Two IVF boys for Haverhill family

The Ashwood family Picture: Ashwood family

The Ashwood family Picture: Ashwood family - Credit: Ashwood family

The world's first test-tube baby celebrates her 40th birthday this month. Louise Brown was the first of more than six million IVF babies worldwide, including many born to overjoyed families in Norfolk and Suffolk

Paula Ashwood still remembers the pain she felt every time she heard that another friend or relative was expecting a baby. After suffering an early miscarriage as a newlywed she had been unable to get pregnant again naturally.

'I had always suspected that I might have problems conceiving as I had really irregular periods,' said Paula. Just five weeks after she and Mark married, Paula suffered a miscarriage. 'I hadn't even known I was pregnant. Things hit me really hard, I was devastated,' she said.

Then friends began falling pregnant. 'I would put on a brave face and smile and then go back home and think, 'When is it going to be my turn?'' admitted Paula.

After medical tests she was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.


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'I hear of women who are in terrible pain with it and yet I was diagnosed with the most severe stage and I had no pain,' said Paula. The Haverhill couple were eligible for NHS-funded IVF at the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridgeshire and after taking drugs to regulate her ovulation cycle Paula had her first IVF treatment. 'Two weeks later I took the pregnancy test and it was positive but because I had had the miscarriage previously I basically didn't stop worrying throughout the entire pregnancy,' admits Paula.

Son Ethan is now four and as Paula and Mark had always wanted two children they saved to pay for another cycle of treatment.

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Second time around she was devastated to be told that just three eggs had been collected. 'I started to cry and one of the nurses said to me, 'All it takes is one,'' said Paula. Nine months later baby Oscar was born.

'I am really proud that my boys are IVF babies,' she said. 'I am very open about it and get talking to lots of people who have either had IVF themselves or know people who have. I am over the moon with my two boys.'

Louise Brown was born on July 25, 1978, in Oldham, as a result of the work of gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and research scientists Robert Edwards and Jean Purdy.

Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe set up the world's first IVF clinic in Bourn Hall, Cambridgeshire.

IVF treatment involves stimulating the ovaries to increase egg production. The eggs are collected to be fertilised with sperm and the resultant embryos are developed in the laboratory for five days before being frozen or transferred to a woman's womb.

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