We’re pregnant! Happy news for Laura and Dan

Updated, 14th of February, 2024

There was a very special early Christmas present for Laura and Dan when the couple discovered they were expecting a baby, following an embryo transfer at IVF-Life in Alicante.

Fertility Road caught up with Laura last week, just after her 12-week scan.

Laura said: “We had our first viability scan on December 22nd and it was the best Christmas present ever.
“Our hospital booked us in for regular scans to monitor me, given our history. “By the time we got to our 12-week scan, we had already had four scans, three were with the hospital for monitoring. They have been absolutely brilliant. “We are doing great. I’m trying to embrace feeling like I have the worst hangover every day! I’m living on toast and orange juice – hopefully the ‘pregnancy glow’ kicks in at some point!”

The couple had their first embryo transfer at IVF-Life on September 11th last year. The transfer worked, but the hCG levels were low. Unfortunately, the pregnancy was ultimately lost.

“We had our meeting with the clinic and we were quite keen to restart treatment as soon as possible,” says Laura. “They decided that it might be immunology problems that have caused us to have so many losses and so they changed my medication slightly. We started medication quite quickly and we went back for our second transfer on November 24th.”

This time the clinic gave Laura an intralipid infusion on the day of her transfer.

Laura explains: “It is a synthetic solution widely used in healthcare and contains soybean oil, egg, phosphate lipids, and glycerine. The fusion is administered intravenously through a vein in either the hand or the arm, and then research has suggested that women who failed to conceive or maintain a pregnancy as a result of abnormal natural killer cell level or function may benefit from the use of intralipids.

“Some types of infertility may be caused by a slightly overactive immune system where the immune system attacks the egg. So they wonder if that’s what’s been happening and why we’ve had losses with good quality eggs and then obviously with a donor egg as well. “Clearly, I’ve got no problems with getting pregnant. It’s maintaining the pregnancy and the losses happen very early.”

Ten days after the second transfer, Laura had a blood test which showed hCG levels of over 200 – more than six-times the levels achieved following the previous transfer.

She added: “I was ridiculously excited to see such a high hCG number. And obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot on its own, but it just felt very different from the pregnancies that we’ve had before.”

Laura underwent two more intralipid infusions at a specialist clinic in Birmingham, the UK, in December and again in January.

Laura and Dan have been full of praise for the team at IVF-Life, saying the experience has been a world apart from their past treatment at their UK clinic. “I know it sounds really silly, but we’d walk in and just wouldn’t want to leave the office! They are so approachable. “We had Dr Herrera for our treatment and she’s great. She’s really caring and really direct as well, so it’s easy to understand what’s going on. She’s really transparent.”

“We have been so impressed with the clinic and so unbelievably grateful for the opportunity that we have had,” Laura added. “If we hadn’t won the competition, there is no way we would be in this position now. We are so grateful.”

Congratulations Laura and Dan, from everybody here at Fertility Road!

We’re pregnant! Happy news for Laura and Dan 2
We’re pregnant! Happy news for Laura and Dan 2

Updated, 16th of September, 2023

The big day finally arrived for Laura and Dan this week – embryo transfer day at IVF-Life in Alicante.

The couple flew from the UK to Spain over the weekend ahead of the transfer on Monday (September 11th). The couple had four good-quality embryos waiting for them at the clinic.

Laura said: “We had one embryo transferred and that was rated 5AB, so it was a good quality embryo. The transfer went well, although my lining was measured at seven millimetres, which I don’t think is as big as it could be, so they have upped my progesterone medication to take over the next few weeks.”

Although the couple were pleased with how the transfer went, Laura admits the run up to it had proved to be a huge emotional rollercoaster.

“I found the lead up really difficult, I think because it was quite a long process, having the biopsy in the middle. And all those doubts start to creep in,” she said. “I’ve been swinging between ‘I might be able to paint the nursery soon’ to ‘don’t be so ridiculous, I don’t think I can handle another negative pregnancy test, why have we done this?’. I’ve been really struggling with that.”

Dan added: “It’s hard to get too excited, because there is that other side of it.”

“I think we ended up overthinking it,” Laura added. “You need to hold hope in this mind-body link. You need to be positive. But you also want to protect yourself because it’s been so hard in the past. It’s a really tricky balance.”

But one thing that has made the process easier is the superior service from the team at IVF-Life.

Laura said: “The service has been great. They’ve been really helpful, always sending emails saying ‘reminding you that you will stop this medication today or you’re starting this medication today and take it like this’. And that’s just been great.

“The practical side of that is just really helpful and that they’re holding you in mind is really sweet and different from what we’ve experienced before.”

Dan added: “Our first patient coordinator came running down yesterday to find us because she heard we were in the building to say hello and that was really lovely.

“And our other coordinator came and found us before we left and said good luck. It was really nice.”

Laura said: “The clinic was so happy and positive, it’s really rubbed off. I need to go and visit them every week!”

The couple are now enjoying some more annual leave this week before returning to work on Monday.

A blood test will be booked later in the month to confirm whether the transfer has worked.

Updated, 9th of June, 2023

Laura and Dan jetted off to Spain this week for their first appointment with IVF-Life.

The couple were greeted with flowers and chocolates when they arrived at the Alicante clinic and both were immediately impressed by the team of staff that had offered them such a warm welcome.

We’re pregnant! Happy news for Laura and Dan 4
Laura and Dan at IVF-Life in Allicatne

Laura said: “The first appointment went really well and everyone was lovely. The doctors were great and explained everything really well. It was really efficient and well organised.”

Laura had an ultrasound scan and underwent various blood tests, including an immunology test and a test to check her TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. Dan also had bloods taken before providing a sperm sample for testing.

“We then went in to see the doctor and she went through all the different areas that can affect the outcome and talked about what the tests would show up and what they were looking for,” said Laura. “Then she went through a timeline with us in terms of when we would have to be back next and what further tests she wanted us to have.”

Laura and Dan are scheduled to return to IVF-Life for an endometrial biopsy on July 25th. This test will check whether there are any issues with Laura’s uterine lining and confirm the best time for the embryo transfer.

Although the couple admit they initially found their first clinic visit overwhelming, they left feeling that they were in good hands.

“Everything was explained and it all made sense. It felt like a really clear and transparent process,” said Laura.

“So even though today was really overwhelming, it did feel really inclusive and patient centred.”

The embryo transfer is scheduled for September 11th.

Updated, 18th of May, 2023

From the Covid shutdown to substandard service from their chosen fertility clinic, Laura and Dan have encountered more than their fair share of obstacles on their IVF treatment journey.

But the couple, who live in Exeter, England, experienced a change in fortune this week as they became the latest couple to be selected for treatment at IVF-Life as part of Fertility Road’s Fertility Journey project.

Clinical psychologist Laura, 42, and carpet fitter Dan, 40, married in July 2019 and started trying for a baby shortly afterwards.

Laura said: “After six months of nothing happening, we went to the doctors and were advised to have a number of tests. The tests, in early 2020, found that my egg quality was poor, even for my age.
“And then Covid hit and put a stop to treatment. But our clinic was pretty good and, because of my age, prioritised us.”

The couple’s first round of IVF at the end of 2020 was successful, but sadly they experienced an early pregnancy loss shortly before Christmas. Two further rounds were unfortunately unsuccessful.

After the third round in April 2022, the clinic recommended that the couple should use donor eggs.

Laura said: “I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first. We did a lot of reading and research about what having a donor egg would mean and we decided we would like to go forward. “We started researching Spanish clinics, because that’s what our UK clinic recommended in terms of quality of care and waiting lists.”

Unfortunately the couple received substandard care from their chosen Spanish clinic – something that added unnecessary stress to their IVF journey.

Laura recalls: “The care we had from the clinic was really poor. It was just a nightmare.”

The couple visited the Spanish clinic in November 2022 and were told they would return for egg transfer on February 14, and would receive fortnightly updates from their patient coordinator about the donor selection process. However, things did not go as Laura and Dan had hoped.

Laura said: “I was told to start taking medication and to book scans in line with our protocol, which we did. Transfer date was fast approaching, and we had never spoken to our coordinator and hadn’t received any updates on the donor selection and whether we would be travelling on the identified date.

“After raising concerns with the clinic, we were told they hadn’t found us a donor. The impact this has on our protocol was never discussed with us by the clinic. Two days after we were told they hadn’t found us a donor, I received an email telling me our donor had dropped out and to stop taking the medication immediately, which was really confusing to us as we had been told we didn’t have a donor yet. I finally managed to speak to our patient coordinator following this who accused me of taking the medication without the agreement of the clinic, stating I should never have started the medication without them first confirming they had found a donor. I had to provide all the email evidence to show the clinic had told me to start the medication and I had only done what they asked me to do.

“We spoke to a manager at the clinic about building relationships and trust and to take some time to get to know a new patient coordinator, which we were happy to do. However, 24 hours after this phone-call, we were informed that they had found a new donor and had started her stimulation. We were then asked for our decision about whether to proceed and then received a final call saying the donor was going in for egg collection and they needed a decision. “It was really difficult as we still didn’t have a relationship with the clinic or any faith in the process as we hadn’t been involved in any way.”

Laura and Dan made the difficult decision to walk away. “It was really upsetting after feeling we could be so close to finally falling pregnant and would now have to start the whole process again,” Laura said. “The whole experience was really overwhelming.”

To add insult to injury, the clinic only refunded some of the money, keeping a significant amount for tests and so-called ‘admin fees’, leaving the couple substantially out of pocket.

But thankfully, this week Laura and Dan received the happy news that they had been selected for free IVF treatment at IVF-Life in Alicante as part of Fertility Road’s Fertility Journey project.

Laura said:

“The news came at a really amazing time following our experience at the other clinic. I think we really didn’t realise quite how much we needed some good news.”

And Laura and Dan are already noticing a huge difference in their experiences with this new Spanish clinic.

Laura said: “It’s already made a real difference.
“I know the treatment might not work, but I think just getting the news that we won, it’s just made a massive difference to us.
“We’re just really excited and all the emails that we’ve had from the clinic so far have been absolutely adorable, so sweet, just really friendly.
“The clinic looks fantastic. We’re not nervous, we’re looking forward to getting on with it!”

Dan added: “IVF is incredibly stressful to go through and we’ve had many years of it and we now feel like a huge part of that stress has been taken away. The financial aspect of treatment can take away from why you are doing it so now we can focus on the goal and try to enjoy the process more.

“The clinic has really included me in everything so far, which is very different from our past experiences and it has really made a difference to how I feel.”

Laura and Dan’s first appointment at IVF-Life is scheduled for June 6th.

Picture of Laura Cooke
Laura Cooke
Laura is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about fertility, egg and sperm donation and IVF. She has previously written about the subject for publications including Men's Health UK and Stylist.

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