After 23 years of trying for a baby, Carolyn Lipczynski cannot contain her delight at finally being able to hold her daughter in her arms.
The 48-year-old NHS administrator suffered three lost pregnancies and five failed rounds of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and was turned down when she and her husband Michal tried to adopt.
Short of money and desperate to become a mother before she turned 50, Lipczynski took out a £10 000 (R172000) loan to fund a sixth and final attempt at IVF.
Happily, this time it worked and she became pregnant. Despite a few scares, she gave birth to Kayleigh, her “little miracle”, two weeks ago.
“When I saw her for the first time I couldn’t breathe. I loved her so much straight away but I couldn’t believe she was mine,” Lipczynski said.
“People told me it would feel this way but I wasn’t prepared for that feeling of loving something so much it physically hurt. Whenever I look at her I just think she’s amazing - even when she is screaming at 3am.”
Kayleigh, who weighed 2.83kg, was born by Caesarean section after induced labour was unsuccessful.
Lipczynski, from South East London, suffered two ectopic pregnancies and a miscarriage in her twenties, leaving her unable to conceive naturally. She missed out on NHS-funded IVF because it was not offered in her area at the time.
Funding was introduced just after she turned 35, the cut-off age.
She spent more than £20000 on five rounds of IVF with a previous partner, who she was with for 12 years, without success.
After she married NHS ophthalmology technician Michal, 34, in 2009, they made three attempts to adopt. But they were turned down each time because they did not have £5000 in savings.
Realising they had no other option, the couple started saving for a final IVF attempt but struggled to raise the funds.
They decided to borrow the £10 000 they needed from Amigo Loans - which charges an average interest rate of 49.9% APR on its guarantor loans - because it was the only company prepared to lend the full amount. Paying the loan back in full over five years, as they had planned, would have cost nearly £24000. But after hearing their story, Amigo wrote off the loan.
Lipczynski said: “When you get to my age it’s about months not years when it comes to having a baby. We were trying to save but we were running out of time so we made the decision to take out a loan.
“We’d budgeted for it and knew we could afford it but we never in a million years expected them to wipe our debts. It’s incredible - I nearly passed out when they told me.
“But even if we’d had to pay the whole loan in full it would’ve been worth every penny.”
Lipczynski said being a new mother at 48 was “a bit of a shock to the system” but she “adored” it.
Her husband added: “It’s hard to describe how incredible it is to have her here after everything we’ve gone through and that Carolyn’s gone through.
“Kayleigh’s definitely got a strong, independent character already - like her mother. We have no regrets at all about taking out the loan, it may not be right for everyone but it was the right thing for us.”
Amigo spokesperson Kelly Davies said: “It’s been an honour getting to know Carolyn and Mick over the last year and to have shared their journey.
“Everyone at Amigo is so delighted for them and we are proud to have played a tiny part in helping them achieve their dream.”
Infertility affects one couple in seven in the UK.
Since 2013, health watchdog Nice has recommended that women under 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF on the NHS, but last year it was revealed that nine in 10 clinical commissioning groups in England did not do so.
Professor Adam Balen, of the British Fertility Society, said: “It is disappointing that there is still a postcode lottery for IVF treatment.’”