Ipswich father shares IVF joy after eight-year journey to have baby
- Credit: Steven Todd
An Ipswich father has shared his experience of having a baby through IVF following an eight-year-journey to welcome his first child.
Steve Todd and his wife Samantha welcomed their first son Brandon at the end of April.
His birth marked the end of an eight-year journey to have a baby, after they sadly lost their daughter, Orla, in 2013, when doctors discovered she would not make it to full term.
“Eight years ago, my wife fell pregnant with our little girl, Orla,” said Mr Todd.
“We went to the 12-week scan and went along with all the excitement like all new parents do, wondering what our child was going to look like.
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“It was all very silent, not a lot was being said. You kind of pick up the vibes that something isn’t right.”
The couple were referred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for further tests but sadly Orla was found to have a genetic condition that meant she would not make it to full term.
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“It’s the most harrowing thing ever,” said Mr Todd, who held a funeral for Orla after she was delivered at 16 weeks.
The couple were referred to bereavement counselling, but Mr Todd didn't initially want to take it.
"I was bitter and cynical, but actually they were wonderful," he said.
In time the couple found out that a genetic issue meant there was a one in four chance they could lose another child like Orla if they tried to conceive naturally.
It was at this point that they decided to turn to IVF and their implantation was scheduled for April last year — but then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“I remember saying to my wife that I wasn't comfortable with her having this done when at the time we knew nothing about the virus,” said Mr Todd.
“I thought to myself we are going to get pregnant and lose the baby.”
With the implications of the pandemic, the implantation was held off until August.
Brandon Henry Charles Todd was born "happy, healthy and content" on April 26 by caesarean section, weighing 10lb 5oz.
The couple tried to stay positive throughout the pregnancy, despite going through two lockdowns, but Mr Todd admits it has been tough.
He said he felt "forgotten" as a father going through the IVF journey.
“We have been stuck at home a lot, so you feel a bit isolated," said Mr Todd.
“It has been tough in some respects as I couldn’t go to all the scans and appointments, I had to stay outside.”
Mr Todd said, "IVF and regular births are very much about mum and baby".
“It has to be because the nature of what it is," he said. "I think dads get forgotten about a bit.
“But when we lost Orla, they all took the time to offer me the bereavement counselling and things like that. They asked, ‘how is dad getting on’.
“I had to be a support to my wife, but who is supporting me?"
Mr Todd said he was incredibly grateful to doctors who made time to help explain what was happening outside of these appointments, explaining they made an effort to make sure he was included.
Brandon already knows where his loyalties lie as one of Ipswich Town’s youngest fans.
“I went and bought him an Ipswich Town baby grow on the day he was born so I could bring him home in it,” said Mr Todd.
“I put my Ipswich Town shirt on so we both came home like that.
“Even when he’s 18 I am going to have to cram him into that,” he added.
He said that Brandon was already a good luck charm for the club having helped them to two end of season victories while wearing the baby grow.
Mr Todd had some advice for people going through the same process as his family.
"If anybody is ever in our shoes there is always hope," said Mr Todd.
"And the nurses are incredible.”
Mr Todd was beyond grateful for all of the help the family had received from the NHS. He hopes his family's journey will inspire people to donate money to the NHS.