For Kirsten Tuchli-Grainger, 43, giving up her dreams of having a baby was never an option. Now, after 17 rounds of IVF and more than £60,000 in costs, she is a proud mum to a bouncing baby she has called Kobe. He was born on June 4 at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, weighing a healthy 8lb 14oz
Including her travel costs and medications, Kirsten, a senior business manager at British Gas, says that her family spent more than £60,000 on private fertility treatments in Greece and at home in Wales.
After many failed treatments here in the UK, she eventually put her faith in Dr. Steve Davies, originally from Tredegar, and who now runs a fertility clinic in Athens. She credits him with her success. “Without seeing Steve in Greece, I know I would not be a mum today.”
“Being a mum is amazing. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more. I want to give hope to other women going through the same things I did. I also want them to know that seeking treatment outside the UK is not as scary as it seems.”
Kirsten was 36 when she married her husband Simon Grainger, a former Cardiff rugby player. They decided to start trying a year after their wedding, and assumed that they would successfully fall pregnant and then return to ‘normal life.’ She says, “I’d always planned to start a family a year after getting married and then carry on with my career. How wrong was I? I think I was a bit naive and thought that fertility issues just happened to other people.”
Time was ticking
She was diagnosed with unexplained fertility problems at the age of 38 and was in a race to beat the clock to receive her free IVF treatments on the Welsh NHS. “The NHS is great when it comes to medical emergencies, but for fertility treatment, you are more or less written off by the time you reach 40.”
She felt like she was “running out of time,” especially as NHS waiting lists are so long. She and her husband chose to go with a private IVF clinic when she was 39. Doctors told her that she was not able to produce many eggs, and so they could not create many embryos. “Some women might have, for example, 18 eggs and eight embryos after one round and be able to freeze some of them. But I never had that luxury.”
After her ninth round of IVF, Kirsten fell pregnant but she suffered a biochemical miscarriage at 6 weeks (click here to read more about a chemical miscarriage)
It was a devastating blow. “That was a turning point for me. At the private clinic in Wales, it was all a ‘numbers game’, and I knew there was another way.”
She soon learned about an assisted conception unit in Athens, Greece called Embryogenesis, and she called them in September 2018. “From the moment Dr. Steve said ‘hello’ I knew I would become a mother.
Kirsten wasn’t successful straight away and suffered a few failed attempts, but it was advised that she should go a more “natural” route. “It meant the egg collection was aligned with my normal menstrual cycle. There were no stimulation drugs or injections involved.” They also learned that she had inflammation and a bacterial infection in her uterus, factors that may have been preventing implantation. She took the correct antibiotics and fell pregnant on her next cycle!
“My pregnancy was brilliant. I didn’t have any sickness or tiredness. I flew through it. I think it was God’s way of repaying us after the long and arduous journey we’d been through.”
Her precious baby Kobe, now one month old, is the light of her life. Next, she plans to have a second child through IVF in Athens. “I know it was a lot of money, but if it had cost £100,000, we would have found the money from somewhere. We were desperate to have children.”
Most importantly, she wants every woman to know that seeking treatment abroad is safe and effective.
Going through 17 rounds of IVF is an overwhelming amount of treatment. Have you been through multiple rounds? How have you coped mentally and physically? we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line at email@example.com