"I was only 31 when I first started trying for a baby, so when I wasn’t pregnant after nearly a year, I felt that something was wrong."
Clare visited her GP, who was "very sympathetic" and ran some tests.
"My husband’s sperm test was normal, but my blood test suggested that I was ovulating erratically, so we were referred to the NHS fertility clinic at the local hospital."
Clare had more tests at the hospital's fertility clinic, but it wasn’t clear why she wasn’t conceiving. "I was very overweight at the time. I knew that it can affect fertility, so I vowed to lose weight to see if that would help.
"I managed to lose six stone in four months, and my husband and I treated ourselves to a lovely long holiday in New Zealand. On our return, I went back to the fertility clinic and started taking Clomid – a fertility drug that boosts ovulation.
"I felt dreadful while taking Clomid. I was tearful and tense all the time. I was working as a teacher in a primary school, and it wasn’t easy looking after a class of young children each day, while feeling that I was about to burst into tears."
Blocked fallopian tubes
After three months, Clare couldn’t face taking Clomid any longer. She had a strong feeling that it wasn’t going to work.
It was now three years since she’d first started trying for a baby. The appointments at the NHS fertility clinic were six months apart. Nothing was working, and she wasn’t getting any younger, so Clare and her husband consulted a private fertility clinic.
"One of the first tests was to check my fallopian tubes. It turned out that one was completely blocked, and the other only had a tiny opening. The Clomid had been a waste of time.
"The doctor told me that my best chance of having a baby was through IVF, so I started the first attempt almost straight away.
"The treatment was stressful but straightforward, and I had nine eggs collected, from which we produced four good embryos. Two were implanted and two were frozen.
"A couple of weeks later, I was elated to find out that I was pregnant, only to discover at the seven-week scan that I’d had a miscarriage. It was devastating. My husband and I decided to take some time off.
"My second attempt at IVF also ended in miscarriage. On our third attempt, only one embryo was created. We defrosted two embryos from our first try, but they both died, so only one embryo was transferred. The chances of success weren’t high."
Pregnancy after IVF
"Again, I fell pregnant. It was fantastic news, but I worried throughout the pregnancy that something would go wrong, especially as I bled every week for the first three months. We didn’t even prepare a nursery or buy baby equipment, because we thought it would be a bad omen.
"Nine months later, in June 2008, our beautiful baby son Alexander was born."
When he was just eight months old, Clare found out that she was pregnant again. Amazingly, she’d conceived naturally. Baby Michael was born in October 2009.
Clare’s advice to other women struggling to conceive is to insist that all the key tests are done before starting treatment.
"It took three years to find out that my tubes were blocked. An earlier diagnosis would have saved me a lot of time, worry and unnecessary treatment.
"I’d also advise other women, and their partners, to make sure that their lifestyle is as healthy as possible before they seek help for infertility.
"That means stopping smoking, cutting down on drinking and losing excess weight. Then you know you’ve done all you can as a couple to improve your fertility before the medical profession helps you."
All about IVF
Planning a healthy pregnancy