We knew years before we started talking about having a baby that we might have trouble. When I was 23 my period disappeared suddenly. I had been on the pill for a number of years and had never skipped a period while taking it, but I had gone 4 months with no period and knew something was wrong. I went for an ultrasound which diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I was devastated, and ‘Dr. Google’ didn’t help the situation. My GP told me not to worry, he advised me to continue to take the pill and said that I may need some help in the future getting pregnant. I had to tell Daryn this news in floods of tears, who was my very new boyfriend at the time. I tried to put it to the back of my mind for the next few years, no point worrying about it yet.
Myself and Daryn got married in June 2019, and I came off the pill about 6 months before this. We wanted to try for a baby pretty quickly, so we figured I would come off the pill to try get my body back in rhythm. However, my period did not return. I went to the GP who did bloods and confirmed my LH and FSH levels were skewed and he referred me to see a fertility consultant in the Beacon. We had this appointment in October 2019, my period had been gone for 10 months. Following another ultrasound, they confirmed PCOS and also found a cyst beside an ovary but said it wasn’t causing any problems. The consultant said we needed to do procedure called a hycosy on me to determine the permeability of my fallopian tubes, and Daryn would also have to go for a semen analysis. If these were fine, our treatment plan would be hormone treatment for me and IUI (intra-uterine insemination) which would be relatively straightforward, this all seemed positive. My hycosy came back fine, however much to our shock and dismay, Daryn’s semen analysis came back extremely poor, with only 1 million sperm when it should be around 40 million. He suggested redoing the semen analysis in a month, which we did and the results were the same. The consultant said our only chance was ICSI.
I was heartbroken, I didn’t feel emotionally ready to undertake such complex IVF treatment. The consultant also wanted us to go for genetic testing because of Daryn’s sperm count being so unexplainably low, and also for Daryn to go to a urologist to see if there was something structurally amiss. I cried, I felt shattered. Daryn felt completely numb. We were young (I was 27, Daryn 33), fit and healthy. It didn’t make sense. I asked the consultant what our chances of conceiving naturally would be and he said less than 0.5%.
After days and nights of talking, we decided not to rush into IVF treatment. Time was on our side still. We had our honey moon booked for January 2020 and we had started building our house, so we said we would keep trying and then when we came back from our honeymoon we would re-evaluate. I started googling everything under the sun that we could do to improve our chances, even making Daryn wear his phone in his leg pocket which he still does now out of habit!
In November my sister had heard of Siobhan Kehoe on the radio. I looked up her website, read though nearly all of the testimonials and immediately made an appointment with her. Daryn (who was incredibly sceptical) agreed to come with me. Siobhan told us she believed`our problems weren’t as grave as what we had been told. First, she looked at our tongues. It was incredible, she was able to tell us things about our lives, personalities, characters, work, families and our fertility troubles that we had not told her. Daryn was particularly shocked! She believed Daryn to be congested and too hot, whereas I was blood deficient and cold. We were prescribed herbs, I had to boil and drink mine and a Daryn took capsules (lucky him!). We were also advised to take a number of natural supplements such as barley grass and spirulina, and to get acupuncture every month. We also had to keep a gratitude journal and do some meditation. She gave us acupuncture in that appointment and we started taking the supplements immediately.
Siobhan said to us before we left, ‘I am confident that I can get you pregnant within the year’. On the way home we felt uplifted - we made a decision that we would give Siobhan’s treatment plan a year, and if things weren’t happening we would look back into IVF. I had a positive feeling leaving her office, and once I started the treatment I felt better in myself. 2 weeks after that first appointment I had my first period in almost a year. I was already dairy and gluten free, and Daryn had to go gluten free and limit dairy and sugar. Within a few weeks he felt so much better in himself too.
Siobhan insisted that she didn’twant me tracking my cycle or even thinking about the whole process, just to carry on as normal – she said a lot of my issues were stress and trying to control every situation, that I was a juggler with too many balls in the air, which I could totally relate to. I was also into running and CrossFit, but she wanted me to tone that back a bit in order for my body to focus more energy towards my fertility, so I did. I also did castor oil packs, whereas poor Daryn had to do some ice packs which wasn’t so pleasant! If Siobhan had told us to hang ourselves naked upside down from the ceiling and sing the alphabet we would have done it, we had complete faith in her and we threw ourselves 100% into the process. The biggest test I felt was that I had to learn to trust my body.
In May 2020 I woke up one morning and I just felt different. I had noticed that my bras were feeling a bit smallover the previous week or two, but I had reasoned to myself that I had probably gained some weight with having reduced my intense exercise regime. I decided to take a pregnancy test, and sure enough a strong positive result came up, I couldn’t believe my eyes!! It had been 6 months since we had started with Siobhan.
Over the next 3 days I took a total of 12 pregnancy tests to make sure it was real! We were beyond excited. I continued to see Siobhan and to take herbs and supplements that she recommended for the duration of my pregnancy. In January 2021 we had our beautiful baby girl Jessica, who was delivered perfectly healthy and full term.
We had fertility struggles on both of our sides, which isn’t as common, and we found it hard to relate to other people’s stories, so I hope by sharing our story it will give another couple some hope. It was difficult for Daryn in particular to learn about his fertility issue, as I had come to terms with mine years previous. It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach, and he felt diminished and degraded. We decided from the start that we would be open with people about our fertility issues, and I think this really helped us to get through it. It especially helped Daryn to feel better about himself when he was able to talk openly and more confidently about it.
When we were surrounded by darkclouds, Siobhan gave us hope and we will be eternally grateful.
Ruth and Daryn Dunne, Wexford