Cannock Woman and Paralympian Husband Celebrate the Gift of her First Mothers’ Day
Issue Date: 18 March 2009
Shareena Howley will celebrate her first ever Mothers’ Day on Sunday (22 March 2009) following the birth of her son Zach in January after fertility treatment at Midland Fertility Services (MFS) in Aldridge.
Shareena (36) and her husband Fred (37) of Norton Canes, Cannock knew that having a baby was going to be difficult after a roofing accident in 1993, left Fred with injuries to his lower spine and unable to walk. They always knew that they would need fertility treatment to help them conceive but didn’t know that it would take nine years of heartache and the gift of a couple whom they don’t know before they would have the baby they long for.
Following four unsuccessful cycles of ICSI treatment and an attempt to conceive using IUI with donor sperm, Shareena and Fred travelled the world and Fred also competed in the 2004 Athens Paralympics, where he won a bronze medal as part of the GB wheelchair basketball team. But their determination to have a child, either through fertility treatment or adoption hadn’t diminished and, back in England, they returned to MFS.
This time Heidi Birch, the director of nursing services, suggested they consider using donor embryos. Some couples who have IVF have enough good quality embryos to freeze for possible future use, after they have their own embryo transfers. Sometimes they use these to attempt a pregnancy after a negative pregnancy test or even to have a sibling following successful fertility treatment. When their families are complete, some couples, with huge generosity, agree to donate any unused embryos to another woman or couple who are not able to use their own eggs and sperm to conceive.
“We’d not thought about embryo donation before and couldn’t quite believe that some people would be generous enough to donate their embryos to couples who had no other way of having a baby,” said Shareena.
“It didn’t matter to us that the baby wouldn’t be genetically related to me or Fred, just as we’d have loved any baby we’d adopted, as our own. And using donor embryos meant that the baby would grow inside me and that I would give birth, so it seemed to be the answer we’d been looking for.”
Just four months later MFS contacted Shareena and Fred to let them know that donor embryos would soon be available for them.
“The ‘two week wait’ after the embryo transfer was awful and I was terrified it hadn’t worked,” remembers Shareena. “I woke at 3am on the test day and made Fred watch the test-stick for the result and when it showed ‘pregnant’ we couldn’t stop crying and just sat and looked at the result for the next couple of hours. We couldn’t believe we now really had a chance of becoming parents!”
Their son Zach Omar was born at Walsall Manor Hospital on 9 January 2009 weighing 6lb 5oz.
“We both have nieces and nephews and have watched as our brothers’ families have grown over the years and while we’ve sent cards to our mums, we’ve tried to avoid the whole Mothers’ Day ‘thing’ because it’s been too heartbreaking,” said Shareena. “But this Sunday will be very different and the three of us are going to enjoy a celebration picnic and a day packed with fun.
“But we’ll also think of the other Mother, who we may never know, who donated her embryos and gave us the most amazing gift anyone could give – the chance to have the baby we wanted so much. She really is one of the most important people in our lives and we can never thank her enough.”
“In the last 12 months more than 200 babies were born after treatment at MFS, many of those to first time mothers and some of them to women who needed either donor eggs or donor embryos to conceive,” said Heidi Birch. “We wish a happy Mothers’ Day to all the MFS mums and especially to those amazingly generous mothers who have donated their eggs and embryos over the years.”
For more information on becoming an egg or embryo donor contact MFS on 01922 455911.
MFS was established in 1987 and is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to offer a range of fertility treatments and procedures including IVF, ICSI, egg donation, egg and embryo freezing and sperm recovery. In May 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS. In September 2005, the UK’s first twins were born from ‘frozen eggs’ fertility treatment at MFS, followed by the first ‘frozen egg’ boy in December 2005. In April 2006 the clinic’s first twins were born following the mother’s treatment with Vi4gr4 as part of her fertility treatment at MFS. In June 2008 the clinic celebrated its 21st anniversary and in November 2008, the 4,000th baby was born after treatment at MFS. Based in Aldridge, West Midlands, MFS treats both private and NHS patients.