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Chatteris woman delighted to finally be a mum after infertility heartache

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A Fenland mum who was unable to get pregnant naturally whilst still in her early twenties is sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness of infertility and difficulties to conceivce.

Speaking ahead of National Fertility Awareness Week, which runs from November 1 to 5, Lucie Peacock from Chatteris says: “I was 23 when we first started trying for a baby and just assumed that I would get pregnant easily.

"When it didn’t happen and we had some tests done there were no clues as to the reason. My periods were regular as clockwork, every 28 days, and I always knew when I was ovulating because I would get cramps. My husband Ben’s tests came back all fine, so the doctors were a bit stumped to start with.”

Lucie and Ben Peacock with miracle daughters Alice-Mai and Imogen. (52527676)
Lucie and Ben Peacock with miracle daughters Alice-Mai and Imogen. (52527676)

The majority of people manage to conceive within two years of trying but for those that don’t it is strongly advised that they shouldn’t leave it too long before seeking advice – however many people are still too embarrassed to talk to their GP about infertility.

In the UK one in six couples experience difficulties conceiving.

The cause of Lucie and Ben’s infertility was finally uncovered when a laparoscopy procedure at Peterborough City Hospital revealed that Lucie’s left fallopian tube was blocked - and damaged so badly that it needed to be removed. “We may never have known about the blocked tubes if we hadn’t gone for the fertility tests,” says Lucie.

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, medical director of Bourn Hall Clinic, says: “As fertility declines with age, it could be that getting a healthy BMI or medication to boost ovulation is all that is needed in a younger person.

Lucie returned to Bourn Hall for more treatment when Alice-Mai was a year old. (52527673)
Lucie returned to Bourn Hall for more treatment when Alice-Mai was a year old. (52527673)

"But if it is something more, like blocked tubes, there may be a limited chance of natural conception and IVF is the best treatment. We would urge people worried about their fertility to gain advice while they are young and have more options.”

Lucie is a hairdresser and Ben runs his own plumbing and heating business. The couple met when they were teenagers and had always wanted children. After Lucie’s operation they were told to carry on trying to conceive naturally for another six months before a decision would be taken on the need for IVF.

Then Lucie read that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG were going to suspend NHS funding for IVF treatment. “I couldn’t believe what was happening, it was really stressful,” says Lucie.

“I felt really panicked. I was desperate to have children, I was determined that I was going to be a mum.”

Happily for the couple, the hospital told them they would still be eligible for NHS-funded IVF as they were already ‘in the system’. The cut off came just a few weeks later.

The couple chose to have their treatment at Bourn Hall Cambridge – which was the world’s first IVF clinic and treats both NHS-funded and self-funded patients. Bourn Hall has a number of clinics across the East of England including a satellite clinic in Peterborough.

Lucie and Ben were delighted when their NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall was successful at the first attempt and Lucie remembers the day she found out she was pregnant for the first time. “I went off to the bathroom to do the test. The line was really faint. As I had never had a positive result before I assumed that the line would be bold if I was pregnant.

“I rang Bourn Hall and spoke to a fertility nurse and said, ‘I can see two lines but they are not bold’ and all I remember her saying is ‘you are pregnant’ and I just burst into tears.”

On August 23 2019 the couple’s daughter Alice-Mai was born. “It felt amazing to finally be a mum,” says Lucie.

Lucie was keen that if they were to have a second child they should be as close in age to Alice-Mai as possible.

The couple had an embryo remaining from their first treatment which had been frozen at Bourn Hall and just one day after Alice-Mai’s first birthday Lucie started her injections in readiness for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) at Bourn Hall, which they funded themselves.

This was more affordable as there is less medication required for FET. Again, the treatment was successful and the couple’s second daughter, Imogen, was born in June 2021.

As Alice-Mai and Imogen were both conceived using embryos (one fresh and one frozen) from the same cycle of treatment they are technically ‘twins’.

“Our family is complete,” says Lucie. “We feel so lucky that our treatment at Bourn Hall worked first time on both occasions.

“Everyone was amazing at Bourn Hall, so friendly, I didn’t ever go in there thinking that I was ‘just a number’. At Bourn Hall they genuinely cared and want the best for you. It is wonderful that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG have now reinstated NHS funded IVF in Cambridgeshire. I think that if there is a medical issue then everyone should be given at least one chance.”

For many couples, struggling to conceive can come as a complete shock – like Lucie and Ben - and they want to understand why they are not able to get pregnant.

Others may already have a reason to suspect they might struggle to conceive and want to find out more about their options.

Bourn Hall Clinic is hosting a virtual Fertility Fair starting on November 1. Taking place to coincide with National Fertility Awareness Week visitors will be able to explore the different information booths and find out more about the main causes of infertility, as well as what they can do to boost their chances of a successful pregnancy.

On Saturday November 6 there will also be the opportunity to ask questions in a live one-on-one confidential chat with specialist fertility nurses, fertility consultants, a nutritionist and patient support advisers.

To find out more and register for the event go to Fertility Fair offers support for your fertility journey - Bourn Hall Clinic

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