It was over six years ago when my partner, Russell, and I started trying for a baby. I got pregnant naturally in 2012 and 2013, but sadly miscarried on both occasions. It was after the two miscarriages that we decided to seek help from the medical profession to see if there was anything we could do to prevent the miscarriages in future and also see what we could do to help the conception process along as it seemed to be taking longer to conceive.
We saw a consultant at a clinic in Birmingham and after various blood tests we were told that due to my age and a low AMH score we were unlikely to conceive naturally again, so should look at alternative methods such as IVF, egg donation or adoption. As my AMH (egg reserve/quality) score was so low (on the brink of infertile) we were told that there was a very slim chance of IVF working for us and treatment with an egg donor would be the best, and pretty much only, option for us going forward if I wanted to carry my own child. This was obviously not what we had hoped to hear so went away to think about it and, given that time is not so crucial when using a donor egg, we left it another year before revisiting as it was such a big decision. I think, in hindsight, we were just hoping I’d conceive naturally again and therefore not have to make that decision. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.
After that year we pretty much decided that we would go down the egg donor route; until one day, just after my 40th birthday, we were speaking to an embryologist friend of ours who basically said “Rubbish - why don’t you just give it a go – modern technology is amazing and you have to at least try.” This gave us renewed hope so after this conversation in September 2015, we went to a clinic in December of that year and started our first cycle of conventional IVF. Sadly, no eggs were collected and we feared that the original consultant was right and we would never have a child with my eggs. However, the consultant who performed my treatment recommended that I call CREATE Fertility in London as they specialise in natural IVF which has helped older women with lower AMH scores. So, in January 2015, off we went to London for an open day at CREATE Fertility to hear more about natural and modified IVF – which I’d never heard of before.
After hearing more about how natural and modified IVF can be more beneficial to older women we decided to give it a go and due to my low egg reserve, the consultant decided that natural modified IVF was the best route for me, rather than just natural IVF; which meant I did have some fertility drugs, but not as much as in a conventional IVF cycle.
My first cycle with CREATE Fertility harvested four eggs which we found quite positive and two good grade embryos were implanted back in. Sadly, however, none progressed into a viable pregnancy and we were back to square one. My husband thought we should give up at this point as he felt we’d tried both options and clearly my eggs just weren’t good enough, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up and my desire to have my own child (I have been a step-mum to two amazing girls for the past nine years) spurred me on to try a third cycle. Due to financial reasons this had to be our last cycle though. We didn’t qualify for anything on the NHS as my husband already has children. I raced into my last cycle desperately wanting to rush it through so that I didn’t have long to wait before that crushing defeat hit me again as I felt for sure that we weren’t going to be successful again, but at the same time I threw everything at it and combined it with fertility acupuncture to hopefully help the process along. It was a much shorter cycle for some reason and as I went through it I felt more positive. That changed, however, when only one egg was collected. So all my chances now rested on this one little egg – not the best odds I have to say given our previous experience; but luckily it fertilised and I had one embryo implanted and then had the longest two week wait ever. In fact I was so sure it wouldn’t take that I didn’t see the point in wasting money having an early blood test to confirm a positive or negative result, so I just decided to wait for my period; which usually came a few days later anyway. Except this time it didn’t! So with a teeny weeny glimmer of hope, but many more doubts, I did a pregnancy test (or seven!) and to my amazement and delight it was positive. It had in fact been a case of third time lucky. I was not out of the woods yet, however, as I had a history of miscarriages, so I carried on with my acupuncture and also had two intralipid infusions as well as treading very, very carefully for the next eight weeks. I was the happiest person alive to actually get chronic morning sickness at six weeks (although very unhappy at the same time as it was the most awful feeling). But, it meant that I was pregnant and that was all I needed. Each few weeks after that became a milestone and I just kept telling myself I had to get to the next stage or the next scan. It was a hard nine months mentally; but physically I had a great pregnancy (apart from the morning sickness!) so couldn’t really complain. I was one of the few to actually lose weight whilst being pregnant! A silver lining to every cloud I guess.
In February 2016 we finally got to meet our ‘one’ little ‘last chance’ egg that developed into this amazing little girl that we now have and adore – Pippa. She is just the best thing to ever happen to us and makes us smile and laugh every single day. To think we nearly gave up on her before we even started doesn’t bear thinking about. If it wasn’t for our embryologist friend saying “Rubbish – how do you know it won’t work - just give it a go,” Pippa wouldn’t be here today.
She’s five months old now and amazes us every day with her smiles and her cheekiness. She has a really lovely temperament and has slept through the night since 10 weeks old so we are very lucky She enriches all of our lives in so many ways and she’s lucky enough to have two amazing big sisters to look up to when she’s older and they, in return, enjoy every minute of nurturing her and teaching her new things.
For all those people who have low AMH scores, are perhaps slightly older than the recommended age, or have been told “it won’t happen” I would highly recommend looking at the natural or natural modified IVF option. I feel it’s a kinder, less artificial, form of IVF and as you are monitored much more closely (every other day) your drugs can be easily adapted in real time if necessary. I personally felt more comfortable with the natural modified IVF option. It’s definitely worth a look. I’m just so glad I was pointed in CREATE’s direction by my consultant in Birmingham.
If you truly want a child of your own; be it with your own or donor eggs you have to try. Don’t be told it can’t happen. If we didn’t persevere we wouldn’t have our gorgeous Pippa today. I always knew that, no matter how hard it was, I was going to make it work somehow and I’m so glad I persevered. I look at her every day and thank my lucky stars for this amazing little girl. In our world she’s living proof that miracles do happen.
If you are interested in finding out more about Natural-modified IVF, call us on 0333 920 5543 or book onto one of our open evenings https://www.createhealth.org/open-days-and-evenings.