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twin babies from ivf 2022

31/12/2023 - 7 min read

Patient Stories: Ashley and Jason's story

Care Team

Ashley and Jason began IVF in 2020 after three years of trying to conceive, with Ashley facing endometriosis and COVID-19 delays. Their fertility treatment at Care Fertility Sheffield brought hope, but also challenges – Ashley and Jason share their story below:

We began IVF in 2020 after three years of trying to conceive. I have endometriosis and the Covid-19 pandemic had struck six months prior, meaning treatments had been delayed which left us feeling sad and frustrated. 

Finally, we had our first appointment with Care Fertility Sheffield and within a month I had commenced treatment for egg collection. I found the process really stressful; we had lots of ups and downs emotionally and physically. We experienced a lot of desperation and hope. I feel we always thought IVF would work the first time around, after all why wouldn’t it? 

We gained ten eggs, and four made it to blastocysts. However, after the egg collection I was unwell and Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) was queried. Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital on the day of transfer, and the transfer had to be cancelled. This was soul destroying but on reflection it was the best decision for us. Luckily, I made a full recovery and two 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 experienced a big bleed accompanied by lots of pain. I spoke with the clinic who were very supportive over the telephone, and they said to rest. The next morning, I was beside with worry, and I requested an HCG blood test, this came back on the Friday at close to 4000. I had a repeat blood test 2/3 days later and this had reduced to 700, which I was told by the nurses was a chemical pregnancy. I hated this term.  

As I had a positive test, as couple it felt like a loss of a chance to us. Three weeks later I did another pregnancy test, and I found the test was really dark, I went to the clinic for a repeat HCG and it had risen to 600, I had a scan and there was a shadow on my left side. I was referred to the early pregnancy unit. 

After a few weeks and every other day HCG at the EPU, I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, and I had to decide on methotrexate or having surgery to remove my Fallopian tube. I decided on the methotrexate. Emotionally the ectopic pregnancy took a huge toll on me, and I think it being our first IVF chance it strained us as a couple.  

In April 2021, I had another embryo transferred and I asked for my progesterone to be checked 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 and aware of what we could lose. Just before five weeks again I had bleeding and my HCG this time did decrease normally. 

After our second loss, we wanted more tests, I was already having weekly acupuncture and the lady I used at life and lemons was fantastic and talked me through tests that may help to uncover health issues and help us to understand why this was happening to us, and what we could do to increase our chances. 

I had clotting bloods taken and NK-cell testing. My clotting bloods showed I had immune issues requiring steroids and clotting issues which then meant I needed blood thinning injections for the whole of pregnancy, alongside aspirin. We had to have the bloods repeated after three months which showed I may didn’t require blood thinners; therefore, it wasn’t added to my October 2021 protocol. 

October 2021, I decided to not use steroids, but to use aspirin instead and 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 and the fear of having another ectopic pregnancy, losing again and it being straightforward didn’t cause as much mental scarring. We enjoyed Christmas together and planned to go again in January 2022. 

In January 2022, we transferred the last embryo from our first collection, I used aspirin and 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, and I wasn’t sure if we would ever be parents. I felt the world was against us and it just wasn’t meant to be.  

We decided to live a little and we booked a holiday to Mauritius, a zika free country just in case we conceived naturally. Whilst we were on holiday, we discussed doing another IVF round and whilst away I contacted the clinic. On landing in the UK, we paid for an IVF multi-cycle treatment with the clinic. I wanted the clotting bloods again as I felt I had a positive for lupus anticoagulant and it had shown as negative on the second set of bloods just three months after. This third set of bloods confirmed I have lupus. Which meant I needed blood thinners throughout the whole pregnancy if successful. 

In March 2022, I had our second egg collection. I gained nine eggs, and five made it to blastocysts. This time I was well, and I was able to have a transfer. Just before test day I began to bleed again, I did an early test, and this came back as positive. I contacted the clinic and had an HCG test. This came back as 311, and two days later it was 728. Our consultant upped my progesterone, and I was placed on bed rest. I had painful period cramps, and I thought the pregnancy was ending again. 

At 6 weeks I had a scan, this was early to ensure the pregnancy was in the right place and not ectopic. 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 and at work I was asked if I was pregnant by colleagues. 

At 7+4 we went for a scan and 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 on the way! 

The pregnancy was difficult, I had hyperemesis, gestational diabetes, and I had to walk with crutches due to SPD, low haemoglobin, and even 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 one, I went to be monitored as I was having tightening's which I’d had for a while but this time they were becoming more regular and showing up on the CTG monitor. A vaginal swab confirmed that 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, and I was planned for a C-section. 

During the C-section I had low blood sugars and 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.  

I’ve found being a twin mum very difficult, my body endured a lot in pregnancy, and 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 and I have little time for myself, but I do have twice the moments, love, and of course double trouble. Dreams really do come true! 

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

To get to where we are I’ve had to do hundreds of injections, countless procedures, and endured the heartbreak of loss. But here I am with my two baby girls who are soon to be one year old, feeling incredibly lucky that my life has them in it. The twins in themselves have had no health problems. 

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