Our journey started in 2013 when we decided to start a family. We tried naturally but it just didn’t work. I had a feeling early on that we would have to go down a different route, I don’t know why – it was just a feeling I had.
By the end of 2013, I went to the doctor who first told me I had polycystic ovaries by looking at me. I did not believe this so asked to see another doctor.
The doctor referred me to Ocean Suite in Derriford. We didn’t realise it then, but this is where our miracles would be made.
We were nervous and apprehensive but so excited to have HOPE that we would become a family.
When we first arrived, we met so many lovely nurses and Dr A (Doctor Achaya) who was going to play a vital part in our journey.
- I had a dye test which showed I had blocked tubes
- I then had a laparoscopy so Dr A could see the damage to my tubes, which is a small procedure but my bowel was nicked so took a bit longer to recover
- The chances were very slim for us to conceive naturally, so Dr A wanted to perform tubal surgery to hopefully clear my tubes and give us a better chance. This was a C-Section cut and took 6 weeks to recuperate
We were then informed to go away and try to conceive naturally. At this point we had about a 40% chance we would be successful, but it wasn’t meant to be. We tried for 9 months and then returned to Ocean Suite.
Our IVF journey
To start with, there was a lot of form-filling before we could begin our first round of treatment in February 2015.
We were excited, nervous and I just felt like Ocean Suite was our HOPE, my belief that it would work and that our dreams would come true. You can feel lost for so long, and to see that we were on our road to possibly becoming a family was the most amazing feeling.
We had two embryos put in, both good grading and I was so excited to carry our embryos, our babies.
After two weeks we carried out a pregnancy test. It was positive! And it was also Valentine’s Day, which was so special – it was such a happy day, Ben and I were so excited. Words cannot even describe it, we thought that was it, we had made it on our first attempt.
A couple of weeks later I began to bleed and was informed it was a miscarriage. I had a trip booked away with friends and thought it would be nice to get away. They didn’t know anything, so I felt normal for a couple of days. My stomach was very uncomfortable, I was still bleeding, we went to a pub for a meal and I went to the toilet and miscarried then. I felt it come out and it was truly such an upsetting feeling. I felt empty, it was part of me and Ben and I just wanted to know why it had to happen.
I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t want to ruin their time away and I wanted to be treated normally, but I was glad to get home to Ben the next day.
I kept bleeding and this lasted for eight weeks, which Ocean Suite believed may have been because we had two embryos put in. It was the Easter bank holiday weekend and I woke up in the night in excruciating pain rolling all over the place, so I went to A&E after a couple of hours, but by then it had calmed down and they couldn’t do anything because I was under Ocean Suite care.
I spoke to the nurses at O/S and went for a scan a couple days later. I was then put in a room where Dr A came in, which worried me as he didn’t usually come in for those chats. I had an ectopic pregnancy and it was quite large and needed to be removed.
We had booked a holiday to get away from it all on the Sunday but I had to have this operation on the Friday so obviously we cancelled the trip and I had the surgery.
We arrived on the Friday to have the emergency operation which may not have been done by Dr A, which scared me because he had done all of my operations, but he is a busy man and I needed it done.
It may sound silly, but part of me didn’t want to have the surgery, because I was pregnant. I felt connected and I worried that I would feel empty again.
I had the surgery. When I woke, Ben had to tell me that Dr A had removed my tube due to the size of the ectopic, and that he had tied my other tube because I was at high risk of having another ectopic on our next treatment. I learned that I would not be able to conceive naturally again, which I found difficult to deal with, but I always trusted that Dr A would do the best for me.
2nd Round FET
We had frozen embryos left, so we used two of the best from what was remaining and tried again. Two weeks after having them put in we did our test and it was negative.
This was really hard because the first go had given us hope that we could get pregnant. The uncertainty, and knowing that we would need to try again, meant that we felt out of control over something so major in our lives.
3rd Round FET
We still had frozen embryos left so we tried again. This time we got a positive on our test – the best feeling in the world, our HOPE, was back. But after a few weeks I started to bleed again and I knew what was happening.
Everywhere we went, people were pregnant or pushing a pram and I kept asking myself: when will that be us? It felt like it was never going to happen, but I could always see myself and Ben with a family. I just believed and it did help to think that there was always someone else out there in a worse situation than us. We were grateful that we had seen positive test results at all, and had experienced the amazing feelings.
We had tests and everything came back fine. I read up on things that could be stopping our embryos from growing and I looked at natural killer cells. Dr A felt very strongly against this theory and told me straight away that this was not something we should be thinking about. He tried to make us feel better but I just felt something wasn’t right.
This time we had a fresh cycle and we had two put in. We stayed hopeful and had our test after two weeks, and it was positive again, but after three to four weeks, I began to bleed again. I really couldn’t believe it and I thought this can’t be, something needs to change. I couldn’t keep going through this treatment and know that every time we would miscarry.
Something had to change, so we went to see a multiple miscarriage specialist in London. We had tests done and the results all came back fine. I was still worried, so I kept looking into other treatments or similar situations experienced by others. I found out that clexane and aspirin had helped other women with multiple miscarriages.
I went and discussed this with Dr A before our next treatment, and he said he didn’t like to do this because he believed it wouldn’t work and was unnecessary as none of our test results presented the need for additional drugs. He informed us about a scratch method, which we decided to do on our next cycle.
The Scratch Method: An endometrial scratch is a procedure proposed to improve endometrial receptivity and increase the probability of pregnancy in women undergoing IVF. It is generally only used for patients who have experienced multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles, despite the transfer of good quality embryos.
We had a FET Cycle and had two embryos put in, and our pregnancy test was positive. It felt amazing and we were very hopeful and excited again but tried to stay calm. Three weeks later we had a scan because of the problems before.
Unfortunately, they saw an empty sac. It hadn’t grown and was too small. It was our first scan like this, and it was so sad as we had come this far. Ben and I just couldn’t speak, we just wondered why this kept happening.
I felt something had to change, and that something WOULD change. We spoke to Dr A and decided we wanted to use clexane and aspirin this time because we had to do something different, we really did.
We had our last two frozen embryos put in and I started the clexane that day. If our test was positive in two weeks’ time, I would start on the aspirin.
We did get a positive result and I started using aspirin that day.
We had a scan a few weeks later. There had been no bleeding, but when we went in for the scan part of me didn’t want to have it because I wanted to continue feeling pregnant and I knew in this moment it would go one way or the other.
We had the scan and they saw a sac, but they were confused by the size of the embryo. It looked smaller than the date of the pregnancy and they couldn’t see a heartbeat. They explained that they thought it was a blighted ovum. It was heart-breaking. In the space of five minutes, our whole life had changed again. We were informed that they wanted us to go to the early pregnancy unit to be checked, so we went straight there.
We saw the doctor and she told us that she could see the embryo and that we needed to continue with our medication for a week and then come back for another scan. I knew that if it was growing slowly something wasn’t right, but I still clung onto my hope.
It was a weird week. I was happy to still feel pregnant in my own way but I feel we both knew what was coming.
We went back a week later and had a scan, the embryo was measured and it had stopped growing. We were prepared but we still felt so empty.
We had to have a D&C, and our dream had been shattered, knowing our embryo had to be removed in this traumatic way. Ben held my hand, eyes closed, and I just closed my eyes, and the hope was just scraped away. The pain was uncomfortable and I could feel it being removed. When they said it was all done and we could go back to the room, we just sat there feeling sad and empty and my stomach was so uncomfortable. We were given medication and left to go home. We needed time to ourselves to think about our next step because all our frozen embryos were now gone, and the next step would be a fresh cycle again.
The next day I went straight to work, my peaceful place where no one knew. One of my lovely clients, who knew nothing about my situation, came in at the start of the day very excited and showed me her 12 week scan photo. I was so pleased for her but inside I was breaking.
We decided to do another fresh cycle, I kept telling myself that it would happen, that I needed to keep going. I just always felt that we would have a family.
This was a fresh cycle and we used clexane and aspirin again so we felt positive and knew we had to keep believing. We did our test two weeks after they were put in, on my birthday, Ben went into the bathroom like he did with all of our other tests and he came out with smiling with a positive test. It was such a special moment for us.
We had our scan booked at six weeks instead of the usual seven, because of what had happened to us and how long we had been trying.
The scan day came and after the last two scans I was so nervous, we both were, it all changes so quickly and I didn’t have any pregnancy symptoms which worried me even more.
We arrived and I couldn’t sit down because I was so scared and again, didn’t really want it done because I wanted to stay pregnant. One of the nurses came in with us but when we got in there I became very upset, not wanting the scan probe put in.
I had to gather myself, and Ben helped – he was always amazing. I let her do it and it went silent like it did the other times, I began to cry and Ben couldn’t look, but then all of a sudden she said: I see a heartbeat.
And then she said: I see another.
We couldn’t believe it – we had two heartbeats, we had TWINS, were we really that lucky? She showed them to us on the screen and we could see them both. I didn’t want that moment to end.
The day we had always waited for had come true. I was pregnant!
We were going to have our family!
Joseph and Arabella
We lost many of our miracles along the way. They will always be our miracles because they knew we were supposed to have Joseph and Arabella, who wouldn’t be here with us today if our journey had been any different, so I will always be thankful to our miracles. They were only in me for a short time but will stay with me forever.
We now have two-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Joseph and Arabella, born on different days in different months, amazing in their own way and our miracles forever.