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5 July 2017, 21:32
Harry Judd's wife Izzy might have the family she's always dreamed of but it hasn't been an easy road. She hopes her new book 'Dare To Dream' will offer encouragement to those unable to start a family.
From the outside looking in, Izzy Judd, 33, has the picture perfect family.
She's not only a member of electronic string quartet Escala and wife to McFly heartthrob, Harry Judd, 31; she's also mother to their beautiful two-year-old daughter Lola.
With another baby due in September, their brood appears to be shaping up quite nicely and while the former Britain's Got Talent star might have the family she's always dreamed of, it hasn't been an easy road.
For Izzy and Harry, the joy of having their second child is slightly overshadowed with doubt, due to the pain they both endured when attempting to have their daughter.
Two heartbreaking years of trying for a baby resulted in disappointment after disappointment and Izzy even suffered a miscarriage, something which she is finally ready to open up about in her new book.
"When you're pregnant, every pregnancy announcement is a little more painful," she explains. "I was very careful about who I could tell. I guess there is that certain level of expectation, 'Did it work? Am I pregnant this month?'"
"This time around I wanted to do it sensitively and I wanted to be honest about what we'd been through to get here."
Having been told by doctors as a teenager that she suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that affects a woman's oestrogen and progesterone levels causing cysts on the ovaries, Izzy later discovered she had trouble conceiving shortly after marrying Harry back in 2012.
Looking back she admits she put herself under a lot of pressure to get pregnant, which took its toll on her both physically and mentally.
"I was keen to have a family from the moment we got married," Izzy reflects. "There is that element of wanting to get to the 12 weeks and live out that dream of showing everyone the scan, that dream announcement you hope for when you're pregnant."
Faced with the harsh realities of her condition, the couple were forced to look for medical alternatives to help their fulfil their dream of starting a family.
Six months of taking fertility drug, Clomifene resulted in numerous disappointments, and while Izzy knew that IVF was the next logical step, she admits she had a hard time coming to terms with the idea.
"You say the letters IVF and it's very anxiety provoking and a scary prospect," Izzy explains.
"I admit, I even had a moment where I felt ashamed. You know I was a young woman going to have fertility treatment, I was so worried they would think, 'What is she doing here?'"
Research shows that as many as one in seven couples across the UK have trouble conceiving their first child, and even though an increasing number of babies are being born through IVF, Izzy claims those three letters still remain an awkward topic of conversation.
"I think because we don't talk about it, we don't know enough about the reality of what IVF actually is and what it means for people. That whole 'test tube baby' idea, almost gives it that negative connotation like it's not a real baby."
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one of the several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a child. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg is then returned to the woman's womb to grow and develop.
"As a woman, you feel like a failure if you can't conceive naturally," Izzy muses. "But actually with IVF you get to a certain point and your body takes over. So it's all you, it's just a helping hand."
The process is far from easy, with many couples needing more than one round of the treatment in order to have a successful pregnancy, and while Izzy claims the "tough process" had a lot of physical demands on her body, it was all worth it when doctors finally transitioned Lola's egg into her womb.
"There comes a moment where they transfer this life back in you and you're there with your husband and you see this flash of light across the screen," she recalls. "It was an emotional moment. I turned to Harry and he was just in floods of tears. It was this moment where you finally see that there is hope."
For Izzy, her new book Dare To Dream is her way of taking steps to open up the conversation around IVF and offer couples struggling to conceive a child of their own, a voice.
"I think Harry and I decided that we were going to open up and I just had the most amazing reaction from other women in response," she explains, adding that she can fully resonate with the plight of her readers.
"A lot of them message me and say they can't tell friends or even family what they're going through, and I understand that."
Writing the book has meant revisiting some of her most difficult memories but Izzy insists the process has helped put her experiences into perspective, in particular, her anxiety which is something she believes was a key factor in not being able to conceive and was partly triggered by her brother Rupert's car crash when she was just 13-years-old.
"The process has been very therapeutic and when you write something down, all of a sudden everything starts to make sense," Izzy reflects.
"There are very important parts of me that I believe, particularly in terms of my anxiety, that had an impact on my fertility because for so many years I was in that fight or flight mode. I was in this vicious cycle, and people would tell me 'just relax' but I couldn't.
"I'm the kind of person when I get anxiety, I try to stay in control, and of course, pregnancy is something you have no control over. So that was really tough for me."
Izzy credits Harry for being her rock throughout the process, even though she acknowledges her "obsession" with becoming pregnant began to take a toll on their marriage.
"I felt like my world had stopped, I was so consumed with becoming pregnant," she admits.
"I remember I was hysterical after another failed pregnancy test, and Harry held me in his arms and said, 'Look, the worst case scenario is that it's just you and me and that's fine'. I think that was the lightbulb moment where I realised something had to change. I needed to stop putting pressure on myself, and I went on a complete mind, body and soul detox."
Fast forward five years and Izzy is in a much better place both mentally and physically, and she says after relieving herself from the pressure of conceiving, she's now been blessed to have fallen pregnant with her second child through natural conception.
"Looking back, I think everything that happened was my body's way of telling me it wasn't safe for me to have a baby at that time," she reflects.
While Izzy admits she will certainly have her hands full with two children, she's often left wondering what could become of the final embryo she had frozen during her initial IVF treatment.
So is baby number three on the cards?
"I still struggle with the idea that they could have picked either of those embryos when we went to get Lola, and we might not have met her if they did," Izzy explains. "So the idea of not going back and giving that life a chance too, I'm not sure how well that sits with Harry and I."
For now, Izzy and Harry are thrilled at the prospects of being parents to two children and they've decided to keep the gender of their baby a "surprise" until it's arrival.
After everything they've been through Izzy feels more than lucky to have the family she's always wished for and hopes her experience will give other couples the encouragement they need when beginning their IVF journey.
"I think for women going through it, there are hurdles you have to go through to get to each stage, there's is a lot of pressure, but if you can shift your perspective slightly then it's a beautiful experience."