James and Ruth's story
Ruth and I married in 2014 and we started to try to conceive pretty much straight away after this, but little did we know then how long it would ultimately take and the issues that we would encounter in the coming years.
We were excited to find out that Ruth was pregnant in November of that same year and, as you do, we started planning the beginnings for our little family. By this time, Ruth was beginning to feel sick and encountering pregnancy symptoms, so we thought things were going well. As a Midwife, she was more than aware of how her body could be affected.
One day at work, about seven weeks into the pregnancy, I received a panicked phone call from Ruth asking to meet her at the hospital for a scan, as she had shown some signs of bleeding whilst at work. Understandably, we were both very anxious going into the scan; however, we did experience a slight relief when it showed the baby and also the heartbeat. Following this, Ruth immediately went home to rest, in the hope that things might settle down, but in her own mind, she had fears that things weren’t likely to work because of the amount of bleeding that there’d been. At this time, I was still hopeful of a positive outcome, as the scan showed that everything appeared OK.
Unfortunately Ruth continued to bleed and finally passed a lot of clots; this occurred approximately a week later and we both knew at this point that it wasn’t to be. It was a tough New Year for us both, as we also had to cope with the passing away of two grandparents within a few days of one another – one from each side of the family – as well as having to come to terms with the loss of the pregnancy, which was very hard for both of us to deal with.
We tried not to dwell on the outcome too much and just assumed it was down to bad luck that things hadn’t worked out that time and decided that we would continue to try for another pregnancy. It was also around then that Ruth became more concerned about her irregular periods, which could vary between thirty and fifty days, and therefore she decided to get some advice from the GP about this.
PCOS and Low Sperm Count …
By Easter 2015, our GP decided to run some tests on Ruth, in order to see if there was any reason for her irregular periods. She had a series of blood tests and a scan. It was at this point that Ruth was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Due to the GP knowing that PCOS can cause fertility issues, they suggested that I also have semen analysis carried out. Following this, I was shocked to discover that I had issues with my sperm count, along with some issues with morphology (shape of the sperm). Due to both of us having fertility problems we were referred to Fertility Clinic at Coventry Hospital.
I decided to make changes to my lifestyle to improve my sperm quality. I was taking Multi-Vitamin Tablets, not drinking alcohol and reducing my caffeine intake, along with us both maintaining healthy lifestyles. It wasn’t that either of us were particularly unhealthy – we wanted to try everything we could to give ourselves the best chance of conceiving.
Trying Clomid …
By now it was the beginning of November 2015 and following several months of waiting, finally received an appointment for the Fertility Clinic. Following our initial assessment, they decided to do an AMH test on Ruth (Anti-Mullerian Hormone). Ruth’s levels were in the normal range but on the lower side for her age; she was 29 and I was 33. The Consultant advised a trial of Clomid treatment for six months.
Following scans on Ruth’s first month of Clomid, it did appear to be having positive results. However, during what seemed like a very long six months of Clomid, unfortunately we did not conceive. By this time, we were both getting quite anxious and upset. Nothing seemed to be working. How could Ruth become pregnant once but not again? We were offered the options of IUI or IVF. We felt IVF was the best option.
Trying IVF …
I think we were both naive going into our first cycle of IVF at the Coventry clinic in July 2016. We weren’t entirely sure what it entailed. Ruth didn’t seem to respond to the injections in the way that the Clinic expected. Sadly, due to restrictions of when eggs could be collected, instead of cancelling the cycle, they pushed her an extra few days to collection. We were disappointed when only four eggs could be collected. Upsetting as we heard other people had more eggs retrieved in their cycles.
Five days later, we had one of the embryos transferred back. A difficult ordeal, as we were told that they were of poor quality. We overheard on the ward that other patients had better quality eggs and some available for freezing. Obviously, this was great news for the couples involved, but it was hard to swallow for a couple who were struggling with the same treatment themselves.
After an anxious couple of weeks wait, we were excited to find out that the cycle had been successful and Ruth had become pregnant. We then had what seemed like a long two-week wait to the scan. At this time, Ruth did not really experience any pregnancy symptoms as such and we went to the scan to be told that things had not developed as expected; this was really upsetting for both of us.
We returned a week later for a follow-up scan only to be told that the fetal pole had grown - but there was no sign of a heartbeat. We were then left in limbo until another scan two weeks later. This revealed that it was not a viable pregnancy. At this point, Ruth was meant to be ten weeks pregnant but with no bleeding at all, we spoke to the nurse and decided that the surgical route was the best.
Our IVF Success …
In late 2016 after so much disappointment, following recommendations from friends and family, we moved to private IVF treatment with CARE Fertility. Immediately after meeting the staff at the Nottingham & Leicester clinic we felt comfortable and happy with our decision. We embarked on our second cycle of IVF in early 2017. Ruth even had her Endometrial Scratch (ES) on her birthday! We just wanted to give ourselves the best possible chance of success with the treatment. She responded well to the injections and, on egg collection, we were over the moon to discover that eight eggs had been collected.
Over the next few days, it was a nervous wait for the phone to ring, but finally we received the call and were told that all eight of the eggs had successfully made it to day five. Luckily, three of these eggs were of top quality, but it was not possible to freeze the remaining five. One embryo was successfully transferred and the other two frozen. After an anxious two-week wait, we were thrilled to find out that the process had been successful.
After what felt like the longest three weeks of our lives, we arrived at Leicester CARE for our first pregnancy scan. We were shown the healthy heartbeat of our first child! The staff were brilliant throughout. Nothing was too much trouble for them, and their support was paramount throughout our journey.
Following an uncomplicated pregnancy, we welcomed our son Joshua into the world on 9th October 2017, and we haven’t looked back since.
We are hoping to use the frozen embryos to try for a sibling in the near future.