Why IVF is no longer just a husband-and-wife affair

Emma Scott and Michelle McVeigh with Dawson Bane McVeigh.
Emma Scott and Michelle McVeigh with Dawson Bane McVeigh.
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The number of same sex couples having babies is growing, Catherine Scott spoke to one happy couple and also a fertility expert.

FERTILITY expert Adel Shaker used to see one same sex couple wanting to have a child a month, Now he sees two or three a week and with the advent of same sex marriages next year he is expecting that number to keep growing.

“The same sex couples go through the same screening and counselling as heterosexual couples,” he says.

“The growth area is mainly among lesbian couples who come for us for treatment and also for sperm as we have a sperm bank here. Couples can choose sperm from a man who matches their looks as much as possible such as hair and eye colour. At the European sperm bank people can get to know a lot more about their sperm donor, but we find on the whole people just want a healthy baby,” says Mr Shaker Medical Director of CARE (Centre for Assisted Reproduction and Embryology) in Sheffield.

“But we are also seeing more male couples wanting babies, especially after (Sir) Elton John and David Furnish decided to start a family. It made men realise that it is possible for them to find a surrogate and have a family.”

Emma Scott and Michelle McVeigh decided to start a family earlier this year.

Emma, 26, gave birth to a son, Dawson, six weeks ago after being treated at CARE using her egg and a donor sperm.

“We chose a donor whose colouring as a similar to Michelle’s as possible,” says Emma. “We really want to have another baby but next time we will use Michelle’s eggs although I will carry it and hopefully the same donor sperm.”

Emma and Michelle from Pontefract have been together for more than four years after meeting at Haribo where they both work.

“Emma was really keen to start a family as quickly as possible,” says Michelle, 27. “But we wanted to save to buy a house first and then we had to start saving for the IVF.”

Emma and Michelle went to their GP who was at first confident they would be able to get IVF on the NHS.

But within days he called them to say it wasn’t possible and that they would have to pay.

“It was just a straight ‘no’ which is what upset us,” says Michelle. “We would have had to have had six failed attempts in order to qualify for NHS funding. Who can afford six rounds of IVF? They didn’t even know at that stage whether Emma would be able to become pregnant.” But the couple were undeterred, took out a loan and contacted CARE.

“It was a bit of trek for us to keep having to go to Sheffield, but work have been brilliant,” says Emma, who donated some of her eggs to help other couple have much longed-for babies.

Emma under went treatment in February and by March was pregnant.

“We didn’t realise at first when we did the pregnancy test as we didn’t read the instructions properly. We didn’t realise that we had to wait a few minutes so we thought I wasn’t pregnant,” says Emma. “But then after a few minutes the lines appeared and we were over the moon.”

“We had said to ourselves that we wouldn’t tell anyone until the 12 week scan,” continues Michelle, “but we were so excited we old people straight away and they were all really pleased for us.”

Emma had a trouble-free pregnancy and gave birth to Dawson Bane McVeigh on November 6, weighing 7lb 3oz at Pontefract General Hospital. Michelle was with her at the birth and cut the umbilical chord and the proud family returned home later the same day where they introduced Dawson to relatives and friends.

Michelle was given two weeks paternity leave from work to help Emma in the early days. Both women are clearly thrilled to be parents and Michelle says if Emma hadn’t been able to conceive she would have been quite happy to adopt.

“We just wanted to have a family and would have been happy to give a child a home,” she says.”

When Dawson is 18 he will be able to find out the identity of his biological father.

“It really doesn’t bother us,” says Michelle. “If that is what he really wants to do. Emma has donated her eggs and so she could be in the same position, but we really aren’t expecting a knock on the door in 18 years time.”
The woman aren’t concerned about the lack of a male parent on Dawson.

“My dad is thrilled to have a grandson and has already started talking about all the football matches he is going to take Dawson to,” says Michelle. “We have lots of male friends we are interested in Dawson who he will be able to talk to if he needs to as he gets older.

“We know Dawson will be just fine growing up with two loving parents.” Both Michelle and Emma don’t believe having same sex parents will be an issue for Dawson as he gets older.

“I just don’t think it’s a big deal any more,” says Emma, who plans to return to work next year.

“We have come across no problems, everyone has been really supportive and just really please for us.”

Adel Shaker says with advent of civil partnerships and same sex marriage, there will be more same sex parents, in the future.

“I don’t believe that it is an issue although we won’t really know what, if anything these children will face when they start school in five years. But we are seeing same sex couples coming back to us to have another child.”

AS for Emma and Michelle they are busy saving up to have another child as soon as possible.

“We would really like them to put back two eggs next time as we would really love twins.”

As for Dawson he is a happy, contented little boy who is adored by his loving parents and it is unlikely that he will be seen as unusual when he started school in five years time.