With a husband working away six months of every year, trying to conceive was never going to be simple. How does it feel, then, to be told you have only a 7% chance of IVF success? Throw in a global pandemic, and Leanne could have been forgiven for giving up there and then. But this is a story of hope, as we speak to Leann to hear her and Dikran’s IVF success story.
Where does your fertility story begin?
Dikran and I met when I worked in a local pub and he was a regular. After some gentle persuasion and a beautiful bunch of flowers, we went on a date, Fast forward four years, and we were married.
Children weren’t a priority for us straight away, but around a year after we got married, we started trying to conceive. Years past, and it didn’t happen for us.
When did you decide to seek help with your fertility journey?
I wasn’t too stressed at the start. Dikran works on an oil rig, and is away three weeks at a time – over a whole year, he’s only here six months. That makes things a bit of a challenge! I never put any extra pressure on it, because it was difficult enough.
It was when Dikran’s sister got pregnant quite quickly, that made us realise perhaps there was something not quite adding up, so we went to see what the issue might be.
What was the fertility challenge you were facing?
Even an initial scan showed one concern – I have what’s known as a septate uterus. It means that a membrane divides my uterus in two, which puts me at much higher risk of miscarriage. I had to go for quite an unpleasant operation to resolve the issue.
While undergoing treatment around that operation, the doctors also checked my fallopian tubes. The results showed mine were blocked. This had been the cause of our fertility problems.
In a weird way, it was a relief, because I had an answer. For all those years I’d been wondering what was going on. I’d rather there be something wrong that I could rectify and move on, or accept that it may never work. We could move forward. It was hard – I’d always blamed Dikran – he drank, he smoked, he’s older – then when it was me, that felt strange.
What happened next?
We were lucky enough to have family members offering to pay for us to go for private fertility treatment. The clinic did a blood test to calculate my ovarian reserves, which resulted extremely low for my age. The consultant gave me a 7% chance of IVF working.
At that stage, it was quite overwhelming. I remember telling my mum and she said it felt like grief – like we were mourning something. After all that we’d been through, it was an odd feeling to be told that our chances now were so low. That being said, the doctor wasn’t all doom and gloom, he wanted to go ahead.
How did Access Fertility help?
The consultant at Manchester Fertility suggested we look at Access Fertility’s programmes, given the situation. With such a low probability of the IVF working, I wanted a couple of rounds to try and make it a success. The refund programme would have been even better, but unfortunately I wasn’t eligible.
How was your experience with the clinic?
It was amazing. I found my IVF journey really straightforward – textbook, in a way. I didn’t need the clinic that much, but whenever I needed them, they were there. The head receptionist, Karen, in particular was fantastic.
When I started the first round, they’d just introduced coffee meetings so anyone that was part of the clinic could go along on an evening and sit informally with other women and staff. We’d all just chat about how we were feeling, what was going on at that point, and get a bit of professional help over tea and a biscuit. It was really nice to have that interaction – all our experiences different, but all in same boat and wanting a baby. It’s made me emotional to think back to that – it was special.
On our first round we collected just eight eggs, and only one survived. It was transferred, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We had a month break, and since we had another round on our multicycle programme, we were about to go back in and try again. This time we only collected six eggs, but two fertilised, one was put back in, and that was Eleanor. The other is in freezer!
What was it like to welcome Eleanor into the world?
Eleanor was born in June 2020, so she was something of a lockdown baby. It was typical – I’d waited six years for a baby and ended up having her in a global pandemic.
We were very lucky, really. Normally we don’t know when Dikran is home, he’s not in a set rota. We wouldn’t normally even have known if he’d be here for the birth. But he was furloughed, so he was home, a couple of weeks before she was born and three weeks after. It was fantastic – we had a good time, all together, which was so nice.
Summer came and restrictions lifted a little so we were able to see people in the garden. We were in a bubble anyway, not really going out since we had the little one, it was good timing. The saddest thing is, my sister is in US and still hasn’t met her. Other than that, we can’t complain.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on their own fertility journey now?
I would say just do it, go for it, don’t give up – look at what we’ve achieved. The odds were against us, and it worked. Keep going, keep calm, and it will happen. Keep positive.
What do IVF success rates really mean, and how can Multi-Cycle programmes help improve your chances? Learn more in our blog, or take a look at how we’ve helped other patients like Leann and Dikran in our patient videos.