Fertility Radio

Our Fertility Series on PM, BBC Radio 4

After IVF failed for us, my husband Jonny and I have been exploring alternative parenting options and documenting this for The PM Programme on BBC Radio 4.

During the series we look at donor conception, adoption, the male side of things, foster to adopt, overseas adoption, and a life without children.

Listen to full series on the PM Homepage

Infertility is an issue that affects so many…

Approximately 3.5 million people in the UK have trouble conceiving naturally.  Around 50,000 of these people seek help from fertility doctors every year.  Yet IVF is only successful for 30% of them.  Then what do people do?

That’s why we are sharing our experience, in the hope that others in the same boat can take something from it.

Thank you to Eddie and the team at PM for their support, and for totally getting behind this subject.  Please do listen, share, comment, and keep talking.

Thank you x

Fertility Press

“It Eats Me Up…” – The Telegraph

Sometimes it takes barely a moment for a lifetime of dreams to be shattered.

For me and my husband Jonny that moment came in 2013, in the London consulting room of a gynaecologist we were seeing to investigate excruciating abdominal pain and ask why I was struggling to fall pregnant.

Frantic googling had already me convinced I had endometriosis, a condition which affects the womb lining and makes it difficult to conceive, but I thought this was a problem that could be fixed – until a laparoscopic investigation confirmed that my womb effectively looked like a warzone…

Read the full article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/six-failed-rounds-ivf-can-hope-miracle/

Fertility Press

Sharing our story with Red Magazine

Just before our series started on BBC’s Radio 4, I met with Natasha Lunn – the wonderful features editor at Red Magazine.

What was supposed to be a quick chat turned into a two hour breakfast meeting as we both opened our hearts and talked about fertility.  A woman’s inherent desire to have a child verses the obstacles.  Meeting someone you want to have a child with.  Career.  Age.  Biological clocks.  Bad damn luck.

That day I agreed to write an article for the February 2018 edition of Red Magazine.  It took a lot to do it, but as I say in the article, “when you feel like you can’t go on, somehow you do.”

Fertility Radio

The Fertility Podcast

Once our PM series was underway, I was approached by Natalie Silverman from ‘The Fertility Podcast’ to ask if she could interview me about our work so far.

It felt like a strange request… it was my job to interview people about their lives.  What would I say?

Turns out, I had a lot to say.  In fact, I didn’t take a breath!  As you can hear:

Thank you to Natalie for finding me, and asking me to be a part of your fantastic podcast series.

Fertility TV

Surviving Christmas Webinar

Christmas can be a hideous time for people who can’t have children.

In December 2017, I was approached by Tasha Jennings – a Naturopath and Nutritionist from Australia whose personal struggle with fertility prompted her to help others trying to conceive.

Tasha asked me if I would be her expert guest for a webinar session entitled “Surviving Christmas with Infertility”.  So one morning before work, I sat and had a chat with this lovely lady from across the pond.

Thank you for having me Tasha, I look forward to the next one.

Fertility Radio

Our interview with Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2

“I don’t think we’ll ever accept the idea that we won’t meet our own biological baby…”

On our fifth wedding anniversary we went in to talk to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2.  A big deal for both of us, of course – he’s a legend.

Jeremy wanted to know exactly what it’s like for a couple to face many years of fertility problems.

So we told him:

We felt strong as we told Jeremy our story… until we started taking calls.

One brave lady called Sharon had not only faced five rounds of IVF, but during the treatment her husband passed away.

It broke my heart, and made me realise how lucky we are.

Fertility Press Radio

Radio Review – Bio News

One of the best reviews we received was from Bio News…

“As a whole, the radio series achieves what it sets out to do. It offers listeners a window into the tumultuous world of assisted reproduction and demonstrates just how pervasive the desire to start a family can be when all attempts to conceive naturally fail. It is open and honest and isn’t afraid to shine a spotlight on the darker emotions that can descend when future plans seem unattainable.

It is very easy as a listener to become invested in Sophie and Jonny’s journey and I would thoroughly recommend the series to anyone who has experienced their own fertility struggles. The series would also be of benefit to anyone wanting to gain an understanding of how best to support friends or family through fertility treatment.”

Full review here: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_96296

Fertility Press

“Sophie Sulehria reveals the torment of six failed IVF treatments…” – The Daily Mail

Here’s the article by Katherine Rushton, published in the Daily Mail telling our story from the start…

BBC presenter who has spent four years trying to have a baby has told how she would sometimes hide at home because she is so afraid of seeing pregnant women.

Sophie Sulehria said that – after six failed rounds of IVF – she has had to miss birthday parties and walk out of shops because she finds the sight of expectant mothers so upsetting.

Sophie, 35, said: ‘I’ve not left the house [on occasion] because I’ve got to the front door and just thought I can’t face it because if someone’s pregnant or if someone tells me they’re pregnant I won’t be able to face the rest of the day…It’s jealousy.’

She and her husband Jonny Baker, a studio director, started trying for a baby in 2013. But they were told after a year that they would never be able to conceive naturally.

The BBC presenter suffers from severe endometriosis – where cells similar to those in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body, including the reproductive organs. She also suffers from a condition called ‘premature ovarian failure’ which means she has the egg count of a 50-year-old.

When the couple started IVF in 2014, she was full of hope.

‘I think I went into it blissfully unaware [of the odds]. I had heard a million and one [stories about] IVF as a miracle thing. Everyone who comes out of it seems to come out with a baby, and any time you’d read about it always seemed to be a success story.’

In Britain, around 50,000 women have IVF every year, but the treatment fails 70 per cent of the time.

By the third cycle, Sophie and her husband started to lose hope. And now – after the sixth cycle and nearly £40,000 of fees – the couple have given up and are looking at other ways to become parents.

Sophie will chronicle their experience in a series of interviews on Radio 4’s PM, as she meets people who have adopted, fostered, or used an egg donor to become pregnant with a child that is genetically linked to their partner but not themselves.

The couple hope that making their search public will throw off some of the ‘stigma’ of infertility and help others enduring a similar ordeal.

Sophie said that the emotional rollercoaster of the last four years has been so all-consuming, she regards it as a ‘mental health condition’. She added: ‘It’s like being in a pressure cooker.

‘All you want is that little person in your marriage…we live with it [infertility] like a ghost, in a way. I am basically grieving the baby we’ll never meet. Both of us. We’re grieving.’

The radio presenter was at her lowest in 2015, after the third round of IVF failed, and realisation set in that she may never become pregnant.

On holiday she found herself envying a pregnant woman’s belly as they lay next to each other on sun loungers. ‘I spent pretty much the whole of the four hours just weirdly glancing at this bump,’ she said.

Sophie, who describes her relationship with Mr Baker as ‘fairytale’, believes their struggles to have children have made them closer.  However, there were occasions when they disagreed over how to handle the problem. Mr Baker wanted to stop trying after the third round of IVF. Eventually they made a pact to try until they were 35 – the age that women’s fertility starts to decline rapidly. They have now reached that milestone.

She said she struggles with what she regards as the stigma of being infertile. ‘You feel that as a woman it should be the most natural thing in the world. I’ve wanted to be pregnant since I knew that happened to a woman. I’ve been maternal my whole life.’

Looking back, Sophie said she is ‘riddled with regret’. She wishes that she had had her problems properly diagnosed before it was too late, and that she had frozen her eggs and started trying for a family earlier.

Fertility Radio

Our IVF Story Begins… On BBC Radio 4

Jonny and I have been making a series for PM on BBC Radio 4.  It explores what it’s like for a couple who are struggling to have a baby.

Our first piece followed our last IVF cycle:

When Jonny and I first discussed documenting this round of IVF, it sounded easy.  In fact, it was easy.  Being able to focus on something other than the injections, appointments and medical process was a welcome distraction.  Then once the piece was edited and filed, we got on with our lives for a while.

It was only the hour before it played out live to the nation, did I realise the enormity of the situation.  Everyone who knew us were about to find out exactly what we were going through.  What the last four years had meant for us.  All our personal medical information.  And we weren’t even together to listen to it – I had gone shopping with friends, and Jonny was at home with the cat.

I’d been a reporter for years, but this was by far the most emotional and personal piece of radio I had ever made.  Hearing it again was like reliving the trauma.  I didn’t know what to do initially… but the response was incredible.  So many friends, relatives, and complete strangers reached out to send their love and tell us how it helped them.

For that alone, we are grateful.

Fertility Press

Our IVF struggle: Where it all began…

Every year around 50,000 people turn to IVF clinics across the UK, hoping to achieve their dream of parenthood.  But despite almost 40 years of research, the treatment fails 70% of the time.

Then what do you do?

On the 23rd October my husband Jonny and I decided open up about our own personal problems we’d faced while trying to have a baby.  After six failed rounds of IVF, my low ovarian reserve and severe endometriosis was proving difficult to beat.

It would seem our hope of having a baby was disappearing fast.

Read our story here