1:05 pm October 27, 2022
A Lowestoft woman admitted it is “hard to put into words” what having IVF treatment means to her after the birth of her son.
Having endured “years of agony”, Carlene Hickin, 36, from Lowestoft, had been “consumed” with worry about whether she would ever be able to have a child with husband Lewis.
But after being referred for NHS-funded IVF at Bourn Hall Clinic, the couple’s second round of treatment was successful – with baby Leo born earlier this year much to their delight.
Speaking ahead of Fertility Awareness Week – which runs next week from October 31 to November 4 – Mrs Hickin has shared her individual fertility journey to encourage others to get advice if they are struggling to conceive.
Having been put on the pill as a teenager to ease painful periods, it masked her symptoms of endometriosis – a common cause of infertility in women.
She was unable to conceive after she quit the pill.
She said: “The pain would be so bad sometimes that I almost couldn’t function.
“It was terrible; I would wake up in the night, throwing up with the pain, my heart would be racing and I would be having hot sweats.
“I knew something was wrong.”
With 3.5 million people in the UK facing fertility issues – according to charity Fertility Network UK – it can have a severe impact on their quality of life.
Mrs Hickin said: “I was told that I would have to go back on the pill to ease the pain, but me and my husband Lewis really wanted a baby, so I had four years of agony.
“Time was ticking away for me; I was 34.
“All my friends had had children in their twenties.
“My whole life was consumed with worrying about whether we’d ever have a child of our own.”
After being diagnosed with endometriosis she had to have surgery to open her fallopian tube. The couple were then referred for NHS-funded IVF at Bourn Hall Clinic, which has clinics all over East Anglia.
With the IVF treatment successful, despite their relief at it working the couple didn’t allow themselves to get too carried away.
Mrs Hickin said: “Even when we went to the scan and saw the heartbeat we still couldn’t say that we were pregnant, it just wouldn’t come out of our mouths.
“We just didn’t dare believe it; we were guarding ourselves so much just in case.
“It had been such a long journey and we just didn’t dare say it.”
With Carlene and Lewis’ son Leo born in January at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, Mrs Hickin said: “When he arrived we absolutely loved and adored him straight away.
“We couldn’t believe he was ours – we still can’t sometimes.
“It is hard for me to explain what IVF means to my heart.
“It has given me my life back to be honest.”
Bourn Hall offers a complimentary consultation with a fertility specialist if you have concerns about your fertility. Details are available on the website.