“I will forever be thankful for everything CARE have done to make us the little family we are.”
My husband and I were married in August 2013 and a year later decided to try for baby. At first, we were so excited and naively told all our friends and family, believing it would happen overnight. Not realising the long journey we were about to embark on. After trying to conceive for 6 months, I asked my husband to get himself checked with his local GP - he had a groin injury years before we met - and I wanted to ensure there wasn’t an issue preventing us from getting pregnant.
Unfortunately, our worst fears were to be uncovered as my husband’s sperm had low motility and morphology. We were told we would only be successful with a pregnancy via IVF treatment and we were referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital. However, we had a second blow when the clinic checked me over and found I had a large cyst in my uterus, which would need operating on before treatment started; it was here I was told I had polycystic ovaries.
We applied for NHS funding and were granted two rounds; our IVF journey had begun. Our first round, due to having polycystic ovaries, I was over stimulated and produced 42 eggs. 19 eggs were fertilised but only 2 were viable for Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). Sadly, neither embryos were successful and so we moved on to our second cycle. Again, I over stimulated with 39 eggs and again, only had 2 viable embryos. The first embryo failed and we decided to have a year break. Our life had become consumed with everything IVF. We realised we needed to reconnect and stop talking about egg grading and viability.
After our break, we braved our last go and fortunately we were successful. We had two red lines! We were beyond excited so when we saw the heartbeat and an avocado shaped baby at the 8 week scan, we knew our dreams had come true. The pregnancy however, was fraught with unease. I bled after 4 weeks, 6 weeks and again at 14 weeks. Each time I was told everything was fine and that the bleeding didn’t show anything abnormal. This just could occur throughout my pregnancy. However, the last bleed at 14 weeks happened during a very severe water infection. I was feverous, had sharp pains and then bleeding developed. Scans didn’t show any issues and I was given antibiotics. Week 15, after being in hospital for a few hours, I went to the toilet at home and my much-wanted baby made her appearance. I ended up giving birth in our bath to a beautiful little girl; but she had no chance of surviving. We named her Florence Rose Jones.
The loss of Florence, coupled with it being our last IVF attempt, hit us hard. We discussed different options but knew we couldn’t afford to start again. Thankfully, family friends of Gareth’s parents very kindly offered to help us pay for more treatment. We now just needed to find a clinic. We travelled to London to an IVF event; like a bridal show for becoming pregnant. We knew that Professor Charles Kingsland was a guest speaker and after witnessing him speak at the beginning of our journey, we signed ourselves up. Professor Kingsland was extremely impressive and we decided we would like to book a meeting with his new clinic in Liverpool.
On our first visit to the Liverpool CARE Fertility clinic, we met the lovely Amanda - Clinic Director- who put us at ease whilst we waited for Charles. During our wait, another couple, Natalie and Michael, entered the waiting area and spoke with my husband. It turned out, that Natalie worked with my husband, yet neither of us knew each other had fertility issues. We stated speaking and I offered my number to Natalie, in case she wanted support. With IVF, you can have so much support from family and friends, but unless someone has experienced it themselves, it’s hard for people to understand. Natalie and I started talking quite frequently; she even advised us to go with a multicycle package.
Natalie and Michael were further ahead than us and after a few months of us meeting they were lucky enough to become pregnant. Unfortunately for us, our first cycle failed, but thanks to Natalie’s advice, we had another cycle due to paying for multicycle. Natalie gave us the option to not contact her, as she knew it may be difficult knowing she was pregnant and we weren’t; but we had created such a bond and I didn’t want to end it. We spoke almost every day either by texting or voice notes. I am so grateful to have met Natalie and her beautiful family. We call ourselves Fertility Sisters; she has been there for the highs and lows and we know we are both going to be in each other’s lives forever.
After our failed cycle with CARE; myself, Gareth and Charles sat together and looked at other options we could try. One thing we tried was for my husband to have a TESE operation. This was a more invasive way to extract sperm and would be quite painful for my husband. However, he was, like myself, willing to try anything. After the operation, we had a more bespoke cycle created that worked round my polycystic ovaries and from this, 19 eggs were retrieved and 3 embryos were viable. Due to how bespoke my cycle was, I was offered a fresh embryo transfer, which I’d never had before, the other two embryos were frozen. I was nervous, as I was at a higher risk of OHSS but I was well looked after by CARE. The two-week wait was unbearable; I had told only a handful of people because I was so nervous it was going to be another failure. On test day, I woke up bright and early and we tested on 3 different brands of pregnancy tests and waited for the obligatory 3 minutes. With shock and surprise, we saw three lots of positive pink stripes – I was pregnant. After crying with each other and informing my mum, I told two other important people, Natalie – my Fertility Sister and Amanda from CARE. Amanda was over the moon, passed our amazing news to Charles and booked us in for our first 8-week scan. Seeing and hearing our baby’s heartbeat was truly overwhelming; we never got the chance to hear Florence’s heartbeat and it was something I always regretted.
CARE offered us another scan, due to my medical history and again everything looked great. Approaching week 15 of my pregnancy was nerve wracking but luckily everything was okay. CARE offered scans if I was ever nervous and Amanda continuously checked in on me throughout my pregnancy.
6 days after being due, my husband and I were walking round Sefton Park and my waters broke! Just like in the movies. 8 hours later our beautiful boy was born at 2.44am. We named him Stanley Hugh Jones. If it wasn’t for CARE and their intervention, we wouldn’t have our gorgeous bundle of joy. It has taken a long 7 years, with a lot of heartache. Doing IVF is like being in an exclusive club you don’t want to belong to; however, the people you meet and the support you receive make the journey bearable. I will forever be thankful for everything CARE have done to make us the little family we are.