Amy and Lucy have been through many failed IUI attempts, experienced baby loss and a cancelled IVF embryo transfer thanks to Covid, before finally getting a BFP (big fat positive) earlier this year. Read on to hear about their lesbian IVF story and the emotional and physical roller-coaster that has come with it. We are so happy for them!
Lucy and I have been together for eight years – we met at a gig in London through mutual friends. She friend-zoned me for a few months, but eventually I wore her down and took her on a date, now known as ‘ice cream on the beach day’ (a perfect December date…haha!) I was living in Sussex at the time and Lucy in Sheffield, so for the first few years of our relationship we did long distance, with a six-hour journey to see each other.
We actually loved long distance – the nerves and butterflies we would get when travelling to see each other, and falling asleep together on Skype was nice. After a few years we both moved to London, eventually moving in together – where we still live now!
Almost four years ago, Lucy asked me to marry her in the most perfect place. I’d always told her I had high expectations for any proposal… I wanted snow, the desert and a sunset! Turns out when we visited Mt San Jacinto, we had a snow-topped mountain in the middle of the Palm Springs Desert… during a hike I turned around and she was down on one knee. What a surprise but of course, I said yes!
We decided we wanted to start our family before getting married. We knew making a baby was expensive for a same-sex couple, but we just hadn’t realised everything else that went along with it. It was naive of us. We spent so many hours searching for information on where to begin, but we felt like we were getting nowhere. Then we found YouTube as our best information source. However, most of the channels were American based so not entirely relevant to us, due to the differences in healthcare systems.
Initially we went to The Fertility Show in London, where many fertility clinics, sperm banks and other resources were there to provide us with information and we decided on an American sperm bank. We individually browsed the sperm donor profiles on the website, then we discussed the ones we both liked together – this was actually kind of fun. Thankfully we both liked the same profiles and quickly agreed on a sperm donor. The donor’s health and family history were some of the most important factors to us when we were making the decision. We even got to see photos of our sperm donor and get to keep a print for the kiddos when they’re older.
Deciding who would carry our baby was an easy decision for us. Lucy really wanted to experience pregnancy and be able to feel our baby, whilst they were growing and developing. Whereas I didn’t have as strong a desire to be pregnant and I knew that I would be just as much their parent as Lucy. Genetics don’t make a parent, love does.
Wow, so where do we start with our fertility treatments? We began trying to conceive in 2018, when we did three medicated cycles of self-funded IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) at an NHS hospital. Unfortunately, these IUI cycles were all negative. As a same-sex couple, our CCG require us to self-fund six unsuccessful cycles of IUI before becoming eligible for one NHS IVF. After three failed rounds of IUI, we didn’t feel we could mentally continue with it, especially with its low success rate compared to IVF success rates. At this point we decided to change to an independent private fertility clinic and to self-fund IVF. We were anxious, confused and scared. We never even considered IUI not working for us, and it felt like we were starting all over again.
Here we did our first cycle of IVF, where Lucy donated half of her collected eggs to another couple, who were awaiting an egg donor. We knew that desire to be parents and we were using a donor ourselves; wouldn’t it be amazing if we could help someone else whilst also making our baby?
Unfortunately, Lucy started spotting despite getting positive pregnancy tests. This was our first chemical pregnancy. We took a three-month break to focus on ourselves (physically and mentally) before starting our second cycle of IVF. We were heartbroken to experience another chemical pregnancy after transferring two embryos.
All of Lucy’s test results showed that everything was normal and there was no medical reason they could find for our baby losses. She also had extra miscarriage tests, which all came back clear. In November 2019, we did a third cycle of IVF and we were unbelievably happy to become pregnant. She had a little bit of spotting at six weeks so we had a scan but everything looked okay. We even saw our baby’s heartbeat, which was amazing. We were so sure everything was going to be okay, but sadly at our next scan on December 19th, there was nothing left to see. Our baby’s heartbeat had stopped. We were devastated and heartbroken by another baby loss. It all felt so unfair. How were we six cycles of fertility treatment in but still had no baby?
We managed to freeze four embryos from our third IVF cycle, which was a huge relief. It meant we didn’t have to start a full fresh cycle again. After the baby loss, it took a long time for Lucy’s natural cycle to return so we could try again. Our consultant did a scan to confirm that everything was okay, which it was, and on that day we started taking medication to prepare her body for the frozen embryo transfer. A week or so later was when we started to hear about Coronavirus, but never did we think it would affect us or have the impact it currently is having. Despite having been on hormone medication for three weeks, the week before we were due to have our embryo transfer – it was all cancelled.
It honestly felt like we would never get there, we watched the people we had become friends with within the online trying to conceive (TTC) community have their babies and even start fertility treatment for their next. It was such a huge mix of emotions, happy, jealous and heartbroken. We felt physically and mentally drained, we just wanted to be mummies.
Fast forward to now and we finally have amazing news. After the initial Coronavirus restrictions were lifted, we were able to do a frozen embryo transfer. We transferred two embryos and we are now over twenty-four weeks pregnant with one healthy baby boy who is due in April 2021. We have finally been granted success with IVF!
This pregnancy has not been without its stresses: there have been many trips to the early pregnancy unit because of bleeding throughout the first trimester and a hospital admission due to an extremely fast heart rate, resulting in a diagnosis of PoTS Syndrome. Pregnancy after fertility treatment and baby loss is an emotional minefield, but every time we look at Lucy’s little bump, feel our boy’s little kicks or see his perfect little profile on the screen, it feels like the roller-coaster of a journey has been worth it for him.