Ian and Natalie’s story
Ian Herring, plays for and manages Hungerford Town Football Club. Since Ian and his wife, Natalie, experienced infertility, the Crusader has also campaigned to raise awareness of IVF.
Ian and Natalie share how they will be celebrating their longed for first Christmas with their son, Isaac, including adding a special pineapple bauble for their Christmas tree.
Natalie shares their story:
“We went to school together in Swindon, but didn’t get together until our early twenties. After marrying, we were planning to wait a while before trying for children, but as I’m a nurse and health visitor, I’m aware that it’s not always plain sailing, so I stopped taking the pill.
“After eight months of trying with no success, we saw our GP who ran tests on both of us. These revealed my hormone levels meant I wasn’t ovulating regularly. I was referred to our local hospital’s fertility unit, who prescribed Clomid. I took the medicine to help me ovulate, but I felt bloated, experienced hot flushes, struggled to sleep and most importantly, didn’t become pregnant.
The team at Oxford Fertility were amazing, they took the time to listen to us and answer all of our questions
“After almost two years, we returned to the hospital to find out what else we could try. The consultant gave us two options; either ovarian drilling, where any blockages in my ovaries would be surgically cleared, or IVF. NHS funded IVF had recently been cut in Swindon from three fresh cycles to one fresh and two frozen cycles. Conscious that further cuts could come, we decided to go straight for IVF.
“We were offered to be treated at Oxford Fertility. Aware of its good reputation, and with a satellite clinic in Swindon, it was a no brainer choice for us.
“Throughout the process I’d always seen IVF as the last chance saloon. I never thought it would be me going through IVF and yet suddenly I was. As a nurse, I tried to go into the process level-headed, looking at the statistics and being realistic. But my heart kept pulling at me, making me dream I’d soon have a baby.
“The team at Oxford Fertility were amazing, they took the time to listen to us and answer all of our questions. If ever we had any worries, we knew could talk to them and they would answer honestly. We had an outline of our treatment plan, but my body didn’t work to the timetable at all – it took longer to respond to the drugs and my follicles grew slower. So the team kept a close eye on me and adjusted my treatment.
“The night before my egg collection the ‘Beast from the East’ came, and so we stayed in a hotel next to the clinic to make sure the snow didn’t stop our appointment. The team were so kind, and took their time with everything, and so despite the weather’s disruption, I felt calm. Seven eggs were gathered, from which three good quality embryos were produced. From these, one was selected to be transferred and the other two frozen. With a tiny embryo, the size of a grain of sand inside me, I felt very strange. Leaving the clinic that day, in my mind, I was pregnant. But after a week I started to bleed, it hadn’t worked.
Our thoughts are always with those for who IVF hasn’t worked, as we know it could easily have been us.
“I underestimated how I would feel. Time didn’t seem to heal my grieving. But after a long wait, we were ready to try using our frozen embryos, which we were so lucky to have.
“This time, the procedure was shorter and I didn’t need as much medication. Entering the process, I also felt older and wiser. I also took time off work to make sure I looked after myself, regardless of the outcome. I’m very lucky, as Swindon Council has an IVF policy, which is best practice. So I was very open with my manager and they were so supportive.
“I was overjoyed to make it to day 10 – test day. Even if that was all we achieved, it would have felt like progress. And despite being convinced our precious cargo wouldn’t make it, our pregnancy continued and continued, and in May Isaac safely arrived. I have such love for him; he is an absolute joy. Every day, we still can’t believe he’s here. He’s been through so much to get here, I think he must be such a strong resilient person.
“But our thoughts are always with those for who IVF hasn’t worked, as we know it could easily have been us. We think it’s important to share with people what you’re going through, so that they can be there to help you when you need help. That’s why Ian’s club supports the IVF Babble pineapple pin campaign. Hungerford Town FC are doing everything they can to help break the silence of infertility, encouraging supporters to talk openly about their fertility.
I have such love for him; he is an absolute joy. Every day, we still can’t believe he’s here.
“This Christmas we’ll be able to do all of the things we’ve spent so long watching other couples do and we thought we never would. I’ll enjoy seeing Isaac experience the Christmas lights and festivities for the first time.
“But it’s also a time we know from experience can be hard. By supporting IVF Babble we want people to know they’re not alone on their journey this Christmas. We’ll be wearing our pineapple pins and even adding a pineapple bauble to the tree this year.”