'I'm not sure I will ever find peace with losing our first baby'
Musician Izzy Judd tells Gabrielle Fagan how she and pop star husband Harry coped with fertility problems and the trauma of a miscarriage before their first child
Only a few weeks away from the birth of her second baby, Izzy Judd, just like any expectant mother, is excitedly making preparations for the new arrival. But her journey to motherhood has been more tortured than most, and she reveals she nearly “lost herself” in the process.
“It feels like a miracle that I’m having a second baby when for so long I feared I’d never have a child at all. This time I’ve fallen pregnant naturally, which was beyond my wildest dreams,” says Izzy, who’s married to McFly drummer and Strictly Come Dancing champion Harry Judd.
Their baby will be born in September, and the couple have a daughter, Lola, 19 months, born after IVF treatment.
Trying to conceive became an “obsession”
The 33-year-old has bravely laid bare her three-year struggle for a family in her book, Dare To Dream, in a bid to help other would-be parents.
“I desperately wanted to be a mother. I became obsessed with conceiving and every failure made me more obsessed. I wondered if somehow I was less of a woman if I couldn’t get pregnant. I ended up questioning my whole identity and almost losing myself,” she admits.
“Sometimes you get so lost (in it), you forget what you do have and how lucky you are. Panic sets in. I worried at one point it would affect our relationship — you can end up having sex, not because you want to, but because you need to because now is ‘the time’ you might conceive. Suddenly, there’s no fun, no joy, no flirting or romance left — instead it just becomes routine.”
Having husband Harry’s support was crucial throughout IVF and pregnancy
The couple’s love for each other has kept them strong throughout, and she and Harry (“My amazing soulmate and best friend”) have managed to weather painful times and “dark days”.
They met in 2005 when Izzy played violin in the backing orchestra on McFly’s Wonderland tour. She later found her own fame playing with electronic string quartet Escala, who reached the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2008.
To the outside world, it seemed they were a golden celebrity couple who had everything, but 18 months after their marriage, and despite six hormone therapy treatments, Izzy still hadn’t conceived.
According to the NHS, it’s estimated that one in seven couples in the UK have difficulty conceiving. Izzy was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which can be a factor, and although her first IVF treatment worked, she was devastated when she suffered a miscarriage at just over six weeks in 2014. Family sadness, anxiety and miscarriage made getting pregnant even tougher.
Izzy believes a heartbreaking family event when she was 13 impacted on her chances of getting pregnant naturally. Her eldest brother, Rupert suffered brain damage in a car accident when he was 18 and the trauma left her with deep-seated anxiety, which she still battles.
“Rupert’s accident brought our family huge sadness, which has never gone away. The theft of his life as it could have been — he was a very talented musician — has always been very hard,” she says quietly.
“The accident triggered a huge surge of anxiety in me and I became an adult very suddenly, but with no emotional maturity to deal with that. Over the years, my anxiety led to my being unable to relax because I felt I wouldn’t be in control and something bad might happen.
“When it comes to fertility, if you’re constantly in an anxious state, or in that heightened fight-or-flight mode, your body won’t do what it needs to do to produce.”
The joy of having Lola has eased some of the pain
She will never forget the moment she and Harry went for their second round of IVF treatment, which resulted in Lola: “You’re in this quite sterile environment and they show you on the screen the embryo being released, which is actually very emotional and magical, and a beautiful side to IVF many people don’t know about.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever find peace with losing our first baby, but I believe its spirit lives on in Lola. She’s wonderful. Harry’s besotted with her and is a brilliant dad. She kisses my stomach when we ask her where the baby is and we can’t wait to introduce her to her sibling.
“I have learnt so much through what we’ve gone through — that you can’t control life, you must just trust it to unfold.
“You have to live it forwards and understand it backwards. Realising that has really helped calm my anxiety.”
It’s a possibility, but there are no plans yet for more babies.
At the moment Izzy’s uncertain whether they will add to their family any further. “Growing up I was always (saying), ‘I want a big family’, but then you never think you will have fertility problems,” she says.
“We still have one embryo in the freezer, which I like to think is there with its little hat on keeping cosy. I’m not sure how I would feel not going back to give that little life a chance, especially looking at Lola and seeing who she is.
“Even though it’s been very hard to become a mum, I wouldn’t change a thing because when I think back to the moment Lola was born, I know I would have waited forever for her. Now I’m so lucky to be expecting this second baby and just want to take each day as it comes, to live in the present, and appreciate every moment of what we have as a family.
“I know how precious it is.”
Dare To Dream: My Struggle To Become A Mum — A Story Of Heartache And Hope by Izzy Judd is available now, published by Bantam Press, £14.99