From the age of three, I wanted to be a doctor. All through my schooling I had something to aim for, something to work hard for. I loved every minute of school, university and my first years as a junior doctor. My career then took a turn that I would never have predicted – I took a year out of medicine and spent the year as an intern at Virgin to learn about business.
One year became two, and surprisingly quickly, turned into three. Tasked with embedding purpose into the heart of our business with a great team by my side, I was learning something new every day. A career change had happened almost without me even realising, and I loved it.
Holly Branson_Freddie Andrewes_young
During all of this I married my childhood sweetheart. Freddie and I had been together since school; we both had careers we loved and had been on some brilliant adventures together.
Blessed with wonderful loving families, there was just one thing we thought would make our lives even better – in 2011, Freddie and I decided we were ready to start a family of our own.
Everyone had baby advice to share and we were told all kinds of stories about trying for a baby; there are those who fall pregnant within a week, and others who it can take months for. But we hoped that within a year we could be welcoming our own little person in to the world.
The thing is, no one really prepares you for the possibility that conceiving might not be straight forward – let alone that pregnancy could not be possible at all.
Holly Branson_twins_etta and artie
After a year, we realised something wasn’t working for us and went to see a doctor. We did a number of tests and they all came back normal – and it was right about then that we found out I was pregnant! It’s hard to describe the joy we felt.
Sadly, soon after, I suffered a miscarriage. We were heartbroken. But, as everyone kept reminding us, at least we knew we could get pregnant which was a positive. When our second pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage though, it was hard to stay positive.
I lost my confidence. I felt like I had lost control of part of my life. I’d been so lucky up until that point; everything in my life had gone to plan. I loved my job, my husband and was surrounded by amazing friends. Suddenly I couldn’t control what would happen next and after two miscarriages we realised we needed to seek specialist help.
The doctors were brilliant and talked us through all the options, with the most promising being IVF treatment. Freddie and I went away, did a lot of reading, spoke to lots of different people and decided it was the right next step.
Freddie Andrewes_Etta and Artie
After two rounds of treatment, nothing had changed. Friends and family were rallying, trying to keep us as positive as possible. Freddie was amazing – it’s such a hard thing to go through and most people focus on supporting the woman in this situation. Men aren’t as good as expressing what they are going through, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the same desperation and pain. I knew he was suffering too but as always he was my rock.
We decided to undergo a third round of IVF. This time after the gruelling two week wait, (the time from eggs being implanted and the pregnancy test), my test results came back positive.
We were elated when we went for our scan a few weeks later and found out we were having twins. For the first few months we worried about another miscarriage. Even once we'd had a healthy 12 week scan, we were relieved, but didn't stop worrying. There were so many milestones to hit; the 20 week scan, the gestation where the babies could survive outside the womb and then every week after that when we just hoped they’d stay in until full term.
Our beautiful, now three-year-old twins, Etta and Artie, have without doubt, enriched our lives. We can’t wait to see what wonderful things they will do in the future.
Virgin_ Holly Branson_ Freddie Andrewes_ babies_
When experiencing fertility problems it is easy to feel like you are going through it alone. It is so unbelievably personal. At times you feel that no one else could ever understand the self-doubt and pain you, and your partner, are experiencing.
My biggest piece of advice would be to open up to people. I kept it all to myself in the beginning and felt a huge sense of relief when I started being more open about our situation – it’s important to know you don’t have to struggle on your own.
Talk to people, share your story and do lots of research – no one path is right for all and the internet can be a great resource for help and support as well.
I hope that by sharing our journey we will help others who are going through a similar experience.