I am a 38 year old IT specialist and my story starts in 2001. I was referred for a laparoscopy as I had been suffering from painful periods and general pelvic discomfort for a number of months and my GP wanted to rule out endometriosis. The investigation showed that I had a lot if internal scarring in my pelvis and the fallopian tubes were distended due to a collection of fluid. I was told that this was probably due to a previous infection (Chlamydia) and was given a course of strong antibiotics. The consultant reassured me that this would clear up the problem with my tubes and would not affect my chances of getting pregnant in the future. When I fell pregnant unexpectedly in late 2002 we were so happy. Once the pregnancy had been confirmed the GP told me that given my history of pelvic problems I should contact them immediately if I suffered any pain or bleeding. To my horror 8 weeks into the pregnancy I started to feel very lightheaded and had some bleeding. I contacted the GP straight away and they referred me for a scan the following day. I will never forget being in the scan room. They tried to do a regular scan but as the pregnancy was so early they couldn’t see anything. During an internal scan I could sense that something was wrong as I still couldn’t see anything on the screen. After a few minutes I was told that the pregnancy was in the wrong place and I would need to go upstairs for a blood test. I didn’t understand what this meant and what the possible outcome could be I just did as I was told and went up to the gynae ward. Before I left the scan room they told me to look at the screen and pointed out a small white line flickering. This was my baby’s heartbeat. An image I will never forget. Later that afternoon I was told that my pregnancy was ectopic and was growing in one of my fallopian tubes. It would need to be removed as soon as possible as there was a chance the tube could rupture.
A couple of hours later Mr Irvine arrived to carry out the procedure. He explained that he would try and perform the operation by keyhole surgery but there was a chance that major surgery would be necessary. As I was wheeled to theatre the thought of them removing my baby was terrifying. As fas as I was concerned I had seen its heartbeat, my baby was alive it was just in the wrong place. Why couldn’t they just put it where it should be. When I woke up I realised that they had been unable to do keyhole surgery. Mr Irvine explained that he had removed half of my right tube where the pregnancy had been but had also found that my left tube was very distended and bleeding. My ovaries were still intact which meant that I could still produce eggs but it was unlikely that they would make it to the womb. My chances of conceiving naturally again were now slim. Over the next few months I had a number of tests to establish whether my remaining tubes were viable. I was devastated to be told that they were both blocked by scarring and were beyond repair. There was no way that I would ever be able to conceive naturally again. Our only chance of having a baby would be by IVF and as there is still a risk of having an ectopic pregnancy with this treatment it was recommended that the remaining halves of my tubes were removed. In August 2003 my tubes were removed and I realised that could never be put back. I felt like a failure and no longer a proper woman as I now had bits missing. Mr Irvine gave us hope and told us that the next time he wanted to see us was in his ante natal clinic. I couldn’t imagine this ever happening.
The operations had taken there toll on me both physically and emotionally so we decided to wait a while until before embarking on ivf. When we felt ready we decided to go a clinic in London and had all the necessary initial consultations and tests. It was at this point that I discovered my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level was too high preventing me from producing many eggs and making it unlikely that I would respond well to the drugs used to stimulate the ovaries during ivf. The clinic would not proceed until the level had dropped. This was a tremendous blow after everything we had been through but as the FSH level changes from month to month it was just a case of doing a blood test each month and waiting for it to come down. To help reduce stress and become as healthy as possible I consulted a fertility specialist who recommended hypnotherapy and nutrition advice. Finally in March 2006 my FSH level had dropped and we started our first cycle of IVF. As expected I did not produce many eggs but we ended up with 2 good embryos which were implanted. Unfortunately the treatment wasn’t successful and we were devastated. We waited a while for my body to recover from the treatment before thinking about trying again. We were determined to have a baby. Unfortunately my FSH levels had shot up again so we had to wait even longer. I revisited the clinic and this time embarked on a course of acupuncture which has been proven to help with ivf treatment. It was during this time that I was told about a hospital that did not have any criteria on FSH level. I could not believe it, after all this time there may be hope. It felt as if a weight had been lifted. After an initial consultation, we felt so positive. His philosophy is that you cannot tell how the ovaries are working without actually giving the treatment a try so he told us to go back as soon as we were ready to give it a go. He gave us a 1 in 3 chance of the treatment working which was good enough for us. We didn’t waste any time and in April 2009 started a treatment cycle. Again I didn’t respond very well to the stimulation drugs but we got 2 good embryos which were implanted. After an agonising 2 weeks a blood test gave us the result we never expected to achieve, I was pregnant. We had done it! The first few scans were so nerve wracking. I couldn’t bear the thought that something would go wrong, but as 9 weeks pregnant I was discharged from the hospital and went to see the midwife and my GP surgery. IVF pregnancies are treated as ‘precious pregnancies’ and you are seen by a consultant at your ante natal appointments so they can monitor you more closely. I requested Mr Irvine as my consultant and couldn’t wait to see him at my first appointment to share our exciting news. I loved being pregnant and was thrilled by my ever increasing bump. I was very anxious about things going wrong as we had waited so long for this but my anxiety was unfounded and at 36 weeks pregnant I went into labour.
On 23rd December after six and a half hours of labour Martha was born weighing a healthy 5lb 15oz. It was such an amazing feeling holding our baby for the first time after so many of years of never believing it would happen to me. Martha is now a happy 7 month old and I still have to pinch myself that she is mine. When we were going though the terrible experience of an ectopic pregnancy there was little information and support which is why this website is so important. I hope that sharing my story will give other couples going through a similar experience hope that a happy ending is possible. Please note that I have given my permission to Mr Irvine to publish my story on the website in the hope that it may help other couples in a similar situation.
An update July 2011
It is now two and a half years on and it is hard to believe that my baby is now a toddler. After waiting for so long to have her, I still have to pinch myself when I look at her as she really is a little miracle.
I am such a proud mummy. Martha is growing up so fast. She has such a wonderful little personality and is a real chatterbox. She is very sociable and loves going to nursery and spending time with her friends. She is such a pleasure to be around. Don’t get me wrong, the terrible two’s do surface from time to time but there would be something wrong if she was perfect all the time!
As Martha is now more independent and I have reached the age of 40 we are considering another attempt at ivf so that Martha can have a brother or sister. We know that it may prove more difficult this time due to my age but we continue to have the full support of Mr Irvine. We will shortly be having our first consultation at the ivf clinic and will see how it goes. If another try is not feasible or it is not successful, we already have our little miracle which is more than we ever hoped for.
This website continues to develop and I only wish that the information was available to me 8 years ago. I hope that the personal experiences give people hope that even against all the odds miracles do happen.