James & Francesca’s Story
Francesca, 37, from Oxford, shares her physical, emotional and financial experiences of going through IVF:
“I met James twenty years ago at University in Leeds. Like most, our twenties were spent developing our careers and we married just before I turned thirty. We started trying for a baby straight away but after nothing happened, we went to see our GP. They asked us to try for a further two years and then ran a number of tests, including checking to see if I had endometriosis. Although there was no explanation, they recommended we undergo IVF. I am so glad they did, as by then I was 34 and although we didn’t realise it at the time, the cut-off for NHS IVF in Oxford is when a woman turns 35.
“We decided to be treated at Oxford Fertility. During my first IVF cycle, my body didn’t respond well to the drugs and only a few eggs were produced, with only one fertilising. This single embryo was transferred but a short while later my period arrived.
“Even though we knew the odds of success weren’t high, it took us time to re-group after this. I have experienced anxiety and depression and found this tough, so the clinic arranged for me to see a counsellor, who helped me to work through this. It was three years later, after returning from a hen do where I was surrounded by women either pregnant or with children, we decided to try again.
“Although I’d received NHS funding for our first cycle of IVF, a second cycle isn’t funded in Oxfordshire. We were fortunate that by our late thirties we had enough money saved to fund this, but that wouldn’t have been the case in previous years, when potentially we may have had better odds of success. We decided to take a three cycle IVF finance package, which meant each cycle was more expensive, but if it didn’t work we would get money back, which felt prudent.
Everyone and especially the nurses at Oxford Fertility were amazing. They are experienced and so knowledgeable. We can’t thank them enough. Francesca
“In light of how my body had previously reacted to the drugs, on our second cycle, I was given a higher dosage which seemed to make a big difference. I was so exhausted this time, but I produced more eggs. Seven embryos fertilised, so enabling six embryos to be put in the freezer in case we needed them in the future. I also attended reflexology at Oxford Fertility and acupuncture, which really helped to relax me. This time it worked and to our joy, Cora arrived this Summer.
“Cora is doing really well, she is such as smiling happy child. Although, like all new mums I have found it tough, especially during COVID-19, when you can’t call in any help from family or even a helping hand when you are struggling pushing the pram and carrying things in the street. Everything has been over Zoom – everything from NCT to breastfeeding classes, which is really tricky. But my NCT group, the ‘Oxford Lockdown Babies’ facebook and whatsapp group have been a lifeline.
“Everyone and especially the nurses at Oxford Fertility were amazing. They are experienced and so knowledgeable. We can’t thank them enough. They helped Cora into this world who has changed our lives forever.”