My wife, Sarah, and I, Natalie, married in August 2015. In 2017 we started our journey to become a family with the help of IVF at Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic in Cambridge. We decided that I would carry using a donor sperm chosen from the clinic. All our checks showed that I had no fertility issues, so we started the treatment with positive hopes. 10 days after the embryo transfer, we tested positive. We were trying not to get too excited until our next test on day 15, which again was positive.
We chose to keep our news a secret as it was around Christmas time. On Christmas day we were with all the family when I started spotting. I didn’t say a word, and on Boxing Day we spent time with more family. The bleeding got heavier and the pain was excruciating, I knew it was over. I told Sarah and we made an excuse to leave as we didn’t want to ruin everyone’s Christmas with such sadness. I wanted to tell my mum, but I knew that she had had a miscarriage in the past and I didn’t want to upset her, so we kept it t ourselves for a while. Eventually, after we’d told them, we got so much love and support, which encouraged us to book in for our next treatment.
Round 2 of IVF
We had a consultation about why our first round of IVF hadn’t worked, I asked them why and the doctor’s response was simply ‘we have no reason as to why but think of it as our bodies are good judges and maybe it knew something was wrong with the embryo so it rejected it’. Strangely enough this was enough to put our feelings aside and start again. Sadly, this round of IVF failed too. At this point, we felt like this had been a wasted journey and felt such disappointment. We didn’t know how financially we could keep going.
Having our baby boy
We decided to have scratch on our next round of IVF, we were trying anything that could help. On the 3rd of November 2018 we tested positive, and on the 6th July 2019 we had a beautiful boy Huxley.
Less than a year later we had another round of IVF, but chose not to use scratch this time, and unfortunately this was another failed attempt.
Round 5 of IVF – our hardest round of all
COVID-19 meant there were restrictions throughout our next round of IVF treatment, and I had to go to appointments like egg collection and transfer alone. We had 2 good grade blastocyst embryos transferred and 10 days later we got a BIG POSITIVE. At my 7 week viability scan, which I had to attend alone, we found out we were expecting TWINS! I FaceTimed Sarah with the amazing news, I still have the screenshot of her face, I’m not sure if she was more scared or excited! After seeing their heartbeats on the monitor, and knowing they were both healthy, we decided to announce our news to everyone.
I was 13 weeks and 4 days when our world came crashing down. Sarah and I attended our NHS hospital scan, I was so excited to see our little twinnies jumping around on the screen together, but devastation hit as we were told that one of the twins had left us – our sunset baby.
For 9 weeks and 2 days we had had 2 beating hearts. We were so thankful that one of our babies was still alive, but also heartbroken.
We didn’t know what this meant next and were having to wait for a consultant appointment, we were trying to be happy, while also grieving. After leaving the hospital we let people know the sad news.
After 4 years of treatment
5 rounds of IVF
100s of injections
Thousands of pounds
1 early miscarriage
1 beautiful little boy
2 failed attempts
And 1 sunset baby
...on the 26th of October 2021 welcomed our little ray of sunshine, our beautiful daughter Hallie.
Along this journey there have been so many ups and downs and questions that just can’t be answered. Personally, being open and talking about it has helped me. Yes, we get sad some days, but being there for each other gets us through and looking at what we have created makes it all worthwhile.
After watching last year’s London Landmarks Half Marathon and seeing so many people run for Tommy’s, I did some research and we decided we wanted to help raise funds and awareness for Tommy’s. So, that’s why we’re now running the LLHM 2023 in memory of our sunset baby.
‘Not all twins walk side by side, some have wings to fly’.
After only a week of having my fundraising pack and sponsorship form up in my salon, we have touched so many women’s hearts and enabled them to talk about their own journeys.
Natalie and Sarah Carman x