A determined Scots mum has given birth to her miracle baby after 25 years of failed IVF procedures. Helen Dalglish, from Glasgow’s Dennistoun, endured a staggering 21 attempts to get pregnant – costing almost £100,000 – before welcoming daughter Daisy Grace. The 54-year-old told the Record of her joy after years of heartache and how she never gave up on her dream of becoming a mother.
She said: “When you get that little miracle at the end, you forget about the 25 years. “I was looking down and the bump was getting bigger and I thought ‘am I dreaming?’ “Even now looking at her I can’t believe I’m a mum. It’s surreal.” Helen moved to Cyprus in her 20s and starting trying for a baby with her then husband when she was 28.
They moved back to Scotland soon after and when tests showed no complications they were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. Tests in Cyprus had revealed a potential issue with the positioning of Helen’s uterus but she said medics in Scotland were not concerned.
The couple underwent four intrauterine insemination procedures, where sperm is placed directly into the womb, without success before moving on to IVF. They were only eligible for one free round of treatment on the NHS and over the next 20 years they would endure a succession of failed, privately-funded attempts – despite producing top quality embryos. But defiant Helen could still picture her baby.
She said: “Sometimes it got too much emotionally, physically and financially. “Sometimes we stopped for a year or two. Because they said it was unexplained we thought ‘we’ll do some yoga, meditation, alternative health, because there’s nothing stopping us. Maybe it’ll just happen if we forget about it’”.
“Every one that fails you’re absolutely devastated. It’s like a death. I would get down for a couple of weeks but then I would pick myself up and say ‘right, if you want this baby, get your act together’. “I tried to forget about the failed ones as if I’d started from fresh.” Helen grew concerned that every time medics tried to transfer her embryos back into her womb the procedure was unbearably painful, as thought medics were “hitting a wall”. She asked to be sedated for future procedures, but still, the result was negative.
More than a decade into her IVF journey, Helen heard a Scottish consultant speaking on infertility and decided to move clinics. But she was crushed when the consultant confirmed her womb was severely tilted and said he believed all of her other embryo transfers had been “wasted”. From then Helen got pregnant three times but suffered heartbreaking miscarriages.
She said: “By that point I was 41 and 42 and they just weren’t sticking. I would get to around nine or 10 weeks (of pregnancy). “What kept me going was I just kept seeing this baby. I tried to switch it off sometimes and said ‘stop punishing yourself and putting your body through this.’ “Sometimes I would try and accept it, but then I couldn’t.”
Helen decided her only chance of now becoming a mum was to finally agree to using donor eggs, but despite creating 10 strong embryos she received the crushing news they had all perished. She said: “I decided I wasn’t going to do any more and tried to get over it but it kept coming back up. That’s when I found Dunya.”
Helen had by this point moved back to Paphos, Cyprus, with her current partner and decided their “last chance saloon” was Dunya Fertility Centre in Kyrenia. She said: “I wasn’t going to do the very last treatment. My father had been seriously ill at home back in Scotland and he passed away.
“My mum said I should do another. Before dad passed away he said to her ‘what can I send you from heaven?’ and she said ‘please send her a baby’. “That gave me the extra wee push in the end to go for it.” The couple’s first attempt failed when they carried out genetic testing on their embryos but they were stunned to conceive on their second attempt with the clinic.
A medic had carried out a trial run of the transfer procedure to ensure he could access Helen’s womb correctly and the couple received their positive pregnancy test via email two weeks later. Helen said: “The two of us burst out crying and screaming. My mum thought it was negative but it was tears of relief and happiness. “I think my dad must have had something to do with it.”
Helen developed diabetes and pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy, but with each passing month she grew more confident she was finally going to meet her baby. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl in September, aged 53. She said: “When we came home I burst out crying. It felt like 25 years of grief trying to escape and caught me at a moment where I wasn’t expecting it.
“It’s absolute heaven. She just keeps getting better. “She seems the most placid, laid-back, happy baby. It’s almost like I waited so long and now I’m being spoilt. “I was very near the deadline at 53. I think at 55 you can’t do any more. “I would like to thank all the staff and doctors and everyone at the clinic.
“She’s a little darling and worth waiting another 25 years for.” Helen’s doctor, Dr Alper Eraslan of Dunya IVF, said her determination would be an inspiration to others. He said: “Even though it can be both psychologically and financially burdensome sometimes, with our support, knowledge, and experience we are aiming to help women who want to have a healthy baby. “We are so happy to see women like Helen finally getting the chance to have their own children, and we will continue to do our best in helping other couples achieve this dream as well.”