I am 51 years old, the MD of The Fertility Show, and I have just had my 3rd Mother’s Day with my daughter and 16th with my son. Both children have been a struggle to conceive and I’ve spent many a Mother’s Day aching for our children, so I wanted to share this, our story of hope…
Phil and I married back in 2000; I was 29, Phil 34, and like so many couples, we decided to have some married years on our own before thinking about a family. We were older than most to be a): getting married and b): trying for a family (a lot of our friends had one or two children already).
We started to try for a baby in 2002… and nothing happened. To be honest I’ve blanked a lot of the painful details out, but after much investigation and lots of BFNs, we discovered I was suffering from severe endometriosis – a condition I’d never heard of until that moment. After a laparoscopy in December 2004 which seemed to ‘clear the pipes’, we finally fell pregnant and our son William was born in October 2005. Hurrah! The happiest day of our lives.
It took three years to have William. I was now 35 and had a very demanding career working full time as the MD in a large company. As William turned 3 years old, and life got a little easier for us, we decided to try again… but nothing. Fast forward through one early miscarriage, three more laparoscopies to treat the returning endometriosis and 2 unsuccessful rounds of IVF and I was aged 43. Time seems to fly by when you’re going through all of this. By this time we jointly agreed to finally close the door on our dream of a brother or sister for William.
By 2015 I had started my own events business, and one of the events we acquired was The Fertility Show
I’d heard about the Show whilst having my IVF treatment but had never attended, so when it came on the market I felt I had a lot to offer in helping it grow and develop. I would use my personal experience of infertility to shape its future. I found the Show emotional; to be surrounded by so many people who were struggling to do the most natural thing in the world – it seemed so unfair. I spent a lot of the time holding back the tears, sad for the situation so many find themselves in and sad for the second child we hadn’t managed to have. During my times at the Show, I discovered donor conception and it started to dawn on me that donor eggs could potentially work for us. Now in my mid 40’s, the chance of having success with my own eggs was very low. But a donor egg would be younger, and I started to think that maybe, just maybe, we should give it one last try…
Whilst attending the Show in 2018, I spoke to an overseas clinic. We happened to be going on holiday near to their location the next day, so I arranged to meet them whilst we were away. Having locked away the emotion and pain of our fertility problems, and pretty much thrown away the key, Phil took a bit of convincing to open that box again. He didn’t want to go to the appointment. However, he changed his mind when a holiday friend invited us for lunch – their home was on the way to the clinic. It felt like it was “meant to be”. So we went to the appointment to find out more and left the clinic resolved to have “one last go” whilst also totally convinced it probably wouldn’t work. At least it would allow me to move on and feel like we’d given our hope of a second child every possible chance.
The clinic was incredible. I found them efficient and accessible and the whole process was much easier than I’d first thought. With a donor egg, the protocols were much simpler to deal with, both physically and emotionally, but timing is absolutely paramount as you have to be in tandem with your donor. Unlike with our previous rounds of IVF, Phil and I kept this treatment a secret known only to us and our son. Many people have strong opinions about age and parenthood (let alone donor eggs) and we wanted privacy. This was of course tricky, particularly at a very good friend’s 50th birthday party whilst I was slap-bang in the middle of it all. I had to pretend to drink and party along whilst feeling tired, emotional and apprehensive. I discovered Virgin Mojitos were the perfect foil!
In July 2018, the day after our 18th wedding anniversary (I never imagined that 18 years into marriage we’d be trying for a baby!) we returned to the clinic for our embryo transfer. We had two blastocysts but, due to the high success rate of donor eggs, the clinic strongly advised that we implant only one. I was so determined that this was to be our last go that we donated our second embryo to the clinic.
Next was the dreaded 10 day wait which, as anyone who has been through this will empathise, is a nightmare – and it never gets any easier. We had planned to be on holiday for the duration of the treatment, so we were still away when it finally came time to test. Having firmly prepared ourselves for failure – our safety blanket against the distress we had felt on previous tries – we were totally shocked when the result came back positive! We tested about 10 times in total, just to be sure!
Fast forward 3 ½ years and we feel totally blessed to have our late arrival to our family. Don’t get me wrong, a three and a 16 year old make for a funny family dynamic, especially when your throw in the peri menopause, but I look back on it all now and feel so grateful we made the trip to the clinic that day, and decided to give treatment one last go. If it hadn’t been for The Fertility Show, attending the seminars, meeting so many clinics, learning about donor conception and the realities of the success rates for different treatments, then we would not have our daughter.
So, biased I may be, but I’m a great example of how The Fertility Show can help with your journey, whatever stage in life you are at, and I feel truly blessed.
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