The baby for Christmas I feared I’d never have
- Credit: Archant
Proud mum Cara Miller is looking forward to the family Christmas she dreamed of for 10 long years.
For more years than she cares to remember, Cara Miller dreaded Christmas.
The festive season, so much the focus of children and families, just served to remind Cara of all that she was missing in her own life and as every year passed the pain became worse.
“Christmas is all about children and families and I spent years facing the prospect of possibly never having children of my own,” says the 34-year-old, who lives in Ipswich. “Watching adverts on television featuring small children used to literally make my heart ache.”
But those days are finally behind her.
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This year, Cara and her husband, Stewart, are preparing for what they hope will be the best Christmas ever, at home with a family of their own.
And it’s all because of a little boy called Adam, born earlier this year after the couple had fertility treatment at Bourn Hall, the world’s first and best-known IVF clinic.
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Cara and Stewart were childhood sweethearts and had been together since Cara was 17. They first started trying for a baby when she was 25.
“I had wanted children since I was young and as a teenager even helped out at an after-school club for young children,” says Cara. “I’ve always been maternal.
“We tried for a baby for a few years before we went to the doctor. I was studying to be an accountant and working long hours so we put off seeking help. We did a lot of research on the internet and tried all kinds of suggested remedies to boost our chances of having a baby, but nothing worked.”
During those years, Cara ploughed her energies into her career, launching an accountancy practice with a business partner in 2012 and being named Young Businessperson of the Year at the EADT’s 2013 Business Awards.
“I thought I had always managed to hide my feelings about struggling to get pregnant quite well and was taking it all in my stride,” she says. “But my mum said to me the other day she felt that after many years she had finally got her daughter back. I must have been more upset and distracted than I realised.”
After deciding to seek help with their fertility problems the couple went to their GP and were referred to Ipswich Hospital where they underwent tests, which could find no particular reason for them being unable to conceive.
As they had been trying for a baby for so long (most couples conceive within two years) they were told that their best chance was to have IVF treatment at a specialist clinic.
The couple chose Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester.
For Cara it was a relief to finally be referred for specialist help, although she felt daunted at the same time. Luckily, she says, the clinic staff put her at ease immediately and “held her hand” all the way through her treatment.
After Cara’s first cycle of IVF her hopes were soon dashed as she started bleeding early after embryo transfer.
“I didn’t even get to the pregnancy test stage,” she says. “That was my lowest point. I was grateful to have my two Labradors to cuddle.”
After a six-month wait, which Cara says felt like “the longest time in the world”, she underwent a second round of treatment.
“The day I had my eggs collected at Bourn Hall we moved house so I had to leave Stewart to get on with the move and go by myself,” she says. “Not many eggs were collected and I was devastated. I sat in our new house and just cried. I kept telling myself though that it only takes one egg to make a baby.”
Cara’s eggs were fertilised using Stewart’s sperm and then kept for a few days in an incubator until they reached blastocyst stage, when they have the greatest chance of achieving a successful pregnancy. Two embryos were transferred to Cara’s womb and the couple were delighted to discover two weeks later that one of them had taken and she was pregnant.
“I didn’t feel pregnant,” she says. “I was too scared to get my hopes up but on the day I was due to take my test I couldn’t wait any longer and took the test at 4am. When the result showed up positive I just cried and cried. I was over the moon, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Nine months later, on February 6, 2015, Adam was born and his proud parents are looking to the future with a renewed optimism.
“Adam isn’t really old enough to appreciate Christmas yet but I couldn’t resist buying him a Christmas-themed jumper,” laughs Cara.
For the Millers this will be their first Christmas as parents and Cara is looking forward to a big family occasion.
“Mine and Stew’s parents are joining us and they absolutely dote on their new grandson so I am really looking forward to us all getting together,” she says.
And her advice to anyone facing the heartache that she and Stewart struggled with for 10 long years?
“Seek help sooner rather than later,” she says.