Holly Jones' journey to becoming a mum wasn't easy. After three IVF cycles, which all resulted in miscarriage she and her husband Gareth finally welcomed their gorgeous twins Lottie and Corey in February 2022. Here, she shares her story…
"Watching my little girl Lottie snatch her twin brother Corey’s favourite puzzle from his hand, I stifled a giggle, and put on my ‘cross mummy face’. At 16 months, she was definitely already the boss. But watching them together truly couldn’t have made me any happier, because it had been such a long, difficult journey to get here, one that cost us more than £40,000
"I’d always dreamed of having children. Even when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome at 17, it never crossed my mind it wouldn’t happen. I started working for a travel agent, bought a house, and hoped marriage and babies wouldn’t be too far behind. But by the time I was 22 it became clear it wasn’t going to happen easily. A procedure to have my ovaries drilled, which involved making small holes in my ovaries to help me menstruate, didn’t make any difference. Then my boyfriend and I split up.
"Three years later, in 2010, I met Gareth, then 30, at work. We fell in love, and both agreed we wanted children so started trying straight away. After a couple of years, though, I still wasn’t pregnant. We smiled and congratulated friends who announced pregnancies, but inside I was crying with frustration and hurt that it wasn’t us.
"Then, one day my sister Jenny, then 28, had an announcement. She sounded anxious and I knew what she was going to say before she even said the words. ‘I’m pregnant.’
"‘Congratulations,’ I told her, blinking back tears. And I was thrilled for her. She's my sister so of course I was happy. But it didn’t make it any easier to accept that it wasn’t me who was having a baby. ‘It will happen,’ Gareth reassured me and I tried my best to remain positive.
"My nephew Austin was born in December 2012, followed three years later by Arlow. I loved spending time with them, but I always felt sad knowing they still didn’t have cousins to play with. Years kept passing, and I still wasn’t pregnant.
"Eventually, at 32, we agreed it was time to think about IVF. We were distraught to be told we weren’t entitled to any attempts on the NHS thanks to my high BMI, but it only made us more determined. In January 2018, we contacted a private clinic in Chelmsford called Simply Fertility. One round of IVF was going to cost between £10,000 and £12,000. We agreed it would be worth every penny, so we re-mortgaged the house and began treatment four months later.
"First, I injected myself with hormones to start producing eggs, followed by scans to make sure my ovaries were reacting. I felt a flurry of emotions - excitement about finally getting the baby we dreamed of mixed with fear of the unknown. Ten days later, my eggs were collected under sedation. Only one fertilised, which was inserted a few days later.
"The two-week wait felt like forever - but before we even got to the end of it, I started to bleed. At hospital, I was told it was a very early miscarriage. I just felt completely numb. How can such joy turn to devastation so quickly?
"We’d told friends, family and work about the treatment, and I’d even started an Instagram account charting our journey, so telling everyone it hadn’t worked was hard. And although the well wishes and the ‘you’ll be a mum one day’ messages were meant with love, I just found them really upsetting. The reality was, that it might never happen.
"We went on holiday to Kos to recuperate, but were aware that time was ticking. ‘I want to try again straight away,’ I told Gareth once we were home. He agreed. We borrowed another £20,000 against the house, which would pay for a couple of cycles, and a month later we started all over again. Once again, to our delight, I fell pregnant. Two more weeks passed and we tentatively began to discuss names, work out the due date, and book a midwife appointment.
"But then, at seven weeks,I started bleeding heavily. It had happened again. I’d lost the baby. That awful numbness of grief returned and for a while I wasn’t sure if I could put myself through it all again. But we were so desperate to be parents, we agreed to give it another go.
"Once more, I fell pregnant, but yet again it ended in a miscarriage. Our dreams of a family were crushed and we just felt utterly broken. And it felt as though we couldn’t escape our devastation. Adverts for nappies on TV, friends announcing pregnancies - it was like we were being tortured.
"Slowly, we started to think about giving it another try, but then 2020 came, and everything was put on hold thanks to COVID. ‘What if it’s all too late?’ I sobbed to Gareth. Things were tough between us for a few months while we came to terms with it, but we knew we’d be alright in the end.
"We put the time to good use, researching new clinics and treatments, and saving hard. We found an infertility specialist in Athens, Mr George Christopoulos, who’d had amazing results with unexplained fertility. It felt like the answer to our prayers and after much consideration we decided to give IVF one final go and used our £8.500 savings to pay for it. This time, though, we only told my dad, step-mum Linda and Jenny, just in case.
"In June 2021 we flew to Athens. Amazingly, we had nine embryos this time, and two were implanted. Back home I felt scared and excited, but after an agonising two weeks, a pregnancy test confirmed it had worked. I couldn’t relax, and by seven weeks I felt sick with worry. But seven weeks became eight, and a scan revealed something else. ‘You’re having twins,’ the sonographer said.
"Tears streamed down my face. We’d been praying for a miracle for so long and now we had two! Weekly scans showed the babies were doing well, and finally, at 16 weeks, Gareth and I both began to relax. Out shopping one day, we picked up a few things for the babies and found ourselves getting excited. ‘These are adorable,’ Gareth said, holding up two pairs of booties and tiny little hats.
"A caesarean was booked for 37 weeks, but five days before the date, I went into labour and finally, after years of struggle, my babies were born on 7 February 2022 weighing 6lb 3oz and 5lb 3oz. As Corey and Lottie were placed in my arms I thought I would never stop smiling. ‘I’ve been waiting to meet you forever,’ I cried, kissing their heads.
"Gareth and I truly enjoy every part of being parents - the twins bring us untold joy, we don’t even mind the tantrums or the mess that seems to follow little people everywhere! Because we are just so grateful to have our babies. It took us years of worry and heartache, and £40k, but they are everything we ever dreamed of and you can’t put a price on that."
When Holly and Gareth discovered they were expecting twins, they signed up for the early pregnancy and antenatal courses with Twins Trust. It's the only UK-wide charity dedicated to improving the lives of families with twins, triplets, or more.
This feature was originally published in July 2023 in Woman’s Own magazine, which is also owned by Future Publishing. We sought permission from the contributors before resharing their story.
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Clare Swatman is an author and journalist with more than 25 years of experience writing for women’s magazines, as well as eight published novels to her name.
She has been Assistant Editor of Bella, Commissioning Editor at Best, and has freelanced at Take a Break, Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman and Home among many others. She was also Editor of her local magazine for eight years, where she wrote content on everything from news stories to parenting, health, and gardening. More recently she has written for several online publications including Netmums and Live Science.
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