Pic © Patrick Boyd Photography
Santa is so impatient in Jane Clark’s house that plans are already in place for next Christmas as well as this one! The excited first-time gran is busy saving up to help Santa get her three-month-old grandson William a red and yellow toy car for December 2015.
Not that she’s wishing his precious young life away – far from it. After five years of heartache, the 53-year-old hospice chef from Lincolnshire, is enjoying every moment with the special little boy.
Her only daughter Rachel, William’s proud mum, battled for years with fertility problems caused by polycystic ovaries. And Jane admits: “Secretly, I did worry I might never be a gran and Rachel might never be a mum.”
Like Jane, Rachel had been put on the pill by her GP in her mid teens to regulate very painful, erratic periods that often caused her to faint. What nobody realised until both women wanted to start a family was that the medication had been masking their underlying medical problems.
But while Jane managed to start her family two and a half years after marrying husband David Rachel wasn’t so lucky. Jane recalls: “I was only 15 when I met my husband. We married young and wanted to have children young so I came off the pill when we got back from honeymoon at 18 only to discover I had polycystic ovaries and it wasn’t so easy to fall pregnant.”
While waiting for tests, she did eventually conceive naturally “by sheer fluke” with Rachel and son Aaron just 11 months later. But she recalls: “It was a very difficult time thinking it might never happen when I was so desperate for a baby.”
'Even though he won't know much about this Christmas he'll have a stocking with his name on'
So when Rachel’s problems first came to light after marrying Lewis in June 2009, Jane admits: “It felt like history repeating itself. I didn’t worry unduly at first as I thought she’d be lucky like I was and have children, just not straight away. But as time went on it became very obvious that wasn’t going to be the case. And at 26 she was older than I’d been with less time on her side.”
Because of the family history, after six months Rachel was referred to a specialist for tests and prescribed drugs to make her ovulate. A year later and still not pregnant, she was referred to Care Fertility’s clinic in Nottingham for specialist treatment called Inter Uterine Insemination (IUI), where Lewis’s sperm was injected directly into her womb.
Allowed three attempts on the NHS the whole family was overjoyed when she fell pregnant first time but she was very sick and unwell from the outset.
Rachel says: “Mum was brilliant and there to look after me the whole time. I literally laid out on her sofa for 15 weeks. I was determined to do everything to keep this baby and she was a fantastic support.”
But at 15 weeks, Rachel went into labour and gave birth to a little girl they called Daisy, who sadly died. A rare second incomplete abnormal pregnancy was also discovered causing complications and a risk of cancer. Rachel was told she needed fortnightly chemotherapy treatment for five months.
“Losing Daisy was horrendous. You see your daughter struggle so much to get this baby and then she loses it. At one stage, her dad and I were frightened we were going to lose her as well,” recalls Jane.
“I couldn’t have got through it without mum,” admits Rachel. “She was always there for me and Lewis even when it meant literally picking me up off the floor sometimes.”
Allowed a second IUI attempt in November last year, the whole family was distraught when it failed. With just one last free attempt, relatives vowed to club together to find the money somehow if it failed and they needed to fund expensive IVF treatment. “We were always surrounded by such a lot of love and support!” says Rachel.
But happily a third attempt was successful and Jane received a text from Rachel in February this year to say she’d just done a pregnancy test and it was positive. Calling her immediately from work, Jane sobbed down the phone to Rachel with sheer relief, though it was an anxious pregnancy.
At 35 weeks – after an emergency Caesarean Section when his mum’s waters suddenly broke – along came baby William. Jane was away with her husband in their caravan for the weekend, but packed up immediately and came straight back to visit their dark-haired, blue-eyed 5lb 12oz grandson. “I can remember crying and immediately falling in love with him. Rachel and Lewis had been through such a lot to get him and I was so pleased for them,” says Jane, who’ll be cooking Christmas dinner at her home for everyone.
“This Christmas is going to be the best ever. Even though he won’t know anything about it, he’ll still have a stocking with his name on but next year he’ll get the toy car his mum always wanted when little but we could never afford. My grandson will definitely have one!” laughs Jane, who has a fun list of activities to teach him that’s as long as her arm. “He’ll be helping me bake the Christmas cake by the time he’s three!” she laughs.
There are more real life stories in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.