By Robert Firth
An ‘infertile’ mum who feared she’d be childless forever now has two children just 15 months apart – after unexpectedly getting pregnant naturally just SIX MONTHS after her IVF baby was born.
Mum-of-two Courtney Mills, 24, from Stroud, Gloucs, thought she’d never be able to have children of her own when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 18 and told she was infertile.
But after two miscarriages and two failed rounds of IVF – one of which made her seriously ill after she developed a severe form of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a reaction to hormone injections – Courtney and partner Mike Stanton, 29, thought their lifelong dreams of beginning a family were doomed forever.
Incredibly, the couple’s wishes finally came true in July 2018 when Courtney gave birth to daughter Isla, now 18 months, after their third attempt at IVF was successful.
And unbelievably, a second surprise was on the way just six months later when Courtney unexpectedly fell pregnant with son Stanley, now 16 weeks, in January 2019 – welcoming him into the world in October last year.
Former hairdresser Courtney and partner of seven years Mike, a door fitter, are now adjusting to life with ‘two under two’.
She said: “Sometimes I never thought we would have one baby, so for two to come along in such a short space of time is really overwhelming.
“It was unbelievable, a miracle really. I couldn’t believe it. It was very surreal.
“But we are very, very happy.
“I never wanted to live a life without children. I never wanted to be anything else in life than a mum.
“I remember when I was 13, being so excited for one day to have children.
“There were times after the IVF had failed two times that I thought about giving up. It took over our lives.
“But we just thought, this is our only hope: we need to give it a go.”
The birth of Isla, 18 months, and Stanley, 16 weeks, was a dream ending to the couple’s five years of fertility hell, which began in 2013 when full-time mum Courtney and Mike started trying for children when Courtney was 17.
After a year passed with no success, Courtney finally fell pregnant in January 2015 but was rushed to hospital with bleeding at 10 weeks’ pregnant and miscarried.
Courtney fell pregnant again four months later, but miscarried again soon after.
The couple first tried IVF in 2016 after a specialist told Courtney it was their only option if they wanted children of their own due to the PCOS.
But later the same year, she fell seriously ill just after having her eggs collected.
Courtney had developed a severe form of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – a reaction to hormone injections – and became severely dehydrated, as well as suffering from extreme bloating.
Doctors told her they had never seen a patient become as ill as her from the condition, which in milder forms is a common side effect of IVF, and she spent a week on a drip in hospital to prevent damage to her kidneys.
Courtney said: “2015 when was probably the worst year of my life.
“People in the hairdressers would ask if I had any children. It was really hard.
“When a nurse told me that my only option was to have IVF, it was such a shock. I didn’t know anyone else who had IVF and I couldn’t believe I was having it at 19.
“The nurses guaranteed it would work, they told me ‘you’re fit and healthy’ but I was more cautious.
“I just couldn’t get excited having had the miscarriages before.
“But in August 2016, I couldn’t keep anything down and rushed to hospital?
“I was on a drip but the fluid was seeping out of my veins because my blood was sticky.
“I gained three stone in fluid in three days. I went from size 8 to 10 to size 16 to 18.
“I didn’t think I was coming out of there alive. My kidneys weren’t getting any fluid.”
It took more than a year and two more rounds of NHS IVF for Courtney to eventually get the news she had been waiting for, finally falling pregnant with Isla in November 2017.
But in February 2019, she was surprised to find that she was pregnant again with baby number two, Stanley, having stopped using precautions due to her supposed infertility.
Courtney said: “I was feeling very hormonal and very irrational, so I decided to do a test.
“We weren’t taking precautions, but I had no inkling that I was going to be pregnant.
“I think it was because my hormone levels were different.
“My hormone levels were still high from the first time and I think that was why I feel pregnant so quickly.
“It was very surprising.”
The couple now have their hands full juggling Isla and Stanley, but that hasn’t put them off wanting to continue growing their family.
Courtney said: “We are taking a break because such a small age gap makes for absolute chaos.
“We want to have lots of children though.
“I want three children and my partner wants six. Maybe four will be a compromise.
“We have 19 embryos still frozen, so we have got lots to play with.”