A woman who was told she would not be able to have children gave birth TWICE – and claims it is all down to joining the gym.
Hannah Carpenter, 35, spent a year trying to have a baby with husband Michael before being diagnosed with a condition that meant the chances of conceiving naturally were slim.
The couple persevered for the next eights years, attempting everything from artificial insemination, medication and four rounds of IVF treatment.
After the long-running battle – which included one devastating miscarriage – the pair had accepted they would never have their own child.
But Hannah was gobsmacked after she joined the gym to lose weight, and a few months later, discovered she was expecting a baby.
And just when the couple thought they couldn’t be any happier, they found out they would be having a second daughter.
Hannah said: “The first time I just couldn’t believe it. I had been talking with a friend because I had one month of normal cycles and the next month it had stopped.
“She asked if I was pregnant and I said ‘God no’. She said I should do a test just to be on the safe side.
“The next day I did the test. It changed straight away. I just sat there thinking, ‘Oh my God, oh my god’.
“I went and told my husband and he was in shock as well. He said, ‘It can’t be right’.”
Hannah rushed to see her GP, who confirmed the good news.
Hannah added: “I spent a fortune on pregnancy tests every week, just to make sure something was there.
“I just kept having to pinch my self. At the time, I was scared that something was going to go wrong.
“It seemed too good to be true.”
After getting married in 2006, Hannah and dock crane operator Michael, from Ipswich, Suffolk returned from their honeymoon in Egypt and decided to try for a baby.
But after a year of no luck, Hannah was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that affects a woman’s ovaries and can make it difficult to get pregnant.
“They said we would have to go down the fertility treatment route,” said Hannah, who works as a relationship manager for an insurance broker.
The hopeful couple first tried artificial insemination, and then medication to stimulate Hannah’s ovaries.
When that proved futile, they went through four rounds of IVF treatment.
Although one of these were initially successful, Hannah suffered a miscarriage.
Hannah said: “We were devastated to be honest. We got a little glimmer of hope. For that to be taken away a few weeks later, it just seemed so cruel.
“I remember crying to my mum and dad saying I just didn’t understand how it was fair.”
By this point, the pair had all but given up on the idea they would ever be able to start a family.
Hannah said: “We thought it was just not going to happen. We’ll just have to be happy how we are.
“I joined the gym to lose weight, and at the time I didn’t think anything of it.
“I’d lost weight in the past and it hadn’t made any difference.”
After a few months at the gym, Hannah had dropped from around 14st 7lb to 10st 7lb.
In May 2015, she found out she was almost two months pregnant, and the following January, gave birth to her first daughter Nancy.
Hannah said an endocrinologist at Ipswich Hospital told her that her weight loss was probably the reason she had conceived.
“With PCOS, your hormones are out of balance and losing weight can help them balance it up,” she added.
And almost exactly two years later, she gave birth to her second daughter Dorothy.
She said: “It was still a bit of a shock. After having Nancy, things turned to normal and my cycles stopped again.
“The doctor said she doubted I would be having more children.”
Hannah and Michael’s incredible story came to light after her gym – Gymophobics in Ipswich – nominated her for its ‘Inspirational Member of the Year’ award, which she won.
The mother said she and 38-year-old Michael felt “so lucky” to have Nancy and Dorothy, now aged three and one.
Hannah said: “A lot of people take for granted that they can have children when they want to. I never imagined that I might not be able to.
“I always appreciate things and know how lucky I am to have them both.
“Sometimes, I sit and look at them and still can’t believe it.”
The mum said she wanted to send a message to other women with PCOS not to give up all hope.
She added: “It’s difficult to lose weight when you’ve got PCOS but it’s worth trying.
“I would say to not give up and give it a go.”