On Being Childfree – Sarah’s Story

No matter how many different stories I read for this series, I’ll never stop being humbled by human strenght. Courage. Resilience. Reading Sarah’s story and knowing just how gruelling I found one round of IVF, I can’t help but be in absolute awe of their resolve and togetherness to just keep believing. As always, I’m so grateful for everyone’s commitment because it is such a personal subject to open up about. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.

I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.

(If you would like to see where it all began, click here. Thank you so much for your support, if you would like to share your own story please email me on booandmaddie22@gmail.com)

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We Are : Sarah & Toby, 31 & 29

Home Is: Brighton

We Do: I’m an Interior designer at an architects & Toby is a Service advisor in the car trade

Find MeInstagram

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That question.. So when are you going to have children? ……so blasé, so off the cuff.. and an expected easy and definite answer expected in reply to this…

We decided early on to be very open about our journey, with those who ask. We give an honest answer, it usually one that’s not expected ..but we’ve always liked to suprise people! 

Although we are very open about our journey with those who we are close to/see regularly we have recently shared our journey on our social media pages,  not for sympathy or pity but because we want to raise awareness. Infertility is heartbreaking and devastating, it affects 1 in 8 couples. It’s such a taboo subject and something that people dont want to or find it awkward to talk about. Through being so open about our journey with friends, family and colleagues we have already have a few people come to us with their stories as they didn’t know who else to talk to. We wanted to share our journey on a wider scale in a hope that we can help more people and break the taboos, This is an amazing platform and it’s so exciting to be part of! 

The journey so far has been a rollercoaster to say the least! 

Its not the shortest one so may need to grab a cuppa! We are so thankful to anyone who does take the time to hear/read our story, it’s ups and downs, it’s raw and it’s real, this is infertility and it’s more common that you would think…

First comes love…..

Met 2008

College 

Uni 

Engaged 2012

Then comes marriage….. (2014 best day ever ever!) 

Honeymoon

Trip of a life time in America 

Jobs

Then comes … infertility? ….

We always knew we would have to do a little extra planning when it came to having a family, Toby’s sister had Spina Bifida and we weren’t sure if he could be a carrier. We were referred to guys hospital for genetic testing which confirmed we were at a very little extra chance of our baby having spinabifida, as long as I took folic acid then it should be no more risk that normal. We were so relieved and exited to start our family! 

After 9 months we knew something wasn’t right but we thought it was because we were putting too much pressure on ourselves. Trying for a baby aswell as pushing ourselves in our careers. I wasn’t happy in my job and was looking to get back into the industry that I had trained in (interior design) had a couple of jobs in but was desperate to have a job that I would be able to put my all into and really build my career. I got a job I had hoped for, for so long and toby was progressing in his role so we decided to have a break from trying for baby for a little while. 

We developed both careers and decided to start again, quickly realising that there was something wrong. We went to the doctors who referred us for tests. This process of referrals and tests was a long one which had lots of ups and downs, unpleasant tests, devastating results on both sides. Tobys results came back that although his sperm count was ok the morphology and motility was below normal – which basically means that the shape/size of the head and tails of a lot of the sperm were abnormal meaning that they couldn’t get to where they needed and if they did they may not fertilise the egg. 

I had some more tests and after the doctor telling me I had been made in a bit of a wonky mould my results came back that I have a bicornate uterus- which means my womb is split in to 2, in my case it is 2 completely seperate equal cavities which split just above the cervix. On one side the Fallopian tube is blocked from emergency major surgery I had when I was 15 and although the other side has its Fallopian tube working, that side is harder to get to, so with Tobys sperm not all being fit to run long distance, and me offering a lot of extra hurdles, the odds are pretty against us! 

So after a lot of waiting in waiting rooms, uncertainty and more waiting for answers,

It was decided that IVF was the only way for us to have a family so we were referred to an IVF clinic where we discussed details

In summer 2019 we were finally there, about to begin our ivf journey, our first round was due to begin in the August, drugs were delivered and we were ready! Scared, nervous but really excited! 

Unfortunately the week before we were away with friends when we received the news that Tobys Dad had died very suddenly. Toby and his dad were extremely close, he was his best friend, He was only 56, it was absolutely heartbreaking 

Devastated, we knew we couldn’t continue with the IVF, our bodies and minds were not in a healthy place. We took some time out and tried to get our heads round it all, help Tobys mum and organise the funeral. 

A month passed and knowing how excited Tobys dad was about us starting ivf we couldn’t delay for too long so we spoke to the clinic and it was decided we could begin round one!

All was going so well, everything was progressing even better than anyone has expected and we were delighted. Learning all the medication and injections were becoming easier. 

It was fast realised that because everything was progressing so quickly and so well, it was too quickly and too well and  I became very high risk of an illness related to IVF called OHSS that can if severe be life threatening. I was sedated for egg collection, which was the next step of the IVF and as soon as I woke up, that day we knew something was wrong

I went to A&E and they admitted to hospital, they confirmed that I had got what I was at risk of – OHSS, I was given drugs to take every few hours, hooked up to a constant drop with medication and injections into my muscles to try and help fight it. They had to check everyday for fluid on my lungs to make sure I didn’t need to be in intensive care

This was such an awful, difficult time. Still mourning his dad, toby was working and visiting the hospital every hour he could, we were both so scared, and the future of the ivf was so Unknown. We had no choice but to cancel that round and freeze all embryos

We were so happy when I was sent home from hospital. I carried on the medication, rested and began to recover

I was unfortunately left with a hematoma in my abdomen from the trauma. Over the next few months I recovered narrowly missing surgery and began to feel stronger. We took the time to have some fun time together, days out, nights out and good times with friends and family. This was the time out we needed to start another round

This was a frozen round which was much more straight forward, less injections and no sedation. We were excited to have made it further in this round than before and made it to transfer day where they would make me pregnant!  

We had to wait 2 weeks to take a test, this unfortunately showed that it had been an unsuccessful round. 

Ready to go straight to the next round then came COVID…. all treatment was cancelled across the country and no ideas as to when it could begin. In this time, it wasn’t all doom and gloom in fact for us it was quite the opposite .. we bought our first house!! As lockdown came we spend everyday starting a renovation, which we really love doing!

Whilst the country was still locked down as restriction were lifted a little, treatments started again, frozen rounds only so we started the 3rd round. Again a more straight foward process (with some shielding included this time) 

once again got to transfer day, this time we were still both furloughed, in our new house and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, no pressure, living in our very own home and with a little bedroom ready to make into a nursery. 

unfortunately test day again bought us a negative test 🙁 

We had one round left, a fresh round the same as the first round, we were very unsure if we could/would continue as I was considered high risk again. The doctors reassured us that medication could be changed to lower the risks and extra precautions put in place

We decided to go for it! It started on our wedding anniversary, we had the house reno to keep our minds busy although I had to slow down the physical work

The round went really well, I woke up from aesthetic and felt better and stayed feeling better. We took time of work together for the final stages of our final round. 

Unfortunately it ended in another negative test 🙁 

Heart broken and devastated, this was 3 weeks ago, we are taking some time to come to terms with everything but we are getting there

We are also researching and the next option further – surrogacy. This feels the most natural progression in our journey, we have 6 lovely frozen buns, my oven might be broken but we can find another one to cook our lovely buns! We still have a chance of meeting our child, 100% our DNA. 

We still have a journey ahead of us but we are strapped in ready to ride the rollercoaster. We have more research to do and we have contacts gathered to speak to for medical and legal advise, and confirm costs. And thinking of some creative ways of making/saving money for it!! We are looking to the future and focusing on the positives. Once we have got our heads round this chapter of the journey, we can move on to the next which we are feeling really good about. 

The quest to baby King to be continued …

Thank you so so much to Sarah for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Sarah’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.

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6 Comments

  1. Penny Andrea
    October 9, 2020 / 7:04 am

    What a sad read but what amazing strength and love Sarah & Toby have. I believe they will get there!!! lots of love xxx

    • Lins
      Author
      October 9, 2020 / 9:50 am

      Yes Penny I totally believe they will too!! I’ll be waving virtual pompoms all the way! Xx

  2. Steph
    October 9, 2020 / 7:24 am

    I’m equally heartbroken and humbled by this lovely couple. Your determination really shines through. I’m sending them all the love and hope xxxx

    • Lins
      Author
      October 9, 2020 / 9:51 am

      Thank you so much Steph, I think they are just so wonderful and know that their journey will end happily Xx

  3. Susie
    October 9, 2020 / 8:25 am

    Such a powerful story of two people who clearly have incredible resilience in the face of such difficulty. I am full of admiration for you both, wishing you all the best on your journey.

    • Lins
      Author
      October 9, 2020 / 9:50 am

      Thank you so much Susie for your lovely words and taking the time to read. I too feel exactly the same way, so in awe of their hope and positive thoughts x

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