Our own beautiful miracle

To us, our son really is one-in-a-million, our own beautiful miracle. For how else to describe him being born against such great odds? Time and age were against us, and tests had revealed that my husband and I were unlikely to conceive naturally. Yet the most amazing thing happened – and we still feel a sense of disbelief to this day.


From only two eggs that could be harvested during my third round of IVF treatment – a particularly low yield that had initially left us devastated - one successfully fertilised.

Incredibly, the embryo proved so resilient in the nine months that followed that we now see in our gorgeous little boy those same fighting qualities.

By following our hearts, and being prepared to spend around 30,000Euros in pursuit of our dreams, we are the proud and overjoyed parents of a beautiful and thriving 14-month-old toddler.

He can be a handful, but the sleepless nights we sometimes face are nothing to those in the months and years after the reality that our hopes of having a family of our own may never happen.

My husband and I met in London in 2010, while we both worked in marketing.

We stayed together among the bright lights of the big city for three years, but when we plumped for marriage, we knew the place for us was back home in Dublin.

With an eye to starting a family, we felt it was where we really wanted to be to achieve that.

Almost immediately after getting married in 2013 we set about trying for a child. Neither of us is from a big family, yet we had both always felt a strong urge to one day be parents.

By we time we tied the knot, we were both aged around 34. While we knew we weren’t getting any younger, we felt we had plenty of time to have the family we desired.

Sadly, after settling down to married life, our journey to parenthood proved anything but smooth.

After nine months of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, we realised it wasn’t happening for us and the reality dawned that there may be a medical reason.

A visit to our GP revealed my husband had a low sperm count and, on my side, AMH that was lower than it should have been.

In fact, I was told it was that of a 45-year-old, and there was also unproven concern about the quality of my eggs.

While we were upset, the tests showed only that conceiving would be difficult, not necessarily impossible, which led us to start to seriously study our options.

At first, our search led us to a clinic close to home but, looking back, it proved to be a very disappointing and upsetting experience decision.

Further tests there confirmed my husband’s low sperm count, that the sperm quality was poor and that he had DNA fragmentation, which can affect quality.

Doctors at the clinic told us that the sperm would never be strong enough to break into my eggs, and that we would have to go down the route of IVF-ICSI.

This is a process that includes hormonal stimulation of the ovaries, followed by egg collection, with the eggs being fertilised outside of the woman’s body.

While the initial testing was very quick, it was the start of a personal period of dissatisfaction with IVF service in Ireland that I still feel to this day.

Here, IVF is only delivered privately, which means it is a very commercial activity and as far as I can see done for money rather than through the motivation to help the individual patient.

We grew increasingly frustrated by all the tests we were told had to be done, many of which we now believe were unnecessary.

The speed at which all this happened meant the whole process lacked any kind of sympathy or human element.

I continue to feel upset, angry and frustrated by what we were put through and the fast pace at which we were encouraged to do it – there was no time to pause and reflect.

Two IVF cycles and all the tests at this clinic cost us around 15,000Euros, but it wasn’t the cost that mattered, it was the sense that the doctors’ emphasis was on money.

But we were at least given hope when both cycles of IVF-ICSI yielded around 12 eggs and led to fertilised embryos being implanted.

Unfortunately, in both cases they didn’t survive more than a few days.

At this point, we decided to try another clinic, and we also had other scans and treatments elsewhere, but again we felt dissatisfaction with a process that now cost us around 5,000Euros.

Throughout this difficult time we never gave up hope and knew we had to continue. Finally, after so much disappointment, our luck seemed to change.

We had carried on with our online research into IVF treatment and this took us to look overseas, to centres in Spain and the Czech Republic.

By chance, we had also met a private IVF specialist in Dublin who advised that our best option was IVF Cube in Prague, a centre we had already read about and which came highly recommended.

He was very honest and straightforward in his dealings with us, it was exactly the attitude we needed after three years of feeling that our money was more important to other people than us becoming parents.

When you’re invested so much time and emotion into IVF treatment, it’s very hard to hear the truth about what you can expect, but I now know it’s also the best way.

He took control of the process and put us in touch with IVF Cube. After we spoke to them and decided it was where the future lay, he was able to start preparing that journey for us.

In the two weeks before we flew to IVF Cube in September 2016 this included starting me on the drugs used during IVF treatment and carrying out ultra sounds, all conveniently in Dublin.

He also helped us make phone calls to speak to Dr Hana Visnova, the centre’s expert medical director.

As soon as my husband and I arrived at IVF Cube we were impressed by the high technology its uses and by the professionalism of its staff.

I underwent an ultra sound to see if my eggs were ready for collection. They weren’t, and we had to wait two days later for that to be done.

To our surprise, things did not go as we expected and we couldn’t quite understand why. In fact, we were devastated when told that only two eggs could be collected – we had expected many to be.

We were upset, as we had thought we would have enough eggs to have some frozen for another cycle.
Overnight, one egg died but the second did fertilise.

It was then a case of waiting to see if it would reach blastocyst stage, which describes the human embryo around five days after fertilisation and the point at which it can be implanted into the womb.

This was successfully done and, looking back, it seems strange that we then jumped on the plane home and got on with our lives as best we could, going to work and doing all the things we’d normally do.

However, we had been given a specific date on which I should take a pregnancy test, which was 10 days later.

You have to wait that long because the drugs you take for IVF can give a false positive result.

The night before we couldn’t sleep at all and were up at 5am to do the test. To our total disbelief it showed I was pregnant, which was confirmed by a follow-up blood test.

You really have to ask yourself what the chances are of just two eggs being harvested and one fertilising and being strong enough to survive. We really do consider ourselves extremely lucky to have our son.

Despite our joy, neither of us really enjoyed my pregnancy. We were constantly worried that I may miscarry – it was jubilation followed by absolute fear and months of worrying that something may go wrong.

After all we had been through, we just couldn’t let ourselves believe that it had really happened.

My family know how I became pregnant but not all of my husband’s do. IVF is still a bit of a taboo subject in Ireland, and we’ve only told a few close friends.

Our big day came in June 2017, when our beautiful baby was born. We didn’t know the sex beforehand, but are as delighted to have a son as we would be a daughter.

I had a prearranged caesarean under general anaesthetic for medical reasons, and did not awaken during the birth, but I had left instructions that my husband be the first to hold our child and have skin-to-skin contact,
which is what happened.

It was about 40 minutes before I woke up and was able to hold him and feed him. I felt total jubilation, huge relief and, still, disbelief – it took time to sink in. He was born a very healthy 7lbs 2oz.

It’s quite incredible really – we had watched on camera in Prague him being implanted into me, and then there he was all of a sudden with us, perfectly healthy and wonderful.

He’s 14-months-old now and he has my husband’s beautiful brown eyes and my blonde hair and impatience.

He’s a fighter – he was as an embryo and he still shows that same quality now. He has a very strong personality and fierce determination – to us, he’s perfect.

My husband and I still want another child, not only to make our family complete but also so that our son benefits from a sibling.

I did fall pregnant naturally earlier this year but, unfortunately, I miscarried.

We now plan to return to IVF Cube in November for a second round there of IVF. It’s strange, but you go back to knowing that your odds of success are low, yet you carry on.

It is, after all, a numbers game and I guess the odds this time are even lower, but we remain hopeful that it will work.

If it doesn’t this time, we plan to carry on as long as our efforts to do so do not impact on our son.

I’ve already had my bloods done and this time around we both feel less pressure, it seems like a very different ball game.

My decision to go to IVF Cube was so right. The technology they use is fantastic and the proof, ultimately, is that we now have a gorgeous boy.

After the two failed cycles, we never have up but continued to feel a huge sense that something was missing from our lives. We knew we could gone on into our 40s, so there was still always hope.

Undergoing IVF puts a huge strain on people, including family and friends and on marriages, but in our case, it has been entirely worth everything it has taken.

It wasn’t about the money, we are lucky in that have jobs that allowed us to pay for IVF without having to borrow.

We did, though, have to sacrifice things like holidays and we couldn’t think about buying a home during those five years.

Today, we really do feel that our son is our little miracle, we say that all the time.

It seems that way especially when we think that the only egg that survived harvesting, battled on to be with us now.


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