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From the file

Big Egg | Big Egg is booming. Global birth rates are crashing and women are choosing to have children later in life. Private fertility clinics are drawing more investment than ever – and it’s easy to see why.

Money diaries: Leyla

Money diaries: Leyla

We can be squeamish about the cash involved in fertility treatments. So in this series, we’re lifting the lid on costs – financial and emotional. In part two, Leyla’s 5-year struggle to have a baby

My husband has a genetic condition, so we knew we would need IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis to stop it being passed on. When we started in 2015 I was 25, and everyone told us that we were going to have success because we had no fertility issues and were young.

We live near Liverpool, but our NHS funded treatment was at Guy’s Hospital in London. I had to drop my hours at work down to part-time because I needed the flexibility for a whole day of traveling every time I needed to get to the hospital. We had three free cycles but we were spending £90 on train tickets for every appointment. Over the course of a couple of weeks I could be in London eight or nine times. If I had to be in the hospital at 8am I would get to London at 9pm and stay at a hotel. The costs really added up.

When the NHS cycles didn’t work we moved our embryos to a private clinic three miles away. It costs £1,200 to move embryos and we had to do it twice. We also had to pay £220 every time we spoke to a private consultant – which was a lot.

We’ve spent thousands of pounds on tests, injections, treatments and screenings. The clinics hold the cards. They know that women are desperate, and whatever price they put to a woman or a couple, they will find the money.

I gave up alcohol and caffeine and tried acupuncture and reiki. In 2017 I paid to go to Greece for a hysteroscopy to examine the inside of my womb. Even with flights and a hotel it was cheaper than the UK. I was just trying everything to get it to work. No-one has ever been able to tell me why I never became pregnant.

When we only had two embryos left we decided to move onto surrogacy. A friend of mine actually offered to do it, which was amazing. We paid her £10,300 for her expenses and did another private egg collection to get more embryos because the two we had were bad quality. It cost £14,000 but only one of the eight new embryos was viable.

IVF breaks lots of couples up but it made us stronger. During the first transfer my husband lost his mum, and in 2017 his dad died. He’s an only child and we were left with £40,000 inheritance. We spent it all on having a baby. I used to say to my husband: yes, we’ve got your parents’ money, but my friends with children – they could have £5 and they’re richer than we’ll ever be.

The only time we ever argued was when my husband said that we’d have to stop when the money ran out. He always said he was never going to get into debt for IVF. He really struggled with the money side of things but I would have lived on beans on toast for years if it got me a baby. I would have taken out a loan, maxed out credit cards, mortgaged the house… that was my next step.

At the beginning I was more chilled: there’s always another route to a child. But the longer the journey got, it was like “I need my child at the end of this.” I wouldn’t say it was an addiction, but it was like an obsession. You’re so far in that you’re thinking “the next transfer might be the one”. I literally did every extra treatment there is – there wasn’t anything else we could do.

If I’d known when I was 25 what it would take I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with it. If I’d known how much it would change me – it put pressure on my relationship, and has changed my friendships. Our friends were so young they didn’t really understand. We stopped going out or going on holiday or doing anything to the house.

But our little boy was born by surrogacy in May this year, and obviously he was worth it all. I’m still on cloud nine. It doesn’t feel real. We still have two embryos left, and our surrogate has said she would do it again if we wanted a sibling, but right now I just don’t feel like I need one. I’m happy.

Names have been changed. As told to Claudia Williams.

Read our first Money Diary: Adam

Read our third Money Diary: Ruth

Read our fourth Money Diary: Anya

Next in this file

Hatching the egg

Hatching the egg

Meet the new generation of pioneers in fertility science, technology and ethics

11 of 12