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Bahamian couple struggle to get pregnant

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Just relax and see what happens…

That is the moral of the story for Marian and Brian Payne from the Bahamas, who have been trying to have a baby for the last 4 years. The couple married in 2001, when Marian was 24 and Brian was 28.{{more}}

They wanted to enjoy quality time together before they started a family and it never occurred to them that there would be any problems with conceiving.

After 3 years of marriage they decided that they wanted a child and so stopped using contraception and hoped nature would take it course, but after one full year of unprotected sex there was no sign of a pregnancy and they realised that something must be wrong.

They went to see their primary physician who carried out tests. These initial tests showed that everything was not normal, so he referred Brian to an urologist. This revealed that Brian’s sperm was not being released and, therefore, their only hope of a baby was through in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

With no fertility treatment available in the Bahamas at the time, Brian was referred to Florida for more tests. While the couple were in Florida they heard a radio advertisement for a fertility clinic there, so they called and made an appointment.

The clinic requested their medical files and then arranged for another appointment for the couple to undergo more tests. This now meant a second trip to Florida. However, the couple really wanted to start a family and they knew that this was the only way that their dream was going to be realised.

So in April 2007, the couple was scheduled for their IVF treatment in Florida. They were given two options to pay for treatment; they could either pay approximately $15,000 USD for one cycle or pay approximately $21,000 USD and then be entitled to three cycles of IVF. With the mounting costs of travel, the couple decided to just go with one cycle. Marian’s eggs were collected, fertilized with Brian’s sperm, but only one embryo was of good enough quality to be placed back in her womb. They had to remain in Florida for one whole month during treatment, and like so many couples who undergo IVF, they were convinced that if an embryo had been placed then this must mean a pregnancy will occur. However, the embryo did not take and they had to face the bitter disappointment that the treatment had not worked for them on this occasion. The couple were consoled by the fact that they were going to adjust the medication and that next time it would work.

Marian and Brian were determined that their struggle for a baby would not become the centre of the their lives and they embarked on the project of house hunting and tried to focus on another aspect of their lives. They also told family and friends what they were going through so that they both had other people to discuss the situation with. They believe that this helped deal with the stress associated with infertility, and by telling everyone their problems they found people were really supportive and encouraged them to try IVF again.

So in October 2007, the couple paid another $15,000 USD for treatment, and had to take another month off work to spend in Florida. On top of their treatment costs they also had accommodation and car rental costs. They prayed that this time they would be successful.

For their second IVF cycle they used frozen sperm from their first cycle and again paid extra for assisted hatching. This time there were 3 embryos of good enough quality to be placed back in her womb. Sadly, none of these embryos resulted in a pregnancy and Marian said: “When we failed the second time it was even tougher than the first time. As this time they had gotten 3 good quality embryos, and we were so much more relaxed. We knew our way around Florida and made it much more of a holiday. We just couldn’t believe it hadn’t worked for us again.”

When they arrived home, Marian had one day where she was really angry and cried, then she pulled herself together and decided that they would just keep trying and that getting all stressed would not help her or Brian deal with the situation.

Around this time Marian read a story in the Bahamian newspaper, The Punch, about Barbados Fertility Centre, but she was reluctant to move all of their medical records and she felt comfortable with the clinic that they were using in Florida, so she dismissed the idea straight away. The following summer, her sister went to Barbados for the annual crop over carnival and returned home with one of the visitor publications. In there, she read a story about Barbados Fertility Centre and passed it on to Marian. Now that her sister had been to Barbados and reported it was a lovely island, Marian decided to give them a call and investigate treatment.

From the outset she said she was impressed that Barbados Fertility Centre had good success rates, and the costs were a lot less than Florida. They seemed to genuinely care about the couple’s case history, and they only required the couple to come on a 2-week holiday instead of a full month to undergo treatment. The couple also benefited from discounted rates for their accommodation and flights as Caricom nationals. Marian immediately sent away for her medical records from Florida.

The couple scheduled their treatment for December 2008 and opted to try the Healthy Mind Body programme designed by the clinic to help couples relax. They had his and hers massages, reflexology, acupuncture, and sessions with a trained counsellor to help them cope with the negative emotions associated with IVF.

Marian said: “Again three embryos were transferred, and when we left Barbados we were very optimistic. The holistic approach was really positive, and we felt that even if the treatment failed we had enjoyed a really good IVF experience. We really felt different this time around and I told my husband that I felt it had worked. He didn’t answer as I don’t think he wanted to tempt fate!”

The couple went on a shopping trip to Florida and just as they were about to go to the mall they decided, as it was day 14 since the transfer that they would do the test. The positive line on the test was faint so Marian sent Brian to the pharmacy to buy another test. When he came back they decided that they should wait until the following day to try again as they wanted to be 100 percent sure. So the following morning, Marian tried again but couldn’t bring herself to look at the stick as her hands were shaking too much. Brian looked at the stick and smiled from ear to ear, he said: “I don’t know how much more proof you need, but there are two lines meaning it is positive – do you still want to go shopping?’

Marian lay back on the bed and said. “I am so happy I don’t care what we do!”

Only two months earlier Brian’s mother had dreamt of fish. She said she was sure they were going to have a baby according to the old wives’ tale, and then Marian’s cousin also dreamt of Marian having twins. When they got home to Nassau, Brian phoned his mother to say her dream had come true.

Only when the scan confirmed one baby did Marian called her cousin to say that she was indeed finally pregnant. The couple’s first child is due in September 2009.

Marian and Brian wanted to share their baby joy to be sure other couples are aware that excellent care is available in the Caribbean region and that the success rates at Barbados Fertility Centre speak for themselves. Marian and Brian hope that their story will give hope to other couples that are trying to conceive and to tell them to remain positive, have other things in your life to focus on and to encourage them to talk about their problems with friends and family.

For more information on the work of Barbados Fertility Centre, please call (246) 420 5943 or go to www.barbadosivf.org.

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