Working as a member of the team who helped bring her IVF baby into being means that Abbie Walker’s feelings about her employer are not those of a typical employee.
Abbie, 37, was already working as service development manager for Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM), when she and her partner Chris learned that the chances of them conceiving naturally were less than five per cent.
“It’s now over a year since our successful frozen embryo transfer and having our beautiful baby girl in our lives is a dream come true.” said Abbie.
“But when we first received our diagnosis, it was devastating. I've worked in the fertility industry for over a decade and knew the hardship we were about to face.”
The couple met online in 2019 when they were both based in London and within a year they were living together and had decided to start trying for a family.
Abbie already knew it might be difficult for her to conceive: she had been diagnosed with endometriosis at 25, and investigations carried out when she was 30 had revealed a low ovarian reserve, which meant the number of eggs in her ovaries was below average for her age.
After 18 months of trying the couple requested an NHS referral, then realised - because Chris is in the military – that they qualified for NHS England funding. Despite several clinic options, Abbie says the decision to go to BCRM was an easy one.
“Our experience there was so positive – as I knew it would be, despite my nerves. It was agreed that I should have a long (agonist) protocol and that we would need ICSI,” said Abbie.
“I hate needles, so this wasn’t great as it meant more medication than I had hoped, but you have to keep the end goal in mind.”
Her first round of treatment produced four embryos, one of which was transplanted, with the remaining three being frozen.
The first transfer was unsuccessful, and Abbie was keen to have Chris with her when the frozen embryo transfer took place for their second attempt which would prove difficult given his career.
“At first it looked as though that wasn’t going to be possible because he would be overseas, and I wasn’t ovulating that cycle as predicted. However, a scan revealed that my ovulation was imminent and ready for transplantation. Chris had returned home and was able to be with me after all. It was meant to be.”
“And when my pregnancy was confirmed and proceeded smoothly, we were so delighted.
“Our gorgeous Darcie Grace was born on 30 June weighing 8lb 2oz, and we couldn’t feel more blessed than we do to have her.
“Every member of the team at BCRM was so kind and supportive throughout and treated us with privacy and respect during both our cycles. I was never in any doubt that we were in the best hands for our treatment.”
“BCRM is very special to me. I'm proud to work there and even prouder that I can count myself among the many, many lucky people who now have the family they always dreamed of but never thought possible.
“We will never be able to thank everyone enough.”