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‘It is not a failure’ – Ipswich mum-of-two speaks out about taboo of having IVF

PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 November 2020

Natalie and Peter Leask with their two children Oliver (6) and baby Thea, who were both born using IVF.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Natalie and Peter Leask with their two children Oliver (6) and baby Thea, who were both born using IVF. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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An Ipswich mum-of-two who started her IVF journey as a single woman is urging others not to feel ashamed about having children in the nontraditional way.

Natalie Leask with her baby Thea, who was born using IVF. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNatalie Leask with her baby Thea, who was born using IVF. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Natalie Leask, 36, lives in Ipswich with her husband Peter, 44, and their two children who were born via IVF, Oliver, six, and Thea, who is just a few months old.

In 2012, at the age of 28 and recently single, Mrs Leask decided she wanted to have children and felt like she couldn’t wait any longer to meet someone.

She began looking into her options and decided to go down the route of in vitro fertilisation – which is more commonly known as IVF – and is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body.

A couple of months after deciding she would try to fall pregnant through IVF, Mrs Leask met her now husband Peter at a comedy night at Colchester United Football Club and new he was the one.

Natalie and Peter Leask with their two children Oliver (6) and baby Thea, who were both born using IVF.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNatalie and Peter Leask with their two children Oliver (6) and baby Thea, who were both born using IVF. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Unfortunately, the couple were unable to try for a baby together as Mr Leask, who had a daughter from a previous marriage, had undergone a vasectomy. After weighing up the costs of IVF and a vasectomy reversal, the pair chose to continue with finding a sperm donor.

“It was a very interesting process,” said Mrs Leask, who works as a support assistant.

“At first I was worried about what people might think and there was obviously the concern it would not work, but we were quite lucky with regards to my fertility.”

Mrs Leask undertook a process called egg sharing, when a woman who is already having IVF donates some of her eggs to the clinic where she’s having treatment, in return for some discount.

Natalie Leask with her baby Thea. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNatalie Leask with her baby Thea. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mrs Leask had her IVF at the London Women’s Clinic and was matched with another couple as they were both looking for similar things.

“There was a lot of back and forth between here and London,” explained Mrs Leask. “With blood tests, DNA tests, and internal scans to check my ovaries, and that was before I was given a box of medication to do at home which meant I had to go in every three or four days for check-ups.”

Mrs Leask produced 29 eggs, which were divided between her and her matched couple, with the process costing around £2,000.

Eight embryos were created in her IVF cycle in 2013, two of which were inserted to create Oliver and the others were frozen.

Natalie Leask with her baby Thea, who was born using IVF.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNatalie Leask with her baby Thea, who was born using IVF. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Speaking about falling pregnant for the first time, Mrs Leask said: “I was ecstatic, but I was really nervous and felt quite apprehensive. I think I was initially worried about what people would say, but now we talk much more openly about it as there are so many ways to have a baby.

“It should not be a taboo subject and it is not a failure on anyone’s part.”

The Leask family then decided to use one of their frozen embryos to fall pregnant with their daughter Thea, who arrived in May this year and is biologically Oliver’s sister.

Mrs Leask said: “In every sense of the word, the children are Peter’s. He dotes on them in the same way he does his daughter.

Natalie Leask with her baby Thea. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNatalie Leask with her baby Thea. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We both know how lucky we are to have them and we feel very grateful to have a family together. My advice to anyone considering IVF is to do it and make sure you do your research.

“You don’t have to wait for ‘Mr or Mrs Right’, just go with what you feel happy and comfortable with.”

Mrs Leask has since donated some of her eggs to help women who have fertility issues to fall pregnant.

The Leask family’s story is part of a series run by this newspaper to raise awareness for National Fertility Awareness Week, which runs from Monday, November 2 to Thursday, November 5.


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