Nicola’s Story – Donor Embryos

Baby Rebecca for the Wessex-104

Spanning over 11 years, Nicola’s fertility journey certainly hasn’t been an easy one. But she never gave up hope, and now thanks to donor embryo treatment through Wessex Fertility and Instituto Bernabeu, Nicola has achieved her dream, and is proud mother to beautiful baby Rebecca.

Nicola, 42 from Southampton, first started trying to conceive naturally in 2005 with her husband after a year of marriage. However, the couple were not successful and by March 2008 Nicola had begun to investigate how she could improve her chances of conceiving. “I went to see a nutritionist who advised me which foods were best to eat for fertility and which ones to cut out. She put me on a ‘pre-conception and fertility’ eating plan.  During this time I also had many acupuncture sessions aimed at helping fertility and they also gave me some herbal supplements to take. I was trying everything I could think of. If I heard the words “it’s good for fertility” I was on it!” recalls Nicola.

I was trying everything I could think of. If I heard the words “it’s good for fertility” I was on it! Nicola

Later that year, with no signs of a pregnancy, Nicola and her husband decided to have an initial consultation at Wessex Fertility to discuss their options. With no obvious fertility issues, the couple were diagnosed with unexplained fertility. “We decided to start with IUI treatment but we had 3 cycles that unfortunately all gave me a negative pregnancy test” remembers Nicola.

In November 2008 Nicola sadly faced another hurdle in her fertility journey. “I had a laparoscopy which showed I had mild to moderate endometriosis between my bladder and womb, and also behind my womb. This was treated and then we tried to conceive naturally again.” remembers Nicola.

I started to panic as I was now 40! My cousin had recently had two successful pregnancies at Wessex Fertility and advised me to return there to undergo my next IVF cycle. Her words were “they will get you there” Nicola

Years went by without success, so Nicola decided to embark on IVF treatment at a different clinic. Nicola had 10 eggs collected and 6 of these fertilised. She had one embryo transferred and one frozen but this was unfortunately unsuccessful. “In May 2013 I tried again. This time 6 eggs were collected and 5 of these fertilised. Two embryos were transferred and I had one frozen. This was also unsuccessful. In July 2013 I decided to try a frozen cycle and had both my frozen embryos transferred” recalls Nicola. Sadly all three attempts did not result in a pregnancy for Nicola, at a time that was already difficult as her marriage had ended.

By 2016 Nicola realised that time was not on her side. “I started to panic as I was now 40! My cousin had recently had two successful pregnancies at Wessex Fertility and advised me to return there to undergo my next IVF cycle. Her words were “they will get you there”. I wanted to try IVF using donor sperm but for some time I had been getting severe period pains. One month the pain was so unbearable that I ended up in hospital on morphine” remembers Nicola.  Nicola suspected the endometriosis had returned but faced a 6 month wait for treatment, so made the decision to go privately. “It was confirmed that the endometriosis had returned quite severely and I also had adenomyosis. In June I had this treated and then straight away proceeded into a down regulated phase using Zoladex to start the IVF”. Five eggs were collected from Nicola and mixed with donor sperm. Two were transferred to Nicola’s womb, and two frozen. “Sadly I got a negative result. In September I tried again this time with a frozen cycle and had my two frozen embryos transferred. This did produce a positive pregnancy result but the following day I started to bleed and a few days later Wessex confirmed I had lost the embryos” remembers Nicola.

Dr Ingamells advised me that my best chance of becoming pregnant at this stage would be to use a donor embryo. I said yes straight away Nicola

Not giving up, Nicola returned once again for a consultation at Wessex Fertility. “Dr Ingamells advised me that my best chance of becoming pregnant at this stage would be to use a donor embryo. I said yes straight away as I was thinking I would have to go down the surrogacy path so I was pleased I still had a chance at actually being pregnant myself!” remembers Nicola. Nicola commenced treatment and received shared care from Wessex Fertility and Instituto Bernabeu in Alicante, who matched Nicola with her donor embryos.

In May 2017 Nicola travelled to Alicante and had two donor embryos transferred to her womb. “I felt a bit more hopeful this time because the donor embryos were of the highest quality but didn’t really feel any different apart from that” remembers Nicola. However, 12 years after she had first started trying to conceive, Nicola finally got the wonderful news she had waited so long for, she was pregnant!

On 28th January 2018 Nicola gave birth to a baby girl, Rebecca Alice, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces. “It was a very traumatic caesarean which took an hour and a half and an extra consultant! But it was all worth it. When they placed her on me she was so beautiful and I couldn’t believe I had finally done it!”

When they placed her on me she was so beautiful and I couldn’t believe I had finally done it! Nicola

Reflecting on her journey, Nicola feels very positive about her decision to use donor embryos. “I would say just go for it, if your own eggs aren’t working for any reason, donor embryos are a fantastic option. I have no partner but I had so much support from my mum and my cousin. The staff at Wessex Fertility are all so lovely.  All they want is that positive result for you. The only thing I ever wanted was to be a mum and I wasn’t prepared to give up! It was so hard watching all my friends and family having children. I felt like my life had been on hold for 11 years and now my one dream has come true”.

Nicola is enjoying life with her beautiful baby Rebecca.