10:55 03 July 2012
Olympic champion Fatima Whitbread recounted her experience in trying for a baby, which ultimately led to the birth of Ryan, now 14 years old.
Whitbread began by explaining her reasons for opting for the UVF procedure, “My biological clock was ticking away. I was 35 and I had been trying for a baby for six years with my husband Andrew Norman.”
She also revealed her lifelong desire to become a mother. “Perhaps it would reverse my terrible start in life,” she surmised. Whitbread was found abandoned and malnourished in a London council flat when she was just three months old. This was followed by at least half a dozen care homes and a traumatic sexual abuse by her birth mother’s partner before she was finally fostered by John and Margaret Whitbread, who would give her the family she had been looking for. Margaret also coached Fatima during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, during which she won a silver medal for the javelin.
Fatima was already aware that becoming a mother might be impossible when she was only in her early 20s, when her training would be hindered by fibroids, which is known to affect fertility. Even so, it was later found that she wasn’t the one with the problem conceiving, but that her husband Andrew had low sperm motility, rendering his good quality sperm unable to swim fast enough to fertilise Fatima’s eggs.
“My grandmother Maud…could never have children and told me at least you have the option, Fatima, so you must try.”
Finally, the couple decided to go through IVF, which resulted in one failed attempt, one miscarriage, and finally, after the third and last attempt, a healthy baby boy.
Ryan was born three weeks early and weighed only 4 lbs. 9 oz. Andrew cut the umbilical cord.
Now, Ryan is 14 and recently won the schoolboy championship when he ran for Essex. Fatima is now advocating fostering, having just finished a documentary on it.
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