Blog > Heterosexual Couple > “Dr Venkat is thinking outside the box. She is willing to try anything to give you a baby”
08 August 2023
“Dr Venkat is thinking outside the box. She is willing to try anything to give you a baby”
If you are wondering about the lengths that people go to in order to have a baby, here’s Stephanie, literally going “the extra mile” as she travelled all the way from California to have a baby with Harley Street Fertility Clinic’s help.
Based in California, Stephanie is 43 and married, and she struggled with infertility for 7 years. Here’s Stephanie’s story who gives hope to women trying to conceive in their late thirties/early forties. We caught up with Stephanie in our recovery room, whilst she was having her intralipids infusion as part of her IVF pathway.
Stephanie and her husband tried naturally for a baby for a few years. Unfortunately, Stephanie went through a few failed IVF (and IUI) cycles in the US and Greece before coming to Harley Street. She sadly miscarried all the previous embryos or they wouldn’t implant – the experiences were classified as ‘unexplained’. Stephanie also had a history of endometriosis, and she suspected endometriosis to be the culprit for her fertility struggles.
Stephanie confesses that one of the reasons for choosing to have fertility treatment in the UK was the cost, as an IVF fertility treatment is more affordable in the UK, compared with the US. Although she looked at 3 different fertility clinics in London, she felt more confident with Harley Street.
Comparing the experience with Harley Street Fertility Clinic with her previous treatments, Stephanie admits her body needed a lot of preparation. “A wise move was to pay close attention to my body, as I had constant flare ups of endometriosis,” she says. During her fertility treatment, Stephanie and Dr Venkat have been working remotely to find out the right doses for the medications, as well as to have tests done in the US and in London.
Following a scan in the US that confirmed an ovarian cyst, Dr Venkat said that it was not the ideal environment to transfer an embryo. “I kept advocating in the US for treatment, and found a great specialist in endo surgery”. After the surgery, Stephanie found out she had stage 4 endometriosis, all over her organs, although her endometriosis symptoms were not severe.
IVF cycle at Harley Street
When they were ready to start their cycle, Stephanie and her husband came to the UK.
Stephanie said, “Dr Venkat said, ‘OK, let’s get you ready for this transfer!’, and I imagine that ‘getting ready’ had a lot to do with the success.”
Stephanie says that “it’s been a really tough journey. With Harley Street we’ve been dealing partially remotely, partially in person. Everyone’s been very patient with me”. Stephanie previously tried another clinic in Greece but found it very hard to communicate from the US, so Harley Street was a more positive experience.
The difference between the UK and the USA treatment
Stephanie says there was a lot of trial and error in her previous treatments; “My 2 doctors in the US tried to figure out what’s best for me, they ran some tests, but not all the possible tests right at the beginning of my journey,” says Stephanie. “In the US, I would miscarry once I made an adjustment to my treatment, then try a new protocol that didn’t work.” “They said, ‘Everything looks good, everything seems ok’ and I think my previous IVF treatment was based on assumptions, and not on thorough fertility checks.”
Luckily, Stephanie could not find a better place to have thorough fertility checks, than Harley Street. Stephanie believes that all the previous failed cycles gave Dr Venkat a lot of information and the opportunity to explore further. “I told Dr Venkat to try everything that she could think of, run all the tests that she could think of…”
Dr Venkat’s investigations discovered Stephanie has NK cells and an overreactive immune system. Studies have shown that an overactive immune system could have adverse effects on embryo implantation and pregnancy. With Harley Street Fertility Clinic, this embryo stuck for 12 weeks.” (at the time of our interview, Stephanie was 12 weeks pregnant). Stephanie believes this happened because of Harley Street and Dr Venkat’s different approach to treatment, compared to the previous doctors.
A message for other couples
Stephanie advises other couples to seek help, “If you are not sure if you have fertility problems and what’s causing it, it can be challenging financially, and very challenging emotionally. Dr Venkat is very patient and understanding, and you feel she is on your side. She wants you to have a baby as much as you do, and she is willing to try everything. She is really thinking outside the box, something I really needed--someone to take some risks. In my case, I know some of the US doctors wouldn’t have done treatments like the IVIG infusions.”
Stephanie said that this IVF cycle is the last try. “I told Dr Venkat no more after this. I am 42, and the chance of having another good embryo at my age is very low. I am emotionally tapped out, and I will have to live with the results, one way or another, but let’s give it everything we’ve got in this last try.” Stephanie says she can live with the results, she feels she’s done everything possible, and will just let nature take its course at this point.
Stephanie adds, “I would also like to tell other couples, it’s ok to say ‘I’m done!’. It’s ok – it’s not quitting. Your body and your mental health can only handle so much. If you get to a point when you think you cannot take it anymore financially, emotionally, it’s ok. That’s the challenge, to say ‘I’m going to be ok not having kids, I’m going to be ok not being pregnant, it’s a tough thing to do, but for some of us it’s better to say ‘this fertility journey is too much for me’.
Stephanie’s pregnancy is progressing well, but she says, “it’s hard to enjoy it when you’ve experienced losses. I don’t want to buy any clothes, I don’t want to plan too far in advance, because you never know. I don’t want to be negative but I want to be realistic. It’s quite hard to relax.”
Stephanie transferred her medical care to a fertility specialist in the US. “I’ll have to let go of Dr Venkat eventually, I hope my Dr in the States will take care of me as well as Dr Venkat did.”
When asked what family happiness means to her, Stephanie says that, “Having a baby and being pregnant is not the only way to happiness but before coming to the final embryo transfer, I was doing a lot of work on myself trying to manage my anxiety, trying to meditate, yoga, to be in a better place had I not been so fortunate. ”
At the time of our interview, Stephanie had been living in a London hotel for 3 months while having her treatment with Harley Street Fertility Clinic, with her husband visiting her when possible. Homesick, Stephanie was ready to go home to America, being 12 weeks pregnant and gaining confidence with the help of Harley Street Fertility Clinic’s.
Stephanie promised she’ll keep us updated. “I feel the team is rooting for me and everyone is cheering me on,” she finished her interview, smiling.
All the team here at Harley Street Fertility Clinic is sending their best wishes to Stephanie and we are looking forward to welcoming her and her husband back to the clinic with their baby.
A Happy Update
We are delighted to share that Stephanie’s pregnancy went well and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy in July 2023. Congratulations to the new parents, and may baby Milo have a long, happy and fulfilled life, full of love, laughter and amazing adventures.
Stephanie’s story is an inspiration to many couples trying to conceive. If you would like to start your fertility journey, please contact us today. We would be honoured to guide you in your path to parenthood.