This journey together began when after 9 years together we got married and started trying for a baby immediately with the trust that everything would be straightforward. But we were soon to discover that this was not to be the case. I like to take a proactive approach to life and not wait for my problems to be solved for me, so at age 31 and after 6 months of trying to conceive, I went to my GP who sent me away for another 6 months reassuring me that it was going to happen and not to worry too much.
By our first anniversary, panic had set in and I pleaded with my GP to refer me further which she did, to a local gynaecologist, who after one set of blood tests and a semen analysis swiftly referred us on to an IVF clinic. Day 3 and 21 bloods were repeated with no obvious issues detected (I now know day 21 is an average and would not have accurately identified my hormonal issues). A laparoscopy was performed with mild endometriosis diagnosed.
We were immediately told that IVF was needed and that no doctor would attempt IUI due to the morphology issue found in the semen analysis.
The first IVF cycle was abandoned as I did not respond to the treatment. We were devastated. Further heartbreak was to occur when we went for our review. I was told I had an AMH of 3.2 and when I asked for an explanation I was told I had the ovaries of a 46 year old and it was unlikely I would ever have my own genetic baby. However they would try to help us achieve a pregnancy by increasing my dose but ultimately we may end up using a donor egg.
Over the next 18 months we did two rounds of IVF with a relatively low number of eggs retrieved and even less getting to the embryo/transfer stage. The first was a negative result with the second being a very short lived positive. The ‘Donor Option’ was again raised and as our desperate desire to become parents was so strong we decided to go down this tumultuous path. This involved so much physical and emotional turmoil, and severe exhaustion of all our hard earned savings. The result was a Big Fat Negative – How could this be? I exchanged my “useless” eggs for those of a 24 year old’s!
We both knew we couldn’t continue on this path anymore, it was taking its toll on our everyday lives and we were emotionally and financially spent! We had some cold faced truths to face up to, it seemed. Throughout this journey Neo was mentioned to us on many occasions but my sullen reply was always, “We’re so past that” – if donor eggs won’t stay with me what chances have I with my own? Then one day, while cuddling my cousin’s Neo twin baby an inner voice encouraged me to email Dr. Boyle outlining my sad case and history. I was expecting a “you’re a lost cause” reply, but to my excitement and disbelief, they told me of the many couples they have helped with similar situations. So not really expecting it to be successful, but really using it as a way to get off the IVF treadmill, we decided to give it a go, one final effort at chasing our dream.
New testing began that conventional clinics don’t normally do and so the list of problems increased – low progesterone, low oestradiol, elevated Natural Killer Cells, low DHEA levels. But this time we heard something else we never heard in the past 5 years – “We will treat the problems not bypass them”. This particularly resonated with my husband as he always questioned the approach of the IVF clinics, in that they immediately provided a possible solution while not identifying exactly the causes of our problems.
We started charting which resulted in the clinic getting a full view of my cycle over 3 months, and to our utter amazement we became pregnant within the next 3. We were cared for right through with regular blood tests to ensure we sustained the pregnancy. After almost 6 years of pain and heartache we welcomed our little man into the world. This was a day we never thought we would see and you can only imagine the sheer sense of complete joy we experienced. But our journey did not end there! Now, with the help of Neo once again, we have another day to look forward to this summer, so again we are eternally grateful to Neo and their professional expertise for helping us achieve this pregnancy and provide our energetic son with a sibling!
We have no doubt that if we didn’t make that call to Neo our lives would be very different today.
These are things I wish we had known back then that we know now……
Niamh and David had Hector in 2013 and since writing this article had Pierce in April 2016.