Being kind to myself helped me when I was struggling to conceive

Beth’s periods became erratic when she came off the contraceptive pill, this was the first indicator that the Beth and Rob might struggle to conceive.

“It wasn’t something I had experienced before,” says Beth. “I knew something wasn’t right.”

Beth had wanted to be a mum ever since she was a teenager. “I remember getting that urge of wanting a baby and I thought that it would pass and it never did.” she says. The couple met when she was 19.

“I was training to be a nurse and we decided to wait until I had got my career sorted before we had a family. I qualified when I was 24 and a year later we started trying for a baby.”

“I had just turned 25 and didn’t think I would have any issues getting pregnant, I don’t think anyone does really,” she says.

Struggle to become pregnant took over

Beth admits that she began to struggle emotionally.

“I started tracking my ovulation using an app on my phone and the whole process of trying to track my ovulation just completely took over,” she says.

“I don’t think that I was in a very good place, it completely took over and was constantly on my mind. I would take my ovulation kit in to work and then if it looked like the right time I would contact Rob and say ‘we will have to have sex tonight’ and it just took the fun and joy out of being together, it was not a nice time.”

When Beth wasn’t pregnant after a year later she went to see her GP.

Beth and Rob were sent for tests which revealed that Beth had polycystic ovaries and a lower than average egg store for her age whilst Rob’s sperm tests also indicated a low morphology – or movement.

“There were a number of factors affecting our ability to conceive as a couple,” says Beth.

Rob needed to lose weight

The couple were told that they would need IVF treatment but Rob needed to lose weight before they could be referred for NHS-funded treatment. “I also did what I could during that time, taking vitamin supplements and doing more exercise,” says Beth. “It became all-consuming. I hadn’t expected to be told that we would need IVF but I just thought, if this is what we need to have a baby I will do it.

“I never allowed myself to think that I would never have children, I just kept thinking about the next step to try and stay positive.”

Once Rob had reached his target weight the couple were referred to Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham, near Norwich and attended an Open Evening to find out more about the treatments available.

NHS funded IVF

“I didn’t know anyone who had gone through IVF and it was a comfort to see other couples in the same situation as us,” says Beth.

The couple’s first treatment didn’t result in a pregnancy. “I felt very deflated,” says Beth.

One embryo had been frozen after their first treatment and Beth and Rob returned to Bourn Hall for a Frozen Embryo Transfer. “It was nice because it was a shorter protocol, “ says Beth. Two weeks later Beth found out that she was pregnant but sadly she had an early miscarriage.

Despite their setbacks the couple were determined to try again. “It was never a case of not having IVF again,” says Beth. “But I did want to let my body recover and to deal with as much as I could for myself to increase my chances next time around. I exercised, ate healthily and took diet supplements as well as having acupuncture and fertility massage which both really helped me.

“I just tried to do all I could to be kind to myself because I wanted to feel that I had done everything I could to help my body.”

Determination  

Next time around and Beth did feel different. “I was definitely less stressed,” she says. “I knew the whole process much better and what to expect with injections and scans. I was in a much better place mentally and wasn’t Googling every symptom either.”

For all of their treatments at Bourn Hall the couple’s IVF treatment had also included ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) which involved directly injecting one of Rob’s sperm into each of Beth’s harvested eggs.

For their next treatment the couple had three embryos which went to the blastocyst stage and had two frozen whilst one was transferred to Beth.

Beth took time off work after embryo transfer to try and relax as much as she could. “By Day 3 I had a hunch that I was pregnant,” she says.

“When it came to test day I was so sure I was pregnant that I would have been more surprised if the test had been a negative than a positive,” says Beth. “We were both so excited when we saw the positive test result.”

Son Henry was born in May 2019 at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Beth is loving every minute of being a mum.

Focus on one step at a time

“Being a mum is everything I thought it would be,” she says. “When you are in the thick of trying to have a baby events like Christmas and Mother’s Day can be difficult when they should be a happy time and so it is nice now to look forward to those dates and them not be a negative.

“What I would say to anyone else starting out on their fertility journey is that we all think that we have life planned out and that we will meet someone, settle down and have a baby, but it doesn’t always work like that. Expect the unexpected and if you do need help with getting pregnant look after yourself. Don’t look too far in to the future, just focus on what you need to do to get to the next step.”

struggling to conceive
Beth advises take each step at a time

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Double celebration for man who thought he would never be a dad

Steven will never be sure of the exact reason for his infertility. He did have mumps as a teenager and this can impact the fertility of one in ten males who contract the viral infection. Other common causes are sporting injuries and underlying medical conditions.

Infertility can put a huge strain on relationships.  Steven’s first marriage ended in divorce following three failed rounds of IVF treatment in Yorkshire. “I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never be a dad,” he says.

The impact was so devastating that when he moved south to Norfolk and met Joanne, he told her on their first date that he couldn’t have children.

“I don’t know what he expected,” laughs Joanne, aged 25. “I think he thought that might mean the end of the road for us, but within eight weeks we were living together and got engaged a year later.”

NHS fertility advice and testing 

Coincidentally Joanne, who runs her own hairdressing salon, had also been told she might have difficulties conceiving having been diagnosed with mild polycystic ovaries at the age of 21, after experiencing irregular and painful periods.

“It hadn’t really bothered me at that point,” she says. “It was diagnosed early and my ovaries had not deteriorated too much. I always knew that I wanted to be a young mum and if I met the right person I would get started quite soon trying to get pregnant.”

After their engagement the couple decided to get advice and booked an appointment at Bourn Hall Clinic, which provides NHS-funded fertility testing, diagnosis and early-stage fertility treatments in Norfolk and is also the only fertility clinic in East Anglia to provide both NHS and self-funded IVF treatment.

In Norfolk Bourn Hall helps 30% patients get pregnant naturally

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, Regional Lead Clinician at Bourn Hall Clinic, comments:  “Giving good advice at an early stage supplemented by minimal interventions helps 30% of the couples we see in Norfolk conceive naturally.  Of the remaining patients some will require surgery and the others IVF treatment.”

The couple had blood tests as well as semen analysis for Steven, which confirmed a low sperm count of which many were of good quality. The couple decided to proceed with IVF treatment including Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) where the sperm is injected directly into the egg.

The couple were delighted when the IVF treatment at Bourn Hall worked for them first time but suffered a potential setback when Joanne had a bleed four weeks in to the pregnancy. “We thought we’d lost everything,” says Joanne.

Massive bleed

The couple were offered an early scan at 5 weeks at their local hospital on Steven’s 31st birthday.

“I had suffered a massive bleed and we thought we were going along to hear the worst news ever,” says Joanne. “But we were told that we were expecting twins and we could see two perfect embryos sitting there.

“It was too early to see a heartbeat but we could see them and they were safe. I went really quiet.”

Steven was lost for words.

“I couldn’t speak for a while,” he says. “I was just crying with joy.

“Jo asked me if I was going to phone my brother to let him know but I couldn’t speak. It was probably the best day of my life, and on my birthday as well.”

mumps can impact fertility
Steven with his twins

The twins Jasmin and Quinn have just celebrated their first birthday and Steven, who runs his own SMART car repair business, is loving every minute of fatherhood.

He says: “It is amazing being a Dad. Every day I have a smile on my face. Every morning, every evening, every time I get home. It is beautiful. Having been at the lowest point I could be I sometimes just can’t believe my luck.”

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

Norfolk’s first ‘test-tube’ baby becomes mum

Amy and her twin sister Katie, both aged 35, made history as Norfolk’s first ‘test-tube babies’ and were conceived when parents Lesley and Brian were amongst the first patients to be treated by Patrick Steptoe at Bourn Hall, which was the world’s first IVF clinic.

When the girls grew up and met their partners Katie fell pregnant very easily and so it came as a real surprise to Amy and her husband Neil when they struggled to conceive.

“When I still hadn’t fallen pregnant after we had been trying for over a year it was really upsetting,” says Amy. “Everyone around me was having babies, including friends who had only been with their partners for a short time. People were saying to us ‘why are you not pregnant yet?’ I kept thinking ‘why me?’

“Katie had no problems at all getting pregnant, in fact, both her pregnancies took one month of trying. My mum knew how it felt to struggle to conceive, having been through it herself, and that really helped me.”

Proclactin can impact fertility

Amy went to her GP to get some advice and tests revealed that she had high levels of prolactin, which can affect fertility. The couple were referred for treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Norwich, where Amy was put on the fertility drug Clomid for six months to boost her ovulation. When Amy still did not fall pregnant she and Neil began NHS-funded IVF at the clinic.

Grandma one of first to have IVF

“Mum drove me to some of my appointments at Bourn Hall during my work lunch hour,” says Amy. “She found it really interesting how things had changed. When she had her treatment patients were treated as invalids and used to have to stay at the clinic for days on end, now women are in and out the same day. I would always be in a hurry, but my Mum used to talk to all the nurses for ages!”

Physical and emotional wellbeing is important infertility treatment, including managing the stress which can result from infertility. Amy found complementary therapy helped her manage her stress levels and she had both reflexology and acupuncture as well as attending the gym regularly and doing classes such as body balance and yoga. My mother-in-law also bought me some gift vouchers for massages which helped as well,” she says.

Two generations of IVF babies
Lesley Smith with IVF daughter Amy Harris and IVF grand-daughter Olivia

Amy and Neil’s treatment at Bourn Hall Norwich was IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which involved injecting six of Neil’s sperm into six of Amy’s eggs in the embryology laboratory and culturing the resulting embryos to go to the ‘blastocyst’ stage. Only one embryo was of a good enough quality and it was transferred to Amy’s womb.

The couple’s treatment worked the first time and they celebrated Amy’s pregnancy with a last-minute holiday in the sun. “It had been really emotional having IVF and so we flew to Majorca and just chilled for a week which we really needed,” says Amy.

After a textbook pregnancy, Amy went into labour two weeks early – just as she was about to go on maternity leave.

“I worked right up until two weeks before my due date and I left the office early because I had a dull ache in the tops of my thighs,” says Amy.

Amazing 

“When I got home I had a bath and my contractions started and then when Neil got home he cooked me a meal and I couldn’t eat anything and I normally eat like a horse so we knew something was happening!”

The next morning, on February 1, 2019, Amy gave birth to daughter Olivia who she describes as “an amazing baby.”

Amy says: “Being a mum is just incredible. I have wanted this for so long and so every day I think how lucky I am!

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

Marathon man celebrates fatherhood

The couple first started trying for a baby in 2015 but when they hadn’t conceived after 12 months Hannah went to see her GP.

“I knew that there was potentially a problem with me because I had irregular periods as a teenager and my periods took ten months to start again after I came off the pill,” says Hannah.

50:50 male and female factors

Hannah and Luke assumed Hannah’s irregular periods were the reason that she wasn’t falling pregnant – but it transpired that this was only half of the story.

Tests revealed that Luke, aged 33, had a low sperm count which, coupled with Hannah’s subsequent diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, significantly lowered the couple’s chances of conceiving naturally. “We were really surprised when it turned out that Luke had fertility issues too,” says Hannah.

Luke agrees: “It was very hard to deal with as it was just something which had never crossed my mind,” he says. “I remember feeling helpless and not knowing what I could do to change things.”

One third of couples who are tested for infertility will discover that there are contributory factors on both sides.  For Hannah and Luke the news hit them hard: “When we found out that we both had fertility issues it was pretty devastating,” admits Hannah, aged 32.

“Seeing adverts for pregnancy tests and baby products on TV was just one small way we were reminded of our difficulties and it was a really hard time for us. We just had to get on with it really and keep ourselves busy. Luke tried a few of the tips suggested for improving sperm count such as wearing loose underwear, exercising and not drinking,  but it didn’t help particularly.”

NHS fertility treatment

Hannah and Luke were referred for fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Cambridge and were lucky to be eligible for one round of NHS-funded treatment before funding was withdrawn for NHS IVF in Cambridgeshire.

“Living so close made everything more straightforward for us,” says Hannah. We didn’t have to stress about the travelling or being late for appointments. If the car had broken down on the way we could probably have finished the rest of the journey on foot so we were very lucky!”

The couple’s NHS-funded treatment was not successful. “I only produced three eggs and we had one viable embryo for transfer. The embryo didn’t take and I had a period after two weeks. It was very sad,” says Hannah.

“We had saved up in case we needed more treatment and we knew that we wanted to try again. We gave it a few months and I did a 10k run whilst Luke did another marathon and then we went on holiday before going back to Bourn Hall.”

The second time – as with the first – the couple had IVF using a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which is commonly used where the sperm needs a bit of ‘extra help’ to achieve fertilisation. Hannah’s eggs were collected and then Luke’s sperm was directly injected in to her eggs in the laboratory before transferring two embryos to her womb.

low sperm count and PCOS can contribute to infertility
Luke with Adeline and Max

Two weeks later and a pregnancy test confirmed that the treatment had worked. “We were grinning like maniacs. It never crossed our minds that both embryos might have taken,” laughs Hannah.

When a scan revealed that the couple were expecting twins “It was beyond good news,” says Hannah. “We were shocked but ‘happy shocked’!”

Twins Max and Adeline were born eight months ago – “it was surreal when they were born, it was amazing,” says Hannah.

“Now the twins are here it is hard to imagine our life without them,” says Luke. “I look forward to all the new experiences we will have together. They are just a constant source of happiness.”

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

Norfolk mum celebrates her miracle IVF baby

Cradling ‘miracle baby’ Riley in her arms, Lauren says that she just doesn’t have enough words of praise for Bourn Hall, the fertility clinic which made his birth possible.

Lauren and husband Stephen from Norfolk, were one of the first couples to be treated at Bourn Hall’s full-service Wymondham clinic.

A local clinic makes the difference

“When you are undergoing fertility treatment you need a very flexible boss,” explains Lauren. “The woman, in particular, has to be available for lots of tests and scans in the beginning, so if you are having to travel further afield that can make it very difficult to arrange around your job and can really add to your anxiety levels.

“Having all of my treatment on the doorstep was perfect and cut down on juggling with work commitments”.

Visit to GP set wheels in motion

Lauren met Stephen through work and having realised that Stephen was her Mr Right, Lauren says that they started trying for a family almost immediately.

“We tried for a baby for a couple of years but nothing was happening,” she says. “We thought we were doing all the right things, checking the dates and buying all the kits, but I just didn’t get pregnant”.

A visit to the couple’s GP set the wheels in motion and both Lauren and Stephen underwent tests which revealed that there was an issue with Stephen’s sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to ‘swim’).

“We were entitled to NHS treatment and luckily for us Bourn Hall had just opened their clinic in Wymondham, so we went along to an information evening which was really interesting,” says Lauren. “The presentation took us through the whole treatment journey and was really realistic about the whole process in terms of how emotionally draining it can be and what the chances of success are.”

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Lauren was treated at Bourn Hall using a process called ICSI where an individual sperm is injected into each egg to fertilise them.

Unfortunately, Lauren developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which happens in only around two per cent of patients undergoing fertility treatment, so her embryos were frozen until she had recovered.

“Bourn Hall were brilliant and once my periods started again my body went back to normal,” says Lauren.

Treatment restarted and ten of the embryos were thawed prior to transfer to Lauren’s womb. The cells in the embryo’s weren’t dividing vigorously and it was thought that they would not survive to the five day blastocyst stage, so after two days two embryos were selected and transferred.

Miracle baby

The couple were delighted when both of them took and Lauren became pregnant with twins. Sadly she suffered an early miscarriage and went for a scan at Bourn Hall.

“That was when I fell in love with Bourn Hall,” says Lauren. “We were not sure if I was still pregnant when we went in for the scan, so we were very worried. We were delighted to be given the good news that one had survived and some of the other staff came in to the room to celebrate with us. It was absolutely lovely!”

sperm motility

In October 2014 Lauren gave birth to son Riley and she says that he is just the perfect baby. She gave up her job to spend as much time with him as she can and was so impressed with Bourn Hall that she plans for another round of treatment, this time self-funded, in the hope of a brother or sister for Riley.

“We are moving down to Sussex with Stephen’s job,” says Lauren, “and I wanted to have my fertility treatment at Bourn Hall before we go. I wouldn’t have my treatment anywhere else. I cannot recommend them highly enough, we are so grateful to Bourn Hall, everyone there is brilliant.”

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Struggling to conceive? You are not alone says Royston mum

Lucy from Royston still vividly remembers the deflation and gnawing disappointment she experienced every month at not being able to conceive – and then having to put on a brave face to the outside world.

Lucy, aged 39, says: “The really hard part for me was when friends were falling pregnant. I would be really pleased for them and go to the baby shower and share in their excitement but then I would go home, shut the door and shed a few tears before picking myself and carrying on.”

Now a busy mum to three-year-old Benjamin and six-month-old twins Oliver and Chloe following fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic, Lucy says the subject of children came up pretty quickly when she met her husband Andrew ten years ago. “It was something each of us had always seen in our future but up until that point neither of us had met the right person,” she says.

The couple got married four years later and started trying for a baby straight away. After 18 months they went to see their GP. “I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right,” says Lucy. “We had months and months of trying and nothing happening and getting disheartened and then other people telling us to relax and not think about it which is virtually impossible.

“It really takes a strain on a relationship, it takes all the fun out of things when you are trying for a baby for months and months. It was getting us both down, we had read every book on the subject, were eating all the right foods and had even gone organic, we were taking supplements and still nothing was happening. We wondered what we were doing wrong.”

According to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority over 90 per cent of couples conceive naturally within two years. If you haven’t conceived for a year however, or you know you have a condition which affects your fertility, you should go and see your GP to discuss next steps.

“By the time we went to see the GP I was 35 and had reached an age where I thought we really needed to get a move on,” says Lucy. “I had spent years being careful to avoid getting pregnant and so hadn’t expected it to be such a challenge when I actually wanted it to happen!”

Lifestyle changes

When Lucy started opening up to people about their situation she discovered that a number of people around her had encountered problems conceiving or had their children through IVF. “People tend to keep fertility issues to themselves but once I started telling people about our situation I was surprised at how many people I knew had experienced similar problems,” she says.

The couple’s GP referred them for hospital tests which revealed that Andrew had a low sperm count. “It can be hard for a man but actually for us we were pleased that we finally had an answer,” says Lucy.  “Andrew tried changing his diet and even wore loose underwear and I was advised to lose some weight to get my BMI down but we still didn’t conceive and so we were told that our best chance of a baby was with IVF treatment.”

Lucy and Andrew opted to have their treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic just outside Cambridge and were told that they could be treated using a procedure called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). Very few sperm are needed for this particular fertility treatment and it involved injecting Andrew’s sperm directly in to eggs retrieved from Lucy before transferring one of the fertilised embryos to her womb (uterus).

The couple’s treatment worked first time but they had an anxious few weeks wait before the pregnancy was finally confirmed after their first scan was inconclusive. “We were desperate to tell family in time for Christmas if it was good news and so the nurse at Bourn Hall fitted us in for a scan on Christmas Eve,” Lucy reveals. “I still get really emotional thinking about it. We went in and on the screen we saw the little flicker of a heart. I remember phoning my mum and sister on the way home to tell them the good news, it just didn’t seem real!”

Son Ben was born three years ago after what Lucy describes as a “textbook pregnancy” and he is now a happy and healthy toddler.

When Ben celebrated his second birthday Lucy had further treatment at Bourn Hall and was delighted when she discovered she was expecting twins. Oliver and Chloe were born six months ago and Lucy cannot believe how much her life has changed in the last few years.

“I have gone from thinking that I would never be a mum to having three little people in my house. It is completely surprising and I feel really blessed,” she says.

Lucy’s advice to other people finding it difficult to get pregnant is “trust your instincts.”

“I knew that something was not quite right,” she says. “It was such a relief when we did seek help because it felt as though we were not alone anymore.”

 

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Support through our IVF journey made all the difference

Emma (33) delightedly texts her husband Wayne (33) that their four month old son, Jake, has laughed for the first time. When they began trying for a baby back in 2010 this milestone was incomprehensible to them.

Childhood sweethearts

Emma begins: “Wayne and I have known each other since the age of five, when we started school together, but it wasn’t until we were 17 that we became a couple and then finally in 2009 we decided to tie the knot and think seriously about starting a family.

“For over three years we were on tenterhooks: every month hoping that the next month I would conceive. It was devastating not getting pregnant, especially when everyone around us seemed to be conceiving so easily.”

Referred for fertility tests

In May 2013 the couple went to see their GP and were referred for fertility tests. The results showed that Wayne had abnormally shaped sperm. They were informed that this could possibly be affecting their chances and so their consultant referred them to Bourn Hall Clinic. As the couple lived in Essex, they attended the satellite clinic in Wickford.

Emma says: “In advance of our initial consultation I was apprehensive at the prospect of IVF and imagined it being very invasive, even aggressive, but the Bourn Hall staff put us at ease.

Good chance with IVF

“The consultant we saw was very positive and despite our fertility test results thought we had a good chance of success with IVF.”

Wayne adds: “I have always wanted to be a dad, looking forward to when we had our own little family. So when we were told we had to go for fertility treatment it was a lot to take in. I was of course worried about what lay ahead for Emma and I, not really knowing what to expect. But once we had gone for our first consultation there seemed to be hope.”

Taking it one step at a time

The couple began their NHS funded treatment cycle in January 2014.

Wayne says: “All the way through the IVF treatment the staff at Bourn Hall were professional and friendly. They explained each stage of the process which helped ease my fears. I felt the best way to go through the process was to take each stage one at a time. I never wanted to look too far ahead in case things didn’t work out. I guess it was my way of coping.”

ICSI and blastocyst transfer

Seven eggs were collected from Emma and six were successfully fertilised by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). All of the six embryos made it to day five blastocysts, of which one was transferred into Emma’s womb and another was suitable to be frozen.

Emma adds: “We took each step at a time; never quite daring to believe that I might become pregnant and ultimately us having a family.”

Wayne admits: “I never discussed any of the IVF process when we were going through it with friends. It seemed to be difficult to bring up in conversation. I think it was hard enough going through it without having people knowing and asking how it was all going.”

“We are so lucky to have Jake”

Emma’s pregnancy went smoothly and on 8th November 2014 baby Jake was born.

Emma enthuses: “He’s a wonderfully cheeky chappy, who’s very alert and loves to chat. We are so lucky to have him that it is beyond words.”

Wayne adds: “I have waited a long time to become a dad, and now it has finally happened I couldn’t be happier.  Sometimes it can be challenging but just seeing my little boy happy and smiling makes it all worthwhile. I love spending time all together as a family. I am looking to the future and all the adventures it will bring.

Bourn Hall staff were reassuring

“I cannot thank Bourn Hall enough, without all their knowledge and hard work we may not have our little family.”

Emma concludes: “And certainly if we do decide to have any more children we would return to Bourn Hall Clinic as the staff have been so supportive and reassuring.

“Any early fears about IVF have long gone and we would wholeheartedly encourage other couples that find themselves in our predicament to have hope and visit Bourn Hall.”

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Crohn’s Disease overcome with help of ICSI

As three-year-old James runs around excitedly with his cousin Bella at pre-school, mum Kelly cannot praise Bourn Hall, the fertility clinic which made his birth possible, highly enough.

Crohn’s Disease

“We always knew that we might have problems conceiving,” explains Kelly from Norfolk, “My fiance Paul has Crohn’s Disease and when he was very unwell he was admitted to hospital and treated with a medication that we were told may affect his fertility”.

The couple first met when Kelly was 17 and Paul was 22 and decided early on that they would like a family. After trying unsuccessfully for a baby when Kelly was in her early twenties they went to their GP and explained the background to Paul’s Crohn’s treatment.

ICSI

“Our GP was lovely,” says Kelly, “and immediately arranged for Paul to have a sperm test. The test revealed that there were problems with his sperm and we were referred for treatment in London.”

The treatment in London resulted in a pregnancy but Kelly was devastated when she had a very early miscarriage. “I did have a feeling though that something was wrong,” she says.

“The staff at Bourn Hall are amazing”

Kelly and Paul were then told that their hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, had established a satellite service in partnership with the world-famous fertility clinic, Bourn Hall, and they jumped at the chance of NHS treatment closer to home.

The couple had their routine appointments at the hospital and then went to Bourn Hall Clinic near Cambridge for egg collection and embryo transfer. “The staff at Bourn Hall are amazing,” says Kelly. “We were greeted warmly from the moment we walked through the door.”

IVF with ICSI 

Kelly had IVF with ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) where one of Paul’s sperm was individually selected and injected into one of her eggs. After the first round of treatment the couple faced disappointment when the pregnancy test came back negative.

“We were upset,” says Kelly, “but we accepted that it was one of those things, just another hurdle along the way. We stuck together and our families were very supportive. We decided to try again.”

Second time around at Bourn Hall and Kelly says her treatment was textbook. “I was driving home from Bourn Hall in December 2010 and I just knew that it had worked,” she smiles. “I took a pregnancy test on New Year’s Day 2011 and it was positive!”

ICSI

Proud parents to James

After a stress-free pregnancy, which she enjoyed with her sister-in-law who was expecting a baby at the same time, Kelly gave birth to son James in September 2011, who topped the scales at over 9lb.

Since baby James was conceived, Bourn Hall has opened a full service fertility clinic at Wymondham near Norwich, and a dedicated satellite clinic at King’s Lynn.

The King’s Lynn clinic provides continuity of care for patients who need fertility investigations or treatment. This means that testing is in one place with one team of staff and couples can be treated together. For the specialist egg collection and embryo transfer, patients can choose to go to Bourn Hall clinics near Norwich or Cambridge which ever is more convenient.

Kelly welcomed the news that Bourn Hall was opening a new fertility clinic: “It will be so much better for people in this area of Norfolk” she says. “I cannot praise Bourn Hall Clinic enough. They are brilliant.”

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Success with ICSI after tests reveal PCOS and a low sperm count

Hannah and Chris were childhood sweethearts who assumed after they got married that a family would follow shortly after, but their hopes were dashed early on.

“I had always wanted children,” says Hannah, “and assumed we would have a honeymoon baby. We started trying for a baby straight away but nothing happened.”

Eventually she went to see her GP who referred both of them for hospital tests.

Tests reveal PCOS

“The tests revealed that I had polycystic ovaries, which came as a complete surprise as I had none of the more common symptoms,” she recalls.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects 5–10% of women and a common cause of infertility. It has only recently been determined that a large proportion of women with PCOS are suffering from insulin resistance. In some women, raised insulin levels have a knock-on effect on the ovaries, preventing them from releasing mature eggs, and so leading to infertility.

Low sperm count

The couple were then dealt a further blow when tests on Chris uncovered a low sperm count caused by a childhood condition.

“We had to do some battling after that as all of the proposed treatments seemed to focus on me rather than Chris but then a different hospital consultant looked at both of our histories and took five seconds to decide that we needed IVF. It was the best day of my life,” says Hannah.

ICSI treatment at Bourn Hall

The couple were referred to Bourn Hall in Cambridgeshire, and started treatment in January 2013.

“I really thought ‘this is our year’” says Hannah, “but my first treatment failed and we had to wait a few months before trying again.”

Hannah was treated at Bourn Hall using a process called ICSI which involved directly injecting one of Chris’ sperm into one of her mature eggs before transferring it to her womb.

Second time around Hannah knew she was pregnant even before she had taken the pregnancy test.

Baby Ewan arrives

“I just knew because I felt different,” she says. “It was amazing. The only way to describe how I felt is that before I was pregnant I felt broken and that on that day I felt as though a small piece of me was put back together. Gradually throughout my pregnancy I was pieced back together and now I am fixed!”

Baby Ewan arrived in May of this year after Hannah had a trouble-free pregnancy and Hannah and Chris cannot thank Bourn Hall enough for their treatment:

“Bourn Hall is just amazing,” says Hannah. “I don’t know if the people there realise just how appreciated they are. They are such special people. There was a nurse who held my hand when I was being treated and she really sticks in my mind, she and all her colleagues made me feel as though I was the only one who mattered.”

Ref: CS068

NHS funding gave Kelly and Andy a baby miracle

With baby Grace playing in the background Kelly (43) recalls how her own and her husband’s, Andy (46), fertility problems were not going to stop them from becoming a family.

“In 1990, we met at a carnival in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and were married a year later. We started trying for a family soon after. To begin with we weren’t too worried about time but as the years passed we began to panic. Our initial hope of me easily becoming pregnant was soon seen as a dream and so we went to a clinic in Ipswich for investigation.

“We had endless tests and investigations and I was given the fertility drug Clomid to help improve my chances of conceiving but it didn’t work.”

ICSI treatment recommended

The tests revealed that as well as Kelly having (PCOS), a condition that affects the way the ovaries work, Andy had a medical condition which affected his ability to produce a sperm sample, and this would require surgical sperm retrieval.

“Eventually we were told in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) was our only option if we wanted a baby.”

ICSI involves carefully injecting a single sperm directly into an egg in order to fertilise it. The fertilised embryo is then transferred to the woman’s womb.

Entitled to one cycle of IVF on NHS

In 2007, and living in Suffolk, the couple were entitled to one cycle of IVF on the NHS.

Following successful surgical sperm retrieval Andy’s sperm was frozen and put into storage until needed.

In January 2008, Kelly had her eggs collected. A total of seven were collected and four eggs were suitable for ICSI.

Kelly continues: “Devastatingly none of eggs fertilised. As it was our only NHS funded IVF cycle we thought our chance had passed; never again would we be able to try for a child as we simply couldn’t afford the treatment ourselves.

A gift from Andy’s parents

“Andy’s parents amazingly surprised us and generously offered to help fund our second IVF cycle. We were so grateful and with renewed hope we returned to Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge but this time as private patients.”

The couple started their second cycle of IVF in September 2008, but unfortunately it was not to be and the pregnancy test was negative.

“Again our hopes were dashed and we started to wonder if it would just be the pair of us forever. Then my Dad heard that the NHS funding criteria was changing and that we might be eligible for further fertility treatment.

“I was worried we might not meet the requirements as we’d already had one NHS funded treatment as well as a privately funded one but that didn’t stop us from trying.

Dad’s determination pays off

“My Dad was fantastic; making initial phone calls of enquiry and then helping with the follow up paperwork and letter writing. Ultimately due to his hard work we were entitled to two more NHS funded cycles of IVF. This news was a big weight off our shoulders and gave us the chance of becoming parents.”

The couple started their next cycle of treatment in April 2010.

“Tragically another negative pregnancy test: we were heart-broken yet again but luckily we did have one more fresh cycle available to us. This was to be our final attempt so we were incredibly nervous.”

The final attempt

In late September 2010, three eggs were collected from Kelly and using frozen sperm retrieved from Andy, two embryos developed. At blastocyst stage, they were then carefully transferred into Kelly’s womb.

“I was due to take the pregnancy test on my Mum’s birthday, the 16th October, but I was too nervous, so I naughtily took it two days early. I didn’t want to spoil my Mum’s birthday if it was another negative, but, amazingly we got our first ever positive pregnancy test! It was the best news ever; I screamed with excitement yet knew we still had a long way to go until we held him or her in our arms.”

At the 20 week scan the couple discovered that they were having a girl.

“We knew this was going to be our one and only child so we wanted to be able to buy the appropriate colour clothes and nursery stuff, which is why we chose to find out the sex.”

The couple welcomes Grace

On 22nd June 2011 baby Grace was born weighing 8 lb 3 oz.

“We thought long and hard about what we would call our miracle. We named her ‘Grace’ after the fertility goddess and for gracing us with her presence and ‘Hope’ because we never gave up!

“She completes the world for us and is everything we ever wanted. It showed us that miracles can happen.

“We know we were lucky to get further NHS funding. It made all the difference to us being able to have a family and we are eternally grateful to everyone at Bourn Hall who helped make our dreams come true.”

Ref CS065