Lucy & Neil’s Story – Bella’s First Christmas

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Neil and Lucy with baby Bella

Lucy and Neil Palmer from Basingstoke, never considered they would have problems conceiving. So when it was discovered following a routine operation that Lucy was suffering from infertility, the couple were keen to get to the route of the issue and have a child of their own. However, following a cycle of treatment at Wessex Fertility, the couple are now excited to spend the first Christmas with their beautiful baby girl, Bella.

Lucy, a Nurse, and Neil, a Maintenance Manager met online 11 years ago, but didn’t know they had fertility problems until Lucy suffered stomach pains aged 22. After a routine operation to discover the cause, the couple were devastated to learn that they wouldn’t be able to conceive without undergoing fertility treatment. “It was a big shock, I thought they were only investigating an issue with my stomach so to learn that there was an issue with my womb was really upsetting. The doctor asked me if I wanted to have children in the future and I said ‘well, I do now!” remembers Lucy.

The doctor advised Lucy to remove her implant to see if this would bring her periods back, but after 2 and a half years of waiting, they hadn’t returned and the couple grew worried. “The doctor put me on the pill to see if that would help, and also put me on Clomid but sadly this didn’t help either. It became difficult sitting in a waiting room near a maternity ward, seeing mothers with their new babies” recalls Lucy.

The couple decided that they were ready to pursue fertility treatment and begun online research into fertility clinics. “We came across Wessex Fertility through a Google search and we felt it was the clinic for us. The fact they had a satellite clinic in Basingstoke was a key factor for us. We also knew that Wessex Fertility treat NHS patients so we wanted to be ready for our application for NHS funding” remembers Lucy. The couple booked a tour of the main Wessex Fertility clinic in Southampton. “For the first time we felt like we were being spoken to as a couple, and that it wasn’t just my issue to deal with. It didn’t feel medical or clinical at all which we really liked”.

However, when applying for NHS funding the couple were given bad news by their GP. “We were unfortunately told that Lucy was too young to receive NHS funding and that we hadn’t been trying for a child long enough, which was frustrating because we knew that we had an issue that could only be solved through treatment” adds Neil.

We made sure that every day we asked each other how we were feeling. Especially for men, it’s really important to be able speak up and have support, fertility treatment should no longer be a taboo Neil

The couple decided they didn’t want to wait any longer, and to book a private initial consultation at Wessex Fertility’s Basingstoke clinic with Dr Sue Ingamells, who diagnosed Lucy’s fertility problem. “The team discovered that I was suffering from an under-active pituitary gland, which meant that my brain wasn’t signalling to my ovaries to ovulate” recalls Lucy.

The couple were due to marry in December, and to honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. “Before our wedding, I was given medication to build up the lining of my womb. Because of my under-active pituitary gland, my womb was acting as if it had been through the menopause”. Due to the Zika virus risk in the Dominican Republic, Neil also had his sperm frozen to avoid delays in treatment following the couples wedding.

After returning from Honeymoon, Lucy was given a scan to ensure her womb lining had built to a good level, and was then given progesterone to break down the lining ready for IVF treatment.

It was important to Lucy and Neil, for Neil to be as involved in treatment as much as possible, and face treatment as a couple. “Neil gave me my injections every day. I think Neil was more worried about me watching his technique because I’m a nurse!” remembers Lucy. Communication was also really important to the couple throughout the process. “We made sure that every day we asked each other how we were feeling. Especially for men, it’s really important to be able speak up and have support, fertility treatment should no longer be a taboo” adds Neil.

The day of egg collection arrived and the couple were delighted that Lucy had 13 egg collected. “I don’t remember anything from the procedure, and luckily didn’t have much pain at all afterwards” remembers Lucy. Lucy’s eggs were mixed with Neil’s sperm and left to fertilise, creating four healthy embryos. “We had one embryo transferred and three were frozen. On the day of the embryo transfer, it happened to be my brother’s wedding, so the clinic even gave us a room to get changed in after the procedure to make sure we’d be ready on time!” remembers Lucy.

The team have all been brilliant, and so responsive to any questions we had and reassured us when we were worried Lucy

The couple then embarked on the two week wait to discover if the cycle had been successful. “We were re-doing our kitchen at the time so were kept busy! When it came to the testing day, we wanted to be sure so did two tests, I couldn’t bear to look so I gave them to Neil who hid the results until two minutes later. Both tests told us I was pregnant! We couldn’t believe it” remembers Lucy. Lucy and Neil wanted to celebrate in the way that was right for them. “We love Christmas, so we always said if we were successful we’d have our own Christmas Day as a couple with our baby on board. We even got our Christmas tree down and cooked a full Christmas Dinner and watched Elf in our Elf pyjamas, even though it was March!”.

Lucy’s pregnancy was unfortunately wasn’t straightforward. “Although I absolutely loved being pregnant, we did have some issues. I began bleeding on a trip to the cinema which ended up with an emergency scan in A&E. There was also a panic at another of our scans as they couldn’t find the heartbeat” remembers Lucy. Towards the end of Lucy’s pregnancy, she suffered from unstable blood pressure, and was advised to be induced at 37 weeks. “They took me in and told me I was 3cm dilated, so I was in labour and didn’t even know it! My labour was short, just 1 hours 17 minutes so everything happened really quickly” remembers Lucy. At 12:17pm, a beautiful baby girl, Bella, arrived. “I can’t even describe the feeling when Bella was born. After all that we had been through I was just over the moon that both Lucy and our little girl were safe” remembers Neil.

“We know how lucky we are to have been successful on our first cycle, and we will definitely be returning to Wessex Fertility when Bella is 1, we’d love to give her a little brother or sister. The team have all been brilliant, and so responsive to any questions we had and reassured us when we were worried. We bought Bella to the clinic to see Dr Ingamells, Gillian and Debbie which was really special for us.”

The couple are now looking forward to their first Christmas with their new daughter. “We’ve gone a bit mad for her first Christmas, and we know she won’t remember it, but we really want to celebrate!”