My fertility journey started like many others…unexpectedly. Like thousands of other women, I assumed pregnancy would happen, having done everything I could do to prevent it during my twenties.

In 2014 (4 months before my wedding day) I found out that I was pregnant for the first time. A total surprise! It was not what I was expecting. I felt dizzy, crampy and had spotting that came and went, but hoping it would pass, I focused on the positives. I was so excited and in typical ‘me’ fashion, I started to plan everything. Sadly, 2 weeks later, I found myself in A&E and it turned out to be a self-resolving ectopic pregnancy. Gutted didn’t cut it. I was in shock, with a whirlwind of emotions.

As the weeks went by (and our wedding day got closer) I found comfort in the fact that I had conceived at all and that I had conceived so incredibly quickly. Surely this was a good sign? So, yet again, I focussed on the positives and got on with 2015. It took us another year to fall pregnant with our son, which at the time felt like flipping ages – little did I know! When he arrived in 2016, I’d never felt love like it. Our little rainbow baby was here and he was perfect.

Life bumbled along quite nicely for a little while. I went back to work in 2017 and we started to think a 2-year gap would be nice between our two children. So, Christmas 2017, we began trying for a second child. At first, I was really relaxed about it. I knew it wouldn’t happen straight away, but as each month went by, I found project Baby Number 2 all consuming. Ovulation sticks, herbs, Chinese teas, acupuncture – you name it I tried it. If someone said “This is good for fertility,” I did it in abundance. It started to take over my life. I began feeling so jealous of other people announcing their pregnancies and how easy it was for them and then, simultaneously, feeling overwhelming guilt, because I had a child already.

I was so excited in January 2019 to find out I was pregnant again. Finally! We could plan Baby Number 2 into our lives, the relief! Unfortunately, I started to feel unwell, with quite sharp pain in my right side and after being referred by the GP, another ectopic was diagnosed, but this one wasn’t budging. I had two attempts at a medicalised abortion and weeks of waiting and watching HCG levels, which finally resulted in having my fallopian tube (and our little stuck embryo) removed, on our wedding anniversary.

Back to square one and only one fallopian tube left. As you can imagine, once the stitches healed and the methotrexate was out of my system, I was eager to get the show on the road. With one tube down, we were going to have to double our efforts. Dr Google became my new best friend. Did you know your fallopian tubes can pick up an egg from the opposite ovary? My right-sided ectopic had come from my left-sided ovary. The image of my one single fallopian tube travelling back and forth between my ovulating ovaries spurred me on. It was possible and I was determined to complete our family.

On the 23rd of December 2019, it was all over. Pregnant for the fourth time, ectopic for the third. A left-sided ectopic from a right-sided ovary. Another little embryo, a little possibility of life, stuck. It was growing in the wrong place and needing to be dealt with like a parasite, a foreign body, a life threatening growth. My world came crashing down and I couldn’t deal with it. I wasn’t going to go through the waiting game, the blood tests and the failed medicalised abortions again. I opted for surgery. Two days before Christmas I wanted nothing more than for it to be over. I was exhausted. I had done everything. It was time to admit defeat and throw in the towel. I was now infertile.

Now, we all know how 2020 went! Flipping Covid 19. With IVF being our only chance at conceiving, I’m sure that you can imagine my reaction when all fertility clinics had to close. What next? Luckily in May 2020, the doors started to open again and everyone was discovering a new way of working. We had consultations over the phone, we waited in the car park instead of the waiting room and I could only go in alone, but a short IVF cycle was finally allowed. Six eggs were collected. I was optimistic. I had been pregnant 4 times, surely it was going to be OK. There was nothing wrong with me – just a plumbing issue. Nope. Not one egg fertilised. Nothing. After all that, after all those injections, the tests, the paper work, the waiting, the emotions and the money spent, we had absolutely nothing to show for it all. Everything had to start again from scratch.

I thought I had hit rock bottom but it turns out that my rock bottom was the following cycle, which left us with 4 eggs, all fertilised with ICSI and only 1 low grade embryo that didn’t take. That was rock bottom. Christmas 2020 was the pits.

As I saw in 2021, I knew something needed to shift. I needed time out. I’m a huge believer in the power of the mind and mine was all over the place. I needed to re-evaluate everything and take stock. I knew I was made of strong stuff. I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. You see, I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer when I was 15 years old. I had been through a nephrectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy before I was even 17 years old. If I could get through that I could get through this. But I needed to look after myself. I was blaming myself for everything and treating myself poorly as a result.

I parked IVF for a few months and started to rebuild…slowly. I nourished my body with decent food, lost a bit of weight, got more sleep, established a healthy routine and planned some quality time with my family. Podcasts helped, as did certain books and guided meditations. By June I was ready to start talking about trying again. Our third cycle.

This cycle was a different protocol and it was hugely successful. We got twenty-one eggs! I suffered OHSS (hyperstimulation) but for some reason I didn’t care. It was worth it. Seven embryos made it to Day 5 (the blastocyst stage) and we couldn’t have been happier.

Unfortunately, in August 2021 we found out our embryo transfer hadn’t worked. Again. I cried. I couldn’t believe it. We had six embryos left, frozen in time. All hanging out together in liquid nitrogen. So, in November 2021, my first frozen embryo transfer took place and she made it. She’s actually here! A daughter. Born August 2022. our little rainbow baby has lit up our world and I can’t quite believe she’s ours.

Sadly, in January 2023, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The irony is, after months of pumping my body full of hormones, I now have to go on hormone therapy, to block my oestrogen receptors.

However, after our very bumpy ride, we have our two rainbow babies and our family is complete.


You can follow Liz and her story via her Instagram channel here.