Couple celebrate their two miracle babies

A couple from South Glos who were struggling to have a baby now have a three-year old son and a five-month-old daughter who probably would not have been born were it not for preimplantation genetic testing.

Under the care of Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) based in Aztec West, Michelle and Paul were able to establish that the possible cause of their problems was a very rare chromosomal disorder. It was the selection of healthy embryos in the clinic’s laboratory that finally gave the pair the family of their dreams.

The couple, who live in Hanham, started trying for a family in 2016 when Michelle was 29, and she became pregnant but miscarried at six weeks. After a year with no new pregnancies, they decided to pay for private treatment.

Michelle said: “I felt very low and started fearing I would never be able to have a baby, even with help. Our experience at that first private clinic wasn’t great. We saw a different doctor every time we went and had to travel two hours for the bigger procedures. We started looking at other clinics.”

At one of the regular public open evenings offered by BCRM, a free mini consultation with one of their fertility experts favourably impressed Michelle and Paul who decided to transfer there.

“What swung it was the nurturing way we were addressed throughout,” said Michelle. “Everyone was just lovely with us – consultants, nurses, receptionists – and we never had a thoughtless ‘Have a nice day’ directed at us. That can be so inappropriate when you’re facing fertility issues. We appreciated the free parking too. That might sound silly, but it’s one less thing to worry about.”

In April 2019 they embarked on their next transfer with their new clinic. The first embryo transfer resulted in a positive pregnancy test and the six-week scan revealed a heartbeat. However, a lack of normal pregnancy-related symptoms led the pair to seek another scan at nine weeks, and tragically this one revealed that Michelle had suffered a ‘missed miscarriage’. They learned the problem was a rare chromosomal disorder.

Michelle said: “At this point we had six remaining frozen embryos. Valentine said the chances were good that at least one of them would be free of the chromosomal disorder, so we decided to invest in genetic testing. He was right: precisely one embryo tested clear. By now it was late 2020: a year had passed, and we finally qualified for treatment on the NHS.”

Michelle and Paul celebrated the arrival of baby Seth in October 2021.

Michelle said: “We hadn’t intended to go in for a second baby, but by the time he had his first birthday we knew we really wanted a sibling for Seth, although we’d have to start from scratch and take out a bank loan to do it.

e decided that if it didn’t work the first time we would leave it, but we wanted to have just one more try.

“So in February 2023 we started again: this would be my fourth egg retrieval, and it yielded eight eggs.

“In May 2023 the first of the three was transferred, and in January 2024 baby Nancy was born. We are so thankful for the advances in reproductive medicine and with preimplantation genetic testing that have made it possible for couples like us to have a baby when our attempts at natural conception were proving so heartbreaking. It’s an expensive process, but the results are priceless really.”