Family's joy at first Christmas with miracle IVF baby born in lockdown
- Credit: Marianne Calero Gamboa/Michael Brown
Spending your first Christmas together with your newborn child is a wonderful moment for any family.
However, for Haverhill couple Marianne Calero Gamboa and husband Michael Brown, it is extra special - for it is the first yuletide they will spend with their miracle daughter Mia, born during the coronavirus lockdown thanks to IVF.
And despite all the challenges of going through IVF treatment and raising a child during a pandemic, the couple say they have been gifted "the best year of our lives yet" thanks to Cambridge's Bourn Hall Clinic.
The pair had been trying for a baby for about a year when they were referred to Addenbrooke's Hospital for tests, which took about nine months.
They were told they had sub-fertility.
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“It was a shock when I couldn’t get pregnant, as you spend so many years being cautious that you think it will be really easy when you actually start trying," said Marianne.
“As soon as we got married people would ask us ‘when are you going to have a baby’?
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"It didn’t worry us until about five years later, when a lot of our friends had started to have children and I found it really difficult. My stress levels started to really mount.”
While the couple were told they could keep trying, their consultant was able to fast-track their referral for IVF to avoid another wasted year.
They chose to have treatment at the famous Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, the first IVF centre in the world and one with a global reputation.
There is no guarantee IVF treatment will work and many couples can go through several cycles, sometimes to no avail.
However, Marianne and Michael were delighted when their treatment worked first time.
Marianne remembered how she "couldn't bear to look" as she took a pregnancy test before going into the shower, asking her husband to tell her the result.
"I came out and looked at it and thought 'oh my god I can’t believe it'," she said.
"I had never seen a positive pregnancy test before, and I thought I must be dreaming. I then took loads more just to double-check!”
Marianne said she didn’t allow herself to get too excited in the initial stages of her pregnancy - but said she "started to relax a bit more once I felt her kicking.”
She added: “It was my reassurance that she was there and it felt like having my best friend who I hadn’t met yet with me all the time.
"It was a really special feeling."
The challenges were not yet over, though - Mia's birth was booked in for March 23, just as the coronavirus lockdown was starting.
Mia was also a breech baby, meaning her parents chose for her to be delivered by caesarean section.
Becoming new parents for the first time can be challenging for anyone, but Marianne said: “Having a baby in the middle of a pandemic has been very different to how we imagined. It has given us time alone to settle as a family."
Mia was not held by anyone else other than her parents until she was three months old and she only met her grandparents for the first time through a window.
The family also had no health visitors, due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
Yet despite everything, Marianne said: "We made it through and, looking back, this has been amazing for us as a family.
"Mia has changed our world for the better and we consider ourselves lucky to have had her in 2020 where working from home, if possible, has become the norm.
“We are so excited about Christmas this year. We will be playing with Mia and giving her as much attention as we can along with her grandparents who are all really excited about seeing her.
"I am not too worried about Santa and presents, Mia has shown me what family really is, just to be present and connected with her.
“The science behind IVF blows my mind and Mia is just so amazing.
"We will forever be indebted to Bourn Hall Clinic for giving us the best year of our lives yet.“
Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, medical director of Bourn Hall Clinic, said: “The ovarian reserve reduces in women after the age of 35 and every month that they don’t get pregnant makes them feel as though time is running out.
"Gaining information and advice helps people feel more in control and able to progress in their journey.”
Bourn Hall has clinics in Cambridge, Norwich and Wickford.
It provides free consultations with a fertility nurse and a fast-track, six-week fertility testing service.
To book a free online consultation with a Bourn Hall fertility nurse, click here.