Let’s Talk Fertility Stage, in association with Fertility Network UK and IVF babble
The Let's Talk Fertility Stage, in assocation with Fertility Network UK and IVF Babble is an opportunity for visitors to put forward their questions, either openly or anonymously to a panel of fertility experts as well as to patients who have experienced fertility issues themselves.
NEW for London 2019, Natalie Silverman, creator and host of The Fertility Podcast, will be hosting our Let's Talk Fertility Stage!
Come over to the Stage, to listen to informative panel discussions and put your questions to the participants. The Let’s Talk Stage is free of charge.
See below the timetable for London 2019.
|Friday||17:00 - 17:30||
Fertility in the Workplace
Hortense Thorpe - Ousourcing Manager
Claire Ingle - IVF Mother and HR Manager.
|Friday||18:00 - 18:30||
Thinking of going it alone on your fertility journey?
Alythia Wilson - Thinking of going it alone
Dr Joyce Harper - Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London
Dr Zeynep Gurtin - Lecturer in Women’s Health at UCL
Debbie Evans - Director of Clinical Services, Herts & Essex Fertility
|Friday||19:00 - 19:30||
Understanding your body in preparation for fertility treatment
Kate Davies - Founder of Your Fertility Journey
Dr. Larisa Corda - Women's Health Doctor and Fertility Specialist. Resident ITV's This Morning Doctor
|Saturday||10:45 - 11:15||
Welcome to the Fertility Show
Anya Sizer - Fertility Network UK
Joanne Triggs - The HFEA
|Saturday||12:00 - 12:30||
Why would you travel overseas for fertility treatment?
Dr Raul Olivares - Barcelona IVF
Catia Goncalves - Ferticentro Portugal
Caroline Stafford - Patient
Eloise Edington - Fertility Help Hub
|Saturday||13:15 - 13:45||
Mind, Body and Soul
Andreia Trigo - Founder of inFertile Life
Mel Brown - Msc Nutritional Medicine
|Saturday||15:15 - 15:45||
Fertility Perceptions across the Globe
Jaz Rabadia - Fertility Campaigner for the Indian Community
Vanessa Haye - Fertility Campaigner for the Black Community
Ranjee Knights - Fertility Campaigner for the Muslim and Hindu Communities
|Sunday||10:45 - 11:15||
Welcome to the Fertility Show
Anya Sizer - Fertility Network UK
Clare Ettinghausen - The HFEA
|Sunday||12:00 - 12:30||
The Power of the Pineapple Community - Focusing on male fertility
Tracey Bamborough and Sarah Marshall-Page - Co founders of IVF Babble
We decided to start trying to grow our family just after we got married in June 2015. It felt like an exciting time and despite being fully aware that these things can take time we hoped we wouldn’t be waiting to long for our little baby. It’s funny looking back at that time now as it feels like a lifetime ago. The ignorance and naivety of not knowing what lay ahead - in the crux of our infertility journey I often said to Ian that I envied being those people that we were back then when life felt so easy and simple and I didn’t have the constant reminder of infertility hanging over my head.
After around 8-9 months I went to the GP as I was experiencing irregular bleeding and I also wasn’t falling pregnant. I am a Nurse and a Health Visitor and was aware that it can take up to 1 or even 2 years for many people to fall pregnant who have no infertility issues at all, but I just knew in my gut something wasn’t right. After some blood tests it showed that my Progesterone levels were lower than normal which meant that I probably wasn’t ovulating regularly. I also had some scans but they didn’t show anything at that time. It was around a year of trying at this point and we were referred to the Fertility Consultant at our local hospital.
I had to have various scans done to check my tubes and more blood tests which came back the same as previously and Ian had to provide samples which came back fine therefore the next step was to commence Clomid. I can’t remember the timings of when this happened however I had blood tests to monitor my progesterone levels once i started taking Clomid and at 100mg my Progesterone levels increased. I yearned for this to be the answer and hoped that this would help me fall pregnant. However, it wasn’t to be and after 6 months of treatment and feeling really uncomfortable, bloated and disheartened by the end of it, we were told by the Consultant that the only option we had left was IVF.
We are lucky in Swindon that we get x1 fresh cycle and x2 frozen cycles of IVF on the NHS and this care is provided through Oxford Fertility who have a satellite clinic in Swindon. We started the down regulation for our fresh cycle in February 2018 around Ian’s birthday - we felt like this might provide us with some luck! I actually found the medication and injections ok and tried to stay positive throughout - I knew the statistics but again the innocence and unknown of our first cycle of IVF filled me with hope and optimism. I grew around 8 follicles - I knew this wasn’t loads but I also knew its not necessarily about how many but more so about maturity and quality.
Interestingly when I went for the internal monitoring scans at the clinic throughout the first cycle they kept mentioning Endometrial cysts being on one of my ovaries. They told me these were different to PCOS cysts and fill with blood. Of course I got onto google to see what this meant as until this point we knew Ian’s sperm were great but I didn’t ovulate regularly but had no diagnosis of infertility as such. From my research i found that these cysts were linked to Endometriosis and this accounted for a lot as over the 2-3 years of trying, my periods had become awful and the pain was at times unbearable to the point that I would have to lie down on the floor because i would feel faint and sick and like i was going to pass out. I was pretty sure at that point that i had Endometriosis and the Pill had just hidden it for all of those years. I later had confirmation that I do have Endometriosis.
The Nurses weren't concerned by this though as it wasnt going to change the treatment plan and egg collection was scheduled for when the terrible snow of the “Beast from the East” hit so we had to drive up the night before and stay at a hotel as we didn’t want to miss our early morning appointment. This certainly didn’t help with the worry and nerves that’s for sure! The Nurses and Drs at Oxford were great and the egg collection all went to plan - they managed to get 7 eggs which was great news and then only time would tell. Waiting for the updates about our embryos in the days following the collection were hard. It’s funny how you feel such a connection to these tiny little embryos and willingness for them to be strong. In the end we were left with x3 day 5 Blastocysts and our transfer was arranged.
Our first transfer went well, they picked the embryo that looked best on the day and we were in and out in no time at all. Walking out I felt a bit of a euphoria - in my eyes i was pregnant for the first time in my life and that made me feel special. I was also petrified of having a wee afterwards as I thought the embryo might fall out! The 11 day wait to complete the pregnancy test had commenced and oh my word that was hard - I was at work but it was always at the back of my mind. I kept symptom spotting for signs that i was pregnant however the Progesterone Suppositories give you those to so your mind is completely blown! I think I got to around 5-6 days after transfer when one day I just felt different. I don’t know why or how but my gut told me this hadn’t worked and low and behold I started to get period type cramps and bleed. I was aware that sometimes this can happen and women can still be pregnant but I knew in my heart I wasn’t one of them. I felt devastated and cheated - we hadn’t even made it to our official test day set by the clinic and it was over. I did the test anyway and I remember us looking for any kind of line no matter how faint but there was nothing and all I can say is that I just felt empty. I totally underestimated how the failure of our first cycle would impact me emotionally. They say time is a healer but I found that time just made me feel more angry, more sad, more cheated and more hurt. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was actually grieving our loss of what could have been.
We were lucky that we did have our x2 frozen embryos left but following the months of the first cycle failing I couldn’t bare to think about going through it all again. I honestly didn’t know if I could face it all to have another negative outcome. I was scared of more failiure and how I would cope with it. But at the same time I didn’t want to give up on those embryos. We decided to enjoy our summer with weddings and holidays and to give us some time to reflect and relax during that time. I then started treatment in preparation for our frozen cycle in the August 2018. I tried to come at this cycle with a different approach being older ( only by 6 months!) and much wiser from the first experience. I took more time out to look after “me” rather than just trying to carry on as normal and all of our close family and friends knew so they could offer their love and support throughout.
We decided that if both embryos thawed ok then we wanted to transfer both embryos together as we figured in for a penny, in for a pound. It was a risk but we were willing to take it. The frozen cycle was easier as it took less time and medication in comparison to our fresh cycle. Thankfully all went to plan with the meds and on transfer day we were told both embryos had thawed well and were of good enough quality to transfer. We never found out what grade of quality our embryos were but to be honest I didn’t want to know. If the embryologists thought they were good enough then that was good enough for us. And then suddenly there we were, back at that 11 day count down to test day. This time I was just desperate not to bleed early and to get to our test day. I didn’t really have any gut feelings this time around either. Of course the days dragged but I had done this before so tried to take each day at a time.
This time we got to our official test day which felt like an achievement in itself and we were beyond disbelief to see a positive pregnancy test. I remember of course feeling elated but also suddenly feeling petrified. I was pregnant with our little baby (just 1 Embryo stuck!) but now we had something so unbelievably precious I was so worried we would lose it. Each scan and each antenatal appointment felt like another hurdle accomplished. But my anxiety throughout my pregnancy was through the roof most of the time. Until i had our baby safe and in my arms i just couldn’t relax. People think that getting pregnant after years of infertility suddenly means that all is forgotten, all of the physical and emotional pain suddenly disappears. But it doesn’t. Infertility robbed me of a lot of enjoyment of my pregnancy with our son. Particularly in the early weeks. I desperately wanted to not think the worst all the time but infertility makes you prepare for the worst so you think you can protect yourself better when it happens.
Thankfully Isaac was a strong, healthy 8lbs 3oz baby boy who entered this world on the 20th May bright pink and screaming his little lungs out. I cant explain the relief I felt finally having him here and safe with us at last. I will never stop feeling immense gratitude for being blessed with his life and I promise to love and protect him until my dying day.
I have come to have some acceptance that that was how it was meant to be for us and that Infertility will always be part of me and us as a couple because we went through some of the hardest times together and I actually wouldn’t change that because it has shaped us as individuals, as a couple and as parents to our little miracle, Isaac. IVF is wonderful and amazing and many of us wouldn’t be parents without it. However it can also be really hard and painful both physically and emotionally and I feel this shouldn’t be underestimated. That is why Ian and I feel the more awareness that can be raised around infertility issues and fertility treatment the better so that people don’t feel like they are going through it all alone. No one really understands how it feels unless they have walked the same path so thank goodness for the support of services like IVF Babble.
|Sunday||13:15 - 13:45||
Leyla Hutchings - Mum via a Surrogate and Surrogacy UK Ambassador
Jo Payne - Mum through adoption
Eloise Edington - Fertility Help Hub