Our CARE journey started way back in 2017 when, after TTC since 2015 and having all the bog standard tests via NHS, we found out we had male factor infertility but were ineligible for NHS funding until I, Sam, lost weight to fit the BMI criteria. I have always struggled with my weight and it has never been so simple as to ‘just lose it’ as I was constantly told so we decided that we would explore options to go private.
We read a lot about different clinics online but something stood out about Bath Fertility Clinic (as it was back then) and when we saw they held regular free tours with nothing hidden we had nothing to lose. So, in July 2017 we decided to book on the tour and have a chat with one of the lovely nurses (I believe this was Helen and she was soon to play a larger role in our journey). We loved the clinic – we loved how open, honest and friendly everyone was. No corner of the clinic was missed (We couldn’t go into the part where the magic happens but the large windows enabled us to see everything) so we felt confident in these people who would potentially be handling our future embabies, should we be so lucky to get some.
Just a month later we’d booked our first consultation with Dr Walker and the turn around was just a few weeks. At the end of September, we sat down with Dr Walker who looked through our extensive tests including sperm samples, bloods and a laparoscopy and he was very honest and said we could still have a chance of conceiving naturally, albeit a small one, so did we want to try naturally for another 6 months? We both agreed we didn’t – we’d been trying over two years at this point and we’d never ever seen a positive pregnancy test. We had enough funding to go with one round of ICSI so we just thought lets go with it; what is meant to be will be and if it doesn’t work, I can continue to try to lose weight while we saved for another go.
Dr Walker said we could start as soon as my next cycle so, on October 26th 2017, I took my first injection. We were adamant this wouldn’t consume our lives (who were we kidding, it did kind of!) so, with Dr Walker’s agreement, we still continued with our plans for the foreseeable. This included a 5 day trip to Paris and anything I could do to remain positive and relaxed, Dr Walker was all for it including the odd cheeky wine or two (only while on down regs, once I started my second lot of injections that stopped completely). It was tough going physically, mentally and emotionally.
Our egg collection date was November 28th 2017 where we got just five embryos. Here is where the amazing Helen came in to play again. I was heartbroken – I was meant to be the one who was all ok so it was down to me to give us the best shot (that was my belief, my husband did not share that mentality at all) and I felt like I’d let us down with such a small number of eggs as opposed to the twenty or thirty plus I was seeing women get on IVF/ICSI support groups on social media. Helen listened to me then said it is quality over quantity – it is better to have few great quality than lots of poor quality. That helped me have hope again.
Out of our five eggs four were mature which were injected with sperm and three fertilised. We had our embabies! We just needed them to keep developing and we were hoping for a transfer on day five. Our update was positive – they were all good quality and doing what they were supposed to be doing. On 3rd December 2017 I had one day 5 hatching blastocyst transferred and two (one hatching and one almost hatching) great quality embryos to freeze. What a relief!!
At the end of our two week wait (yes we really did wait! They ask you to wait for a reason and we’d followed our protocol to the letter so why change it now we were so close?) and on the 17th December 2017 we had our first ever positive (and boy were those lines strong!) pregnancy test. We were pregnant. The closest we’d ever been to becoming parents. On our first ever ICSI cycle – who gets that lucky?! At the viability scan our little jelly bean was clearly visible with a strong flickering heartbeat with a due date of 21st August 2018. We were discharged!
On 2nd September 2018 at 04:58am we welcomed to the world our beautiful daughter Luna. Our miracle, our first ever lucky embryo and she had a head full of dark hair and the biggest darkest eyes. We had wanted her from the moment we had dreamed of her when we started TTC, we loved her from the moment we saw her as a group of bubbles in her blastocyst stage and now we held her.
Fast forward to Feb 2020 we decided that it was time to look into relieving CARE Bath (as it had since become) of their babysitting duties of one our frosties. We wanted a sibling for Luna but who gets lucky twice right? We saw Dr Walker in Feb 2020 (we also took Luna in to say hello) and he explained that as we were a pretty straight forward case with only one issue that we could go down the natural frozen embryo transfer route – winner! No or few meds, no injections and much cheaper than our fresh round.
We’d planned to start in the Spring but Covid hit. All I had to do was track my ovulation, wait for my positive surge (cheapy ovulation sticks from Amazon did the trick) then book a blood test for six days after that to check my progesterone levels. I had to do this blood test privately in a pharmacy as, when I was pregnant with Luna we moved back to Kent to be near to our friends and family as that is where we are from. So even though this time we were looking at a three hour plus commute one way to the clinic, we didn’t trust anyone else to look after us.
My progesterone levels were slightly lower than what Dr Walker had advised but, because we’d had first time success, my cycles were still regular and had a healthy baby from a full term pregnancy (twelve days overdue – she was clearly comfy!) we’d stick with my natural cycle and just had in progesterone pessaries twice a day post transfer. So, in October 2020, I tracked my cycle again and booked transfer in for six days after my positive.
On the 26th October 2020, with a three year old in tow, we made the six hour round trip in one to have a frostie popped back in. Again, the two week wait commenced and I’d almost convinced myself it wouldn’t work because we already had Luna. On the 9th November we found out it had worked again. I was pregnant with our second child. Amazing! At the viability scan we learnt that there was another little jelly bean in there with a strong flickering heartbeat and we would be due on 14th July 2021.
A week later, on 21st July 2021, our second amazing, beautiful, miraculous daughter arrived at home at 09:01am. She was the opposite to her sister – fair hair, beautiful big blue eyes and instantly she felt like she’d been with us for ages (she had, she was just on ice with our CARE family babysitting here for a few years!) Violet Amelie Avery was the miracle I didn’t really believe was real until I held her in my arms.
Words will never be enough to express what the team at CARE Bath has done for us – you enabled us to have two beautiful daughters (although we do wonder if they are part wildling at times!) and we are happy to share our positive story as I remember feeling like the first go was almost never successful and two in a row, well, that just doesn’t happen?! Well it does, and it happens more than we ever realised so we wanted to share our story to provide hope, positivity and to prove lightening really can strike twice!
We know CARE Bath are looking after our final frostie until we’re ready to meet again 😉 what will be will be and we’re so incredibly grateful for our darling daughters. Thank you. XxX