Earls Barton couple's 12-year fertility journey ends with birth of bouncing baby and an app
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An Earls Barton couple who went through 12 gruelling IVF cycle treatments, seven miscarriages, and spent a total of £50,000 in medical bills will celebrate their son's first birthday later this week
Alex and Natalie Mutambudzi, who had spent 12 years struggling to conceive, gave IVF one last attempt with their one remaining frozen embryo and were finally successful.
Their experiences led to the development of a new app-based fertility community - Fertility Zone - and the long-awaited birth of their miracle baby Joshua.
Accountant Alex, 44, said: "He's absolutely amazing. He is into everything. He loves exploring and he's the most inquisitive person I have ever met.
"If we are sitting at the table he is watching people walk by past the house."
Joshua will celebrate his first birthday at home with his mum and dad with a low-key party due to Covid restrictions but the little boy is not yet aware of the desperate anguish his parents have been through.
Natalie, 43, and Alex met in 2007 before marrying a year later with the dream of starting a family of their own.
After five years of trying to get pregnant with very little support, they began to consider assisted fertility as an option.
Initially, they had some doubts due to their Christian faith. But in 2014, Alex and Natalie decided to try IVF.
Because Alex already had two children - Maya and Marcel now aged 18 and 16 - from a previous marriage, he and Natalie were not eligible for IVF treatment with the NHS.
Following a long period of research, they found a clinic in the UK and began what they expected to be their first and only cycle of IVF treatment.
The cycle was unsuccessful and following the difficult experience they had in Britain, as well as for cost reasons, Alex and Natalie decided to seek help overseas.
Over the next five years, they had numerous consultations in the Czech Republic and Greece, trying various treatments and with Natalie undergoing several operations.
However, after numerous appointments with different doctors, the couple felt frustrated, and that their concerns weren’t being well understood.
At that point, they decided to take ownership of their fertility journey, especially given that by then Alex was 38 and Natalie was 37.
Alex said: “Our fertility journey was incredibly difficult. We started off in a place with no help, support, or information about the process. The painful part was that after all of the money spent on treatment, there was very little explanation as to why the cycle did not work.
"I think that I suffered from PTSD from it. The challenges that we had were with immunology. Her body rejected the embryo.
"We got to the point where it was too much. We had spent all our savings, we had put it on credit cards. We said we'll try this just once more.
"It was our last frozen embryo - the last one - and it worked."
In December 2019, they celebrated the birth of their miracle baby boy, Joshua.
Alex said: "I never thought I would feel this way. It was all worth it - the money, the pain, the wait. We are so thrilled."
Throughout the journey to parenthood, Alex had tracked the outcomes of the various treatments, building a record of the couple’s consultations.
This became a valuable resource when attending appointments and eventually came to be the inspiration for the Fertility Zone app.
The free app provides a directory of resources – such as podcasts, articles, and recommended organisations – as well as a series of groups that focus on topics related to fertility.
Subjects covered include surrogacy, IVF abroad, and miscarriage with users creating posts to tell their story, seek advice, and offer support, while commenting on the posts of others.
Alex added: "The app aims to provide social support, advice, and resources to men and women struggling to get pregnant.
"Our goal with Fertility Zone is to make the journey a little easier for other hopeful couples and individuals around the globe.
”It's a one-stop shop for people from different backgrounds."
Fertility Zone is available now on the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android.