Lucy has wanted children for as long as she can remember. “I decided when I was 12 that I wanted three children when I was older,” she laughs, “I had even decided on their names!”
It therefore came as an enormous shock to Lucy when she was diagnosed at the age of 18 with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) a common ovulatory disorder that affects between 5-10 per cent of women and is a common cause of infertility.
PCOS would cause infertility
It is a complex syndrome producing a variety of symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat – but Lucy was exhibiting a number of the more common symptoms and so her mum pushed for her to get checked out.
“I had hardly any periods since starting them aged 13 and at one point went two and a half years without having a period at all,” Lucy explains. “Throughout my teenage years I had to cope with excess facial and body hair and despite eating like a bird and running every day I struggled with my weight.
“A blood test and scan of my ovaries confirmed PCOS and I was told that if I wanted children in the future it was likely I would need IVF. The implications were explained but not in any great detail and I think it was assumed as I was so young that I had many years of studying and forging a career ahead of me first and that having children was not something to dwell on.
“It is safe to say that, although I did throw myself in to studying and work, being diagnosed with PCOS at 18 was a huge blow and I was determined that one day I would have a family.”
Lucy says that at the time she wasn’t given any proper advice about managing her PCOS long-term other than being advised to go on the contraceptive pill.
“I wasn’t offered any help or advice with managing my weight or excess hair,” says Lucy. I personally felt that if I could get my PCOS under control when I was younger I might be able to conceive naturally later on when I was ready to start a family and I have since found quite a lot of useful dietary information online.”
Ten years after she was told her PCOS would cause infertility Lucy met Gerry and as the relationship got serious she felt that she needed to be totally honest with him about her chances of conceiving.
“My best friend and some friends from school had started to have children and when our relationship started to get serious I felt that I needed to be upfront with him as it was such a big thing for me,” says Lucy. “Gerry was extremely supportive and said that he wanted to be with me and if we had children that was a bonus.”
Boosting natural fertility
The couple, who lived in London at the time, had a two-year engagement to save up for their wedding and during that time Lucy was sent for hospital fertility tests where she was told again that her chances of conceiving naturally were very slim. She was subsequently referred for IVF treatment.
“If obsessed brides are called ‘bridezillas’ then I was a ‘mumzilla’’ recalls Lucy. “My body was a total temple, I drank no alcohol, worked out every day, drank loads of water, ate loads of vitamin E rich foods, got at least 8 hours of sleep a day and did reflexology and yoga.”
Lucy thinks this commitment paid off because the day before she was due to embark on a course of fertility drugs she found out, miraculously, that she had fallen pregnant naturally. Lucy and Gerry were over the moon and in July 2013 son Finn was born.
Just before Finn’s second birthday Lucy was ecstatic when she found out she had fallen pregnant naturally again but her joy was short-lived when she suffered a miscarriage.
“I was absolutely devastated,” says Lucy. “I took the miscarriage really badly and ended up being on anti-depressants for a while.”
After they got married the couple relocated to Norfolk and decided to approach nearby Bourn Hall Clinic in Norwich for advice.
Running out of time
“I had been lucky to fall pregnant twice naturally but with me only ovulating twice a year it was anyone’s guess whether I would fall pregnant again after my miscarriage,” says Lucy. “I was nearly 34 when we approached Bourn Hall and I didn’t feel as though we had time on our side.”
Lucy was treated at Bourn Hall Clinic using IVF which involved her taking fertility drugs to stimulate her egg production before having the eggs removed using a minor surgical procedure to be mixed with Gerry’s sperm in a culture dish for fertilisation. A resulting embryo was then transferred to her womb.
Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect a woman’s hormones and her reaction to fertility drugs and Lucy was closely monitored by Bourn Hall during her treatment to ensure she didn’t produce too many eggs and develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. She describes the care she received at Bourn Hall as “exceptional.”
The hardest part of the whole process, she reveals, was the two-week wait after she had been treated before she took her pregnancy test. The couple were delighted when the test came back positive and Lucy gave birth to second son Rory on April 1, 2016.
“Finn’s birth had not been very easy and he had ended up in the special care baby unit so I was absolutely petrified when I went in to have Rory,” says Lucy. “But Rory’s birth went very smoothly and he let out the most enormous cry when he was born and he has been absolutely delightful ever since.”
Lucy, who works as a Procurement Specialist, cannot praise Bourn Hall Clinic highly enough: “I was just so impressed with Bourn Hall,” she says. “The whole experience was just so professional, caring and personal.
“I have got two miracle sons, one conceived naturally and one as a result of IVF, and I am just so grateful.”