Dressed head to toe in pink Devon lies on a mat, wide-eyed and mesmerized by the colourful toys jingling above her head. Looking at this perfect tiny person it’s hard to believe that just a year before, her parents David and Fiona were making the difficult decision of whether or not to try for a fourth and final round of fertility treatment.
“We’d tried treatment three times unsuccessfully, which was quite an ordeal, for Fiona particularly. But we decided to have one last attempt, and it was successful,” David beams.
“When Devon was born and they brought her over to me my overwhelming feeling was relief. After that I had a moment to just enjoy her being there. I said to her, ‘We’ve been waiting on you young lady, and I’m so glad you’re here and you’re safe.’”
At 58 years old David has two grown up boys already from a previous marriage. Despite having been together for 20 years, David and 37-year-old Fiona hadn’t considered having children together. David had undertaken a vasectomy during his previous marriage and both he and Fiona were very career driven people working in the construction sector, where they met.
But two years before Devon’s birth something changed.
“My Dad passed away,” explains Fiona. “Before that life was very much about work, but after, something just awakened in me and I felt like this was the right time to try for a baby.”
They decided to see if it would be possible to have their own biological child. After a failed vasectomy reversal David sought advice from his GP and the couple were referred to Nuffield Health. It was there they were advised about the opportunities available to retrieve David’s sperm.
“I remember coming out of that appointment and thinking ‘oh my goodness, a lot of doors have just opened for us'.”
Relieved, David had a surgical sperm retrieval, which can be used for patients prior to or instead of a vasectomy reversal. The couple were told their best chance of conceiving after their sperm retrieval was via ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection). This is a process which aids fertilisation by injecting a sperm directly into the lining of an egg, as opposed to IVF which places the sperm and egg beside each other and lets the sperm find the egg itself.
Despite knowing that ICSI would provide the best hope of a successful fertilisation, David and Fiona were under no illusion that a successful pregnancy was a given. But it was still emotionally challenging for them when things didn’t go as hoped in the first attempts.
“We had two fresh embryo transplants and one frozen embryo transplant which were unfortunately unsuccessful, they didn’t attach. It’s difficult when it doesn’t work out, because up until the point of testing and getting the negative result everything had gone very well. But we just had to move on and decide if we wanted to try again,” Fiona explains.
They did, and on 4 August 2015, Devon was born.
“You can’t explain it in words, the feeling you have to hold your own child,” says Fiona. “You look at them in awe, like they’re a miracle, and to us Devon was our miracle.”
Now as a healthy, cheerful baby Devon is fitting in nicely to her wider family, as a sister to David’s two sons, an auntie to David’s two grandchildren and cousin to Fiona’s brother’s children.
Last updated Tuesday 7 January 2020
First published on Monday 2 November 2015