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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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The latest issue of Fertility Road Magzine brings you our latest Fertility Journeys update, a closer look at stress and infertility, natural approaches to endometriosis and a how your weight can affect your chances of getting pregnant plus lots, lots more.

FERTILITY JOURNEYS

FERTILITY JOURNEYS 2018 FERTILITY JOURNEYS: OUR FERTILITY JOURNEY – KIRSTIE DOWNEY & CHRISTOPHER HANSON Around Christmas time of 2015, we met with the Sunday Life journalist in Belfast to discuss infertility and our journey towards finding an egg donor. We openly discussed our journey to date with the journalist and had some photographs taken for the newspaper. A few weeks later our story featured in the newspaper seeking an anonymous egg donor. In May 2016 we received a call from the Regional Fertility Centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Allison McKee from the Centre informed us that an anonymous donor had come forward after seeing our advertisement and wished to donate her eggs to help us fulfil our dream of having a family. We thought it was amazing that we received this news less than 48 hours after we had got engaged. At 16 years old I was still waiting for my first period and was advised to visit my GP. After many blood tests, scans, and open key hole surgery I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. My consultant advised me at this young age that my only chances of ever conceiving a child would be through egg donation. I would be able to carry a child but unfortunately, I would have no eggs to conceive naturally. This was shattering news to receive at such a young age for me and my family. I did not really understand the implications of this condition and always held onto the hope that I would conceive children naturally. As the years progressed I gained a better understanding of my condition, but it only really started to sink in when I met my partner Chris in October 2012. I had spoken to Chris early on in our relationship about my condition and he was understanding and supportive; fully aware of the difficulties we might face to have our own family. Chris decided to get his sperm tested early on in our relationship to ensure he had good quality sperm for whenever we would go through fertility treatments. We were delighted when Chris’s results came back as normal and his GP advised that he had no fertility issues. Our fertility journey began in 2015 at the Grove Wellbeing Centre in Belfast where we met Gillian about advertising for an egg donor. Gillian discussed during our appointment the possibility of doing an advertisement in the local Sunday Life newspaper in Northern Ireland. We were very open to this idea and received contact from the editor of the newspaper, Angela, very shortly after our appointment with Gillian. I had spoken to Chris early on in our relationship about my condition and he was understanding and supportive Chris & I would do anything to have a child and following the phone call with Allison I started to make some life changes. I changed my diet, ate healthy foods, took folic acid daily and started fertility acupuncture with Sharon Campbell, a renowned fertility acupuncturist in Northern Ireland. In July I received my medication to prepare my body for pregnancy. In subsequent appointments my bloods were normal, and my womb lining was thick for egg transfer. I was visiting Sharon once a week which I believed helped towards the thickening of my womb lining and helped my mental state during this emotional roller coaster. The day before the embryo transfer I received a call from the laboratory to inform me that 2 donor eggs had fertilised and they would be transferred the next morning. On 4th August our transfer took place and two 6 cell embryos were transferred into my womb with no complications. Now it was the 2 weeks wait before I took a pregnancy test. 40 | fertilityroad.com | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad

FERTILITY JOURNEYS 2018 I took 2 weeks off work to give the embryo the best possible chance to implant and followed all guidelines given to me by the professionals. give anything to have our own child to love and protect and hopefully someday soon, with the help of yourselves, you can make our dreams come true. •Can we afford the travel & test costs? •Can we get the time off work? On 18th August we did our pregnancy test. Our dreams were shattered when the result came back negative, it was the worst feeling in the world. We had believed because we were so young we would have a better chance of a positive result. During and after the procedure we attended counselling and eventually came to terms with the negative result. This was our only free cycle of egg donation available here. We have been together now for nearly 6 years. We have built a loving home together. I am a full time childcare worker which has always been my passion. Chris is a full-time manager in Tesco. Despite all this, there is one thing missing from our lives and that is the dream of having a child. We are both young, fit, healthy, hardworking individuals and have so much love to give a child. I have a big family and have grown up with children my whole life. We are happy to share our story with others facing similar scenarios to demonstrate that wherever you are in your particular fertility journey there are always options – options to consider, and support to help you make the right decisions for you. We would We literally could not believe it and had to read the email numerous times in floods of happy tears to check this was actually real We received the email to say we were the lucky winners on 20th June. It is very difficult to put into words how we felt. To be the selected couple is very hard to believe and we count ourselves so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity. We literally could not believe it and had to read the email numerous times in floods of happy tears to check this was actually real. Eventually we were able to write a response obviously accepting the offer. Finally, when the news had sunk in we started to ask ourselves questions about travelling to Greece and researching the clinic and island etc. Over the next 2 weeks we acted very quickly in getting all our tests together, sorting time off work, arranging flights & accommodation and getting the required medication. We went through a number of stumbling blocks. With the amazing Shirley supporting us via email we were able to sort everything very quickly and her advice was invaluable during this period. Despite all this we were naturally worried about travelling to Crete for this treatment. We asked ourselves many questions •Where will we stay in Crete? •Is my body going to respond to the medication? When we went through our free cycle of treatment with the NHS over here in Northern Ireland, the success rates were only 24%. To know that the success rate in Crete is almost 3 times that gives us massive hope and we would obviously not be travelling to Crete and putting ourselves through all this if we didn’t think it was going to work. Everything is arranged, booked and paid for. I am currently on the Microgynon pill on my first cycle. My first uterus scan is on 20th August. We depart for Crete from Dublin on 12th September, we are staying for 2 weeks and are so excited to undergo the treatment and meet all the team in the Mediterranean Fertility Institute. A special mention must go to Shirley who has helped us out so much over the past few weeks with our endless questions and emails. She has made this experience a lot easier. We are both super excited and hopefully our story will encourage other young couples like ourselves to take the step of travelling abroad for treatment. It seems scary preparing to go abroad for treatment but with the help of your chosen clinic everything runs smoothly. We sincerely hope that the team in Crete can make our dream come true. It is impossible to put into words how much we want a baby and to be taking this step now in travelling abroad is so surreal. We never seen ourselves at 25 years old travelling to Crete for egg donation. At this moment in time and certainly in the foreseeable future there is no chance we would be able to afford the treatment anywhere, so this feels like our only hope of having a bundle of joy. | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad fertilityroad.com | 41

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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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