Wife of McFly singer Harry Judd on their arduous and painful journey to becoming parents
Married to McFly drummer and Strictly winner Harry, Izzy Judd seemed to have it all, but becoming a mum seemed impossible. She opens up on her ordeal to Gabrielle Fagan.
After two rounds of IVF treatment and enduring the heartbreak of a miscarriage, Harry Judd - Strictly winner and drummer with pop band McFly - and his wife Izzy are clearly revelling in the joy of their first child, Lola.
"She's our miracle and it's so wonderful to have her in my arms. Waking up to her smile every day is amazing, and we both feel very blessed, especially as I feared I'd never become a mother," says Izzy, as she cuddles the three-month-old - the spitting image of her famous father and a happy ending after their desperate three-year struggle for a family.
"We think of her as our 'rainbow baby', something so precious which has come after the storm and darkness. We've been through an emotional roller coaster and had pain and difficult times, but now there's peace and this beautiful little being."
Izzy's speaking to mark the launch of the country's first National Centre for Miscarriage Research, set up by UK baby charity Tommy's to look into early miscarriage - around 250,000 women have miscarriages every year, with 85% occurring within the first 12 weeks.
Izzy reveals for the first time that her overwhelming happiness is sometimes tinged with sadness because she still feels the loss of her first baby two years ago.
"When that happened, I suffered so much guilt that I couldn't seem to give Harry the child we both wanted so much. There were some very dark moments which I wouldn't have got through without his support. He's my best friend and has been my rock throughout," declares the bubbly 32-year-old.
A former violinist with Britain's Got Talent group, Escala, she first met 30-year-old Judd when she played in the string section on McFly's 2005 tour and they married in 2012.
However, after 18 months, and despite six hormone therapy treatments, it was clear that Izzy, who has polycystic ovary syndrome which can affect fertility, was unable to conceive and IVF became their only option.
"My biological clock was ticking, our family and friends were having children, and at times seeing a happy couple wheeling a pram felt like a knife to my heart. You start to feel you're never going to be the ones who get to say, 'we're having a baby'," she recalls.
"It's like pressing 'pause' on your life because it's so difficult to move forward and plan anything."
Although their first IVF treatment in November 2014 was a success, their elation turned to despair when Izzy miscarried on Christmas Day at seven weeks.
"I've never talked before to anyone, apart from Harry, about the pain of losing our first child, because it was a bereavement which devastated us. For the first few weeks, we woke up every day with this feeling of awful grief. Harry's very in tune with his emotions so we could share what we felt, cry together and hold each other," she says quietly.
"People sort of dismiss it with, 'at least it was early, it was only seven weeks', but that's no comfort. For almost two years we'd dreamt of that baby, so there was enormous hope, love and emotion invested in the tiny embryo which we'd even seen implanted. I think the pain of miscarriage is totally underestimated. When there's no explanation for it, you're just left wondering whether you could have done something different or prevented it, which is torture. For a while, I ranged from blaming myself, to feeling sorry for myself.
"Even more depressing was knowing that IVF doctors select the strongest embryo which is most likely to survive, so you have the best possible chance of success. So when even the best that science could offer failed, I felt we had reached a dead end."
The couple decided to have one more treatment four months later and Lola Rose Emma Judd was born on January 25.
"I was too frightened of something going wrong again to be able to totally enjoy my pregnancy, but during the nine months, strange things happened to give me comfort. I saw an unusual amount of rainbows, which are full of luck and promise, and I was constantly finding white feathers, which I believe are a sign that a guardian angel's looking after you," she says.
They felt "euphoria" at seeing their daughter for the first time. Harry touchingly described the first moment he saw his daughter as "like floating on a cloud of love" and Izzy says "hearing her cry, and knowing she was ok was an indescribable release of emotion - I'd secretly wanted a girl and it was complete bliss to hold her".
The whole experience has drawn her and Harry, who she says "matured and became a man" on Strictly Come Dancing in 2011, even closer together as a couple.
"Stepping out on his own, away from the band, and performing as an individual on that show was much more terrifying for him than playing to huge stadiums with McFly, but he grew as a person during that time," she says.
"Becoming a dad has further brought out the absolute best in him - he's brilliant and besotted with Lola."
McFly, who boast 18 consecutive top 20 singles, joined forces in 2013 with group Busted to form super group McBusted, but have recently returned as a foursome. The original McFly members, Judd, Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones and Dougie Poynter, start a four-city UK tour in June, but Izzy has no qualms about her husband being away and getting besieged by hordes of adoring female fans.
"We have total trust in each other, come from similar backgrounds and share the same morals. Also, when you've been tested by what we've been through together, you realise you can rely on each other 100%," she says.
"Whenever I got really down and couldn't see the way forward, he'd always reassure me and say, 'if, in a worst case scenario, it's just you and me and no children then I'll still be happy'. He helped me realise we'd survive as a couple no matter what the final outcome."
While she and Harry may try for another child in the future, for now she vows to "live in the moment".
"I wanted to be a mummy and now I am and that's what I'm focusing on. I'll never forget that first baby. That unborn child will always be part of our family and even now I sometimes wonder what her brother or sister might have been or would have looked like.
"But in a way I feel Lola is almost connected to that lost soul. She's from the same batch of four eggs which the doctors harvested and I find that link comforting."
By speaking out about her fertility problems, she hopes to help others.
"I didn't want people thinking that just because we have so-called 'celebrity' everything's airbrushed and perfect. Fertility problems can affect anyone. We're an ordinary couple who were so lucky to have help from IVF and that should be celebrated, not hidden. It's brought us a fulfilment we barely dared hoped for."
- Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, how to prevent it and how to better support women and families. To share your story or read the experiences of others, visit tommys.org/miscourage