A mum endured a nine-year battle including SEVEN rounds of IVF and three miscarriages to have her miracle family.
Emma Rees, 38, thought she would fall pregnant straight after marrying husband Lyn, 38, but they struggled for years.
The couple forked out thousands of pounds on private IVF, only for each fertilisation to end in a miscarriage or unsuccessful attempt.
But after she had a two-year break to focus on being an aunt, she finally fell pregnant on her seventh attempt at IVF.
The proud parents welcomed twins Sophie and Ollie, now one, and now feel their family is complete.
The local government worker from Brynamman, Wales, said: “They were everything I’d imagined and more.
“Throughout the years, the image I had in my mind of my babies showed olive skin and dark hair like my husband’s, so I couldn’t believe it when they matched that to start with.
“I will never forget everything I went through to get to this point – but to have my babies in front of me, watching them grow every day, is just an indescribable feeling.
“Life is now complete and Sophie and Ollie couldn’t be more perfect. I’m so glad we didn’t give up because dreams really do come true.”
Emma started the long road to motherhood in 2009 when she and husband Lyn tied the knot and started trying for a baby.
Emma said: “It came as a shock when my traditional plan to get married and have children right away didn’t work out.
Life is now complete and Sophie and Ollie couldn’t be more perfect. I’m so glad we didn’t give up because dreams really do come true.
The couple found that they’d have to wait for help on the NHS so decided to go private and get the ball rolling, and Emma was pregnant by May 2013.
She said: “The feeling was indescribable, I couldn’t believe my luck. I became obsessive.
“I was constantly on Google looking up my symptoms and I must have taken 15 pregnancy tests – but they were only faintly positive.”
Emma lost the baby six weeks later, leaving her devastated.
“I was heartbroken and my husband didn’t want to do IVF again because of how hard I took it, but once I’d had time to reflect I was able to see the positive side – I was definitely able to get pregnant,” she said.
“We had our second cycle in October that year and it couldn’t have gone better – nine eggs were fertilised and everything seemed perfect.
“But after implantation the test came back negative and I was floored. I couldn’t understand it – on paper, our embryos were absolutely perfect, there didn’t seem to be any reason that it didn’t take.”
Emma tried for a third time three months later in January 2014 but, again, the IVF was unsuccessful.
“I wondered ‘why us?’ – I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting pregnant when it felt like everyone else was,” she said.
But that April, things finally seemed to fall into place.
“Our fourth round was finally successful and it felt like fate as my sister Katy was also pregnant, just two weeks further along than I was,” she said.
“I’ve always been so close with my sister, so it felt so right to be going through pregnancy together and at the seven week scan there was still a heartbeat, so all seemed well.”
But just one week after the scan, Emma started to notice her symptoms waning – she was less nauseous and the sensitivity in her breasts was disappearing.
She waited for a private scan at eight and a half weeks with the medical staff they had grown to know well.
She said: “Until the day I die, I will never forget the look on the nurse’s face when she did the scan.
“I knew the second I looked at her, and when she went to get a doctor I told Lyn: ‘This is it, we’ve lost the baby’.”
But the couple were determined to become parents, and in January 2015 Emma went through a fifth round of IVF – five days before her sister Katy went into labour.
Emma said: “When I look back on that time I feel guilty because Katy’s pregnancy was hard on the family and, exciting and special a time as it was, it was tinged with sadness.
“My sister was absolutely amazing and so sensitive to our situation, but we’d always spoken about me being her birthing partner and I wanted to see that through.
“Lyn thought I should be home with my feet up so soon after but I had a gut feeling it wasn’t going to work out.”
Sadly, Emma was right and the IVF wasn’t successful.
She said: “It was the most heartbreaking yet beautiful moment. As devastating as it was to not be pregnant, my nephew was about to change my life.
“I took one look at him and just fell in love, he was so perfect – and he immediately gave me hope again.”
Helping her sister in the first few months of her nephew’s life, Emma formed a close bond with the baby and her desperation to get pregnant began to subside.
“I felt that, if all I ever am is an auntie, then that would be fine. If having a nephew is my lot in life then that’s all I need.
“It was around that time that I started to open up to friends about what I’d been going through for the last few years.
“I heard a song on the radio – ‘Dying Inside’ by Gary Barlow – that just perfectly summed up how I felt, so I sent it to my friends to describe how I was feeling.
“It was like a weight lifted and I’ve been open with my journey ever since, even starting a blog called ‘IVF and Me’ to share my experience.”
Emma halted the IVF process for two years while she enjoyed being an auntie and learned to live life again, spending quality time with loved ones and hosting fun, musical dinner parties.
Eventually, in early 2017, she switched to specialists in London, Zita West Clinic, which offered holistic support like counselling and nutritional guidance.
She had IVF and was expecting twins, but lost them early into the pregnancy.
Emma decided on a last-ditch attempt with her remaining eggs, and this time had two embyros transferred in September 2017.
“Doctor’s suspected that one of the eggs was low quality so advised we do two, but amazingly both of them took and I was pregnant again,” she said.
“I was massively anxious, always waiting for things to go wrong again. It was mentally draining and I was bleeding a lot in the early weeks – which didn’t help calm me.
“I spent more time in hospital than out!”
The couple decided against buying any baby essentials until the 24 week mark.
Emma said: “Decorating the nursery was an experience I’ll never forget – I cried with happiness and disbelief every time I went in there for about three months!
“It never fully sank in.
“I was sure we were having two girls so when they said it was one of each I nearly hit the floor! We were overjoyed and just felt so, so lucky.”
Emma finally became a mother on 22nd May 2018, delivering twins Sophie and Ollie via emergency c-section seven weeks before their due date.
The babies weighed 4lb 7oz and 5lb 2oz.
Her sodium levels dropped whilst her potassium was through the roof, leaving Emma stuck in the high dependency unit for three days after their birth.
She recalled: “I got a glimpse of Sophie when she was first delivered, they wheeled her over to me and I said ‘I’ve waited a long time for you’, but then she and Ollie were put in the NICU and I was too poorly to see them.
“Nurses gave me an iPad so I could watch them, and then finally after three days I was able to meet them properly.”
The new mum nominated her midwife, Emma Thomas, for the Emma’s Diary Mums Midwife of the Year Award 2019 as thanks for the exceptional care and support she received throughout her journey to motherhood.