Penny and Debbie’s Story
Teachers Penny, 41, and Debbie, 37, from Thame, share how they welcomed Albie as the UK entered lockdown, and why they’d give Oxford Fertility 100 out of 10 if they could:
“We became friends at work and entered into a relationship ten years ago. We talked about having children not long after moving in together, but felt it was important to own a home first. We’ve experienced landlords suddenly deciding to sell and didn’t think it would be a stable situation. We wanted to stay in Thame, as it’s where our work and support network is, so we’d have to save for a long time.
“Eventually we had enough to buy our first home and so could then start saving to undergo fertility treatment. But then fate intervened. My great aunt, who couldn’t have children, passed away. She left a considerable amount of money to her 16 great nieces and nephews, which meant we could move ahead with assisted fertility, which was a relief as by then I was nearly 40.
“Whilst researching, we’d decided to be treated at Oxford Fertility, as friends had successfully undergone treatment there, we’d also read about it and liked its links to the university. It just felt right to us. So not really knowing where to start, we called Oxford Fertility for advice. They were so helpful and explained that we should first visit our GP to undergo a range of tests, after which we could start treatment.
Arriving at Oxford Fertility, everyone was so welcoming and it felt calm. It is a state-of-the-art facility, you can see the science behind it, but there is also a warmth.
“Arriving at Oxford Fertility, everyone was so welcoming and it felt calm. It is a state-of-the-art facility, you can see the science behind it, but there is also a warmth.
“Our consultant explained the options open to us, including our expected success rates. Together we agreed on the best treatment plan for us. We would first undergo IUI, where donor sperm would be inserted into my womb. We would try this three times, and if unsuccessful, we would move onto one round of IVF. If that didn’t work, Debbie and I agreed that it wasn’t meant to be.
“We also spent time with the clinic identifying the best sperm donor. We wanted to closely match with Debbie’s physical characteristics and interests. We also met with a brilliant counsellor, who helped us to consider the emotional aspects of our plan.
“Before the first IUI, I underwent a HyCoSy ultrasound examination, to check my fallopian tubes weren’t blocked. That was the worst part, as it was quite uncomfortable, but thankfully everything was OK. The IUI had to time with my menstrual cycle, which turned out to be Debbie’s birthday. I was convinced it had worked and so when we discovered it hadn’t, we were devastated. It made us realise just how much we wanted it. We planted lots of flowers in the garden to mark the moment.
“For our second attempt, despite it being a really stressful time at work, I went on a real health kick. I was eating right, abstaining from coffee – everything I could think of to be as healthy as possible. When it came to the day I could take a pregnancy test, I couldn’t wait. I tried at 5am and couldn’t believe it when it was positive. To make sure, I took two tests every day for one and a half months!
“We had told everyone at work about our plans and they were so supportive, removing additional stress at certain times, and allowing us both to attend appointments. Once they knew the treatment had been successful they encouraged me to not attend a Duke of Edinburgh wild camping trip, just in case anything happened. I’ll always be relieved, as shortly afterwards, I experienced hyperemesis gravidarum, experiencing severe morning sickness, vomiting multiple times a day. It was awful, but I knew it would be worth it.
Finally, after a nine months, Albie Cameron Patrick Keith, our amazing happy, content and alert bundle of joy; who has brought us no end of happiness
“Finally, after a nine months, Albie Cameron Patrick Keith, our amazing happy, content and alert bundle of joy; who has brought us no end of happiness.
“It was the weekend before the country went into lockdown. I’d been so focussed on Albie, I hadn’t really followed the news that closely. It was only when we had to return to hospital because of feeding problems that I overheard a nurse say to a colleague ‘we are now on lockdown’ that it really sunk in.
“The three of us all being at home together was wonderful. Although Debbie had to spend a lot of her time-off working with the school to plan remote teaching. Queueing outside a supermarket for three hours to buy baby formula when I struggled to feed Albie was also quite stressful and it was more than four months before our parents could meet Albie in person. But we wouldn’t change a thing, as Albie is perfect. We can’t believe we are so blessed. We feel so complete with him in our lives, he has showed us what true happiness is.
“Throughout it all, Oxford Fertility have been amazing. They are so welcoming, really professional and caring. I can’t thank them enough. Every time we drive past, we tell Albie that’s where he began. If I could give them 100 out of 10, I would!”