When it comes to having a baby, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. For some couples, that means trying naturally for as long as possible. For others, they may opt for fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Regardless of the route you choose, navigating the world of infertility can be difficult. That’s why we’re so proud of our Unlimited Programme. Whether you’re starting out on your journey or have been trying for years, this programme will help you reduce the cost and the stress of IVF.
We spoke with Emily who told us her IVF story, and how the Unlimited Programme helped her.
How did this all start? Take us back to how you and Alexander met.
After dating for a while, I knew that Alexander wanted to go to Paris and I wanted to go to New Zealand. So at the end of our University days, we had an amicable split and kept in touch ever since. After three long years (and many catch-ups over drinks), we got back together.
Halfway through 2014 we chatted and agreed we wanted kids. We started trying but didn’t want to put too much effort into it, or pressure on ourselves. After a year nothing had happened, so, wondering what was wrong, we booked an appointment.
It took quite a while for us to see a consultant – 6-9 months, but she immediately noticed during the scan that I have endometriosis and a tilted uterus. She said she thought that’s why things weren’t happening. More exploratory investigation was needed, and then we waited from August 2016 to March 2017 to actually have the operation. I thought maybe I would conceive in between but never did.
I was eventually told that my fallopian tubes were “completely stagnant” – that I’d never conceive due to my egg count being so low. This was all down to the endometriosis, even though I was fortunate enough to never have had any symptoms.
The consultant recommended IVF, given how long we’d taken to get to that point. It was a rollercoaster – although I’m sure that’s the same for anyone, the first time. I had a good number of eggs actually taken, and a lot fertilised, but not everything looked okay on day two. I found that hard to take and some of those few days were extremely difficult.
By day five we had two embryos, and we put them both in. We then had a two-week wait – and it was positive. I don’t think either of us could believe it. Harriet arrived on 8 May 2018.
In hindsight, the IVF journey doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but back then, it felt like a big mountain to climb.
When did you know you wanted a sibling for Harriet?
Quite soon after, but we didn’t really talk about it. First 12 months, we just enjoyed Hattie. We always thought we’d like to try if we could, but we didn’t have any frozen embryos left, so we knew we’d had to start again. I was 36 by this point. We didn’t want to wait too long, given what they’d said about my egg count. We went back to Mrs Reddy and did another cycle in Autumn 2019, but unfortunately, it failed. That was hard and challenging, but thought ‘at least we have Hattie’.
We were happy to try again, with another fresh cycle, and we adjusted the medication (twice each night, rather than once). By that point, I understood what I needed to do, and I felt hopeful I was doing something a bit different. It was just before lockdown – Jan 2020. I found out I was pregnant on 15th March 2020, and went into work the next day. We waited for the big announcement from the Prime Minister, who told everyone to stay at home. So in the end, I went in for one day of the pregnancy and didn’t return again.
It was all very smooth, I was very lucky that it was pretty run of the mill. Labour was significantly better than Hattie’s which was very tough, and I was home within 4-5 hours of having Eloise. Now we have two wonderful little girls and feel very complete. There is also still the prospect of us having a third – we’re very aware of the other little embryo sitting in a storage freezer, which we’ve been contacted about. We think we’re going to go ahead, and do another transfer, in the next two to six months -watch this space! If it does work, and we end up with three children when we were told we might not have any, that will be amazing!
How was it different for you, to experience the second round of infertility?
It was hard. I think it made me realise how much love I had for Hattie. I remember being really emotional when we had the early pregnancy scan for Eloise – I burst into tears and it made me realise how much I wanted this. I couldn’t believe it. Going through IVF was hard logistically, working around Hattie, using parents and childminders. The other issue was psychologically trying to balance being focused and a mum to her, whilst also dealing with emotions, hormones and the fatigue of the IVF process. I didn’t want my life to become all about IVF, I wanted to enjoy her. That was the decision – we were acknowledging we’d have to deal with right from the start, knowing it wasn’t just a frozen transfer. I wouldn’t go through the whole fresh cycle again now, because of the distraction and the huge rollercoaster you go through. Just doing the frozen embryo transfer is a lot more appealing.
What was your experience like with Oxford Fertility?
It’s absolutely amazing, it’s mind-blowing what they’ve done. I’m so thankful to all the researchers, nurses, and doctors. I think there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of what we went through. Mrs Reddy in particular and her team of nurses were incredible.
How did you hear about Access Fertility?
I heard about it when we made the decision to try for Eloise. I asked the Cheltenham satellite clinic if there were any finance packages and it was them who told us about you.
What attracted you to the Unlimited Programme?
We considered our options carefully. I am very fortunate that my parents offered to pay for my treatment. I talked very openly to my dad and asked him what he thought I should do. He asked me to choose whatever would take the stress and the pressure off – so I went for the Unlimited Programme. For me, it was a big relief to know that we had as many chances at this as we needed, and in the end, if it didn’t work out, we’d get most of our money back.
IVF can seem expensive, but packages like the Unlimited Programme make it much more manageable. And in context, we actually spent more on our wedding than we spent on the IVF. The chance of bringing a child into the world is so valuable – it was a no brainer for me.
How was the process with Access Fertility?
It’s a while ago now, but I remember the setting-up process and it was really straightforward. It was just a case of making a phone call, looking at the different packages and going with that. I suppose that’s the point – in quite a stressful situation, Access Fertility didn’t act as a hurdle.
Would you recommend Access Fertility to others?
Yes, absolutely, I did recommend it to a friend of a friend recently who was asking for some IVF advice too.