TWO years ago today I was sat clutching my husband’s hand at Bart’s Hospital in London.
After nine years of trying for a baby, five years of fertility treatments and a round of IVF, it seemed I’d finally fallen pregnant.
And two days before my 31st birthday we were waiting for a scan to confirm that it was definitely true, for a first look at our baby, to see its teeny little heart beating.
When Sonny Jim’s flickering heart flashed up on the grainy screen, I cried. He looked a bit like a prawn. Or maybe a crocodile. And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
I remember almost dancing out of the consulting room. Of course, we knew that there was a long way to go. That things could go wrong. That we’d be heartbroken if the teeny prawn didn’t stay put. But at that moment in time I felt the luckiest girl in the world. It was the best birthday present I’ll ever get.
It was thanks to IVF on the NHS that I had my baby. That I fell pregnant. That I’ll be spending my 33rd birthday playing with my giggly, cheeky toddler.
Much is being said at the moment about IVF. And the fact that 13 areas of England have restricted or completely halted IVF treatment since the start of this year – including Chelmsford, Basildon and soon Southend – sits more than a little uncomfortably with me.
The cutbacks go against national guidelines and create yet another postcode lottery within our national health service. Now there’s one rule for those with cash, and another for the rest of us.
Yes you can argue no one has a right to have a child. But as Professor Simon Fishel, who pioneered IVF in the UK, says: “You have to treat citizens equally and this is a deliberate inequality and obfuscation.”
Selfishly I’m so glad we got in before they changed the rules. Before getting pregnant would have cost us the savings we’d need to actually bring up a child. But my heart aches for all those that follow us, for whom seeing that little heart flickering on a screen just got even more unlikely.
This post was first published in the Echo newspaper on Friday, August 11, 2017: www.echo-news.co.uk