ISLA McGUCKIN chronicled her traumatic decade-long journey through fertility treatment in a book called Pink For A Girl.
The publication realised one ambition – to become a professional writer – but, ironically, was about the death of another – her dearest-held wish to become a parent.
However, Isla has a new chapter to add to her book because in January at the age of 37 she finally gave birth to a baby daughter, a delightful and unexpected gift that came along when she had given up hope.
Isla’s story began nearly 20 years ago when she was studying for a BA Hons degree in textile marketing with French at Huddersfield University.
It was there that she met her husband Paul, an Irish-born computer engineering student.
"I had a whirlwind romance with a housemate,’’ she says.
"We got married in our early 20s and talked about having kids. It was something that we always wanted to do, but because we were young there was no rush.’’
After university the couple stayed in Yorkshire with Isla working for a food company in Leeds and Paul working in IT.
In their mid 20s the McGuckins decided to start trying for a family and when after two years nothing happened they underwent fertility tests.
But the cause of their problems remained unexplained. And so began what Isla describes as the "roller coaster of fertility treatment.’’
After a decade and several cycles of IVF the couple made a decision to abandon hopes of parenthood and get on with their lives.
They moved to Donegal in Ireland with Isla working as a consultant to the food industry and Paul setting up an internet estate agency.
Isla wrote her book, found a publisher and became a spokeswoman for couples struggling with infertility, even being invited to speak at the European Parliament..
And then last year the incredible happened. Isla discovered that she was pregnant.
"I was already a few weeks along before I realised,’’ she says.
"I think something at the back of my mind was saying ‘hello!’ but I ignored it because I’d been there – and been disappointed – so many times before.
"I’d been home for a family christening where there were a lot of sniffles and tummy bugs around.
"I came back feeling poorly, but put it down to something I’d picked up at the christening. I started to get worried, thinking I was very ill.
"Then I was chatting to a friend who asked how I was. I said "still being sick, especially in the mornings" and finally the penny dropped.
"I did a pregnancy test and was amazed and overjoyed. I cannot overstate the absolute joy.’’
Isla and Paul’s bundle of joy, Tallulah, is now eight months old and proving to be everything they had hoped for – and more.
Her name means dancing water in native American – the family lives on the coast – and is similar to the Irish Gaelic word for abundant.
"I know it’s a cliche, but that’s how we feel,’’ says Isla.
"I felt this huge rush of love for her when she was born. She’s a very good baby, bright and lively during the day but sleeps well at night.’’
Ironically Isla and Paul had just been approved to adopt a child before they discovered that Tallulah was on the way and are still thinking seriously about giving their daughter an adopted brother or sister.
Although she’s now a busy mum, Isla is still writing, currently working on a screenplay of Pink for a Girl following interest from a film production company. She is also trying her hand at a novel and has produced articles about infertility.
Paul has retrained as a photographer (www.landscapeireland.com) and took the picture for this page.
Although they have happy memories of their years in Huddersfield, they say they are extremely happy in Ireland and believe it’s a good place to raise the family they once thought they would never have.
At one time, infertility due to female factors was thought to be the reason for all fertility problems. Now experts recognise that female infertility accounts for about 40 % of all infertility cases, the most common reasons being tubal blockages, ovulation problems and endometriosis.
Around one in six couples face difficulties in conceiving. If you've had unprotected sex for more than 12 months (or, if you're over 35) and are still not pregnant, it may be worthwhile visiting a doctor.
Around 15 to 20 % of cases have no obvious cause, leading to a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.
Couples with unexplained infertility who have been trying for less than five years have about a 15 to 30 % chance of conceiving. After this, less than 10 % do so without treatment.
Pink For A Girl is published by Hay House and still available.