With four small children in the house, Joanne has enough to look after. But she doesn’t complain. She enjoys all of the trouble.. It cost the 43-year-old woman 14 years of struggle, a marriage and around £70,000 to become a mother.
Imagine four little mouths clamoring for food at the same time – every day, morning, noon and night. Imagine the nights when one baby’s cry wakes the other until the whole pack is wide awake while you yourself are so tired you can barely keep your eyes open. Imagine having to change around 140 diapers every week! Then you have a sense of what it’s like to be Joanne Scollard-Ker, mother of four babies, the oldest being Pippa, and the triplets Spencer, Theo and Drew. But, on the contrary, Joanne isn’t complaining.
“My children are worth it all. If I turn back the clock four years, I would have given anything to be in the situation I am in now, because then I had no children, only a desperate desire to become a mother,” says 43-year-old Joanne, who however will admit that it can get pretty noisy at times in the house in Telford, England.
“It’s not often, but it has happened that I’ve pulled my hair out and thought, ‘Oh my God’,” she laughs.
For 14 years, Joanne struggled to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ. The dream of becoming a mother has cost her around £70,000 and a marriage. It wasn’t until Joanne met her current fiance, Neil, 42, that the dream came true. In 2012 Joanne and Neil became parents to little Pippa, and in November 2014 the triplets followed as a partially unexpected surprise.
Joanne had her first attempt at ᴀʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ ɪɴsᴇᴍɪɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, I.V.F, when she was 28. At that time, she and her then-husband had tried for two years in vain to have a child naturally. Nine grueling rounds of I.V.F ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs later – during which Joanne only managed to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ once, after which she sadly lost the child – the couple were so emotionally drained that the marriage broke up after seven years.
But Joanne didn’t give up. Now that she no longer had a husband, she simply continued with the help of sperm donors. She raised the money to pay for the expensive ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs, which took place at a clinic in the Czech Republic, by selling her house, among other things. It helped just a little. At the age of 40, Joanne was still left alone with nothing but the dream of one day becoming a mother.
It turned out that for some reason Joanne’s ɪᴍᴍᴜɴᴇ system attacked the ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴢᴇᴅ ᴇɢɢs as if they were foreign, and that she also had problems with her ᴛʜʏʀᴏɪᴅ ɢʟᴀɴᴅ, which can make pregnancy difficult. “But as long as no one told me that it was impossible for me to become a mother, I would keep trying,” she says.
Joanne was just planning another I.V.F ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ with sperm from a donor when a friend suggested she go on holiday to Ibiza to take a breather. Maybe she needed a break. And it was on the Spanish holiday island in September 2011 that Joanne met Neil. “It was a love story. We fell head over heels for each other. I was completely open about my plans and he supported me. But I still decided to wait a bit with the next I.V.F ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ,” says Joanne. She hoped that Neil might replace the donor if she gave him some time.
It turned out to be a wise decision, because soon after Neil announced that he was ready to start a family with Joanne. “Maybe I was just meant to find love first,” she muses. In just one year, the couple were engaged, and after just one treatment at a ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ clinic in Athens, Greece, the miracle finally happened: Joanne became pregnant!
It was a hard pregnancy. Still, the couple had no doubts: Little Pippa had not come into the world so soon after they decided to have another child. The first three rounds of I.V.F ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs all ended in ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇs. “We were about to buy a house, and with each ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ our budget got smaller. We simply had to draw a line,” says Joanne, who therefore only wanted to try one more time. It was her 17th I.V.F ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ and if it failed they would drop the plan to make Pippa a big sister.
But once again luck smiled on the couple. In April 2014, a pregnancy test showed that Joanne was pregnant again, and already at the first scan it was clear that it was triplets. “It was good that I lay down when I was told. Otherwise I would have fallen over,” laughs Joanne.
The doctors advised her to have one or both of the ꜰᴇᴛᴜsᴇs removed to reduce the ʀɪsᴋ ᴏꜰ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs, but Joanne and Neil chose to let nature take its course. Already in the 33rd week, the triplets were delivered via ᴄᴀᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ. A total of 22 doctors attended, and fortunately for that, because during the operation Joanne’s brain swelled and she had a stroke which nearly cost her her life. “I only managed to see one of the children before I fainted,” she remembers.
It wasn’t until two days later that she was strong enough to be wheeled into the neonatal unit and see her three little babies. After two weeks, the children and Joanne were ready to come home – to a completely new life and a completely new and chaotic everyday life. “It has been a long journey, but I feel that I have now reached the goal,” says the busy mother of four with a big, but slightly tired smile.