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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Friday, 24 December 2010
Morning MK's Helen Legh talks about her miracle baby
Helen Legh with baby Matilda
Helen Legh with baby daughter Matilda

Morning MK presenter Helen Legh's baby was born three months early and weighed only a pound and a half.

Baby Matilda was born when Helen was just 25 weeks pregnant and spent the first few weeks of her life in an incubator.

She spent three months in Special Care with her parents hoping against all hope that she would survive.

She did, and now, five months after her birth, Helen and her husband Paul have told BBC Three Counties all about it.

Helen and Paul's story falls in two parts for not only was Matilda born prematurely, the baby was conceived as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body and the embryo transferred back into the mother.

Matilda was the result of a third round of IVF after two failed attempts.

"We had wanted to have a baby for a long time" explained Helen.

"[We had thought] 'right - if we start trying in the January, we'll be pregnant by the February so then we'll have a baby by next Christmas'. We said this in 2006 and it didn't happen."

After three years, and with doctors not able to find a cause for their infertility, the couple decided to go for IVF treatment.

"I'd always said I didn't want to have IVF but I can't remember why now" said Helen.

"But when it seemed like it was the only option, apart from adoption which we'd also considered, it was like 'right we're going to do this now'".

Each round of IVF is a six week treatment where the mother injects herself with medication to stimulate the follicles of the ovaries before the eggs can be extracted and fertilised.

After the embryo is transferred to the mother, there is a two week wait before you discover if you are pregnant.

Unfortunately for Helen and Paul, their first two rounds failed and Helen revealed how each attempt got harder to deal with.

"The first time you're kind of swept away with it all" explained Helen.

"You're doing something that could actively get you pregnant. We had unexplained infertility, there was no reason that could be found why we couldn't get pregnant, so I was physically doing stuff, injecting myself every day.

"When that didn't work, it wasn't OK, but you kind of think, 'we've done it the first time, we know what to do now so the second time is bound to work'.

"Then the second time the embryos didn't make it and I was more upset than I thought I would be. I found it really hard to deal with because you feel like your body's failing you.

"There was no real reason why it didn't work, it just didn't and that makes you really sad.

"It got to the stage where I was thinking I don't want to do this anymore" she continued.

The second time the embryos didn't make it and I was more upset than I thought I would be. I found it really hard to deal with because you feel like your body's failing you.

"But you are told that the best chance for you to have a successful IVF round - a positive result - is to have three rounds.

"We'd saved enough for one more so we decided to go for this one last round."

Helen started injecting herself on Christmas Day 2009 so her two week wait came in early February.

"I kept saying it hasn't worked has it" said Helen.

"We had found an amazing adoption agency and we thought this obviously isn't going to work so we're going to adopt. Then - I did a pregnancy test and it was positive!"

Helen and Paul were absolutely delighted and also very shocked.

"It [having the third round] was almost like a box ticking exercise" said Paul, "so we could look back and say right we've done three, we've covered all our options so we've done the right thing and we're now going to adopt.

Helen's husband Paul with Matilda
Helen's husband Paul with Matilda

"It was so surprising when we found out we were pregnant!"

Even though the treatment was hard and emotional, the couple can understand why others go on to have more and more rounds, even though it's not cheap.

"You kind of assume at a certain stage in your life that it will be easy, that you won't have any problems, that it will just happen" said Helen.

"And when it doesn't, it's like something's being dangled in front of you. You see people everywhere who are pregnant when you want to be pregnant. Everybody around you is pregnant.

"And the amount of people that say to you, when they know that you're not falling pregnant, 'just go on holiday, just relax about it'. But that didn't work for us."

Ultimately Helen and Paul are proof that IVF does work but they also know various people that it hasn't worked for yet and concede that it's hard to know when enough is enough.

"I think you need to set a limit of whatever it is that you can comfortably afford" said Paul, "because you do hear about people remortgaging their houses and I wonder how many relationships are destroyed because of this bizarre process that we put ourselves through.

"It [setting a limit] is a very man logical way of looking at it but we'd said we'd only have one round so we didn't even follow our own rules - and I bet if three hadn't have worked we'd have done a fourth!"

"It's really tough" added Helen.

"I think it depends on the person. You just have to be honest with yourself and with your partner that you want to go ahead again or that you just can't do it any more."

Both have good advice for those either going through IVF now or considering it for the future.

You kind of assume at a certain stage in your life that it will be easy, that you won't have any problems, that it will just happen.
Helen Legh

"I would say don't underestimate how hard it is and you need to talk to each other" explained Helen.

"The woman is the one who has to go through everything. You're the one who's having all the prodding and the poking and all the scans, it's quite intrusive, whereas the man has a five minute "episode". But between you it's this massive emotional thing so you really have to talk to each other."

"From the man's point of view it is hard" added Paul, "because men like to do things, we like to fix things and when you can't get pregnant and your wife's doing all the work, there's literally nothing you can do."

To find out about baby Matilda's dramatic early arrival use the link below:

New test could boost IVF success
08 Nov 10 |  Health
IVF 'raises odds of having a boy'
29 Sep 10 |  Health
New test 'predicts' IVF success
19 Jul 10 |  Health


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