Pill masked the symptoms of endometriosis
Carlene was put on the pill as a teenager to ease painful periods and it masked the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition where tissue, similar to that of the lining of the womb, grows in other parts of the body such as around the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
“When I came off the pill to try to get pregnant the painful periods returned and slowly got worse and worse,” she says. “The pain would be so bad sometimes that I almost couldn’t function. It was terrible; I would wake up in the night, throwing up with the pain, my heart would be racing and I would be having hot sweats. I knew something was wrong.
“I was told that I would have to go back on the pill to ease the pain, but me and my husband Lewis really wanted a baby, so I had four years of agony.”
The couple, who live in Suffolk, went to their GP for advice and the initial tests came back normal, so they were told to try for longer before they were referred to hospital.
I would need to have a hydrosalpinx removed before fertility treatment
“I had an internal scan and was referred to a surgeon for an exploratory laparoscopy, which identified that I had a hydrosalpinx (fluid) on my left fallopian tube as well as endometriosis. The tube needed to be removed, and I would need fertility treatment, it was like starting again.
“I was referred for another laparoscopy which revealed that the damage caused by the endometriosis was so bad that it had caused adhesions on my bowel and bladder and both of my ovaries were stuck to my uterus. They couldn’t remove the tube completely because I had so many adhesions from the endometriosis, so they clipped it.
“We were referred to Bourn Hall Norwich for NHS-funded IVF treatment, 12 weeks after my operation. I only had one egg collected during our first round of IVF and we had a day two transfer which was unsuccessful. I was gutted.
“For our second round it was suggested that I had egg collection under general anaesthetic to make it easier to retrieve my eggs. This would be done at the Cambridge clinic. <
“For me it was a much better experience and when I woke up, I had the number ‘8’ written on my hand and I was absolutely over the moon. Seven of the eight eggs fertilised and went to blastocyst; we couldn’t believe it, we felt like we had a chance.
I felt ecstatic on the drive home after embryo transfer because I just knew I had that hope and I hadn’t felt like that for such a long time; I went for a really long walk the next day. I didn’t quite wait the ten days to take the pregnancy test – and it was positive.
We didn’t dare believe we were pregnant
“Even when we went to the scan and saw the heartbeat we still couldn’t say that we were pregnant, it just wouldn’t come out of our mouths. We just didn’t dare believe it; we were guarding ourselves so much just in case. It had been such a long journey and we just didn’t dare say it.
“Leo arrived three weeks early, on 27 January 2022 at the James Paget, and when he arrived we absolutely loved and adored him straight away; we couldn’t believe he was ours – we still can’t sometimes!
“It is hard to put into words what IVF means to me. It has given me my life back to be honest. My whole life was consumed with worrying about whether I’d have a child and IVF was the only way I’d be able to have one.”