By Jade Glen
Usually it’s the mum-to-be that gets to surprise the father with baby news – but for Beth and Stephen Copeland, the age-old scenario was turned on its head.
Last year the Berwick couple underwent their first frozen embryo transfer following years of unexplained infertility.
The afternoon that the IVF clinic was to call with the results, Beth, a photographer, had an album design session with a client – a three-hour meeting – so asked them to call Stephen with the news.
“Obviously, I was dying to know, but I gave the client my full attention,” Beth said.
“I knew I’d finish at 5 and Stephen would get home around the same time. He got home and he had a bunch of flowers, which he was holding in front of his face.
“He gave me a present which had little booties and a card – I still didn’t know what it meant.”
Beth read as quickly as she could to get to the answer to her million-dollar question. The card thanked Beth for her strength and courage through the rollercoaster of fertility treatments, and told her that she was now pregnant.
“He knew all afternoon and couldn’t tell anyone. I raced upstairs and peed on a stick, because I didn’t believe him!”
The news was a welcome surprise for Beth, who was convinced that the mild cramping she had experienced in the days prior meant that the transfer had been unsuccessful. So much so that she had sent a text out the night before telling close friends and family that she was not pregnant.
“If it didn’t work, I didn’t want to tell them (when I found out) – and I thought on the off chance that I am pregnant, we could surprise them like most couples do.
“We kept it a secret and got a special little onesies made for my dad’s birthday – it said we didn’t know what to get you for your birthday, so we are making you a baby. For his parents we got a custom wine bottle label that you scratched off and it said you are going to be grandparents.”
The news was a long-time coming for the couple, who had been battling unexplained infertility for years.
“I think it’s the most frustrating type of infertility – there is no reason, there is nothing that can be fixed,” Beth said. “I still don’t have an explanation, but I have a beautiful healthy baby daughter.”
The pregnancy was the result of a frozen embryo transfer. After two unsuccessful attempts at IUI (intrauterine insemination), Beth responded well to her first stimulated IVF cycle – too well, producing 60-odd follicles. To avoid ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS) the decision was made to postpone the transfer and freeze all of the couple’s viable embryos.
“I looked like I was five months pregnant, which is a cruel joke for someone experiencing infertility,” Beth said.
“We then missed my ovulation, so had to wait another month – each month (that went by) was like a blow.
“I had to have blood tests every day to make sure they didn’t miss it the month after.”
Thankfully, the embryo was successful, and Beth enjoyed a textbook pregnancy.
“I had a bit of morning sickness, but I loved being pregnant,” she said.
In the very early hours of 10 May, just after midnight, she woke to find that her waters had broken.
“I wasn’t sure so I went back to sleep for a bit! We then rang the hospital and went down there at 2am to check if that was the case and they confirmed my waters had broken, but I still hadn’t had regular contractions.
“So we went home and I had a lovely bath and listened to meditation and cuddled my dog. I thought I’d have a snooze, but I was too excited.
“We were having breakfast when my contractions got more regular, so we headed back to the hospital and by the time we got there at 6am they were about two minutes apart. They checked me at 8am and said I was 3cm dilated.
“I was like alright let’s get the epidural! I had an amazing midwife, Sarah, and she said you haven’t had any pain relief at all. I was just thinking a break would be nice.”
The couple had brought a TENS machine for pain relief.
“It was quite funny because we didn’t know how to set it up. I kept pressing the plus button and ended up turning it all the way up, but it wasn’t plugged in.”
When the TENS machine was eventually in action, Beth found it helpful for a while.
“That worked for a little bit and then about an hour and a half after that I thought this is getting full on – maybe an epidural would be good. They say an hour per centimetre (for dilation) and I’m calculating and thinking I’m 3cm, another seven hours of this – no.
“Then they checked and I was 7cm dilated, and I though that’s not too bad, if it’s only a couple more hours maybe I can do this.
I tried the gas, it was really good and my husband was amazing at coaching me when to breathe. He was watching the clock and he knew before me when the next contraction was coming.”
After about 30 minutes of pushing, with the assistance of the ventouse (vacuum), Elliana Roslind was born at 12.48pm, weighing 3.5kg (7lb11oz)
“She had a bit of a squashed face, as they all do, but to us she was perfect.”
After such a long wait, Beth is revelling in her new role as mother.
“I’m loving it. I think because it took so much longer, we’ve witnessed all our friends having babies and we knew a bit about what to expect.
“You fall in love with them pretty quickly.”