One couple who spent years trying for a baby recalls their heartbreak at seeing others celebrate their baby scans while waiting for their own miracle.
Kristie Sicolo, 35, and Oli Dickson, 33, struggled to get pregnant and they got married and decided to see a GP, who diagnosed her with polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS), which is a condition that affects how the ovaries work and can affect fertility.
This meant their pregnancy journey was going to be more challenging than most.
World Infertility Awareness Month is in June and Kristie and Oli have shared their story in hopes of inspiring others.
At least one in seven couples has difficulty conceiving within a year, according to the NHS.
Kristie told the Mirror: “I didn’t realise there would be any fertility issues until my formal diagnosis in 2016. I had quite long gaps in between cycles, and quite painful periods.
“When we got married we went to a GP and that was when I was diagnosed with PCOS.
“Alarm bells started ringing and I was in panic mode, we instantly kickstarted the process to start a family.”
Kristie had been prescribed two different hormone medications in hopes of conceiving but after 18 months, she and her paediatric nurse husband were told IVF was their only option.
She added: “The GP recommended a drug which I was on for a year that was supposed to help with my cycles and to help fall naturally pregnant.
“It was still unsuccessful and I was put on another drug for six months.
“It wasn’t working and after jumping through all the hoops the only way was to have IVF.”
For Kristie, she described the emotional challenges of going through the process.
She said: “It’s so emotionally challenging because you can’t control it and it’s somebody else’s hands. The first part of the process in terms of getting the eggs that were the most stressful.
“You have to take medication and it was quite uncomfortable – I fell ill.”
The couple, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, learned they had three strong embryos – three chances to have a baby.
Speaking of the moment they found out Kristie was pregnant, she said: “I took the pregnancy test and it was positive and we immediately went to the shop and bought another five tests.”
When it came to some of the biggest challenges they faced, Oli said: “Sitting in the hospital before we started the IVF stuff you sit in the same room as people who are pregnant and I found that difficult.”
Kristie said: “It was quite emotional while we were trying to conceive you have to sit in an area where people are getting scans and coming out with their scans.
“We used to always get upset and it’s just pure torture. You have all of these people finding out they’re pregnant when we didn’t know if it was ever going to happen for us.”
Oli and Kristie are now parents to three healthy babies – Arthur, who was born in January 2020, and twins Imelda and Noah who were born in October 2021.
Kristie said: “I know it’s not always that straightforward. Our life has completely changed going from wanting a family so badly for years to now having three children under the age of three.
“If we can give hope to anybody else who is going through fertility struggles we want to do that. We want to spread positivity because I was looking for positive stories while going through this process.
“You’re not alone when you go through IVF.”
The couple also praised the TFP Oxford Fertility clinic that supported them through the process.
Kristie said: “When we did a round of IVF on the NHS and then privately we were treated the same way and didn’t feel like they were trying to make money.”
Oli added: “We weren’t treated differently, I was hesitant at first because it can be a rabbit hole where you spend thousands and thousands – we were very lucky.”
Kristie added: “When you go through so many negative experiences by not getting pregnant that when it actually started to take hold and you’ve got remain positive.”
Dr James Hopkisson, Medical Director at TFP Fertility Group, told The Mirror: “One of the biggest problems or challenges facing any couple looking at fertility treatment is where to get the best advice on fertility.”
He advises that for couples who have been trying for at least six to 12 months without success, it’s worth speaking to either your GP or getting an expert evaluation on their fertility.
He added: “There are a number of fertility treatments that we can offer ranging from ovulation induction through to IVF. In many cases jumping to IVF may be unnecessary and getting a balanced view of treatment options it’s crucial.”
He continued: “Many people think that IVF is a cure-all and guarantee of having a family. Sadly, IVF is frequently unsuccessful and carries a cost which is physical emotional and financial.
“There is not equal access to IVF on the NHS across the UK a postcode lottery still remains. CCGs are using access criteria to ration IVF, some based on good evidence, others social criteria and some to optimise success.”