News & Blog

Celebrating 40 years of IVF in Bristol with Emily Glennon

Hi everyone. It’s really lovely to be here with you all today. And I want to start — in the best way you could hope to start on a day like this: with the news that we are expecting our second BCRM baby. I’m due in October, and it’s a little boy….! We doubted at times we’d ever become parents to one child of our own, let alone two. It’s beyond our wildest dreams, and we feel incredibly lucky.

It’s a very strange new feeling for us. When you’re childless, you feel so unlucky. Suddenly everyone you know has a honeymoon baby, and every person you pass on the street has a double buggy. Or that’s how it seems anyway. You’re in a club you never wanted to be in. The 1 in 8. The ones with a stock answer to the pitter patter of tiny feet question, whose friends leave them behind in a whirlwind of kids parties, and for whom every passing birthday becomes a painful reminder rather than a celebration.

We had a LOT of treatment here over the years. Let’s not dwell on how many rounds it took for us to bring Olivia home safely; it’s probably not great for the success rate figures. And like Caroline Harvey, our fight to have a family took up a whole decade of our lives. But we never gave up. And neither did this clinic, or any of its staff. There was always hope and belief - that one day we would get there. And now that we’re happily contemplating more newborn cuddles, we do know - just how lucky we are. That the science, and the dedication of everyone working in this field exist, which in turn have allowed our family to exist.

We’re lucky we were trying in the decade we were, rather than one just half a century before it. Our lives could have been so different. There are probably people all of us know, in our own families, amongst our friends or colleagues, for whom IVF wasn’t an option. One, now in her 80s, described it to me once as ‘her greatest sadness’. And those 3 words, understated as they were, will stay with me forever. By contrast, not a month goes by now without more learning, which directly benefits current patients.

We’re lucky too to have found this clinic. We’re lucky everyone here cares so much. When we came in for our 7 week scan and found Olivia in my tummy, with a strong heartbeat, and growing beautifully, Carrie nearly fainted with relief, confessed she’d barely slept the night before, and then ran into Valentine’s office where he was midway through a phone call, shouting Emily Glennon is pregnant!! before running back out again. Later, as she drove home, she saw Heather the embryologist walking along the side of the road, and swerved her car over to tell her too. They more than care.

Fertility nurses see us at our most vulnerable, but never make us feel anything of the sort. They are our greatest cheerleaders, whilst bearing witnesses to the highest highs and the lowest lows. The embryologists somehow know we’re about to pass out from fear when they call us with updates from the lab, and how important it is to just get straight to the news. Don’t ever think we don’t notice or appreciate that.

Another thing we’re lucky about, is that we can talk about it now, and be open. That the stigma of needing medical intervention is slowly but surely disappearing. The 1 in 8 club is gaining a voice. Learning it’s ok to open up. And when you do, finding that the person you’ve been sitting next to at work all those years was silently going through the exact same thing. There’s strength in numbers. None of this means we have to tell the world every time we start a fresh round of injections. Lots of us only open up about what we lived through once we get our happy ending and the baby in our arms. But the point is, we can talk about it. There’s an active community of IVF warriors just waiting to help the next person through the war.

Our long journey to parenthood has scarred and shaped us forever. But it’s gifted us with some things too. I am a better person because of it. Prolonged infertility humbled me. It made me more raw and real. It’s given me much more compassion for others. And it's made me a better parent. More patient, and more thankful.

When we got the invitation to come along today and I thought about the place being full of people who had lived the IVF journey just like us, I felt really emotional. Not just because I’m pregnant and hormonal. But because it’s such a powerful image and thought. That all these families only exist because of fertility treatment. That without it, this site would stand empty.

So cheers to us, and may there be many more of us to come - over the next 40 years.