With baby Freddie gurgling away in Lisa’s arms, she recounts the emotional journey she and her husband John have been on, including John overcoming cancer and three unsuccessful IVF attempts, to get to this happy stage in their lives.
“We’d known each other for a while but John and I had our first date two days before Christmas 2007 and our relationship took off from there. Due to our ages, John 38 and I 32, we started thinking about trying for a family quite soon, especially as we knew it would be difficult.
“I’d always had irregular ovulation and this was impacting our chances of getting pregnant. We went down the route of seeing our GP and getting referred for tests and fertility drugs. We eventually got referred to Bourn Hall for IVF treatment on the NHS but this was to be delayed.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer
“On Valentine’s Day, of all days, John was diagnosed with testicular cancer and basically told he was infertile. This put a real spanner in the works.
“John hadn’t been well for a while so we knew something was wrong but it still took a while for his cancer to be diagnosed and when it was it was already quite advanced. As John was so ill at the time the medics couldn’t retrieve any sperm from him and our aim shifted focus to getting him better and we’d think about anything else after that.
“At the time Bourn Hall wrote a really supportive letter; hoping John’s treatment went well and to get in touch when the time was right. We really appreciated that letter and glimmer of hope.
“Miraculously six months later John was given the all clear and we got married. We also felt the time was right to think again about having a family and so we approached Bourn Hall.
“We particularly spoke with Dr Kay Elder, who was very helpful and gave us some good advice. We also spoke to Oliver Wiseman a specialist in sperm retrieval.
“Unfortunately following John’s cancer the chances of sperm retrieval were very low. The specialist did offer us the procedure as well as the option of donated sperm.
“John had already kind of come to terms with the fact that he might not be able to provide sperm and father a child when he was diagnosed with cancer but the choice wasn’t to be taken lightly.
“After a week’s agonising we decided that because of our lives and circumstances that the best route was to use a sperm donor as we wanted to give ourselves the best chance to have a family.
“Once we had made that decision and told the Clinic, they were brilliant and told us to come in for a consultation and offered us counselling. This was great as it gave us an insight into the process of IVF, the implications of donated sperm and the process of selecting a sperm donor.
“Following blood tests to check that I was compatible with several potential donors we were sent five profiles to review. We went through their descriptions and selected the one that we thought seemed the best for us and the one that John also liked the sound of, which was very important to us.”
Lisa was given a course of fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation and her eggs were collected. Her first cycle was very successful and she produced 18 eggs of which 16 were mature enough for treatment and 10 resulted in embryos, of which five were frozen.
IVF with ICSI
The couple had IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which involves injecting a single sperm into each mature egg, to help fertilisation to occur.
One or two of the resulting embryos can be transferred to the womb in the same way as in a conventional IVF cycle. Any additional suitable embryos not transferred in this cycle can be frozen for future use.
“I had one embryo transferred but unfortunately it didn’t work so we decided to try again. The next cycle also had a negative result. For the third time we hoped our luck might have changed and we’d be lucky.
“I did become pregnant and was so excited but it was short lived. When we tested the second time it was negative. It seems it was just a chemical pregnancy.
“Following three failed attempts I was emotionally drained and on the brink of a break down and so we decided to take a break from trying. I even gave up work to reduce the stress in our lives and then a few months later we were ready to try again.”
Pregnant with the fourth attempt
The couple returned to Bourn Hall for their fourth attempt and Lisa began a fresh cycle in August 2013. She successfully fell pregnant and baby Freddie was born on 15th April 2014.
“During the pregnancy I did have a few concerns about whether we would both feel Freddie was part of us. However from the moment we had our first scan he was definitely ours.
“We are ecstatic about Freddie and can’t believe our luck. It is the best thing in the world when John walks in the room and you see Freddie smiling at him.
“It’s been worth every moment for us as it was about being parents and loving our child. Thanks to our sperm donor and hopefully telling our story will help others experience the joy we have.”