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Eloise Edington

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Eloise is Founder & CEO of Fertility Help Hub, an innovative digital fertility lifestyle platform, offering people trying to conceive around the world expert tips, resources, inspi...

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Who are you?

Hi, my name's Eloise Edington. I'm the founder and CEO of the Ribbon Box. Please ask me anything about fertility.

What is your personal journey with fertility?

So back in 2015, my husband and I were both around 30 and we decided that we wanted to try and conceive and we were so excited and thought it would happen immediately. And so I had my coil removed and we started trying to conceive naturally. And about six months in, after many months of, well quite a few months of negative pregnancy tests, I just thought I would really like to know what's happening with our fertility. We'd never had it checked, knew nothing about our fertile health. And so I convinced my husband that we should go to a fertility clinic to get checked. And he was a bit reluctant at first. He just thought, well, it can take people a year. I don't think there's anything to be worried about. But I managed to persuade him to go to a fertility clinic to have an MOT. And I even remember the date because it was such a traumatic day for us. And it was the 3rd of November, 2015. So I went along to the clinic first because I had to go before work and had a scan done, had my blood test done, and those results came back and the doctor said that everything looked okay for my age and should be able to conceive naturally. He couldn't see anything worrying. My husband had to go in at lunchtime that day due to their schedule and semen testing. And he was due to get his test around I think one o'clock. I was already back at work and I hadn't heard anything for a couple of hours and I thought, this is really strange. So obviously I called him and he said, I just dunno what's going on. They haven't told me anything. And then he got the news from them without me there that he has zero sperm, which is called. So he was told at that moment without any kind of compassion that he has zero sperm and it's just impossible to know what you do with that news. So we spoke, obviously both very teary shocked, and we went away with the news, got testing done. He had testing done, which reveals that he has a genetic condition called Kleinfelter syndrome, which means that he has X chromosome, an extra X chromosome. So that affects, I think the number is about one in 600 men, something like that, which I think is quite a lot personally. Anyway, there were no other symptoms really except for the fact that he wasn't able to have children. He's a bit taller than his brothers. He went to see a urologist and the urologist said you could have a micro testie operation to retrieve sperm, but the chances of finding sperm in your testes is slim. So he went away and did some research in a very short space of time and decided that there is a specialist in New York who has excellent results for this particular procedure, micro testi. So we looked at everything and decided to go to New York. I needed to have IVF in conjunction, and we spent about five weeks in New York. He wasn't there for the whole time. I had IVF whilst waiting for him to come out for his operation, and his operation was timed according to my egg retrieval. We had to purchase or we decided to purchase donor sperm, choose and purchase donor sperm in advance of the treatment and M stimulation and egg retrieval so that if they couldn't find sperm in his testes when they did the micro testi operation, they would have donor sperm ready to use if we so wished. We went through weeks of stimulation and my egg retrieval. It was time for my egg retrieval. My husband went in to have his operation the day before in case they found fresh sperm to fertilise with my eggs. And the doctor said to us, if the operation lasts more than five hours, then it's not a good sign. Really. We don't want him to be under for more than two. If it's more than two, then it's likely that I will have had to go on both testicles anyway. My father-in-Law who is with us supporting us in New York. We sat in a waiting room waiting for updates, and finally the surgeon came in and pulled down his mask and said, I'm really sorry, but it's not good news. So we obviously heartbroken had to deliver that news to him in his hospital bed when he was feeling all over the place and in pain and big surgery. Anyway, we decided to have my retrieval the next day as planned, we needed to, and rather than freezing my eggs, we decided to have them fertilised with the donor sperm that we had selected. So then we had a transfer of two day three embryos because my specialist was concerned that the embryos weren't looking like they might make it to blast assist, which is day five. So she wanted me to have a transfer before going home. I had the transfer went home. It was over Easter of 2016. I thought I had every pregnancy symptom under the sun. Was so excited to take a pregnancy test on Easter Sunday. We ran into a bedroom and took a test whilst our family didn't know and were outside, we were away for the weekend and the test flashed up and it said negative, and that was the most soul destroying experience following everything we'd been through over the last six months. We were completely back to square one. My husband had had his operation, which was painful, had side effects, was meant that he could never have biological children. And our first cycle failed, which meant I was concerned that maybe there's a problem with my fertility, what's wrong with me? Why didn't it work? So we went away back, well, we stayed in London for two months and got the news from our clinic in New York that there were two frozen embryos from that cycle that we'd had previously. So we decided two months later to go back to New York and try again with the remaining Blast cysts. So I had a natural cycle where they transferred both embryos and two weeks later we found out that we were pregnant. So we were very fortunate that that pregnancy went really well and I gave birth to our daughter, who's nearly six. Then when she was 11 months old, we decided we wanted her back to New York to make more embryos for a sibling, wanted to do it whilst I was still in my early thirties and didn't want a particularly large age gap without any embryos left, we decided to do a fresh cycle and we got better results than the first time, even though I was a little bit older. I think that has to do with the steps I was taking before we went back to New York for three months leading up to it to really look after my wellbeing and health. Exercise, diet, stop drinking, you name it. Anyway, that cycle produced three blast cys, two of which we had transferred fresh, and those resulted in boy girl twins. So very fortunate to have an okay pregnancy if you can, with twins. Got 38 weeks when they were delivered, and our twins are about to turn four. And now we have one frozen plaster assist remaining.

Was it hard to find out you couldn't conceive?

That was honestly the worst day of both of our lives. It was complete shock. The way that the news was delivered to my husband and then him delivering it to me over the phone whilst I was at work, was horrendous. I started shaking. I felt like I was going to be sick. I thought I was going to pass out. I burst into tears, run from my desk, ran to see a friend of mine at work in the basement of where I was working, who I know had had IVF and was actually pregnant and was sobbing, and she just said, come outside. Come outside. So she hugged me and oh gosh, it was awful. Anyway, I went home and my boss said, take as much time as you need. And that was a really awkward conversation. Well, not awkward, but I hadn't obviously broadcasted that we were trying for a baby. So the first time I told my boss that we were trying for a child was when I was delivering this news that we had fertility issues. I met my husband at home. We had a glass or two or three of wine together. I just remember sitting on the counter in our kitchen at home sobbing. He was just in shock, felt emasculated. His dad came over and sort of consoled us and was just amazing. And my parents, my family were away on a trip and my husband didn't want me to talk to them until we knew a bit more about what was going on. But I sent my mom a text saying, I need to speak to you, but I don't want the rest of the family to know about this. So she knew straight away what it was. And we did speak when my husband was happy, but she was all the way across the other side of the world and found it really hard to not be emotional in front of my family. So yeah, it was all just a complete mess for the first few weeks until the testing started and then at least we started to have a focus point for our treatment.

How did your husband react to being infertile?

How is infertility diagnosed?