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Real-Stories

From The Heart Series – Rachel

By August 18, 2020March 2nd, 2021No Comments

It started in early 2009 when I saw my first ‘pregnant’ on a Clear Blue pregnancy test stick! Little did I realise what those illusive words would come to mean to me on what was to become a six-year journey.

It was a long battle for us, but with a lot of struggles in life, it comes with lessons learnt, hearts broken, silver linings and, ultimately, ended — luckily for us — with two precious baby girls. Their names are Eve and Erin and they are the light of our lives.

To be perfectly honest, I never thought too much about becoming a Mum when I was younger – I was too busy having the craic. I loved craic and anyone that was up for it, too. Things came and went easily for me when I was young; I didn’t think about things as much as maybe I should have, I just thought the natural progression in life was kids, so when things started to go awry I was, understandably, pretty devastated.

That positive test turned to negative within 24 hours. I had had a chemical pregnancy, which means a very early pregnancy loss that happens when an egg is fertilised but never fully implants in the uterus.
Turns out I was to get used to those words, chemical pregnancy, because I had many of them. That year we had two devastating blows when my other half’s younger brother tragically died at age 34 and he also lost his Mum. It was a tough year and baby-making went on the back burner.

It was mid-2010 when Kevin, my boyfriend, was still reeling from too much grief that I ventured into my GP to tell her how we’d been trying for a baby but with no success. I remember she looked at my wedding finger to see if I was married (we weren’t). She didn’t approve; I changed GPs.

My new GP referred me to Dr Kent Ayers, a New Zealand doctor based in Dundrum who evolved into a friend. He was funny, honest, charming and, above all, caring. He gave me practical advice and supported me and many, many other women through some dark times.

TTC, AMH, IVF, LU, LO – the acronyms are overwhelming. The whole thing is overwhelming – and yet you somehow become familiar with a world you really don’t want to be in.

I joined an infertility support group on rollercoaster.ie, but didn’t really find it very supportive – I blame myself for that; I simply wasn’t in the right headspace. I was getting used to the isolation of infertility – and it is isolating: it’s a lonely ol’ road, there’s no real chat about it with friends because no-one wants to bring it up in case they hurt your feelings. I get it, I’ve done the same in other circumstances. And when you don’t know what to say, you generally say nothing.

We started our first IVF in the Rotunda hospital in the HARI unit. I always enjoyed starting the process because you were actively doing something to solve your problem, rather than simply waiting….and, let me be frank, there is a lot of waiting.

I think one of the worst blows for me was the failure of our first attempt. I didn’t even get a chance to do a test – my period just arrived as if nothing at all had happened, as if I hadn’t injected myself every day for two weeks.

I hadn’t blown up like a balloon with bulging ovaries, I hadn’t had sleepless nights with the night-sweats from a down regulation that basically pushes you into a menopause-like state, and we hadn’t just spent thousands of euro – my period just arrived like it was another day.

I was in the bathroom in work and I remember it so clearly. I called one of my best pals who had experienced IVF herself; her words of support got me through that day and the coming days and weeks when you feel dazed, confused, sad, angry and heart-broken.

There were lessons to be learnt from that failure, and the biggest one for me was telling people. I had told half the nation that we were doing IVF and then, in turn ,you’ve to tell half the nation that it didn’t work. That in itself is difficult, but it’s made even harder because people are genuinely willing it to work for you; family and friends are dying for it to work for you – and when it doesn’t, they are devastated, too. So not only are you sad but everyone is sad with you.

As a result, you start to become private about it, and so the further into isolation you go. Granted, you have a few poor souls who know and they become your support network, but it’s a small group.

If I was to tell you about the following four years, I’d have to write almost five pages. To cut a long story short, we did 13 rounds of IVF. During those treatments, we had moved clinics, from the HARI unit to SIMS to a clinic in Prague before eventually finding success in Barcelona.

Although I’ve just summarised all of those IVFs into one paragraph, that paragraph was full of disappointment, heartbreak and soul-searching, but I never gave up hope. Hope springs eternal – quite simply, you’ve got to keep hoping!

If you are reading this and you are on the trying to conceive path, my heart is with you; you are not alone. Keep hopeful – and listen to your body and your gut.

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Lisa Corcoran

Business Development Executive

 

Lisa has 15 years of commercial business experience. She has proven her capabilities in Investment Property Sales and, Management & Business Development for Technology companies that have provided her with an understanding of different customer needs across several sectors. Lisa appreciates the value of customer education and relationship building in long-lasting partnerships.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.

Deborah Brock

Founder & CEO of Nua Fertility

 

Deborah has a personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and communities. With over 15 years experience of working in the Non profit and Education sector, I have had the honour of working together with people and communities focusing on their strengths, capacities and assets. With extensive senior management, project management and creative programme development experience.

How did your experience with fertility inspire you to help start Nua Fertility?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the world of fertility health. Trying for a baby is one of the most exciting yet vulnerable times in your life. It took myself and my husband over three years and the helping hand of science to become a mum.  I have always worked with people and communities and felt my vision for Nua Fertility could genuinely support others who have fertility challenges.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

I'm am curious person and love all things research. My ideal evening would be reading and exploring scientific journals! I like to think I am a little bit creative and I LOVE paint by numbers! Its probably the only time I slow down, I become immersed in the painting and think of nothing else.

What do you want to tell someone trying to conceive or already pregnant?

Educate yourself! Knowledge is power. The more you inform yourself about your fertility health the more you are empowering yourself with knowledge. Own your journey and take control over your own fertility health.

What’s something you wish someone told you while trying to conceive?

Open up and talk with friends and family. I was surrounded by amazing friends and family but I never opened up. When your struggling to conceive, a non-judgemental ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is so powerful.