I was heartbroken when I started the menopause at just 17… but amazingly I still got pregnant
The news that Lisa Burt, who was desperate to be a mum, was unlikely to ever fall pregnant naturally was a shock.
Lisa Burt was starting to get worried. She had been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for more than a year, so she went to her doctor who ordered tests to find out why.
But when the results came back, they brought a double bombshell.
The news that Lisa, who was desperate to be a mum, was unlikely to ever fall pregnant naturally was a big enough shock on its own… but then came the reason why. At the age of just 25, she was told she was going through early menopause – which she discovered later could have started when she was just 17.
And while doctors were concerned about the immediate implications for her health, Lisa was more devastated by the knowledge her body had stopped producing eggs, meaning her baby dreams were over. She was told in no uncertain terms that she would be unable to conceive naturally and immediately put on to a course of hormone replacement therapy.
In a daze, Lisa struggled to accept that her baby quest was over.
But, against all the odds, it wasn’t.
And now, to the astonishment of doctors, she is the proud mother of naturally conceived Liam, three.
And she even hopes she might get pregnant again – despite still being menopausal.
Laying out the last of the picnic on the rug I looked over to where Dom was pretending to chase a toddling Kyle around the field.
‘Come on you two,’ I giggled. ‘I’m starving!’
Anyone looking at us would naturally assume we were a young family, out enjoying the sunshine.
But Kyle wasn’t our child, he was my nephew.
It brought a lump to my throat every time I said it, but I couldn’t have kids of my own.
One of three, I’d always dreamed of having a big family. And when I’d met Dominic Lowe at a friend’s party, even though we were both just 21, I knew straight away he was the one. He made no secret of wanting lots of kids too but we decided to be sensible and wait a bit first.
So three years later, when I finally decided to come off the Pill, I expected things to happen quickly. Only they didn’t. And every time I felt that familiar ache in my tummy, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.
‘Give it time love,’ Mum said. ‘It’s only been a few months.’
But after a year of trying I decided to talk to my GP. I was more impatient than worried and just wanted to get some advice.
When I told him my periods had always been irregular he arranged for me to have some blood tests.
Days later the results were back.
‘Your hormone levels are a little lower than expected,’ he said.
‘What does that mean?’ I asked.
I was a little anxious but didn’t think it wouldn’t take much to sort out. I thought maybe he’d prescribe me some fertility drugs to give my body a helping hand.
Instead, he referred me to the hospital for more tests, including a scan of my ovaries and a bone density scan.
‘They’re being very thorough,’ I said to Dom taking yet another morning off work as a health care assistant to go to the hospital.
A few months later, Dom and I were called back to talk through the results. The consultant got straight to the point –
‘It seems you’re one of a small percentage of women to start the menopause early,’ he said.
I went into shock. Surely they must have had my results mixed up with an older lady… How could I be going through the menopause, I was only 25?
I looked over at Dom and saw tears in his eyes. Suddenly, it dawned on me what this actually meant – that we would never be able to have kids. I was utterly devastated.
The consultant explained this probably was why my periods had always been so light.
‘There’s a very real chance you may have started the menopause when you were just 17,’ he added.
I left his office clutching a handful of leaflets for support groups and walked to the car with tears running down my cheeks.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I kept saying, over and over. I felt like our whole future had been ripped away.
Those next weeks, I felt bereft. I was mourning for the life I thought I would have – full of kids. I couldn’t help feeling like I was letting Dom down, too. He was so young, didn’t he deserve to be a dad?
‘Stop it,’ he told me. ‘It’s you I want.’
Our friends tried to be supportive but they were all at the point where they were talking about settling down and having babies whereas I was starting HRT…like an old woman.
Our only real hope lay in egg donation. I didn’t like the thought of having a stranger’s egg implanted inside me, so a year after my diagnosis…
‘There’s something we want to ask you,’ I told my sister Gemma, 20. ‘Is there any way you would consider donating your eggs to me and Dom?’
I knew it was a big ask.
‘Of course I would,’ she sniffled. ‘I’d do anything to give you a child.’
I broke down in tears. ‘Oh thank you, thank you,’ I sobbed.
We made an appointment to see a fertility expert. We paid to go privately. I couldn’t wait.
Only we soon to came to realise it wasn’t as simple as all that. They gave us lots of different scenarios to consider – for example, what if Gemma gave me some eggs and was then unable to fall pregnant herself?
It made me realise it wasn’t something we could rush into. My sister was only 20, it was a lot for her to take on.
But as the weeks passed, depression set in. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be pregnant women and babies. The high street, the supermarket, the bus…
‘I don’t think I can cope with this,’ I told Dom.
‘I know it’s tough but we’ll get through this together,’ he promised.
Then out of the blue in November 2007 Dom’s best friend Richard called to tell us about a local alternative therapist, Reef Steele, who had developed a technique to help women struggling to conceive.
‘I was chatting to him in the gym. Give him a call,’ he urged.
I wasn’t sure. It sounded like a load of mumbo-jumbo to me. I’d never really believed in alternative medicine or things like that.
‘What have you got to lose?’ Dom urged.
‘Well, what’s the point?’ I snapped back. ‘Nothing can stop me from going through the menopause now.’
But in the end I agreed to give it a go.
I made an appointment to see Reef the following week.
He explained he would try to alter the way I thought about pregnancy in the hope her body would follow suit. He said mental blocks and being told it was impossible were having a physical impact on me.
I was sceptical, especially when he told me to visualise myself conceiving, being pregnant and finally giving birth. What was the point? But after the session, for the first time in ages I actually felt positive. I didn’t think I would get pregnant, but I felt better.
‘You look much more relaxed,’ Dom agreed.
Back home, I carried out the visualisation exercises Reef taught me. Nothing happened, of course, but I did feel different. In fact, as the weeks passed I began to feel a little…odd. My boobs were tender, too.
‘Must be side effects of the HRT,’ I assumed. A quick check on the Internet seemed to confirm it.
Seven months later, in July 2008, Dom and I joined some friends on a much-needed holiday to Devon.
‘You need to let you hair down and have a bit of fun,’ he told me.
We had a great time. But back home, my tummy looked bloated.
‘Too many nice meals on holiday!’ Dom, a roofer, joked.
But lying in bed the next morning looking at my still-swollen stomach, Dom wondered if something else might be to blame…
‘You couldn’t be pregnant, could you?’ he asked.
‘Don’t be so silly,’ I said, shocked.
But the more I looked at it, the more I started to wonder too.
We dashed to the supermarket to buy a test and I nipped into the shop toilets to do it.
When the line turned blue I started shaking. When I walked out and held it up in front of Dom, I couldn’t even speak. People were rushing around with their shopping trollies and we were just standing there, rooted to the floor with shock.
Fearing it might be a mistake we bought a second test . Once again, the line turned blue.
But whereas Dom was over the moon, I was confused. How on earth could I be pregnant?
I saw my GP that afternoon. As I lay down on and he started examining me, I prayed that somehow, against all the odds, I really was going to be a mum.
‘Congratulations!’ he finally said.
But there was still one more shock in store. He estimated I was already five months gone.
As I listened to my baby’s heart and tears rolled down my face. I rang Dom crying and laughing like a crazy woman to tell him that not only was I pregnant, but that our baby was nearly due.
I did the dates and realised it happened just two months after seeing Reef. I emailed him to let him know. No one could say for sure whether his technique had helped but still I was so grateful. He had given me hope.
I stopped taking my HRT straightaway and just 16 weeks later in December 2008 I gave birth to a healthy little boy, Liam. He weighed 8lb 2oz and had a shock of dark hair.
Holding him for the first time was the best moment of my life. As he looked up at me, I cried my eyes out.
‘This is it, we’re a family now,’ I told Dom.
At night, while the other mums on the ward slept, I couldn’t stop staring at Liam. I couldn’t believe this beautiful little boy was mine.
Even now, four years on, I sometimes have to pinch myself. All the signs said I’d never be a mum…yet here I am.
I’m back on HRT now but if we ever decide to try for another baby I’ll definitely be making another appointment with Reef. Right now though, we’re just happy to have Liam.
Visit www. http://pregnancytechnique.com/