Recently, we had a look at the services of Midland Fertility. Now let’s look at two case studies from two different couples who used their services.
First up, let’s listen to the story of Andy and Gary.
After 24 years with Andy, and a life which included great jobs and a very comfortable lifestyle, Gary slowly and very obviously was overcome with a severe case of ‘paternal instinct’.
There were no lightning bolts and there had been no long-held plan to become a dad, but in their early 40s he raised the issue with Andy and said: “I’d like us to become a family.”
“It wasn’t a dream I’d always had,” he explains, “possibly because when we were in our 20s and 30s, parenthood just didn’t really happen for gay couples. But a combination of being 40-something and a growing instinct to become a dad, altered my perspective on what I really wanted in life – and luckily Andy wanted it too.Over the years, friends had asked if we would consider adopting and while we thought it was a great thing to do, it wasn’t for us. So we got on with being ‘just’ a couple.”
Gary (46) is a civilian with the police force and Andy (49) is a marketing manager in the motor industry. Life was good, but in 2013 the couple from Coventry went to Midland Fertility and enquired about surrogacy – and met Heidi Birch, the director of nursing services. Heidi continued to oversee their care throughout their treatment.
Midland Fertility offers ‘host surrogacy’ where the eggs from a donor are fertilised with the sperm from the male couple and then resulting embryos are transferred to a separate surrogate. This is considered preferable to ‘straight surrogacy’ where the surrogate conceives using her own eggs.
All couples using a surrogate are guided through the complex legal process by the clinic before any treatment is undertaken, to ensure all parties are comfortable with their roles, and any resulting child’s welfare is considered above all else.
After contacting Surrogacy UK, the couple met Sue. Sue was registered as a potential surrogate with the organisation, which introduces women who want to help intended parents have their family.
Despite being aged 51 at the time, Sue was considered both fit and healthy enough to be a host surrogate – it’s the age of the donor eggs that is vital. Once Gary and Andy had formed a friendship with Sue, the search for an egg donor began.
Lucy was introduced to the couple by Sue as she has expressed a desire to help childless couples, after completing her own family.
Andy said: “We hit it off immediately. Sue and Lucy already knew each other and both were comfortable with helping us to become fathers. We quickly become friends and developed an amazing bond.”
Sue and Lucy, who was then aged 28, attended Midland Fertility separately to discuss their roles in the treatment, and to ensure they were both fit and well and prepared to give this huge gift.
Initial testing for both was completed by the clinical team and Midland Fertility and a cycle of treatment began, with Lucy undergoing weeks of scans and self-administered injections.
“We were kept informed along the way, and once Lucy was ready for egg collection we had all our fingers crossed for her.”
With Gary and Andy in attendance, ten eggs were retrieved, and then three embryos developed after fertilisation with the IVF technique. One embryo was transferred to Sue and an anxious two week wait began for all to see if the treatment had been successful.
Gary said: “We were overjoyed that we had got to that stage and were with Sue when she had the transfer.”
Unfortunately, the pregnancy test proved to be negative.
Andy chimed in, expressing their obvious disappointment: “We were so disappointed. Not only for us, but for Lucy and Sue too as both of them had put so much into the treatment.”
After discussing their options with both Lucy and Sue, Gary and Andy felt they wanted to try a further attempt at a pregnancy using the two remaining frozen embryos.
Sue had the last two embryos transferred and the wait began for a second time.
To the delight of all, Sue reported a positive test result!
The couple returned to Midland Fertility with Sue for their first early pregnancy scan.
“We were excited but nervous as we watched the screen,” said Gary. During the scan, Heidi confirmed there was not just one healthy heartbeat, but two!
“It was all our dreams come true”, said Andy. “It was also special for my parents who never imagined I’d become a dad at this age – and to twins – and giving them their first grandchildren.”
“We saw Sue regularly throughout the pregnancy and attended all the scans with her. She was happy with us being around a great deal and asking a million questions about how she was feeling. It was amazing to watch the babies moving around; it just made it more real for us.”
Sue went into spontaneous labour at 33 weeks and the twins were delivered by Caesarean section in March 2014.
“We were told that Sue had gone into labour and made our way to the hospital to be with her. She was amazing and we were in theatre throughout the procedure. Marnie was born first, just one minute before Dexter. It was an unbelievable moment when we held our babies for the first time.”
The arrival of Marnie and Dexter has completed Gary and Andy’s family aspirations – for now!
The twins regularly have sleepovers at Sue’s and, watching the toddlers playing with ‘Auntie Lucy’ and ‘Auntie Sue’, the special bond between the six of them is evident.
“If we had seen 500+ egg donors and surrogates, we couldn’t have found anybody better to help us have our family,” said Gary. “Lucy and Sue will always be huge part of our family life.”
Heidi Birch said: “Surrogacy can be emotionally and physically very complicated. But Gary and Andy’s story shows that genetic fatherhood is possible with expert support and care – and in less than a couple of years too! It is such a total privilege having been a part of their fertility journey and seeing their continuing family relationship with Lucy and Sue.”
Next up, is Charlie and Cat Thompson’s story.
Becoming a family was something Charlie and Cat Thompson thought was out of their reach before they met in 2006, and then married in 2008.
Soon after the decision to try for a family felt like a natural progression and the couple began to research how best to do this. Charlie (36) and Cat (47) of Cannock considered various methods of conceiving, including home insemination with donor sperm – but they quickly discounted it as ‘unsafe’.
Charlie, a company director and Cat, a sister in a local hospital, attended an open evening at Midland Fertility to get further information about potential fertility treatment.
“Although not really sure what to expect, we felt really comfortable at the clinic and by making the decision to visit Midland Fertility we were one step closer to our dream of becoming a family,” said Charlie.
Both Charlie and Cat told their families about their plans for a baby and found total support.
Charlie said: “Like with many same sex couples, there was a point in both our lives when our parents thought that becoming grandparents by us was never going to be an option. But telling them our plans to have fertility treatment, gave them an excitement about new possibilities.”
The couple were counselled through the process of intrauterine insemination (IUI) by the team at Midland Fertility, about purchasing donor sperm through the clinic, and guided through the screening checks. Guidance also included the emotional and legal implications of using donor sperm.
“We wanted a donor with similar physical characteristics to me, and expected to wait a while for donor sperm. But we got a phone call from the clinic within weeks to say that they had found us a donor match and were ready to proceed. We were shocked and very excited,” said Cat.
Charlie added: “I had been working hard to get myself in the best shape, both physically and mentally, to give us the best chance of this working.”
The insemination procedure was followed by a romantic day together and then they decided to get away from it all on a holiday.
“It was important to us that our child was conceived surrounded by love,” said Cat.
“I was thinking positive thoughts as much as I could,” said Charlie. “We had told all our family and friends about our journey so we had lots of support throughout the wait to do the pregnancy test.”
The couple were delighted with a positive test and Mya Amy-Lily arrived very quickly but safely on Mothers’ Day 2012 making it extra special for both the mums and grandmothers alike!
“We never thought we would be mums ourselves so when Mya arrived it was a dream come true,” said Charlie. “Mya means ‘most wished for child’ and she truly is. We had enough donor sperm for two or three inseminations. This meant that as we were lucky enough to be successful the first time, we had a real chance of a direct sibling for Mya,” said Cat.
When Mya was two, Charlie and Cat started to think about a sibling, and so they tried another IUI cycle in autumn 2014.
“I really tried to look after myself again in preparation for the insemination,” said Charlie, “So when we got our second positive pregnancy test result it was all worth it.”
Their son Harrison was born in June 2015 – a double blessing for the couple.
“We are mommy and momma to both our children and we didn’t want any blank spaces on their birth certificates,” said Cat. “As we are married, both our names are on there, making our family official.”
“When I first came out, my parents were really supportive, but my dad was upset that he wouldn’t see me get married, and that he would ever be a granddad,” said Charlie. “A few years later, he’s done both!”
“For many years Midland Fertility has helped same sex couples become families,” said Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility. “Almost 6,500 babies have been born after treatment at the clinic – and many of these to lesbian couples who looked to us to help turn their dream of a family into reality.”