Being able to freeze their embryos allowed this couple to have three beautiful children – all from the same batch.
“We talked about having children when I was coming up to 30. I always had the feeling that there was something wrong with me. I had irregular periods and a gynaecologist once told me that the shape of my cervix wasn’t good for having children. After we’d been trying for a year my boyfriend and I both got tested. The results came back and I was perfectly fine but he was told he was infertile. We were so shocked. He then had to do another sample and this time it was better but there was something wrong with his morphology so we were put on the waiting list for IVF. We were in the UK at the time and under the system there you are put under a general anaesthetic for egg retrieval. My boyfriend did his sample on the same day and we thought it would all happen from there. The embryologist called the next morning and said she had some bad news. At first I thought, ‘Okay, maybe not all 10 eggs fertilised. Maybe they only got five.’ She said, ‘I’m really sorry but there was no fertilisation. Everything looked perfect for IVF so we put them together but the next day all the sperm was dead.’
It was really hard after that, because I had to to walk past the hospital every day on my way to work. Eventually, I said to my boyfriend, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. I felt like we just needed a different lifestyle so we decided to move home to New Zealand.
When we got back we did another round of IVF and were told, ‘This should be easy’. I don’t know exactly what happened but I ended up with Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome and I had to go off all treatment until my body recovered. They said that once my hormone levels were steady enough they’d give me the trigger injection to mature the eggs before they did the retrieval. I had to have a blood test every day and after about 10 days they gave me the injection. The next day I went in for the retrieval and from all those follicles they only got six eggs. They said they’d let us know the next day how many had fertilised. I got home and was in a lot of pain. I’d just sat down when I got a call to say that none of the eggs had matured. I howled. I couldn’t believe it: two rounds of IVF and I hadn’t even had one fertilised egg! They said they thought they hadn’t given me enough of the trigger. I went in there the next day and I was sobbing. The doctor assured me, ‘You will get a baby’.
A few months later we went in to do it all again and this time they got 17 eggs and 11 of them fertilised. They felt they were a good strong batch, so decided to go to Day 5 before implanting them (if there are not many or they’re not very strong they’ll do it on Day 3). In the meantime, they called us every day to let us know how they were going.
On Day 5 they put the best, strongest one back in and froze the rest. That embryo became our daughter. We didn’t know how many of the others would be fine once they were thawed out again so we decided to go back quickly for our second.
When it came time to defrost the next one they said it was perfect – as if it hadn’t been frozen. The implantation is really simple and then it’s just a statistical game as to whether it will take. I was pregnant again by our daughter’s first birthday.
While I was giving birth to our son we decided we also wanted to try for a third. We probably never would have considered it if we’d been doing it naturally but because we had those embryos that had been retrieved five years earlier it gave us a shot at a bigger family.
This time I didn’t have to take any medication, they just put the embryo back on the day I ovulated. I knew I wouldn’t try again with any others – this was my one shot. They rang me a few days later to say I was pregnant.
In the end we got three babies from one batch – two girls and a boy. It’s strange to think that someone decided in what order they’d be born. On a different day it could have been a different result. It’s been a really special journey and we feel very blessed. It’s given us more than we could ever have imagined.”
- Men and woman are affected equally by infertility – approximately 50% is male-related – so it’s a good idea for you both to go along to the first consultation.
- Embryo freezing: Often, more than two or three embryos are produced in an IVF cycle. Good quality ‘spare’ embryos can be frozen and later thawed to give women/couples another chance of pregnancy.
You might also like
Thanks to science and goodwill there are many options open to same-sex couples who want to start a family. We talk to two sets of new mums and dads about their experience.
Boost your fertility
The road to pregnancy is not always smooth. Fertility Specialist Dr Mary Birdsall offers her top tips on getting pregnant if it's taking a little longer than expected.
Looking after yourself when trying to conceive
We know that dietary and lifestyle factors can affect both fertility and a healthy pregnancy. Sandra Clair from Artemis shares her advice on the best ways to look after yourself at this important time.