The journey to make a family is different for everyone, so to show the amazing diversity, brave women, men and couples are sharing in this new series “My Hope Squad Stories”.
Together, we need to change how others view the diversity in making families. To let them know it’s something beautiful, and if they are looking at their own options, they are’t alone. The Hope Squad have got their back.
Today’s story is by Laura. A story of PCOS, Clomid, IVF and traumatic baby loss. This made me want to reach out over the emails to hug Laura….
My fiancé Matt and I have been “trying” for a baby since September 2014- we were on holiday in the Dominican Republic when we made the decision that I would stop taking my contraceptive pill when we returned home. I knew it could take 6 months to a year for your cycle to return to normal after coming off the pill, especially as I had been on it for 9 years, but my periods never returned.
When it got to a year, my GP arranged bloods and a scan, which indicated polycystic ovaries. I was referred to a fertility gynaecologist, who said I have polycystic ovaries but NOT PCOS, as I have a high AMH level but normal free androgen index. He prescribed 6 cycles of Clomid on an increasing dose regime.
“We started off really hopeful”
but it soon became clear that the Clomid was not working for me. It took us almost a year to complete the 6 cycles, because I needed Norethisterone to induce a period and it didn’t always work.
We were referred for IVF in July 2016 and started our first cycle in November 2016. It felt like the light at the end of the tunnel and we both felt really positive about it.
But the cycle was emotionally and physically exhausting, I was on the brink of developing ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) and it really tested our strength and positivity throughout.
Getting to the point of embryo transfer seemed like a miracle, and we were over the moon to have a good quality blastocyst transferred and a further 4 embryos frozen.
The two-week wait to find out the outcome was agonising, my mood went from hope to despair like a yo-yo, and after I was involved in a car accident I had given up all hope of it being successful.
At this point I couldn’t ever imagine myself being pregnant, couldn’t imagine having a bump or feeling baby kicks.
But on 6th December 2016 I took a home pregnancy test and saw those two strong pink lines. We just couldn’t believe it, and there are no words to describe how happy we were.
I spent the first 16 weeks or so as an emotional wreck and lived in a constant anxious fear of something being wrong, it just always seemed too good to be true.
I was finally able to do all the things I’d dreamed about for years (even before we started trying, i’ve always been really maternal). Pregnancy announcements, scans, bump photographs, nursery decorating and pram shopping.
We found out we were expecting a baby boy. I’d had an overwhelming feeling that he was a boy ever since the embryologist had shown me a microscope image of the embryo before he was transferred back, don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it!
Suddenly, our future came into clear focus and I could imagine this little boy so vividly, I could feel his personality through his kicks and I just loved him more than I could have imagined, and I couldn’t wait to meet him.
We didn’t have to wait long though.
On 12th April 2017 I went into labour while I was at work on a night shift (I’m a children’s nurse) and our little boy was born a couple of hours later at just 23+2 weeks. We named him Ralphie.
At 1lb 6oz, he was a very good weight for his gestation and he defied doctors’ beliefs when he not only breathed for himself but cried at birth.
Our brave little fighter tried very hard to stay with us but sadly he passed away at 29 hours old, he had suffered a brain haemorrhage due to his extreme prematurity.
Over the past year since Ralphie passed away, we have had two further attempts at IVF using our frozen embryos but unfortunately they have not been successful. And I’ve still never had a period without a drug to bring it on!
The first cycle didn’t work because we couldn’t get the womb lining thick enough. The second failed because our embryos didn’t survive the thawing process. We have now found ourselves at the end of our NHS funding with no embryos left, so we have decided to take a 6 month break and start again with another fresh cycle in September.
We’ll have to take a loan to pay for it but we always agreed from the beginning that we would have our funded cycle and pay for 1 more, and a fresh cycle gives us our best chance of success.
Doctors believe that I have a weak cervix which is why I went into labour with Ralphie when I did – I’ve previously had treatment on my cervix to remove abnormal pre-cancerous cells so this might be why – so in my next pregnancy I will be having a stitch inserted between 12-16 weeks.
After having and losing Ralphie I’m even more desperate for a baby than I was before, to fulfil all those dreams that I didn’t get to complete with Ralphie, and it’s important to me to keep Ralphie’s memory alive through them.
I’m not ready to give up on having a biological child yet, but if it comes to it, we will definitely be pursuing adoption. I know we will be parents again someday, and it’s that belief that keeps me going, keeps me getting up in the mornings.
And I know that our journey will just make us even better parents.
My advice to anyone experiencing infertility is to talk!! Share your feelings, it really does help. No-one else can possibly understand what it’s like unless they have experienced it themselves, how much it completely takes over and overwhelms your life, no matter how hard you try not to let it.
The online community of women going through infertility/IVF is growing (thanks to people like Jules and others who are brave enough to share their experiences) and it’s amazing to see these women supporting and finding strength in each other, and as much as I wish we all weren’t in this “club”, I’m proud to be a part of it.
You can follow Laura’s story over on instagram @remembering_ralphie
If you’d like a little extra support with issues brought up here, there’s a fab list here