that sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb. It affects around one in ten women in the UK and it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of infertile women have the condition; Endometriosis UK says that a diagnosis can take an average of 7.5 years.

Paula had been completely unaware that she had endometriosis. “I hear of women who are in terrible pain with it and yet I was diagnosed with the most severe stage and I had no pain,” she says.

Paula and Mark were told that they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment and they opted to go to Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridgeshire.

“I work with statistics in my day job so I had read up on the success rates of IVF and all the facts and figures!” she laughs.

In March 2013 Paula was put on a course of drugs to regulate her ovulation cycle and in July of the same year she had her first IVF treatment.

“Two weeks later I took the pregnancy test and it was positive but because I had had the miscarriage previously I basically didn’t stop worrying throughout the entire pregnancy,” admits Paula.

Son Ethan was born in April 2014, two weeks after his due date, and Paula was completely overcome with emotion. “I just burst in to tears,” she says.

Paula and Mark knew that if they wanted to have more IVF treatment they would have to pay for it themselves so they saved up enough to pay for two more cycles if they needed it.

“We had always said that we wanted two children and it was really important to us that Ethan had a little brother or sister,” she says.

Second time around at Bourn Hall Paula was devastated to be told that despite the scans showing up more than 20 follicles there had only been three eggs collected. “I started to cry and one of the nurses said to me ‘all it takes is one’. At the time I didn’t feel comforted by that but I realised shortly afterwards that she was right”.

Paula was called back to Bourn Hall just two days later for embryo transfer and the statistician in her took over. “I was thinking, what are the chances?” says Paula. “I didn’t think it would work, but it did and I got pregnant again.”

Nine months later Ethan had a little baby brother, Oscar, who is now four months old.

“We have got the family of four we always wanted. It is just brilliant,” beams Paula.

“I am really proud that my boys are IVF babies and I talk about it quite a lot. I am very open about it and get talking to lots of people who have either had IVF themselves or know people who have. I am over the moon with my two boys.”

Read more about endometriosis and PCOS.

Mum with ‘invisible’ condition offers hope to others

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(Photo credit: Lorna Tew Moonbeams Photography)

Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on

Kate remembers clearly the years of heartbreak and disappointment at being unable to get pregnant – as many of her friends completed their families.

“I met my husband Nick when we were still teenagers and we both knew that we wanted children one day,” she says. “A few years later we got to a stage when we were secure and settled with a house and running our own businesses and decided the time was right to start a family.

“We didn’t know how long it would take to conceive because you don’t know until you start trying and so it was the unknown.

“I was given lots of advice from people about how long it should be taking us to get pregnant and I tried not to worry too much about it but as time went on and nothing was happening I started to think ‘why us’?”

Now mum to five-month-old Amber, following fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, Kate, aged 31, says her advice to other people struggling to conceive is to “focus on looking after your mind and body and try not to stress.”

Kate is a keen advocate of regular exercise and mindfulness. A regular gym-goer, she feels sure that this helped to take her mind of things and keep her positive when she couldn’t get pregnant.

“I just focused on keeping myself fit and active,” she says.

Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on

When Kate and Nick had been trying to conceive for over a year they went to see their GP. “We were sent for tests but they all came back fine so we really didn’t know why I wasn’t getting pregnant,” she says. “It is frustrating when there doesn’t seem to be a reason and we weren’t given any advice by our GP on what steps we might be able to take to improve our chances. We were told to go away and carry on trying for another two years so it was a case of playing the waiting game.”

Only a small number of people require IVF and there are many ways that natural fertility can be boosted and other assisted conception treatments can be offered at Bourn Hall’s fertility clinics.

After two further years the couple went back to their GP, who referred them for more hospital tests. They were told that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ which is the reason given when tests can detect no underlying cause. Kate and Nick were told that they were eligible at that time for one cycle of NHS-funded treatment and were referred for fertility treatment.

“The fact that people in Cambridgeshire are not entitled to any NHS-funded fertility treatment now is absolutely heart-breaking,” says Kate. “We were so lucky to even be entitled to one cycle and I feel so sorry for anyone needing IVF who just can’t afford it.”

Kate and Nick chose to have their fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic which was only a short drive from home. “Bourn Hall is one of the best in the country and is literally on our doorstep,” says Kate.

Kate and Nick had their IVF treatment in September 2016 and were delighted when it worked first time. “The first scan when we saw our baby’s heartbeat was just amazing, I burst in to tears,” remembers Kate. “I had a really good pregnancy. We had waited so long to have a baby that I wanted to savour the pregnancy and enjoy every minute.”

Kate carried on going to the gym throughout her pregnancy and also went to pregnancy yoga which she found really helpful to focus on her breathing. Daughter Amber was born in May 2017 and Kate and Nick are besotted with her.

“Motherhood is everything I hoped it would be,” reveals Kate. “Life is just incredible. I cannot thank Bourn Hall enough. I have already been in to take the staff chocolates and a thank you card and introduce them to Amber. The people who work there are amazing.”

Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on

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Mum beats endometriosis to have longed-for baby

Many causes of infertility have no symptoms; Victoria’s infertility was caused by a condition called endometriosis, which was only uncovered when she had to have emergency surgery to remove a large cyst on her ovary.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus that sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb. It affects around one in ten women in the UK and it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of infertile women have the condition.

Victoria and her husband Neal had already been trying to conceive for two years with no success when Victoria had her emergency surgery to remove the cyst – so her endometriosis diagnosis was a blow.

“I always had painful, heavy periods and just thought it was normal,” says Victoria, “until I discovered it was due to endometriosis and bits of my womb lining were growing outside my womb.

“At this point we thought the odds were stacked against us ever having a child,” she admits.

“Our consultant told us we could try IVF, which at that time was available on the NHS, and we chose to be treated at Bourn Hall in Colchester as it was only half an hour down the road.”

The couple were treated at Bourn Hall Clinic using a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), where a single sperm is injected into an egg to fertilise it. Two weeks later Victoria discovered she was pregnant.

Alexander was born at Colchester General Hospital in August 2013 after a very quick labour of an hour and a half.

Four years later Victoria still has to pinch herself that she is a mum and says that everything she and Neal went through was worth it to have Alex in their lives. “Being parents means everything to us,” she smiles. “Alex’s first day at school was definitely a milestone reached and seeing him in his first school Christmas play was pretty special. His rendition of ‘Away in a Manger’ complete with actions was magical!”

Mum beats endometriosis to have longed-for baby

 

More information about endometriosis and other causes for female infertility. 

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Endometriosis and infertility and a couple of surprises

Natasha and husband Chris were keen to start a family as soon as they got married but after five years of trying she still hadn’t got pregnant.

Natasha admits that being unable to conceive was a real emotional rollercoaster. “One day I was working in the bakery and cafe we run and it just felt as though everyone who came through the door was a mum with a baby,” she says. “I suddenly realised that I was finding that really difficult and I had to take myself off and have a good cry.”

Little did Natasha know that her life was going to change dramatically over the next few years and that she was in for a couple of massive surprises along the way.

According to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority over 90 per cent of couples conceive naturally within two years. If you haven’t conceived within a year however, or you know you have a condition which affects your fertility, you should get advice.

Endometriosis and infertility

Many of the causes of infertility have no symptoms and so it was only when Natasha and Chris went for hospital tests that they found that Natasha had a catalogue of conditions affecting her fertility of which she had been completely unaware.

One of the conditions she was diagnosed with was endometriosis, a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus that sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb. It affects around one in ten women in the UK and it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of infertile women have the condition.

Endometriosis UK says that a diagnosis can take an average of 7.5 years.

Natasha was also told she had polycystic ovaries, fibroids, a damaged right ovary and that she was not ovulating. The couple were told that they were eligible for funded IVF treatment and chose to have it at the world-famous Bourn Hall Clinic.

Fertility treatment at Bourn Hall resulted in Natasha becoming pregnant with daughter Isabella and the couple were overjoyed after such a long wait. But the story didn’t end there because when Isabella was 18 months old Natasha discovered that she had fallen pregnant naturally.

Thought fibroids were coming back

“I had booked a doctor’s appointment because I thought my fibroids and endometriosis were coming back. It turned out I was five months pregnant and had no idea!” she laughs. “We had even been along to the opening event of the new Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham with the view to having more IVF treatment, and I realise now that I was pregnant when we went!”

When Natasha went into labour the second time around there wasn’t time to get to the hospital, and husband Chris delivered second daughter Summer on the couple’s bathroom floor – with the labour lasting just 11 minutes!

“We were so happy that after Summer was born we donated the rest of our frozen embryos to Bourn Hall for another couple to use,” says Natasha. “Having been told at one point we would never have children naturally we now had two miracles.”

On Summer’s first birthday Natasha was delighted to discover that she had fallen pregnant naturally again.

Third child Luca, the first grandson to be born on Chris’ family’s side, was born just over two years ago and Natasha couldn’t believe that in the space of just a few years she had gone from thinking she might never have any children to being a mum to three children under three and a half.

Sadly Natasha’s mum died a year ago but Natasha is grateful she got to meet all of her grandchildren before she died. “Mother’s Day is really bittersweet for me,” she admits, “but the children really helped me get through the dark days after my mum died and they have added a bit of sunshine to everyone’s lives.

Miracles happen

“I firmly believe that if I hadn’t had IVF we wouldn’t have any of our children. I don’t know whether the IVF corrected my body or triggered something or whether surgery I had which involved clearing out some of my fibroids and cysts helped but I always tell people to never give up hope because miracles do happen and we have got three of them to prove it.”

endometriosis and fertility

 

More information about endometriosis.

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Baby joy after years of uncertainty

Karen and David from Essex tried for nearly 10 years to conceive naturally before turning to IVF. The result, their daughter Ruby, was one of the first 35 babies to be born following treatment at Bourn Hall Wickford.

Diagnosed with PCOS 

Karen first found out that she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in her early twenties and had to undergo years of surgery, scans and treatment for that condition as well as for endometriosis.

When her hospital consultant first suggested that she might consider fertility treatment she refused, worried of the effects that the drugs might have on her PCOS and also her emotions.

“It seemed as though having a baby would be impossible,” says Karen. “We decided that we should just carry on trying for a baby ourselves but seven years later nothing had happened. We were not getting any younger so when fertility treatment was suggested again we thought we should give it a try.”

Treatment at Wickford and Colchester

Karen and her partner David opted to have treatment at Bourn Hall and choose to go to Bourn Hall’s satellite clinic in Wickford in Essex, travelling to the full-service clinic in Colchester for the egg retrieval and embryo transfer.

“My first round of treatment didn’t work,” says Karen, “but we decided to give it another go.

Marriage and a second round of IVF

“We had been engaged for years and David decided that he really wanted us to get married before we had a baby. So I started my second round of IVF treatment, one week after our wedding in January 2014.

“Only one of my three eggs fertilised. I still remember the phone call telling me and I was convinced that it was going to be bad news and that the process wouldn’t work for us again.”

But one fertilised egg was all that was needed second time around and Karen and David were absolutely delighted when Karen was told she was pregnant.

Ruby arrives

“It was quite incredible,” says Karen. “I still get emotional thinking about it.”

Baby Ruby was born on 17th October 2014 and her proud mum describes her as a happy, smiley baby.

“I thought I would never be a mum,” says Karen. “But now I think it was meant to be!”

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Destined to be a mother, despite only one fallopian tube and endometriosis

Susie can well remember the feelings of frustration that come when trying to conceive: “Pregnancy seemed just out of reach and every month with no success felt awful. I suffer with PMT and often convinced myself the symptoms were the early signs of pregnancy. I would dream about it, ask myself ‘is this it?’ When my period came, I would feel deflated.”

Susie, now 40, first met the man that was destined to become her husband in 2005: “Rob was a DJ in a club, we started chatting, arranged to meet again and never looked back,” she recalls with a grin.

One fallopian tube and an endometriosis diagnosis  

Just four months into their relationship, Susie, a secondary school drama teacher, experienced sharp pains in her abdomen and was rushed to hospital.  During emergency surgery, it emerged she had an ectopic pregnancy; a fertilised egg had implanted into her fallopian tube and started to grow, causing bleeding and pain.

As a result, one of Susie’s fallopian tubes had to be removed.  As the tube links the ovary to the womb, it dramatically lessened her chances of conceiving without medical help. At the time, having a family was not a priority for the new couple and they decided to let nature take its course until they were ready to start trying again.

A few months later, Susie moved to live with Rob, now 40 and an insurance manager. About a year before the couple married in 2010, they began trying for a baby. After a couple of frustrating years, Susie eventually went to see her GP who referred her for further tests at the hospital.

The couple’s consultant found that, in addition to only the single fallopian tube, Susie was suffering from endometriosis. Cells from the lining of her womb where growing outside the womb causing abdominal pain and bleeding.

“I’d always thought my periods had been fairly regular but I did have the occasional heavy period which I now know was down to the endometriosis,” Susie explains.  “The doctors said it was only moderate but it was enough to be affecting my chances.

Difficult times 

“With so many obstacles to having a baby, it would have been easy to feel down and even give up. On top of our own problems, my family was coming to terms with the loss of my 18-month old nephew Stanley to a rare heart condition. My sister Debbie and her husband Brad were devastated. We all were. It was a difficult time.

“Thankfully, Rob is a strong and steady person and he reassured me that everything would be OK.  I trusted the doctors and knew it would happen for us eventually.”

Susie and Rob were told by their consultant they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF, but Susie was at first not convinced she wanted to undergo the treatment at all.

“I didn’t have all the facts, and people were filling my head with all kinds of inaccurate information about IVF. I was also worried about telling Debbie while she was grieving for Stanley’s loss. It was Rob that persuaded me we had to try, so we attended a seminar for NHS patients at Bourn Hall’s Cambridge Clinic. We loved it there, the grounds were so peaceful and the staff just incredibly caring, so we decided to go for it.”

one fallopian tube

Beacons of hope

As 2013 dawned, Susie began to take fertility drugs to stimulate egg production and in February, she had several eggs collected from her ovaries to be fertilised with Rob’s sperm.  After two days developing in an incubator, an embryo was transferred into Susie’s womb and the couple waited two weeks to take a pregnancy test.

“We took the test at the start of March and I was prepared for the worst… however when it came back positive, I was amazed. My happiness was multiplied when Debbie came round two weeks later to tell us she was also pregnant… it finally felt like the bad times were over.

“I tried not to get too excited about my pregnancy, even when the early six week scan at Bourn Hall confirmed a foetal heartbeat.  I don’t think it really sunk in until 20 weeks when we found out it was a little girl,” Susie remembers.

Happy endings 

After years of waiting, baby Callie was born on 31 October 2013, weighing 7lb 10oz. Her birth was not without complications; it was discovered that Susie had the condition placenta praevia. Her placenta had grown lower down in the womb than is usual. It was blocking her cervix, preventing a natural birth. Callie was also in breech position, meaning her feet and bottom were pointing downwards instead of her head.

“I can’t remember much about the birth,” Susie explains. “I had an emergency caesarean section and was quite weak so my midwife Elizabeth took Callie while I was being patched up. Because I couldn’t hold her, Elizabeth brought her close to my face and rubbed her tiny nose against mine. That memory means so much to me, I can’t describe it.”

Susie had to remain in hospital for eight days following surgery to correct the placental problems. She is now fighting fit and along with Rob is relishing life as a parent. Her sister Debbie also gave birth to son Gus a couple of weeks later. The family have started a fundraising campaign in memory of Stanley. It has so far raised nearly £50,000 for Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.

“I was destined to be a mother”

Susie says: “I knew in my bones I was destined to be a mother… though I didn’t anticipate quite the rollercoaster journey it would take to get there. Our families have been through a lot the past few years but now things seemed to have turned around and we couldn’t be happier.

“We were so lucky to have the funding that we got. For us, it meant the difference between having a baby and not having a baby. It is as black and white as that. Our lives would still have been full and happy, we would have come to terms with it, but I know that a little pocket of sadness would have existed in our hearts. The NHS has changed our lives by giving us Callie.

“Being a mother is like nothing I ever imagined… all the things in life you worry about, daft things, aren’t important once you have the child you’ve always wanted. I couldn’t imagine life without Callie now and this is down to the expert team at Bourn Hall Clinic.”

More information about endometriosis.

Destined to be a mother, despite only one fallopian tube and endometriosis
Susie, Rob and Callie in 2018

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Mum with multiple sclerosis overcomes obstacles with IVF

“Being a mum is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is absolutely worthwhile.  Sometimes I just sit and stare at my beautiful boy Alexander and think ‘how did this happen?’  It’s amazing!”, says Victoria. The 35-year-old conceived her son after IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic.

Victoria can well remember the feelings of frustration that come when trying to conceive: “Every month, if my period was a couple of days late, I would think, ‘is this it?’. Then I’d experience the rumbling pain in my stomach when meant my period was on the way and would know another month had passed without success.”

Multiple Sclerosis

Victoria suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. While the condition does not cause fertility problems, Victoria had to stop taking some of her medication and wait a year before she and husband Neal could start trying for a baby.

After a further two years with no success, the couple went to see their GP who referred them for tests at their local hospital.  While the tests were ongoing, Victoria was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night with suspected appendicitis.  It was discovered that she actually had a 6cm cyst on her ovary which needed emergency surgery to be removed.

endometriosis

Endometriosis

Victoria picks up the story: “Along with the cyst, the doctors discovered I had serious endometriosis which also had to be removed.  I always had painful, heavy periods and just thought it was normal, until I discovered it was due to this condition where bits of my womb lining grow outside by womb.

“At this point, we thought the odds were stacked against us ever having a child.  Our consultant told us we could try IVF on the NHS and we chose to be treated at Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester”

IVF with ICSI at the Colchester Clinic

Victoria had to wait for her body to recover before starting IVF treatment.  While the treatment was going on, Victoria remained stoical about their chances of having a child.

She explains: “My MS is made worse by stress, so trying to keep calm was vital, and I didn’t want people asking about it all the time.  We didn’t tell anyone we were having IVF other than our parents and one person at each of our places of work.

“I tried to stay as emotionally detached from the treatment as possible so I viewed each trip to the clinic as just another appointment and took everything a step at a time.”

The couple had IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), a procedure where a single sperm is injected into the egg to fertilise it. Two weeks later, Victoria snuck off to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test that was to signal a change to their lives.

The couple welcomes Alexander

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Baby Alexander was born on 4 August 2013 at Colchester General Hospital weighing 7lb 11.5oz after a quick hour and a half labour.  Victoria and Neal are delighted with their little boy and say everything they have been through is worthwhile.

Victoria adds: “The staff at Bourn Hall were so helpful and reassuring that it made everything easier to cope with.  Nothing was too much trouble from them… I just can’t thank them enough!”

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