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Patient Stories: Ashley and Jason's story

We began IVF in 2020 after 3 years of trying to conceive. I have endometriosis. Covid had struck 6 months prior & treatments had been delayed which left us feeling sad & frustrated.

Finally we had our first appointment with Care Sheffield & within a month I had commenced treatment for egg collection.

I found the process really stressful, we had lots of ups & downs emotionally. A lot of desperation & hope. I feel we always thought IVF would work the first time around, after all why wouldn’t it.

We gained 10 eggs, 4 made it to blastocysts. After collection I was really unwell & OHSS was queried. I ended up in hospital on the day of transfer. The transfer was cancelled. This was soul destroying but on reflection was the best decision for us. I made a full recovery & 2 months later we transferred our first embryo.

On test day, I couldn’t believe my eyes, we had a positive. However, a few days later I had a big bleed with lots of pain. I spoke with the clinic who were very supportive over the telephone who said to rest. The next morning I was beside myself & I asked for a hcg blood test, this came back on the Friday at close to 4000, I had a repeat blood test 2/3 days later & this had reduced to 700 which I was told by the nurses was a chemical pregnancy. I hated this term. As I did gain a positive test & to us as a couple it was a loss of a chance. 3 weeks later I did another pregnancy test & I found the test was really dark, I went to the clinic for a repeat hcg & it had risen to 600, I had a scan & there was a shadow on my left side. I was referred to the early pregnancy unit.

After a few weeks & every other day hcgs at epau I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy & I had to decide on methotrexate or having surgery to remove my Fallopian tube. I decided on methotrexate. Emotionally the ectopic pregnancy took a huge toll on me & I think it being our first IVF chance it did break us down as a couple. This was October 2020.

April 2021 I had another embryo transferred & I asked for my progesterone checking as I felt it may have been low as I bled early in October. On transfer day my progesterone was found to be very low, therefore, I was given triple progesterone. On test day again, I tested positive, we were more wary this time & aware of what we could lose. Just before 5 weeks again I had bleeding & my hcg this time did decrease normally.

After our second loss, we wanted more tests, I was already having weekly acupuncture & the lady I used at life & lemons was fantastic & talked me through tests that may uncover health issues.

I had clotting bloods taken & nk cell testing. My clotting bloods showed I had immune issues requiring steroids & clotting issues which meant I needed blood thinning injections for the whole of pregnancy, alongside aspirin. We had to have the bloods repeated after 3 months which showed I maybe did not require blood thinners, therefore it wasn’t added to my October 2021 protocol.

October 2021, I decided to not use steroids, to use aspirin & to see how the next transfer went.Again I gained a positive test, but again I bled after test day. My hcg declined as normal.

I feel because of the heartbreak & the fear of having another ectopic pregnancy, losing again & it being straightforward didn’t cause as much mental scarring. We enjoyed Christmas together & planned to go again in January 2022.

January 2022, we transferred the last embryo from our first collection, I used aspirin & steroids this time around. This cycle I didn’t gain a positive at all.I felt like this was it for us, we had used our nhs round & I wasn’t sure if we would ever be parents. I felt the world was against us & it just wasn’t meant to be. We decided to live a little & we booked a holiday to Mauritius, a zika free country just incase we conceived naturally. Whilst we were on holiday we discussed doing another IVF round & whilst away I contacted the clinic. On landing in the UK we paid for a multi cycle with the clinic. I wanted the clotting bloods again as I felt I had a positive for lupus anticoagulant & it had shown as negative on the second set of bloods 3 months after. The 3rd bloods showed I did have lupus. Which meant I needed blood thinners throughout the whole pregnancy if successful.

March 2022 I had our 2nd egg collection. I gained 9 eggs, 5 made it to blastocysts. This time I was well & I was able to have a transfer. Just before test day I began to bleed again, I did an early test & this came back as positive. I contacted the clinic & had a hcg. This came back as 311, 2 days later it was 728. Our consultant upped my progesterone & I was placed on bed rest. I had really painful period cramps & I thought I was definitely out again.

At 6 weeks I had a scan, this was early to ensure the pregnancy was in the right place & not ectopic again. It was confirmed the pregnancy was in the correct place but there was no heartbeat so I was asked to return 11 days later. At this point I began bloating & at work I was asked if I was pregnant by colleagues.

At 7+4 we went for a scan & unbelievably two little heartbeats were found. The feeling was unreal, it was so exciting but also worrying at the same time. We had identical twins inside me.

The pregnancy was really difficult, I had hyperemesis, gestational diabetes, I had to walk with crutches due to spd, low haemoglobin, placenta previa at one point. I was scanned every fortnight. There was a worry at one point of twin to twin transfusion but this settled.

At 33 weeks I had reduced movements from twin 1, I went to be monitored & I was having tightenings which I’d had for a while but this time they were becoming more regular & showing up on the ctg monitor. I had a vaginal swab & it was found I was highly likely to go into premature labour within a week. I was admitted to the ward. At 33+5 weeks my waters went & I was planned for a c-section.

During the section I had low blood sugars & required a blood transfusion. My baby girls were born at 3lb 8/9ozs. They were whisked off to the Neonatal ward where they stayed for 12 days.To get to where we are I’ve had to do 100s of injections, horrible painful procedures & endured the worst heartbreak I didn’t feel I could have ever gotten through. But here I am with my two baby girls who are soon to be one year old, feeling incredibly lucky that my life has two beautiful baby girls in it. Twins in themselves have no health problems. I’ve found being a twin mum very difficult, my body endured a lot in pregnancy & for this reason I would never advocate anyone having more than one embryo transferred. Being a twin parent really does push you to your limits & I have little time for myself but I do have twice the moments/love & double trouble. Dreams really do come true.

We feel extremely lucky to be in this position in life. We do still have 4 remaining embryos which I don’t think we will use.

Care Sheffield with Dr Petsas made this happen & I cannot thank them enough for giving us our little family.