James and Claire Hodgson have been through what most couples would dread. When James was told he was infertile, after received cancer treatment at 13, the couple were devastated. They had to weigh up their option; they could either not have children at all, adopt or try IVF – In Vitro Fertilisation.
At the age of 13, James was diagnosed with cancer. At first the thought he only had glandular fever because of a swollen Lymph gland, but after the doctors took a bone marrow sample, a full body x-ray and a CT scan, they discovered he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A couple weeks after he was diagnosis they started him on chemotherapy.
“It is difficult at that age as you don’t really know how serious cancer is and how bad it can be. One of the hardest things I found was that I didn’t go to school for about 10 weeks after being diagnosed. I was stuck in bed while teachers sent work home for me to do.”
James found the chemotherapy treatment to be tough, “it made me really sick and messed up my immune system. I got shingles and caught any cough and cold I came across. The issue with Chemo is that it can’t tell between good and bad cells and so it just kills them all.” That is when James had to make one of the biggest decisions of his life, he was told that in the future he may not be able to have children unless he preserved some sperm, “my dad took me to the side and we had a chat and decided to go ahead with it”.
While James was having a treatment another boy from his school had a more aggressive form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and died.
It took James 14-months of chemotherapy treatment before the cancer was successfully warded off; at 22 he was given the all clear.
James and Claire married in 2007, and then in 2008 they decided to start trying for children. It was not long until they found out that they would not be able to conceive the natural way, so they investigated they’re options, they decide to give IVF a shot.
“James wasn’t overly keen on adoption as he had a family experience with an adopted child who turned out to be problematic, although it would have been the alternative if IVF didn’t work”.
“Our first attempt at IVF was in May 2008, it started with a consultation which took 8 weeks and an ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). We had to wait 2 weeks find out if the ICSI had worked”.
“The two week wait was probably the hardest part, it was in those two weeks that your dreams are either made or lost”.
Unfortunately for the couple, the IVF did not work this time. “But luckily we had three embryos that could be frozen for a frozen cycle”.
“So those three embryos were frozen and we re-grouped. We didn’t try again until November 2008. This time it was through a FET cycle (Frozen Embryo Transfer).”
“It was a 2 week wait again and in early December 2008 we got a positive result.”
“We were so lucky, it worked quickly for us. When we did it there was only a 31% chance of success”
“The pregnancy went well, the only issue I had was sickness, every day I had to take anti-sickness tablets.” Claire shares.
“The hardest part I found in the process was that I couldn’t help Claire at all; it was entirely down to her. All I could do was support her
through the process” James tells us.
IVF can increase the risk of birth abnormalities. “At the 20 week scan though we had a scare. They thought they saw an EIF (Echogenic Intracardiac Focus). In essence the doctor shouldn’t have told us as it was effective a calcium deposit”.
“My water broke when I was feeding the ducks at Manor Farm. It had broken two days early, baby Lily didn’t arrive until two days later. There were some delivery complications so they had to perform an emergency C-section”.
“When she was born she had an unknown infection, they though it was bacterial meningitis luckily she got better soon, and now three year she is a full of energy as much energy as any other three year old”.
“The whole process cost us £8,000. The fresh cycle of IVF was £6,500 and the frozen cycle was £1,500. We have tried it again since, two more times, another fresh and any other frozen. This time with the fresh cycle we went through the whole process and when it was time to do the pregnancy test it came back positive, but something wasn’t right and it ended up not working, and the frozen cycle didn’t work at all.”
“For now we are just having a break from it all. The decision to try again is not just financial but also emotional. When you do it, you put everything on hold. Then the money that you spend on the IVF could be used on something else, or even on Lily. We don’t want the stress and emotions to take its toll on her. We just want to enjoy life and what we’ve got for now”
“Maybe in a couple of years we will try again, but we will just wait and see how it goes”