Sheffield mum’s IVF journey inspires her to help others – ‘All I wanted to do was be a mother and I had to fight for it’
In the space of just five years, Marie Hooper went through six IVF attempts and lost about five stone so she could realise her dream of having children.
Now a mum to two beautiful boys, 33-year-old Marie, of Darnall, said it took blood, sweat and tears to achieve her cherished goal.
“Going through IVF is like going through the world’s longest labour,” she said. “It is painful and I’d spend a lot of hours crying just thinking, why is this happening to me?
“I felt like I had been cheated because all I wanted to do in life was to be a mum and I had to fight for it.”
The former hairdresser, who weighed 18st before getting pregnant, thought all she needed to do was to lose weight in order to conceive but things were not that simple.
“We did a test and found out my husband, Steven, had Azoospermia,” she said.
Steven’s condition meant he was not issuing the vital sperm cells necessary to fertilise an egg and produce an embryo.
“That’s when we decided to sign up for IVF at the Jessop wing but I was advised to get to a healthy BMI,” said Marie.
“So I got myself a cycling machine, and I’d be cycling in the bedroom because I was too embarrassed. I would be crying because I hated it so much but I had to do it. I would sit here cycling, crying my eyes out and thinking if this is what it takes to be a mum, I’m just going to do it.”
Marie had her first round of fertility treatment in March 2015 but it was not successful, as her body was not responding to the IVF drugs.
About a month and multiple injections later, Marie, who had at this point already achieved her target weight of 11.5st, found out she was pregnant with her first son, James.
“After we had James, I decided to have another go because I wanted him to have a sibling. A sibling is like your best friend and I wanted to have that for him,” she said.
With the money she received from her supportive parents and grandparents, Marie went through another cycle of IVF in 2017 but it was not as easy as before.
“I didn’t respond to the drugs at first so they had to cancel it and we had another attempt. After the fifth attempt, that was the worst month of my life,” she said.
She said although the fifth attempt had resulted in pregnancy, her world came crushing down when she lost her baby at five weeks.
“I was devastated. I felt so depressed I didn’t want to be with anybody. But after a few days, I decided I wanted to do it again,” said Marie.
She said she was adamant about having children with Steven.
“We had gone through IVF before Steve and I got married, and people were telling me to just leave him – but I love him and I want to have children with him, so I was very determined,” she said, despite the fact she had spent about £9,000 in total at this point.
Knowing how costly the procedure would be, she and her mother ended up fundraising and successfully collected £6,000 within weeks.
“We did loads of raffles and there was this man who donated an old Sheffield United shirt and that raised us £500. People were just generous,” she said.
“Then I started my treatment in March 2018, and I found out I was pregnant with Jack,” she said, adding that this was when she decided to make her pregnancy journey public.
“I opened this Facebook page called ‘Me and my IVF Journey by Marie Hooper’ where I showed videos of me breaking down, videos of me injecting, videos of me feeling angry.
“I felt that Jack is part of everybody, because everybody worked hard for him to exist.”
And her life story has inspired many, she said. as she has received messages from women, as far as Australia, who were amazed by what she had gone through.
“A lot of women messaged me saying that had given up on getting pregnant but after seeing me carry on, it made them carry on.
“I know three women who did IVF because of me. I feel like I’m complete now. I’ve got my kids and I’ve got my best friends for life.”
Marie said her weight loss journey has also landed her a dream job – she is a consultant at Slimming World, which helped her shed the pounds originally.
She said she looked forward to meeting new people and helping people achieve their weight goal when she starts running a class this November.
“I want to take that on as a career, making people believe that they if they put their mind to it, they can achieve anything, whether they want to try to get pregnant, or try to fit in that wedding dress. It could be anything.
“I want to help people.”