'˜We're just so lucky. My IVF baby changed my life'

Denied IVF treatment on the NHS, Tori and Craig Day paid privately. It cost them their savings, but it means they now have baby Lily, who is nearly two years old.

Tori Day with her daughter Lily, 2. 19 July 2018.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Tori Day with her daughter Lily, 2. 19 July 2018. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“My daughter changed my life, it’s amazing,” said Mrs Day, 35. “We are just so lucky.”

The couple, from Saltaire, Shipley, met when they were in their 20s, and married soon after.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“We started trying to conceive straight away,” said Mrs Day. “I thought it would just happen. My husband already has a daughter, she was 11 when we got married.

Sarah and Andy Banks with Jack, four, Millie, two.

“I never had any reason to think there would be any problems. But time went on, and it just wasn’t happening.”

There was a year of tests, with no answers. They began to think about funding IVF.

“I was at work when I made the call to the CCG (clinical commissioning group), I just nipped out into a side room,” said Mrs Day. “They said I wasn’t eligible, because my husband already had a daughter. I had to get off the phone quickly, breaking into tears.

“We’d been saving for a baby - for maternity leave, for clothes, all the stuff we needed to buy. It turned out we needed that money to pay for treatment.”

Zoe and Justin West, with Cameron.

Paying privately, they were successful on their second round.

“I had done a lot of thinking beforehand, about what our life could look like without a baby, all the holidays and the freedom. But I didn’t want that.

“I had my step-daughter, I knew I was so lucky already. I just wanted to have a baby.

“Luckily, we were in a financial position where we could do it.

“Fertility issues shouldn’t be something we are ashamed of, or hide away. A lot of people are frightened about talking about it.

“You feel very isolated. We need people to be able to talk about it, and to know how to respond.”

Mrs Day now blogs about her experiences, and is writing a book. Follow her online at @ToriDayWrites or www.toridayblog.wordpress.com.

The Day’s story is a familiar one, with many families struggling with IVF.

For the Banks, from Halifax, a single cycle on the NHS changed their lives.

With it came their son Jack, now four. Shortly after, without the weight of pressure and expectation, came Millie. She will be three in October.

“It’s not a luxury to have a family,” said Sarah Banks, 36, with husband Andy. “We started trying after we got married, thinking it would just happen.

“It didn’t. It was a long journey.

“I cried myself to sleep every night before I had that positive result. We’d been trying for six years. I didn’t believe it would happen for us at all.

“That feeling, when they told me, was amazing. Then, when Jack was 14 months, I fell pregnant naturally, it’s changed our lives unbelievably.

“It gave us that chance. We were lucky it was covered by the NHS. There are a lot of people that can’t afford to pay for treatment. That, for them, is just another knock - it’s heartbreaking when there’s already so much to deal with.”

The tests, and the treatments, had been physically and emotionally demanding, she said.

It was worth it because it worked, and they now have a family.

“It does rob you a bit, of some of the joy, to have to go through all the treatments and the worry,” said Mrs Banks. “But we were really lucky.

“Without that access, you can’t have a child because you can’t afford it.

“It’s hard enough, not to be able to have a baby.”

Sarah Banks now runs the national Surviving Infertility support group on Facebook, as well as the Facebook Yorkshire Fertility support group. She is also a life coach to help other families going through it.

In York, it was a particularly heartfelt struggle for the West family.

After the death of their newborn son Angus, Zoe and Justin West were desperate to try again. But they were refused treatment on the NHS - having already had a child they were no longer eligible.

When they appealed and won, it was only on the proviso that they waited two years to ensure they fit the eligibility criteria.

“Angus was our first baby, we fell naturally with him,” said Mrs West, 40. “He was born at 39 weeks, but he had a brain injury. We thought we would have a few hours with him, but we were lucky. He lived for a month.

“We wanted to try again quite soon. We were parents already, from the moment he was conceived. Going full term with my first pregnancy, we were ready. We’d been to the classes, we had the clothes. Then to lose him, in the blink of an eye... we felt like parents but with no baby, only in our memories and in our hearts. To be able to mother a child was very important.”

The couple, supported by their doctors, had been fast-tracked to Seacroft Hospital for treatment, but the funding was refused because they had naturally conceived once before.

“I didn’t fit the criteria,” said Mrs West. “We just wanted to grow our family.”

They did wait, and were successful. Baby Cameron is now seven-and-a-half months.

“Everybody deserves that chance,” said Mrs West.

“It’s amazing. It’s hard not having his big brother here, but it’s lovely to have that opportunity to just be with him.”