Published: 17:22, 02 March 2021
| Updated: 21:10, 02 March 2021
After suffering three devastating miscarriages, a couple from Maidstone desperate to hold their own baby in their arms are fundraising for their last chance to become parents through IVF.
For Emma and Jason Fuggle, it was love at first sight when they met eight years ago.
They knew early on in their relationship they wanted to have children but one thing they never could have anticipated was the heartache that would come with trying.
IVF was always going to be their only option, as Mr Fuggle, 50, had a vasectomy some 20 years ago.
The self-employed builder already has two grown-up children from a previous relationship.
To add to the struggle, it was during the fertility process and the loss of two babies that Mrs Fuggle discovered she had an immune deficiency and her body was literally attacking her chances of being a mum.
The 37-year-old dance teacher said: “I felt lost and I just knew something wasn’t right. I began researching and found a doctor that specialised in miscarriage.
“Over £3,000 and several tests later, it was discovered I have an over-active immune system.
“The doctor told me that because of it, every time I got pregnant, my body was literally killing our baby.”
Tests which monitor someone’s immune system show the average person will score a blood cell count of 0.8-1 and someone with an over-active system could peak between 1.4 and 1.8.
Mrs Fuggle was scoring 2.68, making it painfully clear why the fertility treatment was not working.
Armed with the new information, for the next round of treatment Mrs Fuggle had to take medication to dampen her immune system.
She said: “This wasn’t just tablets, it included needles in my arm for IV infusions, pessaries and daily injections at home. And this would have to continue all throughout my pregnancy, just to keep my baby safe.
“When I was ready, I had the transfer. I dared to hope this time, to dream that I would be able to hold our baby at the end of the road.
“But once again, I miscarried at eight weeks.
“This time they told me it was because my baby had a chromosome abnormality and the miscarriage was Mother Nature stepping in to save my baby from being born with a life-altering condition.
“But the pain was still excruciating.”
This was in May last year and since then Mrs Fuggle has given her body a break but has not yet given up hope.
With the emotional scars still present from their previous loss, the couple, from Buckland Hill, have decided to pin their hopes on one last round of IVF.
But with Covid-19 leaving them both out of work since March, Mr and Mrs Fuggle have this time turned to crowdfunding.
Mrs Fuggle added: “This is my last shot, it has taken over my life for the past five years and I need to get my life back if this doesn’t work.
“I’m not ready to give up. This is the last chance I will likely ever get to have my own baby, to hold their little hand, to wipe away their tears, to simply tuck them in at night and dream of all the things they will become.
“What worries me the most is time is running out and saving up again could take years, cutting my chances of becoming pregnant to virtually nothing.
“Without help, Covid-19 will have taken away my very last chance.”
The money raised in ‘Emma’s Last Chance IVF Fundraiser’ will support one final round of treatment, paying for everything from the immune-suppressing medication, egg collection and the transfer of an embryo.
It also means this time they can pay for the clinic to check there are no problems with the embryo’s chromosomes and monitor the pregnancy through regular scans.
The target has been set at £15,000 but it’s likely the final figure could far exceed this. So far £4,260 has been raised.
"I didn’t tell anyone and actually it was such a big secret to hold that it really upset me."
While couples are usually offered three rounds of IVF free on the NHS, the Fuggles do not qualify because of Jason’s existing children. To date, their treatment has cost more than £30,000.
This time, Mrs Fuggle wants to document her IVF journey to help other women who may face similar struggles know more about how the process works.
“Many women have miscarriages and have not felt able to speak about it because it’s still a bit of a taboo,” she added.
“I fell into that category the first time round. I didn’t tell anyone and actually it was such a big secret to hold that it really upset me.
“I also want to share our story for men because they don’t open up about these things.
“When I had my first miscarriage, because it’s physically happening to me I never considered how my husband might be feeling.
“He was too busy supporting me to show his emotions but it really affected him too.”