When you are going through infertility and IVF, it can be helpful to hear the stories of other people and their experiences.

It’s important to remember that although everyone’s journey is different, there are many similarities, especially when it comes to feelings and emotions.  It’s useful to be able to acknowledge and normalise these feelings and know that there are people you can reach out to when you need to, for information, advice and support. 

Sarah is now a mum of a 10-year-old and wants to share her story to give hope to others, but she also wants anonymity for the sake of her son. 

Sarah’s story

My husband and I had wanted a family for many years, but when I suffered from a debilitating illness in my early 30s, it put our plans on hold. 

When friends and family members told us they were expecting, I’d smile, hug and congratulate them, then take myself away out of sight and cry. 

Some instances, in particular, involving close friends and family, upset me more than others, many were off-the-cuff remarks and none of them intended to cause upset, but they did. I felt like no one really understood. My best friend told me in my birthday card the ‘great news’ that her sister was expecting (every birthday in my mid to late 30s was hard enough to deal with already, with my fertility decreasing rapidly). As the months passed, I felt hurt, upset, frustrated, angry, jealous and had an overwhelming feeling of ‘it’s just not fair!’  

When we did start trying for a baby, we struggled to conceive and being in our mid-thirties by then, we were advised to have infertility tests. The tests didn’t show any reason why we shouldn’t be able to conceive, so we were classed as having ‘unexplained infertility.’ Due to our age, assisted conception was recommended and we tried IUI, rather than allowing time to run out.

Going through assisted conception

IUIs were challenging for both of us and the pressure did tell in our relationship. We went through 6 cycles of drug-free IUI, each one with a feeling of hope at the beginning and a harder fall with every negative test. I’d avoided the drugs, due to a medical condition.

We were then told that we could have one cycle of IUI on the NHS, but it would have to be soon, as I was nearly 40. We knew that it was really our last chance. We did the mild cycle, IVF, with only 14 injections, as the drugs were still a risk to me.   

The IVF process was challenging, physically and emotionally, but I knew it may be the only way I’d be able to have a baby, so I pushed on through.  

Sarah Fertility Journey - Positive Pregnancy Test

The positive pregnancy test and beyond

It felt like a miracle when the clinic nurse told us we were expecting. I’m not someone often lost for words, but we were both speechless!

My early pregnancy was tough, as I had a big bleed at around 6 weeks. They couldn’t scan at that stage, but I was told if I didn’t bleed again, I may be OK. I did bleed again, a lot. I was devastated, fearing I’d lost my baby and any hope of ever being a mum. I felt I’d lost my purpose and threw myself into a job interview the next day, after 3 hours of sleep and lots of crying, trying to block out the pain and in desperation that I would find some motivation to move on. 

A few days later the clinic scanned me. They asked if we’d had 2 embryos in, as there was a heartbeat! We saw and heard our baby for the first time and it was wonderful, but we were also told that due to internal bleeding, we may lose him. They scanned me every few weeks and the 13-week scan, in the week of my 40th birthday, confirmed the bleeding had stopped and he was OK! I couldn’t have asked for a better present. I had no morning sickness and after the scary first weeks, a healthy pregnancy. 

Going into labour

After seven years of waiting to become parents, our son surprised us with an early appearance – four and a half weeks early! I was at work when my contractions started at 1.50pm and had no idea that’s what they were. When they became frequent, I rang the hospital, who advised me to go home, have a warm bath and give them a ring in a few hours.

While I waited for my in-laws to collect me, I carried on serving customers between contractions! I left work at 3.10pm, with my contractions 5 minutes apart, arrived home with them 3 minutes apart and went straight to hospital. My husband met us in the car park and I was fully dilated and pushing already! I had gas and air and our baby boy arrived at 5.34pm, weighing 6lb 2oz (a healthy weight for an early baby).  

Moving forwards as a family

Our son is 10 now. He’s just learned how babies are conceived and we have mentioned that it’s not the same for everyone and that in some cases, medical Science can help people who can’t get pregnant in the usual way. His response was, ‘well those babies will become scientists then!’ We intend to tell him how he was conceived, but when we feel he’s ready to know. 

Although we didn’t get to have 2 children, like we’d talked about in our mid-twenties when we met, we feel so lucky to have our boy. Being an older parent has its challenges, but I wouldn’t swap being a mum for anything! 

Here at The IVF Network, we understand the physical and emotional challenges of going through infertility and IVF. Some of us have been through it ourselves and we want to help to make your journey easier, by providing information and support to help you to make informed choices.