‘It was all worth it’ – Childhood sweethearts share IVF joy after years of disappointment
- Credit: Archant
A mum-of-two from Kesgrave is urging families with fertility issues not to blame themselves, after IVF helped her have the family she had always dreamed of.
Hayley Butcher, 46, and her husband Brennan, 47, met when they were 15 and 16 after mutual friends set them up on a blind date.
The couple always dreamt of having a family but after more than six years trying to conceive they decided to explore other options.
With the help of IVF, they went on to have two daughters, Maddison, 14 and Everlyn, 10.
They first started trying to have a baby around 20 years ago, when they were in their 20s but had no joy.
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The years passed and after multiple visits to the doctor, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
“It was very frustrating,” said Mrs Butcher, who works for the emergency services. “The doctors tried everything they could to help but they could not find any fertility issues with either myself or Brennan.”
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The couple tried intravaginal insemination (IVI), which involves the placement of sperm into the woman’s vagina, and clomid tablets, which are used to stimulate the release of eggs – but both were unsuccessful.
Mrs Butcher said: “Seeing everyone around you getting pregnant is hard and I felt quite sad for myself.
“I also blamed myself for a really long time and I was really angry. I thought getting pregnant was something which should come naturally, so it was very hard to deal with.”
At the time, the waiting list for IVF on the NHS was over a year, and at the age of 31, Mrs Butcher didn’t want to wait.
As they were in a financially stable position, the pair paid to go private in 2005 at Bourne Hall clinic in Cambridge.
They said the staff were fantastic and they made some of their best friends there.
“The IVF experience was emotionally and physically draining, but we were lucky as it worked first time round,” said Mrs Butcher.
The pair had to drive back and forth from Kesgrave to Cambridge for a consultation and then at least eight visits afterwards, before finishing the treatment at home.
This involved Mr Butcher, who works in construction, injecting his wife every day for a month, with each injection costing around £60 and the whole process adding up to more than £5,000.
“When we found out I was pregnant we were so happy,” said Mrs Butcher. “We had Maddison’s name picked out for years so the IVF was all worth it.”
Mrs Butcher said the mental impact of the IVF process was devastating, as she didn’t speak to other people about what she was going through. She was even signed off work due to emotional stress, but says once she had spoken out she felt a weight lifted off her shoulders.
She said: “The consultants were fantastic.
“I met so many other families who were in the same situation as me. So I didn’t feel alone.”
Four years after the birth of Maddison, Mr and Mrs Butcher were blown away to find out they were expecting their second child, who they named Everlyn.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mrs Butcher.
“We never thought we would have children naturally so we were both in shock for quite some time. But we were so happy.”
Mrs Butcher is urging other parents who experience fertility issues to speak out about how they are feeling – and not to blame themselves for something they cannot control.
The Butcher family’s story is part of a series run by this newspaper to raise awareness for National Fertility Awareness Week, which runs from Monday, November 2 to Thursday, November 5.