A couple who moved to Oxfordshire to start a family after meeting in the Middle East have shared their IVF success story.

Alison O’Leary, 40, and Jennifer White, 37, met in 2015 while living in Abu-Dhabi as Miss O’Leary worked for an airline and Miss White as a teacher.

Miss O’Leary, originally from Dublin, and Miss White, who grew up in near Cheltenham, decided that if they wanted to start a family they would not be able to settle long-term in the Middle East, as LGBTQ+ people face restrictive rights there.

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Oxford Mail: Alison O’Leary, Jennifer White and Calliope Alison O’Leary, Jennifer White and Calliope (Image: Alison O’Leary and Jennifer White)

Currently, all sexual relationships outside of heterosexual activity are criminalized in the United Arab Emirates and publishments include death, torture, life imprisonment and other harsh penalties.

Beginning a relationship in this environment was not ideal for the couple as they had to pretend to be friends in public. Miss O’Leary recalled she often had to tell colleagues she was single, despite being in a relationship with Miss White.

After leaving the Middle East in 2017, the pair settled in Banbury and began discussing options with their GP about starting a family.

This is where they came across TFP Oxford Fertility, a fertility clinic based at Institute of Reproductive Sciences Oxford.

Oxford Mail: Alison O’Leary, Jennifer White with their daughter Calliope Alison O’Leary, Jennifer White with their daughter Calliope (Image: Alison O’Leary and Jennifer White)

The couple attended information evenings, were given a tour of the facility and had their questions answered by staff.  

They described this experience as “accessible” and “reassuring” and felt confident to go forward with the procedure after that.  

“We felt in safe hands,” Miss White explained.

The couple underwent their first round of IVF in June 2020 and had 18 eggs collected on their first go.

Out of the 18, 11 of the eggs were fertilised giving the couple options going forward.

Following the egg transfer, however, Miss O’Leary felt bloated and began experiencing significant pain.

Consequently, she went to A&E and was admitted to hospital where the specialist diagnosed late-onset ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which is an is an exaggerated response to excess hormones.

The syndrome was due to hCG levels in her body rising – meaning she was pregnant.

“It was a really positive sign but awful for Alison,” Miss White explained.

Miss O’Leary added that the time she “if I am in pain and got all these awful symptoms but it means I am pregnant, I’ll take it”.

Oxford Mail: Alison O’Leary while pregnant Alison O’Leary while pregnant (Image: Alison O’Leary)

In April 2021, the pair’s daughter Calliope was born after a healthy pregnancy and the couple are smitten with the new addition.

“She is the happiest baby, she is so content, smiles and laughs every day. Sleeps through the night like a dream. It has been a dream for us.

“We see other parents that are saying things through gritted teeth but she is incredible,” Miss White said.

Miss O’Leary added they recently had their first parents evening at Calliope’s nursery. The teacher said while many of the other little girls are content to play with the home sets, Calliope loves going into the garden and getting her hands muddy.

Oxford Mail: Baby Calliope Baby Calliope (Image: Alison O’Leary and Jennifer White)

TFP Fertility UK recently teamed up with LGBT Mummies to further provide an inclusive fertility pathway to parenthood for the LGBTQ+ community.  

Ella Tracey, managing director at TFP Fertility UK, said: “We are delighted to be working with LGBT Mummies, who will support us in ensuring we are offering the very best experience for anyone wanting to start a family. There are many routes to parenthood, and we are proud that our approach is reflected in the increasing number of LGBT+ parents who choose our clinics.”  

Laura-Rose Thorogood, founder at LGBT Mummies, said: “LGBT Mummies is delighted to team up with TFP Fertility UK, and work closely with them through our educational arm Proud Foundations to ensure they have an inclusive & supportive LGBT+ pathway through their clinic processes and services.

“We are excited by their passion and desire to work hard to ensure all people have equal and inclusive access to fertility care through their national clinics and feel it’s a safe space to start their families.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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