My Story. By Laura Biggs, Managing Director of The Fertility Show
I am 48 years old and I am 8 months pregnant!
I know, I can’t believe it either. I also happen to be the MD of The Fertility Show, and I would like to share my story for anyone going through their own fertility journey to prove that miracles do happen.
Phil and I married back in 2000; I was 29 and Phil 34 and like so many couples, we decided to have some married years on our own before thinking about a family. Of course, we were quite old to a: get married and b: to start a family (most of our friends had one or two children already). We started to try for a baby in 2002… and nothing happened.
To be honest I’ve blanked a lot of the detail out, but after much investigation and lots of BFN, we discovered that I was suffering from severe endometriosis - a condition that I’d never even heard of. After a laparoscopy in December 2004 which seemed to ‘clear the pipes,’ we finally fell pregnant and our son William was born in October 2005. Hurrah! The happiest day of our lives. After taking 3 years to get William, I was now 35 and had a very demanding career working full time as the MD in a large company. As William got to about 3 years old and life got a little easier for us, we decided to try again. But nothing.
Fast forward through one early miscarriage, three more laparoscopies to treat the returning endometriosis and 2 unsuccessful rounds of IVF, and by the age of 43 (time seems to fly by when you’re going through all of this) we jointly agreed to finally close the door on thoughts of a brother or sister for William.
By 2015 I had started my own business and one of the events we acquired was The Fertility Show. I’d heard about the Show whilst having my IVF treatment but had never attended, so when it came on the market I felt I had a lot to offer in helping grow and develop the Show as I had personal experience of fertility challenges and the pain and upset it causes. I found the Show emotional; to be surrounded by so many people who were struggling to do the most natural thing in the world - it seemed so unfair. I spent a lot of the time holding back the tears, sad for the situation so many find themselves in and sad for the second child we hadn’t managed to have.
During my time at the Shows, I discovered more about donor eggs and that this would be my only chance of success if we should ever, maybe, just maybe, give it one last try. Now in my mid 40’s, the chances of having success with my own eggs was so very low.
At the Show last March, I spoke to one of our overseas clinics and, as I was going on holiday the next day, I arranged to meet them whilst we were away. Having locked away the emotion and pain of our fertility problems in a box and thrown away the key, Phil took a bit of convincing to open that box again. However, when a friend invited us for lunch to their holiday home which was literally on the way to the clinic, it felt like too much of a lucky coincidence. We decided to drop in for an appointment and find out more. We left the clinic resolved to have one last go, but totally convinced that it probably wouldn’t work. At least it would allow me to move on and feel like I’d given our hopes of a second child every possible chance.
The clinic were incredible. I found them very efficient and accessible and the whole process was much easier than I’d first thought. With a donor egg, the protocols were much simpler to deal with, both physically and emotionally, but timing is absolutely paramount as you have to be in tandem with your donor. Unlike with our previous rounds of IVF, Phil and I kept this treatment a complete secret known only to us and our son. Many people have strong opinions about age and parenthood (let alone donor eggs) and we wanted to keep it to ourselves. To be honest, we were convinced it wouldn’t work anyway! Keeping our treatment a secret was a bit tricky, particularly as we had a very good friend’s 50th birthday party whilst I was slap-bang in the middle of treatment. I had to pretend to drink and party along while all along I was feeling tired, emotional and apprehensive of what was just ahead of us. I discovered Virgin Mojitos were the perfect foil!
So, in July last year, a day after our 18th wedding anniversary (I never imagined that 18 years into marriage we’d be trying for a baby!) we returned to the clinic for our embryo transfers. We had two blastocysts but because of the high success rates of donor eggs, we opted for just one to be implanted. I was so determined that this was our last go that we donated our second embryo to the clinic. Next, the dreaded 10 day wait which, as anyone who has been through will empathise, is a nightmare that never gets any easier. We had planned to be on holiday for the duration of the treatment so we were still away when it finally came time to test.
Having firmly prepared ourselves for failure – our safety blanket against the distress that we had been through on previous tries – the result came as a total shock. We tested about 10 times in total, just to make sure! I suppose it’s fair to say we are still in shock that at 48 years old and 8 months pregnant, our much awaited second child is nearly ready to meet us. I feel so lucky that we’ve had this chance, even if we are a little later in life than perhaps we would have planned.
If it hadn't been for The Fertility Show, attending the seminars, meeting so many clinics, understanding egg donor treatment and the realities of success rates for different treatments, then I would not be pregnant. My only regret is not visiting the event 5 years ago.
So, biased I may be, but I’m a great example of how The Fertility Show can help with everyone’s journey, whatever stage in life you are at.
I feel truly blessed.