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Real Life: 'I lost five stone to become a mum'

Kate Lipp, 35, always knew she wanted to become a mum, but it took a staggering five stone weight loss and IVF journey to make the dream a reality. Story as told to Louise Cummings

Nick, Amber and Kate now (45801341)
Nick, Amber and Kate now (45801341)

“I met my husband Nick when I was 18, through a mutual friend – and we’ve been together for 16 years. I had my own hairdressing company, and Nick started a marquee business around the time we got together.

We bought our first house in Gamlingay when we were 23 and obviously when you move into your own place you can literally have anything you want in the cupboards, so we did!

We ate what we wanted, when we wanted, and often had friends over for takeaways or I’d cook tapas. That’s when we started putting on weight.

After a while, we both realised we were unhappy with our bodies and felt tired a lot of the time. At my biggest I was 17.5 stone, and although I’ve always had a small waist, I had a big bum, big legs and hips, and my face was getting rounder. I’m only 5ft 4in tall.

So, I didn’t feel right – and we also knew that we wanted to have children a few years down the line, so we needed to do something.

We started going to the gym about five or six times a week. I’d get up really early and do a couple of hours at the gym before starting work. We also began eating healthier, cutting out the takeaways and naughty stuff. Within a year I’d lost five stone - and I felt like a new woman! I’ve always hated my legs because they were like tree trunks, but after losing the weight, I started to feel a bit better about them.

I maintained the weight loss until we got married, six years ago, and we began trying for a family straight after our wedding. I’d come off the pill and after a year it hadn’t happened, and I remember people saying: ‘you should have fallen pregnant by now’.

It felt heartbreaking as friends around us were falling pregnant within that time. Whilst I was happy for them, in the back of my mind I was questioning ‘why isn’t it happening for us?’

After a year and a half of trying we went to see the doctor, who referred us for tests at Cambridge Hospital. The tests showed our infertility was unexplained, and that there was nothing medically wrong with either of us, so we’d have to wait three years before we could explore IVF on the NHS. I felt devastated.

But I got on with it, kept myself going to the gym, knowing that when it did finally happen, I needed to be fit and healthy.

We decided that while we were waiting for IVF, we’d pay privately to try IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) at Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic, so we went along and met all the staff there, who were lovely. But sadly the IUI didn’t work – and I felt devastated again.

It was September 2016 when we were able to try IVF at Bourn Hall, which I was eligible for on the NHS as I had a BMI below 30. We went through all the blood tests – and fortunately, as none of my friends had been through IVF, I had no preconceptions so could approach it with positivity and an open mind.

And Amber happened first time! When they told me I was pregnant I just burst into tears. She was my only egg that was viable. I felt so emotional, and remember thinking ‘please someone pinch me, so that I know I am not dreaming!’

I was determined to enjoy my pregnancy, as I thought this may be my only chance. I went to the gym the whole time I was pregnant with Amber, five times a week, but adapted the workouts.

Amber was born on May 27th, 2017, so she is four this year. I remember bursting into tears the first time I held her because I was just so happy! I was lucky to have a quick and easy birth at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, so we arrived at the Rosie at 3.15am and she was here by 4.45am. It was so magical, and because I had a nice birth, with no trauma, it made it all the more enjoyable.

Nick was smitten holding Amber in his arms; obviously you see your baby grow on the scans but it is amazing to finally physically hold your baby. Nick dotes on Amber and she adores him.

Amber, Picture Nicki Shea Photography (45801343)
Amber, Picture Nicki Shea Photography (45801343)

Amber is three now. She is a sassy cheeky little monkey and lovely; she’s strong willed, fiery like me, and a real bundle of joy.

I’ve lost even more weight since having Amber. I started Slimming World two years after her birth, mainly to support my mum – and she has lost 4 stone, and is still losing - and I lost another two stone, so I’m now around 10 stone, Amazingly, I’ve managed to maintain the loss through lockdown – I’m not sure how!

These days I keep fit through lots of walking, plus we’ve got a bigger house now in St Neots with lots of land and I’m obviously working too. I’ve launched a drain rodding business called Girls Jet It Better. During lockdown my hairdressing work and Nick’s marquee business were hit badly, and we were worried we might lose our house so I knew we needed to start a new business. So far, it’s going really well.

Ideally, we’d love to have another child, but it hasn’t happened in the past four years. At the moment, because of Covid, we haven’t got the money to go through IVF again, as we wouldn’t be eligible for NHS treatment this time. Obviously, if we won the lottery, we’d be straight over to Bourn Hall; we’re so grateful to all the staff there, and can’t thank them enough, because without their facilities and expertise we wouldn’t have Amber.

So we’ve decided to give it a few more years, then we may stop as we don’t want to have a huge age gap. If we fall pregnant naturally, that would be perfect, but if we don’t then I’m just ecstatic we’ve got Amber. I never thought I’d be able to have her, so I know how lucky I am.”

Fertility Health Facts

Good nutrition can impact both male and female fertility, improving the chances of natural conception and successful treatment.

A varied diet, containing fruit and vegetables, less sugar and more protein can help balance the hormones that control reproduction.

Bourn Hall has introduced a free nutritional consultation within its Fertility Health and Wellbeing package, offering advice on lifestyle changes to increase the chance of natural conception.

Find out more at bournhall.co.uk

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