Caroline & Kirsten’s Story
Caroline Drewett, 43, and Kirsten Willis, 48, from Reading, welcomed their longed-for son, Monty, in May 2020. The couple talk about their IVF journey to raise awareness of the options available to same-sex couples. Kirsten shares their story:
“We met online in 2014 and both of us had always wanted a family. So after Caroline moved up from Kent and was settled in her job, we decided to start looking into it. As Caroline was 39 we knew time was against us, and being a same-sex couple, we knew we would require help.
“Neither of us knew much about the options available to us, so we made an appointment with our doctor who explained what treatment was available and referred us to Oxford Fertility.
“Oxford Fertility really appealed to us as we wanted a clinic nearby. After researching online, reading patient reviews, and a tour of the clinic, we made an appointment for an initial consultation. The consultant was really helpful, discussing all the options and providing advice.
“We made the decision that Caroline would undergo fertility treatment due to her age and health. As Caroline was 39, the clinic advised that it would be best to harvest her eggs. Our consultant also provided advice on the European Sperm Bank and we decided to use it to select a sperm donor.
“Oxford Fertility provided a lot of information about the sperm donors and worked with us and the European Sperm Bank to find someone who matched my characteristics.
“We underwent five IVF cycles, which weren’t successful. The hurt and pain you experience when you’re not successful is unbearable. IVF was an emotional rollercoaster for us and financially tough. Due to Caroline’s age we didn’t qualify for NHS funding so all our treatments were self-funded. We were in a position where we could afford just one more round. We desperately wanted a family so decided that if IVF didn’t work this time we would look into adoption.
“We had one final round of IVF, then waited two weeks to do the pregnancy test. Following our previous experiences, we had started dreading the test day. We had reached a point where we didn’t want to do the test for fear it would be negative, as it is just the most horrendous and horrible feeling. The team at Oxford Fertility was incredibly supportive throughout and we found the counselling provided really beneficial.
“Caroline did the first test at 4.30am. She thought it hadn’t happened and put the test in the bin. Then, she thought there may have been a faint line. So I fished it out of the bin and saw that there was something there. We just sat there, taking it in, and slowly started to believe it was a positive test. We really couldn’t believe it. We did another test, and a couple days later, another test. After everything we’d been through, I think we were in denial.
“We made an appointment with the clinic and when we had the scan, the nurse turned the screen and said there’s the heartbeat. I immediately burst into tears. It was the most amazing feeling.
“After a good pregnancy, Monty arrived on the anniversary of our first meeting, 3 May, weighing eight pounds, eight ounces. He is absolutely adorable. Every day you wake up and see him, it feels like Christmas day again. He has massively changed our lives for the better and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
“From our first visit, throughout our entire treatment, we were very impressed with Oxford Fertility. The staff are always friendly and personable, they really understood our journey and always wanted to help. Fertility treatment has massive ups and downs and we were hugely supported by the clinic, no matter what we were going through.
“Our advice to anyone in a similar position to us is to be open to options, realistic and be prepared for the long haul. We were pragmatic about IVF, which we think helped. Also ask lots of questions. It’s a massive emotional rollercoaster and it’s really important to have support around you from family, friends and the clinic.
“Following our experience, we are keen to raise awareness amongst friends, especially those in their late thirties and same-sex couples. We tell them not to leave it too late and explain that there are options to help them start a family.”