Infertility Problem of Fatima Whitbread The Olympic Ace Meets Joyful Finalé
According to the 52-year-old Olympic champion, her son Ryan was the "best thing that ever happened" to her.
"My biological clock was ticking away. I was 35 and I had been trying for a baby for six years with my future husband Andrew Norman. Ever since I was young, I had longed to be a mother," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
"Perhaps it would reverse my terrible start in life. My childhood was one anyone would describe as a nightmare. I was found, three months old, malnourished and abandoned in a London council flat.
"Andrew had already fathered two children, so he was shattered to be diagnosed with low sperm motility. He had plenty of sperm of good quality but they were not swimming fast enough to fertilise my eggs.
"At 54, Andrew, as the UK's leading athletics agent, was so busy taking care of athletes that he hadn't taken care of himself. He had begun to suffer from diabetes and heart problems.
"These problems got worse over the years and would ultimately be the cause of his sudden death from a heart attack in 2007 at the young age of 64.
"If Andrew had rested more and switched to a better diet, if he had taken exercise and vitamins and minerals, eventually things may have worked on their own but he wasn't about to start changing his lifestyle so we opted to go for IVF.
"It was a very emotional time for us as a couple, and when the doctors said they could not guarantee we would have just one baby should the treatment succeed - there was a good chance it would be two or three - neither of us minded.
"I would have been happy with twins, and although three would have been a handful, we would have managed somehow. After the drug treatment to stimulate my egg production, they were 'harvested' under local anaesthetic. Given all the years of training and demands on my body, it was a small amount of pain to go through.
"I didn't see it but I know what happened next. Andrew's sperm was injected into an egg in a Petri dish. Now all we had to do was hope and pray and wait for this 'sample' to take. When it did, the fertilised egg would be implanted in my womb.
"When the time came, we went back to London's Harley Street, but as soon as the doctor sat us down we knew. Andrew reached over and took my hand.
"The first attempt had failed. I felt terrible, and so did Andrew, and not just because the treatment I would have to go through again was unpleasant. There was no question we would try. We waited six months and I eased up on my training in my job as a coach and tried to avoid stressful situations.
"On the second attempt I did get pregnant. I was elated. I carried my baby for nearly four months, but then I had a miscarriage and lost my child in a pool of blood. The loss was devastating to both of us.
"After the initial shock I became very frightened. My emotions were all over the place and I started suffering anxiety attacks, just as I had as a small child. It took me into a very dark place and I became severely depressed.
"It is the most terrible thing to lose a baby. People expect you to just get on with things but you can't because your child has died. And my biggest fear was that this might have been the end, that there would be no more chances to have a family.
"Finally, I began taking medication to thicken the lining of my womb, in preparation for a third and final attempt, but I was broken-hearted. At about this time, my brother Kirk and his wife had a baby. When I held James in my arms, I was overcome with yearning for one of my own.
"Even as I blinked back the tears and congratulated them, I could feel that longing inside me like a hollow wound. I could only hope that my luck would change.
"Andrew and I had been together for a decade when we married in 1997 and decided there and then in the little church in West Sussex that if we were lucky enough to have a child, we would christen them in the same church.
"And, just a few weeks later, in June 1997, I was pregnant again. I was so scared. A new life was growing inside me and it took all precedence. It made me consider how precious life is, and for the first time I realised I could not control the situation as I had done with my athletics career.
"Whether or not I was to be blessed with a baby was in the hands of God. I prayed and would have given all my medals away just for the chance to become a mum. It was what I had always wanted to complete our lives.
"My baby was not due until March the following year so I joined my husband in South Africa after I'd passed the danger point in my pregnancy.
"I remember how strange I felt one afternoon and I was so tired, it took me an hour to get up to my room.
"Next morning I had a check-up and the doctor asked me: 'Are you in pain?'
"No!' I answered, terrified something was wrong.
"Because you are 4cm dilated and this baby is arriving tonight.'
"Just three hours later on February 25, 1998, Ryan Norman Andrew arrived three weeks early, weighing 4lb 9oz and my husband cut the umbilical cord.
"Ryan was no bigger than a bag of sugar and it seemed so unbelievable that nature can produce such a tiny being. I will never forget that feeling when the midwife laid Ryan on my stomach. I felt instant love, instant warmth. I was almost 37 and a mum at last. 'We finally did it, Fatima,' said Andrew as he kissed my brow. 'This time we crossed the finish line'," she added.