Mary's story

My husband and I started trying for a baby as soon as we were married, aged 29 and 33 respectively. After 6 months we went to our GP who referred us to a private doctor for tests and placed us on the NHS waiting list.

He tested my husband’s sperm, which was OK, and gave me a blood test.  He wanted to see us again in 3 months and told us to keep trying as it could take 1–2 years.

Two years later, after a laparoscopy (a surgical procedure where a small cut is made in the abdominal wall and a small fibreoptic instrument is inserted to examine the internal organs), we were diagnosed as having unexplained infertility.

Later that year, I had an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs anywhere other than in the uterus—this can occur in the fallopian tubes, ovaries or abdominal cavity) and lost my left fallopian tube.

Infertility treatment

The following year we started our first IVF treatment (NHS funded). Only 3 eggs were retrieved, of which 2 fertilised but only 1 was suitable for transfer and wasn’t successful.

Although we were entitled to another attempt on the NHS, funding issues with the hospital meant that they could not give us any timescales for the treatment so we decided to go to a private clinic.

At our second IVF attempt, I didn’t respond very well to the drugs so a few days before the egg retrieval I decided to try acupuncture. On the day of the retrieval there were 7 eggs to collect. 4 fertilised and due to my age 2 could be transferred.

Our decision on embryo transfer

We had always wanted 2 or 3 children so we didn’t hesitate in deciding to transfer 2 embryos. We didn’t even consider the risks to the babies or me. We thought twins would be great as this would be our only chance for our family. We were just pleased that there were embryos to transfer.

"We didn’t even consider the risks to the babies or me. "

Our experience of multiple pregnancy

The transfer took place exactly 2 years after our ectopic pregnancy. I continued with acupuncture on a weekly basis and waited for the pregnancy test. When it was positive, we couldn’t believe it.

Now all the worries started. Would it result in another ectopic? Would I miscarry? Would the baby be premature? And finally, would it be twins?

A week later I had a bleed. I contacted the clinic but it was too early to scan me so I had to wait till I was 7.5 weeks. It was the longest wait. Finally, the scan showed there were 2 embryos. We were delighted to still be pregnant and twins were a bonus.

At 14 weeks I had another bleed that was unexplained but fortunately everything was progressing well with the babies. I had an easy pregnancy and no morning sickness. At 30 weeks I had steroid injections in case they came early. I gave up work at 31 weeks.

Throughout the pregnancy every day was a bonus. Every week was a milestone and increased their chances of survival. It was only when I started reading up on twin pregnancies that I became aware of the risks and the greater chance of miscarriage or early births.

Our experience of multiple birth

At 37 weeks the babies were induced and our twins were born by emergency caesarean—a boy (5lb 13oz) and a girl (4lb). Our daughter had always scanned bigger so it was surprising she was so small.

"It was only when I started reading up on twin pregnancies that I became aware of the risks and the greater chance of miscarriage or early births."

Caring for twins

Our daughter was a slow feeder and this continued until she was 9 months. At 5 months she was diagnosed with a cow’s milk protein allergy, so she couldn’t have any dairy products. She didn’t put weight on and still remains very small (2% on the weight charts) at 14 months, but she is healthy and bright.

The negatives of having twins are that it is very hard work. You don’t get to rest and need a lot of support from family and friends. It is difficult getting out and about, and financially, it can be costly.

The positives are that it’s very rewarding. Even on a bad day, just looking at the two little people makes it all worthwhile. It is very special.

Our conclusions

Looking back, would we make the same decision to transfer two embryos? Yes I think we would. Ours was a successful trouble free pregnancy with 2 healthy babies to show for our years of infertility.

However, several factors affected our decision on the number of embryos to transfer. These included the time it took for the whole IVF process through the NHS and the uncertainty about when treatment would begin.

If these issues were addressed, it would eliminate the endless waiting, which means putting your life on hold until you get the letter to commence treatment.

If we ever go down the IVF route again (which is very unlikely) I think I would only have one embryo transferred as we now know about the risks and have experienced the 9 months of worry.

We also have our family to consider now. We know how very lucky we are to have two healthy babies.