Our stories, by Sara and Tracey

Hello, we are Tracey Bambrough and Sara Marshall-Page – good friends, mothers of twin IVF daughters and the founders of IVF babble 

Following our own long, complicated and emotional fertility journeys, full to the brim of misdiagnosis and misunderstanding, we knew we needed to do something to help others facing the daunting rollercoaster ride that is IVF. So, we got together one afternoon and started planning…..

Our own hindsight allowed us to see that we needed to create something that did not exist – a resource where men and women across the world could come and learn more about their fertility, and their options. We wanted to create a space that didn’t look scary, alien or medical, but clear, fresh, and “normal”, packed full of trusted information from top fertility experts that would help men and women navigate their way through their treatment.

We also knew we wanted to break the stigmas of shame attached to fertility, by starting conversations and sharing real stories, so that people could see that they aren’t alone.

We wanted to create something we wish we’d had…

So we did….

And in November 2016, IVF babble was launched. It is now read in 195 countries and has had over 4 million visitors.

But let us tell you a bit about our journeys….

Sara’s story

“I was 32 when I decided I  wanted a baby. (14 years ago!) My husband was in a rock band, and whilst on tour, I excitedly sent him a text with the words “Let’s have a baby!!!”. Four years later, and after 2 rounds of IUI, 2 rounds of IVF and a serious case of severe OHSS which meant two weeks in hospital, I  finally realised my dream, and I’m now the proud mother of twin girls who turn 10 this year!!

The journey was a tough one though.I went in ‘blind’ having done absolutely zero research. I knew no-one who had ever had difficulty conceiving, and instagram didn’t even exist! It was a very lonely 4 years.

Tests at my local hospital revealed I had polycystic ovaries so I underwent two rounds of IUI, which sadly didn’t work. Looking back now I feel I should never have wasted time with IUI. My husband was a bass player for goodness sake. You can imagine the life of a band on tour..not the most healthy of lifestyles, and certainly not any good for the quality of sperm!! IUI was never going to work, but I went with what the doctors told me I should do.

Anyway, after two rounds of IUI we moved on to IVF

Still working as a Floor Manager in TV, I had to put on a brave front at work. Emotionally exhausted, I remember having to nip into the loo during live shows to inject my medication, then arriving back on the studio floor all happiness and light, trying to smile but really wanting to cry.  I got through the treatment, but tragically, not one egg fertilized. Again, looking back, with the fertility issues me and my husband had, this was never going to have worked. My husband’s sperm was lazy! It was never going to penetrate that egg on it’s own!! Yet more wasted time!

I shut myself off from friends as I was the only person I knew who couldn’t have a baby

Nobody was talking about infertility back then. It got to the point that when my best friend rang to say she was pregnant, I  congratulated her, then in a mad moment I deleted her number from my phone. I was happy for her, but her pregnancy made me feel like  a failure, isolated and desperately unhappy. I wanted to curl up and hide. 

After the failed IVF I had a round of ICSI, but developed the potentially life-threatening condition OHSS as soon as I transferred two embryos. OHSS is a side effect of the IVF. I had it in it’s most severe form as I ignored all of the signs.  

I just wanted to have a baby, and the side effects were meerly the small print that I’d had no interest in

Hospitalised, I suffered major bloating, swollen ovaries, difficulty breathing, moving and speaking. Miraculously though, the embryos that I’d had transferred survived, and I gave birth to Lola and Darcy on 1st November 2010. 

IVF has changed my life. It has given me my beautiful family. However, the one regret I have is that I wasted too much time not asking questions or doing my research. IVF babble is exactly the kind of resource I wish I’d had, and I hope it helps you.

I hope you find the information you are looking for to make informed decisions, and I hope our amazing community of followers help you feel the comfort I so desperately lacked”.

Tracey’s story

It took two attempts before I became pregnant with twins in my late forties. I lost many of my child-bearing years because I didn’t have all the facts.

IVF was emotional, physically and mentally exhausting and financially draining.  We’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters so I couldn’t be happier but it was a tough road. 

My advice to anyone having experiencing fertility issues is to ensure that there isn’t any underlying medical issues that sometimes lurk without obvious symptoms.  By doing this you can save yourself invaluable time and may even be able to conceive naturally.  

I started trying for a baby in my late thirties 

After 2 years of trying to conceive, I woke up one morning in terrible pain. Doctors discovered it was an ectopic pregnancy and I miscarried.  Shortly after leaving hospital, without having had a D&C, I started experiencing sharp pains in my lower left abdomen.  Despite seeing three gynaecologists, I was told that the pain was ‘a digestive problem’, it was ‘wear and tear’ and ‘my age’! We went ahead and tried IVF for the first time but it didn’t work.

Three years and multiple miscarriages later, with my husband Ben, we started to explore the option of adopting.  The waiting list seemed endless and so we decided to give IVF one more try.  I visited a consultant on the recommendation of a friend who following tests diagnosed a blockage in the fallopian tube due to the ectopic pregnancy years earlier.  

Following an operation to clear the blockage, I was also diagnosed with endometriosis, which finally explained the excruciating pain I experienced every month. A test also diagnosed that I had a thyroid issue too.

Finally, with a less than 2% chance of getting pregnant, I was about to start my second round of IVF but had two more tests, which revealed a pretty scary thing . . . a lump in my breast and also one in my uterus for starters. My beautiful mother had died of ovarian and breast cancer not long before and so I was pretty scared, but thankfully both lumps turned out to be benign. 

Against the odds I gave birth to twins Isabella and Grace on 20th January 2015.

I pinch myself every day that we have our beautiful girls, but I don’t want anyone else to go through this. Access to the facts is key as is diagnosis.

Sara felt the same . . . we sat down together for months to work on creating something we would have loved to have had during our journeys. We were determined and deeply passionate about ensuring that everyone had access to the facts and to break the silence and ensure that all those TTC realised that they were not alone . . . and so we launched IVFbabble.com 4 years ago.

We understand your struggle, your pain, how draining emotionally and physically it can be . . . we are here for you always and the TTC community stand together every day of the year . . . but today, World Fertility Day, is a day to highlight the strength, solidarity, support and unity . . . with 1 in 6 people worldwide experiencing infertility, we need to break the silence, break taboos and stigmas and join together to celebrate the TTC community.

Huge love Sara & Tracey

If you would like to share your story with us, drop us a line at mystory@ivfbabble.com

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