One of our former patients, Lynette Heaps along with her husband Brian, has kindly agreed to let us share their fertility success story with you, in the hope that it will inspire and help you if you’re going through fertility treatment yourself.
Lynette (age 35) and Brian (age 46) have been together for 11 years and were trying to conceive for 4 years before going through ICSI treatment here at St Jude’s Clinic. In this interview, Lynette explains some of the defining moments in their fertility journey…
When did you first start trying to conceive and how long was it before you decided to seek help through fertility services?
We started trying to conceive around 2007 and decided to seek help initially in 2009. We went to one IVF clinic where I was told I was too overweight for treatment which knocked me back massively and I felt really down about myself for a while.
After 18 months of trying to lose weight unsuccessfully, I contacted St Jude’s in early 2011 to see what the ideal weight was that I needed to reach so that I could know what to aim for. A week later I had an appointment with Mr Adeghe who confirmed that my weight was fine and I could start straight away!
How did infertility affect you in your personal life?
It had a massive impact. Due to me struggling to lose weight I was very down which affected our relationship. My husband also had a daughter from a previous relationship so although I didn’t mean to, I spent some time resenting this and feeling that he wasn’t as bothered about having a child as I was because he already had one.
Family and friends constantly asked when we were going to have kids and as we didn’t want to explain our situation to everyone, we made up excuses and told white lies to stop the questions. I also dealt with all the pregnant ladies at work as part of my role (in HR) which could be quite hard at times but I also kept my hopes up as sometimes they would have had a nice story about their own struggles.
Tell us about the sort of fertility treatments you had - what were they like to experience?
We went straight through ICSI with St Jude’s. The first clinic we tried felt clinical and cold and I really didn’t feel at home there, but from the second we walked into St Jude’s and met Mr A, we felt like part of the family.
How long did it take for you to get pregnant after starting treatment?
I was pregnant roughly about 8 weeks after my first appointment – I really didn’t realise it could happen so quickly and I also appreciate how lucky we were to be successful on our first cycle.
How did you feel in that moment you realised you had a positive pregnancy test?
We had so much go wrong on route… it was estimated we would have around 20 eggs but only 8 were harvested. Of those 8, 6 were good enough to work with. Of the 6, only 2 fertilised and on the day of transfer, only 1 of those had developed enough. I was distraught and convinced that everything was going to go wrong. When I did the test I didn’t believe it. It took a while to sink in but once it did we were thrilled and so excited and couldn’t wait to meet the baby.
Did you face any challenges or worries during your pregnancy?
Many! I spent the whole of the first trimester convinced it was a phantom pregnancy or something was going to go wrong. I had no symptoms at all which in my head meant that I wasn’t pregnant. I paid privately for extra scans every few weeks just to alleviate my fears and prove to myself I was actually still pregnant!
At 20 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had to monitor my food carefully and take a tablet each day as well as taking my bloods 4 times a day. I was warned that we may have a big baby too!! I was under a consultant and given extra scans and at 28 weeks was told I had SPD which caused quite a bit of pain for me.
At 35 weeks I was surprised by my waters breaking at 10pm and after being admitted to the MAU, my contractions started at 2am. I was obviously worried and concerned for the baby and I remember asking if he would be taken away from me with him being so early. After 24 hours of labour and not being able to get him out even with assistance due to him being back to back, I was rushed to theatre for an emergency C-section where he was born at 10.41pm.
Tell us about your baby!
I remember seeing my baby for the first time held over the screen and a little drop of blood ran down the screen but I was too out of it to register anything else. I slept while they stitched me up and my husband had to answer the questions about the Vitamin K injection as I took a while to come round.
They asked me to hold him but due to the spinal, my arms were numb and I was scared of dropping him so I asked Brian to do it. When I came out of theatre and they put the sides up on the bed, I had a bit of feeling back and was able to hold him. It was amazing. I was so tired and emotional but thrilled to bits that my baby boy was here and seemed to be ok.
We named him Isaac Robert John Heaps and he was 7lb 8oz born at 35 weeks! But he was mine and he was beautiful. He had a swollen head from the forceps and ventouse attempts and marks on his face too, but to me he was perfect.
I was told he was slightly jaundiced so he had to go onto a billy bed in my room and I wasn’t allowed to keep taking him out so I didn’t get to hold him much for the first 24 hours. Then just as he was a day old, a nurse came into my room in the middle of the night and said she was taking him to Intensive Care and that someone would explain.
I was distraught. My husband was at home, my baby had been taken away and I was scared he was going to die! The words ‘Intensive Care’ scared the life out of me and because nobody had explained why I was in such a mess. A few hours later I was taken to see him and he was naked in an incubator with nothing but a nappy on and wires coming out from under him. He had a tube through his nose and I was hysterical.
When they finally explained, his jaundice had gotten so bad and kept going up that he was close to having to have a full blood transfusion, therefore they had placed him under some really strong lights to try and get the jaundice under control. I was told that his life was not at risk at this stage so I managed to calm down a bit and call my husband to explain.
He was kept in there for 2 weeks and it took a week for him to come out of the incubator. I didn’t get to hold him much as he needed to stay under the lights and I was afraid I wouldn’t bond with him as well as I should due to not being around him as much.
I stayed by his side when I wasn’t sleeping and although he wouldn’t breast feed, I pumped constantly to give him the best chance at fighting through the jaundice. Eventually he improved and after 2 weeks we were allowed to take him home! That was the best day of my life.
What’s it like being a mum after the long awaited journey that you had?
Amazing! I can’t explain the love I have for Isaac and I would do anything for him. He is a total mummy’s boy and is so loving and kind. I couldn’t wish for a better son. It’s the best job in the world and I only wish we could afford the treatment again so that I could give him a brother or sister.
What advice could you give to couples going through their own fertility journey based on your experiences?
Take time out. Talk to each other. Most importantly for me, find someone you feel comfortable with to do the treatment. I remember Mr A hugging me when we arrived for treatments, holding my hand through sedation and telling me he would pray for me. All those things were comforting and made me feel at ease. It’s a stressful process so to take the stress away from at least part of that was a huge help to me.
The team at St. Jude’s Clinic would like to thank Lynette and Brian for taking the time to share their story. We’re sure it will inspire others who are currently trying to start a family.
If you’d like to talk to someone about our fertility services and how we could help you in your own fertility journey, please get in touch by calling 01902 620831.