Made in Aldridge

‘Made in Aldridge’ is a regular e-news feature which tells the story of a woman’s or couple’s experience at MFS and the impact of the result on their lives.

If you would like your story to be featured in ‘Made in Aldridge’, complete the form and we will follow up your details.

Joshua and Samuel Hartshorne

For Ade Hartshorne, Fathers’ Day used to mean sending a card and treating his dad to lunch.  At 36 years old he’s always been ‘the son’ marking this special day.  But this Fathers’ Day was very different for Ade as, earlier this month, he became ‘Daddy’ to twin boys and so he got to experience the other side of Fathers’ Day for the very first time – something he thought he might never get to do.

Sue and Ade with Samuel (l) and Joshua (r)
Sue and Ade with Samuel (l) and Joshua (r)

Ade (36), MD of a water pump company and Sue (39), an accountant, from Halesowen, have been together since 1995.  Fairly early in their relationship she explained to him that as she’d had a premature menopause when she was 29, she would not be able to have a baby without the gift of donor eggs and IVF.  “I knew that the odds were against us having any children but we knew that we would try all we could and, if it didn’t work for us, we’d be happy just as a couple, rather than as a family – but at least we had to try,” he explained.

Following tests at their GP surgery, they discovered that Dudley PCT would fund up to two cycles of IVF with donor eggs and eventually had their initial consultation at MFS in 2002.  Just a few months later Donna Rea-Gardner, the MFS donor co-ordintor contacted them with details of a matched egg donor – at last they were on their way to trying to have a baby!

After the donor’s egg collection, Sue and Ade were allocated 11 eggs and embryologists prepared Ade’s sperm sample and placed it with the eggs, so that fertilisation may occur to create embryos for the couple.

Two days later they returned to MFS for some of the embryos to be placed into Sue’s uterus – and then began the long two week wait to see if ‘they’ were pregnant.

“All couples going through IVF have such an up-hill climb, but when you need donor eggs too everything takes so much longer and so we hoped and hoped that we’d be lucky to get pregnant first time,” said Ade.  “Sue hadn’t started to bleed in the two weeks after the transfer so we were really hopeful when she did the test – and then heartbroken when it was negative.  We weren’t pregnant, had no embryos in storage and would have to start all over again. It was a real low point.”

Following such disappointment, Ade and Sue considered alternative ways to have a family and made enquiries with local social services about adoption.  “We eventually had home visits and attended some of the preparation courses, but a few months later something deep inside told me this wasn’t right for me,” said Ade.  “Sue and I talked it through and knew that stopping the adoption route meant we were just as far from becoming parents as we’d been years before, but I couldn’t carry on – it wouldn’t have been fair on everyone involved – especially any child.”

“Sue and I contacted MFS again and found that we could still have another cycle of IVF, which Dudley PCT would fund.  This was fantastic news, even though we knew that we’d have to wait a while for a suitable egg donor to become available.”  It was six years after the couple’s original appointment at MFS.

To speed up the possibility of their next treatment cycle, Sue asked her sister, who had completed her family, if she would consider donating some of her eggs to her and Ade.  She agreed, but she fell ill herself so she had to withdraw from donating eggs.

But in the summer of 2009, Donna Rea-Gardner contacted Ade and Sue with news of another donor.  “To be as prepared as possible for receiving the embryos, Sue had acupuncture treatment before and after the embryo transfer.  We don’t know how this may have helped, but we wanted to give ourselves the best possible chance of everything going right this time,” said Ade.

Again two embryos were transferred into Sue’s uterus and this time she left the test for 15 days so Ade would be with her when she got the result.  It was negative.  “We were gutted, totally devastated,” recalls Ade.  But as Sue still hadn’t started to bleed she repeated the test four days later and the blue line appeared showing the result was positive!

“We were so excited but because we couldn’t be sure the result was 100% accurate we were also really nervous.  To get confirmation, we booked a sensitive pregnancy test at MFS and were ecstatic when this was also positive!” remembers Ade.

Two weeks later Ade and Sue returned to MFS for the scan to confirm the pregnancy.  “The nurse explained that while there was a single strong heartbeat, there were also signs that we may lose the other, so Sue had to have daily Gestone hormone injections to try and save the second baby.

“For three months I gave Sue her injections and she had scans every week to check on how both babies were growing.  It was brilliant seeing the babies grow each week at the scans but between each appointment we were living on a knife-edge.”

Following the 16 week scan Ade and Sue received the news that she could stop the daily injections as the baby was no longer at risk of early miscarriage.

Following that, Sue had a relatively trouble-free pregnancy.  Then at 37 weeks a scan suggested that one of the babies wasn’t growing and so she was admitted to Birmingham Women’s Hospital to be induced.  Despite two days of labour, Ade and Sue were told that she would need an emergency Caesarean section and eventually Joshua Michael and Samuel John were born on 2 June 2010 just one minute apart, weighing 6lbs and 5lb 14oz, respectively.

“After all we’d been through to get pregnant, and the struggle to keep both babies in the early months and then after more than 50 hours of labour, seeing both our sons safely delivered was the most exhilarating and overwhelming feeling I’ve ever had.  Sue and I had become parents at last – something we had dreamt of for so long.

“We wouldn’t have our beautiful boys if it wasn’t for the woman who gave her eggs to us and also the amazing staff at MFS and at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.  They are truly miracle workers – to help us get pregnant to start with and then to make sure that our boys arrived safely – we can’t thank them all enough.

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“I’ve spent every Fathers’ Day as ‘my father’s son’ but this year, I’ll was with my two boys and my dad had his son, two daughters and four grandsons with him throughout the day – including three born since last Fathers’ Day.

“While Sue and I knew we might have to get used to being just a couple, being a family is just magical.  The disappointments of treatment can be really tough, but it’s all so worth it in the end.”

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