Jo and Stuarts Story

When two became three

Tiny seed

Like many of the other people who have shared their journey to becoming parents with the help of the Assisted Reproduction Unit (ARU), our journey was a long one too.

Stuart and I have been married for 12 years and together for 20. We’ve been through a lot in our relationship and infertility really is a maker or breaker; thankfully for us, all the struggles and challenges we faced brought us closer together.

We realised we’d need help to conceive when Stuart was diagnosed with a benign tumour on his pituitary gland. As the mothership of all things hormonal, the tumour stopped his body from producing sperm, and had caused him to have azoospermia, meaning he had a zero sperm count.

Following treatment for the tumour, Stuart began a course of injections that helped to rebalance his hormone and sperm production to enable us the best chance of a natural conception.

After another year of trying, the ARU team were surprised that we had not yet conceived. I am nine years Stuart’s junior and have always been in great health. They were a bit stumped as to why we had not yet conceived, so decided to do a laparoscopy to take a closer look at my reproductive system to find out more. They were surprised to find out from the investigation that I had suffered the damage of many years of severe endometriosis.

The endometriosis had blocked one of my fallopian tubes completely and the other was described as ‘patent’, meaning if we had been lucky to fertilise an egg, there was a high chance it would have developed into an ectopic pregnancy, as it would have struggled to move through the tube, due to the damage caused by the endometriosis.

I’ll never forget it, it was Valentine’s Day 2007 and I’d just come round from the procedure. When they told me I’d not be able to conceive naturally I was absolutely crushed. I’d always been really healthy. I was younger than Stuart. I’d never experienced any symptoms associated with endometriosis, like painful, heavy periods, so this diagnosis was so shocking. We were told the only way we would be able to conceive would be through IVF.

We began treatment early the following year with the support of Bourn Hall, Cambridge. We felt super confident this was the best place for us as it was where, in 1978, the first ‘test tube baby’ had been born through the pioneering work of Professor Robert Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe.

While Edwards and Steptoe had long since retired, we felt the place had a great foundation and could help us achieve our dreams of becoming a family.

We’d really hoped we’d conceive first time around, and while the first round appeared to go amazingly well with what they called ‘triple A grade’ embryos and two being implanted back into me, sadly it wasn’t to be.

Failure on that first attempt was absolutely devastating, I truly thought we’d made it. I felt like I was grieving. Grieving for the children that hadn’t made it and grieving for the dream that we hadn’t achieved. During this time the ARU offered me some counselling, which was a huge help. It helped me work through my feelings of grief and understand that the underlying issues were a fear that Stuart wouldn’t want to continue with IVF after this round, due to him being so much older than me. I discussed this revelation with Stuart and we agreed that we would continue for another round.

Despite this huge disappointment, we immediately applied to proceed with a frozen cycle. I had been very fortunate in the first egg harvest to have a lot of embryos fertilised and frozen for future use.

We began a frozen cycle six months later. Sadly, once again, it wasn’t to be, but we were prepared this time for the emotion a negative result brings.

In late 2009 we made the decision to go for one more fresh cycle. We agreed it would be our last cycle and if we weren’t successful then we would go down the adoption route. To help enhance success I began a course of acupuncture and even arranged an appointment pre and post transfer with a local acupuncturist in Cambridge.

In January 2010 we completed our third attempt and following the dreaded ‘two week wait’ were ecstatic to find out we’d been successful with one baby on board!

Maggie Rose Buchanan was born on 26 September 2010.

Maggie really is an angel sent and we remind ourselves daily of the journey we took to have her. She’s ten years old now; full of sass and promise and we’re so excited to see her grow and develop into a beautiful, kind, generous, bright and sensitive soul.

Without the Assisted Reproduction Unit, our story would have been so different. Having our own child has meant everything to us and we are eternally grateful for their support and expert guidance we received throughout our years of infertility.”

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