'I just pinch myself every morning when I wake up' - couple's baby joy after three failed IVFs
An Irish couple have spoken of their joy at finally becoming parents after years of battling infertility.
Robbie Maiben (40), and Naoimh O'Regan (45), of Greenacres, Dundalk, Co Louth, first met six years ago and had tried to start a family many times but without success.
It was not until the couple were advised by doctors to get a donor egg that Naoimh had a successful pregnancy and their son Kalvin was born last month.
Naoimh had struggled with infertility in previous relationships so, when she and Robbie decided to start a family, they knew it would be an uphill battle.
"Myself and Naoimh met six years ago. Up until that stage, Naoimh had been unable to have children," said Robbie.
"She had a few ectopic pregnancies and a couple of miscarriages.
"We knew when we were talking about the future that it was going to be a problem."
The couple, whose experience was documented on TV3s The Babymakers, sought help from fertility clinics, but it would be a while before they identified the problem.
They were advised to consider IVF, the process where a woman's eggs are fertilised outside her body and then transferred back to the uterus.
"We tried ourselves for about a year and it was unsuccessful. I have three kids from a previous marriage, so I kind of knew that I was OK," said Robbie.
"We went to a fertility clinic to get some advice and they couldn't actually find anything.
"They put it down to unexplained infertility and that the best way forward was to start with the IVF treatments.
"We had three IVFs and each one failed with a miscarriage. We were giving up hope."
Naoimh and Robbie next visited the Sims IVF clinic in Clonskeagh, where they discovered why Naoimh had been struggling with infertility.
They were told she had a high level of "natural killer cells", or NK cells, which had been harming the foetuses.
"Naoimh went on a course of steroids and that brought the natural killer cells down," said Robbie.
"Because of her age - at that stage she was nearly 45 - they decided for us that a donor egg would be the best way forward."
After getting a donor egg from a woman from the Czech Republic, the couple found out that Naoimh was pregnant.
Having never previously made it past the six-week scan, they were ecstatic when they were told at the 20-week stage that their baby was healthy.
On edge throughout her pregnancy, Naoimh was overjoyed when Kalvin was born.
"To get to the 20-week scan was just unthinkable. I couldn't believe it happened," she said.
"I was constantly nervous because, overall, I had six miscarriages and, until the baby was in my arms, I wouldn't believe I had the child.
"I'm still looking at him and going, 'I can't believe it'.
"Kalvin is brilliant, he's such a good baby. I just pinch myself every morning when I wake up."