Real Life

OPINION: 'I was told I was infertile... and now I have FIVE children under seven!'

Gillian Harvey feared she'd never be a mother after she and her husband were told they were infertile... she's now mum to FIVE children under seven! Here's her story...

Strolling down to the local market, I can see people stopping to look at me. Is it the fact that I’ve finally slimmed down to my pre-pregnancy weight? Has my new hair-cut caught their eye? More likely, it’s the fact that I have two children on the end of each arm, and a carrier with another strapped to my back...

Back in 2009, I was convinced I’d never have kids. After being told we were infertile, my husband and I had already been through an unsuccessful (and horrendous) IVF. We started our injections for round two in the March, but I had little hope of success.

Gilliant thought she'd never be a mother (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

But somehow, despite only 2 little embryos being created (often couples end up with 8 or more) I became pregnant with my first child, Lily, born in December 2009.

By 2011, we’d worked up the courage (and finance) to have one more shot in the hope that we’d be able to give her a sibling.

Amazingly, a few weeks after my positive pregnancy test in August 2011, a scan revealed I was having twins! After a frankly brutal pregnancy (let’s just say cervical stich, depression, amniocenteses and a labour which saw me deliver two babies (naturally) within the space of five minutes) our family was complete.

Gillian thought her twin boys would complete their little family (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

Or so we thought. Ten months after I’d squeezed out the twins, I felt a little nauseous. And despite feeling sure it was impossible, something made me buy a pregnancy test. It was positive. “But I’m infertile!” I said to the doctor at my first appointment. He simply laughed. Our fourth child, Evie, was born in October 2013.

With four young children, sleepless nights and constant nappy changing put paid to any sex life we had (well… for the most part). But on the rare occasions we got a little frisky, we were careful to ensure we were protected. So when – again, ten months after giving birth – I felt a little strange, we laughed it off.

Gillian's brood meet their new sibling (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

A couple of weeks later? I finally gave in and peed on a stick. This time, I was almost embarrassed to tell people that I was pregnant. “You do know where babies come from, right?” people used to laugh. Or “are you thinking of starting your own school?” Which is hilarious unless you’re heavily pregnant and trying to care for a baby, two toddlers and a lively four-year-old. When you have a lot of kids, suddenly everyone is a comedian.

Little Robbie was born in March 2015.

Life with five children is certainly never dull (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

If you’d told me eight years ago I’d be a mother of five by now, I’d have been terrified! But it’s amazing how much joy each little new baby can bring (except at 3am, or when they’ve got chicken pox, or when you’re on the third nappy of the night).

And there are many great things about having five children close together (admittedly, pelvic floor strength is not one of them). For a start, they’ve all begun to play together, meaning I no longer have to feign interest in Lego or Playmobil. Family days out can be difficult, but are guaranteed to be hilarious. And whilst I have to endure comments such as “rather you than me” and “double trouble,” my children can bring out a smile on even the sternest of faces.

Life with five kids is a whirlwind! (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

Life is a whirlwind these days – bedtime takes over an hour, and usually at least two of the kids have crept into our bed by morning. Baths take an age and leave the floor inch deep in water; I’m usually covered with a myriad of different liquids – from milk to snot. Worst of all, no sooner do I finish cooking one meal, it seems, than I have to start preparing the next. And the washing machine is never off.

Plus, however hard I try, I will never feel as if I’m doing enough for my children – am I giving them each enough love? Individual attention? Storytime? Fruit?

But, there are a lot of positives too. Not least the fact that, just by dint of having five kids and managing to stay upright, you get constantly told you’re a ‘great mum’ and ‘amazing’ by those who don’t see the chaos that lurks behind closed doors.

It wasn't planned, but Gillian believes her large family was meant to be (Credit: Gillian Harvey)

And the best thing about having a large family? Despite my constant exhaustion, it’s tremendous fun. Each and every day my children make me laugh unreservedly, reveal little quirks or do something to make me proud – whether it’s giving a younger sibling a cuddle, sharing their crayons or managing to cover their entire faces in chocolate – life in my household is definitely anything but dull!

I’m not a great believer in fate, but looking at my super-cute brood, I’m in no doubt that each one of them was meant to be.

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