People assumed that us not having children was a ‘lifestyle choice’

Lockdown and turning 30 made Amy and Nick reconsider what was important in their lives. After battling with the frustration of unexplained infertility they feel so blessed that they were successful on their first cycle of NHS-funded IVF – their scan was just days before Christmas 2022 – what a difference a year makes!

Amy and Nick from Essex got married in 2016 and loved to party and go travelling. Then it hit them when they were in their early thirties that as fertility declines at 35, they needed to start thinking about children.

Amy remembers it was quite a sudden conversation: “All our friends had children and I said to Nick ‘you know, we need to do something about this sooner rather than later because we don’t know how long it is going to take us to get pregnant.’

“We were trying for a couple of years without success.  Waiting every month to see if I was pregnant or not. It became a bit of a burden, making us unhappy with the pressure and the stress of it all.

“Our friends had either already got children or were having children and there were a lot of pregnancy announcements. Obviously, I was very happy for them and although it upset me, I would never show that it hurt.

Apprehensive about having IVF

“Eventually I went to see my GP and was sent for blood tests and then on to our local hospital for a test to check my fallopian tubes. Nick had a few semen tests. They couldn’t find a definitive reason for our infertility which was frustrating, it was unexplained.

“However, we were told we could be referred for one round of NHS-funded IVF and we chose to go to Bourn Hall Essex.

“Once we knew we were going to have IVF we wanted to give ourselves the best chance. I had always exercised but I cut out alcohol completely as well as caffeine, I changed my diet and I really reduced my sugar intake, and I had weekly acupuncture.

“Nick did the same he had a couple of drinks every now and then but apart from that there was no alcohol at all. We wanted to have a baby, so we took it all quite seriously.

“I was happy we could have IVF but also apprehensive, because we only had one shot and I didn’t know whether it would work and if it didn’t what our future would look like.

“At Bourn Hall we had an introductory appointment with a fertility doctor and then saw Grace our fertility nurse who ran through the procedure, how to do injections, what will happen when get delivery from the medical company. I am pretty sure that she also saw me for my first scan.

I took a break from social media

“To protect my mental wellbeing, just before we started having the IVF I came off all social media. I didn’t want to see any more baby announcements from anyone, friends, family, or celebrities.

“I think taking a break really helped, as it just changed my focus.

“I had 12 eggs collected, but by day 5 of blastocyst we only had four embryos left. The best quality embryo was transferred to me but unfortunately the remaining three weren’t suitable enough to freeze, which really put the pressure on, there was no back-up…

“I phoned my mum crying saying, ‘this is our only chance on the NHS’, what are we going to do if it doesn’t work?’

I tested every day to check the result

“I did the test early and it didn’t show up straightaway, so I thought ‘well okay I’ve just done it too early’. I put it down on the side and started washing my hands and then looked again and then I could suddenly see there was a really faint line, so I was like ‘oh my god!’.

“The next morning, we did another test together at 4am and it was a really strong line. Then we couldn’t get back to sleep, we sat up until 9am when we were both due to start work, we just couldn’t take it in.

“We were thinking ‘surely this can’t be right?’! I did so many tests I must have tested every day for about three weeks, it just that anxiety and the paranoia as well because we were so happy but also worried that something was going to go wrong.

First Christmas

“We had our 12-week scan on 23 December which was lovely because it meant that we could tell our wider family on Christmas Day and Boxing Day that we were expecting, which was a beautiful timing.

“Our mums had known about our fertility journey, but other family members genuinely had no idea about what we had been going through because we are quite private about it. I think from the outside maybe people thought that we didn’t want children so it was a big surprise for everyone.

“Freddie was born in June 2023. I just remember being so relieved that he was here.

“I still just can’t believe it. I never would have dreamt in Summer 2022 that I would have a little boy by Christmas 2023.

“It is a very special time for us, and we feel very blessed.”

Freddie meets Santa
Freddie meets Santa