The last six months have felt like years for many and for Stacey and Kurt it must have felt like a lifetime. In March they had been chosen by our latest fertility journey partners Quirónsalud University Hospital to receive free treatment at their clinic in Madrid.
This felt like the opportunity of a lifetime for the couple and they were overjoyed with the opportunity and ready to start their adventure.
Then COVID-19 put the world in lockdown and the IVF treatment of thousands of people was put on hold. With all clinics closed for IVF treatment there seemed little to do but sit and wait.
For Fertility Road it was business as usual working with the couple and Marta Gutiérrez (International Fertility Case Manager) at Quirónsalud University Hospital to ensure the couple were kept updated with the progress of reopening and when they would be likely to head to Spain.
Instead of meeting the couple in person the clinic spent the last couple of months in constant contact with the couple via email to keep them updated. In September the couple got to meet Dr. Antonio Gosalvez via a video call to discuss their medical history and to create their treatment plan.
The International Patient team assisted Stacey and Kurt with booking a hotel, flights and preparing them for them and with the couple back from their first visit we wanted to find out a bit more about them and their journey so far.
Stacey and Kurt will be under the care of Dr. Antonio Gosalvez who is a Specialist in Gynaecology and Obstetrics and Fertility Unit Director at Quirónsalud in Madrid and has been treating patients for the last 26 years.
How did you and Kurt meet?
We met through a mutual friend at college when I was 18 and Kurt was 17. I was doing a Health and Social Care course and Kurt was doing a Public Services Course so naturally the both groups worked closely together due to the similar subjects of the courses. Our friend would often speak about how she would be meeting up with Kurt most evenings and they would go out and meet other friends on the evenings after college.
One evening when I was out with her I asked for Kurt’s number and sent him a message to see if he wanted to meet up one time for a drink? He obviously said yes and we started to meet up quite regularly inside and outside of college. After a few days, Kurt plucked up the courage to ask if I was single and it all went from there.
How long have you been together?
We are coming up to 11 years together in November. We’ve now been married for 3 years. We got married in Cuba in August 2017. The two of us said that we always wanted to get married in the Caribbean so we saved up and the two of us flew off to Cuba by ourselves and got married.
We told both of our families 6 months before about our plans but as we’ve both got large families we’d need a mortgage to take them all with us!
Stacey, have you always wanted children?
Yes! Some people dream of having a wonderful career, a perfect house and a nice car but all I’ve ever wanted was to be a good wife and a mom.
Kurt, have you always wanted children?
Yes without a doubt. I’m one of 8 children in my family and Stacey is one of 10 children so for me family has always been a big part of my life. Growing up I would always be helping as much as I possibly could with looking after my younger brothers and sisters. As I’ve got older, the family has grown with lots of nieces and nephews which we see as much as we possibly can.
Having such a large family really emphasises the core values of a strong family unit, and those values are what I want to take forward in starting our own family.
How long after you met did you decide to start a family?
We started seriously talking about starting a family the year before we got married. We’d been engaged for a while and had discussed starting a family, getting married and bringing ourselves even closer together and starting our own family.
As we had discussed getting married abroad, we talked to our GP for advice with travelling and starting a family due to the Zika virus concerns in the Caribbean. We were told that we would need to use contraception for 6 months when we returned to the UK in case one of us was a Zika carrier. (Luckily we weren’t).
How long were you trying to get pregnant before you realised it wasn’t working?
We were trying “naturally” for a year. I’ve always had irregular periods though so I always had the gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I’d gone to my doctor for years telling them that something wasn’t right due to irregular periods but they always just put me on the contraceptive pill to try to regulate my periods.
After a year of trying we got in touch with a fertility clinic near us to arrange a private consultation with a doctor.
Do either have you have any underlying issues ie PCOS, low sperm count?
At the fertility clinic I had numerous tests done (my tubes checked, internal scans, hormone tests) and Kurt had a sperm test done. We got the results back and it confirmed that I had PCOS (what I had always known but my own doctors wouldn’t diagnose).
In a strange way it was a massive sense of relief just to finally have it confirmed what I deep down always knew. We started IVF treatment at the clinic and I was put onto Clomid and later Metformin tablets before trigger injections to increase natural hormones ready for Embryo transfer. The clinic transferred one embryo but unfortunately this was unsuccessful.
What is was like finding out you had been selected to receive treatment at Quirónsalud?
When we applied we were just getting over the disappointment of the first round of IVF not working. When we found out we had been selected to receive treatment at Quirónsalud we were absolutely over the moon that this was our chance to finally have the family that we always wanted.
I received the email whilst I was at work and called Kurt straight away to let him know. I can remember him being lost for words and not quite knowing what to say at how much this both means to us. We can’t thank all of you enough for this opportunity!!
How was your first consultation with the doctor was via a video call?
We’ve had regular contact with Marta Gutiérrez (International Fertility Case Manager from Quirónsalud Hospital Group) and right from the start and she’s been really helpful answering any questions that we’ve had and keeping us as informed as possible even whilst the Covid pandemic has been happening.
We are really looking forward to the consultation with Dr Gosalvez and being able to finally meet all the team in Madrid.
What support have you had from the clinic during lockdown?
We were really looking forward to going out to meet all the team and eager to get started. We’d had regular email conversations with Marta in the weeks leading up to the lockdown and booked flights in preparation for fly out to Madrid for the initial consultation which they had scheduled for Tuesday 17th March. On 13th March the UK government had advised all but essential travel to Spain was not advised.
We spoke with Marta and it was quickly agreed that it was best to postpone the consultation until it was again safe to travel.
Throughout the lockdown we kept in regular contact with each other to see what the situation was like in both Spain and the UK. It was a bit strange as we had got ourselves mentally ready again and got ourselves focused for the journey ahead. As disappointing as it was we both knew that our day will come when the environment is right to do so.
Were you worried about going abroad for treatment?
We’ve both had discussions about it and whilst we both know that whilst there’s risks involved with travelling to Spain you have to weigh up the risk Vs reward. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that we’re being given.
Whilst it’s a bit of a nervous feeling travelling, it is extremely exciting to go on this journey!
How has as this had any affect on your relationship?
To be fair the lockdown has made us stronger more than anything. I think sometimes you take for granted the time that you have with each other so being able to spend more time together has been great.
We went through the first round of IVF without much knowledge and always felt on edge and nervous in case we did anything to jeopardise it being a success.
This time around though we both feel a lot more relaxed about it as we know what to expect. We’ve both got the support of each other which is hugely important.
I know your sister had treatment as part of our fertility journeys but how much is shared with your famil?
The first IVF journey we did we were very open with everybody about what we were doing. And although people didn’t mean to, it put a huge amount of pressure on us with everybody questioning how it was all going. This time around though, we’ve chosen to keep it to a smaller group of people that we’ve told just to keep the pressure off a bit and make it a lot more enjoyable for ourselves.
My sister Terri went through the fertility journey herself 4 years ago and has been blessed with a son Jenson, so she’s been a massive support to both of us. She was the one who actually told me me to put us forward for it and I can’t thank her enough.
Thank you for sharing your personal journey with our readers and we are just as excited as you for your next visit.
Quirónsalud is the leading hospital group in Spain and is the largest hospital group in Europe. They have over 60 years’ experience in caring for people’s health.