Kristie Sicolo and Oliver Dickson, from Wallingford, with their children Noah, Imelda and Arthur.
A COUPLE who tried to have children for almost a decade said they never lost hope to start a family.
Kristie Sicolo and Oliver Dickson, from Wallingford, tried to conceive since they were in their mid-twenties but they were unsuccessful.
Until they tried in vitro fertilisation (IVF) as their last resort. Now they have three healthy babies and want to spread awareness about the challenges that come with infertility.
Ms Sicolo, 35, said: “We were trying for a baby but didn’t fall pregnant for so long, so we decided to go and check if there were any conditions affecting our fertility.”
Shortly after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition characterised by irregular periods, excess androgen and enlarged ovaries, which affects about 1 in every 10 women in the UK.
She said: “I remember us having a conversation and asking ourselves ‘are we going to actually have a family?’ – it kickstarted a process and after a number of scans, I was put on medication for a year to balance my hormones but it didn’t work.
“IVF was the last resort really – we booked a consultation as we didn’t want to wait, we wanted to start treatment as soon as possible.”
They were treated at TFP Oxford Fertility, which is part of the TFP Fertility Group, one of the UK’s leading IVF providers.
During IVF, an egg is removed from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the womb to grow and develop.
Ms Sicolo said: “It was an agonising wait and I felt like my body was failing me – the team were clear from the start that they couldn’t guarantee a baby, they had to manage expectations.
“Not being in control of my own body was emotional and it was scary. Anything could go wrong at any stage. It was difficult to have people around me having children, it made me emotional and consumed me.
“We were so desperate to have a family. When we found out we were pregnant, we couldn’t believe it, it felt too good to be true.
“We had Arthur in January 2020 and our twins Imelda and Noah in October 2021 – three of our embryos were successful. We are so grateful to the team, what they did was incredible.
“They looked after us both emotionally and physically and were always supportive.”
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that fertility rates in England are at an all-time low, falling from 1.66 children per woman in 2019 to 1.59 in 2020.
But a study carried out by a team of midwives at My Expert Midwife showed that fertility services in Oxford are better than the national average, with the average wait time being 35 weeks, compared to England’s average of 40 weeks.
The study was based on data collected from NHS fertility clinics, analysing GP referral times, patient ratings, number of clinics per person, and waiting times for egg and sperm donors.
Mr Dickson, a paediatric nurse, said: “Even though it was not happening to me directly, I needed to be there for Kristie and I feel quite helpless just watching what was going on.
“I didn’t want to talk about it all the time but it was always on my mind – it was a difficult balance to strike.”
Ms Sicolo said: “I tried to stay positive going through it and read a lot of books, looking actively for positive stories.
“There is a huge community of people that are struggling with fertility issues and it was nice to be able to connect with them.
“But it wasn’t until I had Arthur in my arms that I said ‘I am fully in control’ – I want to spread hope and positivity and encourage people that might be going through it not to give up and keep trying.”