A Lancashire mum who battled miscarriages, a genetic heart condition and fertility treatment has spoken of her and her partner’s joy after welcoming their baby daughter into the world.
Jannicke Ive tells AASMA DAY her story and their happiness at celebrating their first Christmas with their baby.
For some people, starting a family can be a straightforward thing which they can take for granted, but for others it can be a rollercoaster ride with times when they feel completely bereft of hope.
Jannicke Ive knows exactly what it is like to go through such turbulent emotions as she and her partner Karl Dixon didn’t have an easy ride when it came to having a baby together.
The couple, who live in Morecambe, have been together for seven-and-a-half years and, three years ago, they decided to start trying for a baby.
Jannicke, 34, who has her own domiciliary care agency which looks after children and adults with special needs where Karl works as a carer, explains: “We just felt the time was right.
“We knew we wanted to have children together and it felt like it was the right time for us both.”
Jannicke and Karl were delighted when Jannicke became pregnant a year later – but their happiness was short-lived as, sadly, Jannicke suffered a miscarriage about five weeks into the pregnancy.
Jannicke also had two other very early miscarriages.
After 18 months of trying for a baby, the couple decided to go to the doctors to find out why it wasn’t happening.
Jannicke explains: “We realised there must be something wrong as it had taken us a year to get pregnant and then I had lost the baby.
“We went to the doctors and they put in a referral for us to have fertility treatment.”
Jannicke and Karl were found to have unexplained infertility. However, as a couple has to have been trying for a baby for at least two years before having IVF on the NHS, they had another six months.
The couple used this to make lifestyle changes after being told there were steps they needed to take before having IVF on the NHS.
Jannicke says: “I was told I needed to lose some weight before we could have fertility treatment as they won’t let you have it on the NHS if your BMI is more than 30. I had to lose a couple of stones.
“Karl was told he had to stop smoking as tobacco can have an effect on sperm count.”
Jannicke and Karl made the changes needed and were referred to CARE Fertility in Manchester.
However, another spanner was thrown in the works as fertility experts were unsure if Jannicke was suitable to have IVF as she had a genetic heart condition which meant she was more predisposed to aneurysms.
Jannicke only found out about the heart condition by chance about four years ago.
She explains: “My dad went into hospital for surgery four years ago and, while he was in there, they discovered he had a genetic heart condition called ACTA2.
“People with this condition are more predisposed to aneurysms and dissections of the heart valve or artery.
“Me and my sister were both tested and it was found we had the same condition, too.
“When we went to CARE Manchester, they were concerned as to whether I could have IVF because of my heart condition.
“I was referred to Manchester Royal Infirmary and, after carrying out various tests, they wrote back to CARE telling them I knew the risks and they were happy to support me through pregnancy.”
When all these obstacles had been overcome, Jannicke and Karl then faced the actual hurdle of going through IVF treatment, which they began in January this year.
Jannicke recalls: “The treatment was awful as the drugs made me really ill and I have the long-term pain condition fibromyalgia and that flared up.
“As well as having the injections, I went to Manchester for regular scans and they upped the drugs I was taking.”
Amazingly, Jannicke became pregnant after her first cycle of IVF after producing eight egg,s of which six were fertilised, and there were four embryos, with the best one put back in.
However, despite the happy news at being pregnant, Jannicke remembers feeling cautious and not daring to be excited.
She says: “Karl was absolutely over the moon about the pregnancy but it took me longer to get happy about it.
“After the miscarriages, I was worried about maintaining the pregnancy so I was cautiously excited.”
During her pregnancy, Jannicke was heavily monitored. As well as being seen by midwives and obstetricians, Jannicke had to go to Manchester’s St Mary’s Hospital every month for a heart scan and be seen by a cardiac consultant.
Jannicke says: “Everyone was amazing and looked after me so well through everything.
“Right from the start of the pregnancy, I was told I would have to have my baby by Caesarean Section at St Mary’s Hospital.”
Baby Leya Maria Dixon was born on September 19, weighing 5lbs 12oz. She was born at 36 weeks and three days of the pregnancy.
Jannicke says: “The midwives and nurses were incredible in the way they looked after us and could not do enough for us.
“Leya did really well at first, but then her blood sugars dropped low and she got jaundice.
“We went home but when a midwife came to the home, she realised Leya had lost 13 per cent of her body weight and dropped to 5lbs.
“We were admitted to Lancaster for two days and Leya had to go under the blue light machine for her jaundice and go on a feeding regime to get her weight back up.”
Since then, Leya has been thriving and is a joy to her parents and family.
Jannicke says: “Leya is a very happy and content baby.
“She loves being in her sling. She was breech so loves being on your chest with her head near your heart as that’s the way she was lying when she was inside me.
“Leya is really cute and smiles a lot and is delightful and beautiful.
“We are just so glad to have her and, now she is here, we can’t remember life before her.
“Karl quit smoking before we had the IVF and he is still off the cigarettes. What greater incentive do you need than having a baby?
“Everyone is really excited about our first Christmas with Leya. She is the first grandchild on both sides so is very much loved.
“Last Christmas, we were about to start the IVF and were apprehensive about the year ahead as we did not know what would happen.
“Going through fertility treatment is difficult as the odds are against you.
“But, as our story shows, it can happen and we feel incredibly lucky.
“Every day is a blessing and we are looking forward to our first Christmas as a family with Leya.”
Karl adds: “We found strength in each other and that really helped us get through it all.
“You have to be strong together and draw strength in unity.”
Philip Lowe, medical director at CARE Fertility, Nottingham, says: “We are so pleased that Karl and Jannicke have achieved their precious dream with CARE fertility Manchester.
“All the team are delighted to have been there for them at the beginning of their journey.”
• To find out about CARE Fertility at Manchester, visit: www.carefertility.com/our-clinics/fertility-clinic-manchester