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Danielle Lloyd has made no secret of the fact she’s always dreamt of giving her four sons a baby sister, and has even looked into gender selection to complete her family.
Although it’s not legal in the UK, the star has expressed a wish to travel abroad to undertake the procedure.
But in new magazine’s exclusive interview, the 36-year-old reveals she’s having to come to terms with the fact this may not happen for her and husband Michael O’Neill.
After the couple sadly miscarried last September, mum-of-four Danielle began to think her endometriosis – a condition which can affect a woman’s fertility, as well as bring on depression and anxiety – was behind the tragic loss.
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She then discovered she needed a laparoscopy operation before she could begin trying for a baby again.
After a long seven-month wait, Danielle eventually had the procedure in October. But when she came round expecting to hear happy news, Danielle was dealt an unexpected blow – the doctors had found nothing to explain why she miscarried.
“I’m trying to come to terms with it. It’s really difficult,” Danielle tells new magazine. “I know it might sound a little bit selfish, but I would really like one more child.”
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The tough news that she may not be able to conceive naturally plunged Danielle into darkness and she began to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, until one morning everything came to a head and she suffered a breakdown.
“I literally broke down in tears and said, ‘I need help,’” she recalls. “I managed to speak to the doctor and got anxiety tablets. Thankfully they have really, really helped me.”
Danielle is mum to Archie, 10, Harry, nine, and George, seven, from her marriage to former footballer Jamie O’Hara, and Ronnie, three, with Michael.
Here, she opens up about her emotional roller-coaster year and explains more about how her and Michael’s dreams of having a little girl may have been dashed…
So, Danielle, following your tragic miscarriage, how did the operation come about?
I had a scan and they said that it looked like I had endometriosis and they could remove the tissue. I sat down with my specialist and they said I had two options. I could go on the pill and hope that the side effects which I’d been suffering – depression, anxiety, mood swings and irregular and heavy periods – would go away. But if I was looking to have another child, they’d suggest having the operation. I agreed to have it done but then had to wait seven months because of lockdown. I only had it a few weeks ago.
That limbo period must have been horrible…
I lost the baby last year and I didn’t know why that had happened, as obviously I’ve had four healthy pregnancies before. So the whole way through lockdown it was playing on my mind that I needed to have this operation if I was to even think about having another baby. The longer I was waiting, the longer it was festering that maybe I won’t be able to have another. I know to some people, who might not even have one child, it will sound a little bit selfish, but I’d really like one more.
How did that affect you?
At the beginning of lockdown I felt like I was coping OK. But towards the end, I was really struggling. My anxiety was through the roof and I was worrying constantly. I would have panic attacks. I’d be in the car and Michael would say, “Are you OK?” And I’d reply, “I can’t breathe.” It’s been a really, really hard time.
That sounds hideous! How did the operation itself go?
I felt fine, I woke up and said, “Can I go home please?” When the doctor came round to tell me my news, I was already in my trackie and trainers. I wanted to get home. Then they basically told me that there was nothing there and that there was nothing that they could do.
What was your reaction?
I felt disheartened. It was bittersweet because obviously nobody wants something to be wrong with them, but I’d got it into my head that it was going to get sorted and then I could think about having a baby. I blamed the endometriosis for my miscarriage and thought when that went, everything else would be OK. To then get the news that there’s nothing there, I thought, “What is wrong then? Why can I not get pregnant? Am I just getting older?”
How was the physical recovery?
I felt groggy for a few days because I’d had the anaesthetic. But I did feel fine. My scar is nonexistent. I just felt like I’d gone through a big operation only for it to amount to nothing.
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How have you coped since?
I’m the strong person of the house, the one that holds everything together and I don’t let people know when I’m feeling stressed, or when things are playing on my mind. But, to be honest, a few weeks ago I basically had a breakdown. I literally broke down in tears and said, “I need help.”
Oh gosh – who did you reach out to?
I managed to speak to the doctor and got anxiety tablets. Thankfully, they have really, really helped me. I’ve calmed down. I’ve only been on them for five weeks but they’ve already helped me feel a bit more normal.
Did you consider therapy?
The doctor gave me loads of information and places that I could go to speak to someone, but I felt like I’d got to the stage when it was probably a little too late. I should have been speaking to someone beforehand. I’ve learnt from past situations where I’ve struggled for so long with depression and anxiety. In the past, it wasn’t until it came to a head and I felt like I was going to kill myself that I asked for help. This time around, it did get bad, but I recognised it and said something straight away.
Who have you turned to during such a tough time?
I have Michael, my mum and Michael’s family to speak to. I’m so lucky to have so many people around me who I can be so honest and open with. They’ve really helped me through it all. My mum had a hysterectomy when she was 26 and also had a lot of problems. It’s good to have family who have been through similar things to talk to. My mum’s my best friend. I can call her to speak about anything and everything.
So what are the next steps?
They’ve said if I want to control things, I‘ve got to take the pill, but if I want a baby, it’s catch 22. I don’t want to take the pill. So if I did get pregnant, I’d be really grateful, but if I don’t, it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve got to think that, at the end of the day, I’ve got four healthy kids. It’s just my dream to have a daughter.
How much do you want a little girl?
It’s one of the things that has been getting me so down, as I now have to think it might not happen. I’m trying to come to terms with it. It’s really difficult. I know some people will think I’m selfish, but when you’ve thought about something so much, it’s really hard.
Does Michael also feel strongly about having a daughter?
Definitely. He’d like one of each. He’s worse than me when it comes to fashion – he’s already looking online at designer baby girls’ clothes. I catch him looking and say, “Are you dressing our little girl up?!” Michael would still like to do gender selection because he wants a daughter. But because of the results of my operation, it worries me. It’s a lot for your body to go through. It’s a lot of money as well. If it was to fail, I don’t know how I’d cope.
How much research have you done into gender selection?
We went to places in Dubai where you go to have it all done in one place. Or you can do part here and then the selection part in another country. You have your injections and get your body prepared in England and then fly wherever you’re going to get it done.
What was the reaction like when you said you were contemplating it?
Really mixed. There’s people who think it’s wrong, that you’re tempting fate and should just get what you’re given. Then, on the other hand, others say they would love to do it and we should go for whatever we want to do. I’d love nothing better than to get pregnant naturally and have a little girl, but it’s a risk you’ve got to take. I wouldn’t necessarily have another baby if I knew it was going to be a boy – my house is mad enough!
Have you given yourself a deadline to make a decision?
I’m 37 in December so if it doesn’t happen in the next year, that will be it. I don’t want to be too old. Ronnie’s three now and I want him to be able to be close to his sister or brother, like the other boys are. I know there are a lot more important things going on in the world, but it does seem like time is ticking for me and I need to make a decision.
Would you consider other avenues, like adoption?
I have mentioned this in the past to Michael and it’s something I would do, but I’m not sure whether we agree. I see his point as it could be really difficult. It’s an ongoing conversation and we’ll see what happens.
Are the boys aware of what you’re going through?
They know. They came and picked me up from the hospital. They’ve been really good and when I’m poorly they try to make sure that they give me loads of hugs. That’s the good thing about having boys – all they want to do is cuddle their mum. But they keep asking for a sister. Whenever they ask, I just want to break down and cry.
How have your struggles affected your relationship?
Michael had noticed a massive difference in me and said, “Dan, you’re being really snappy and shouting at the kids. What is wrong?” I said I was fine – but then one day it all came out. He’s had his own mental health problems in the past, so he’s been so supportive and really been there for me.
In what ways?
He takes over as “mum” for a few days and really helps me with the kids. He told them, “Mummy’s not very well. Let’s give her a break.” He’s a big kid himself and keeps the boys entertained and takes them to football and here, there and everywhere. He’s so, so good.
How has marriage altered your relationship?
It just cements things. I don’t think anything will ever break us as we’re so strong. We’re literally best friends. He’s definitely The One.
Has he changed you in any way?
We’ve both changed each other for the better. He’s a lot calmer now and has grown up a lot, and he’s done exactly the same for me.
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It was your first wedding anniversary in April. How did you celebrate?
We’ve actually been married for two years this month, as we had the legal ceremony on 21 November. So we celebrate both. It’s two excuses to go out, although we can’t at the moment. In April, I just made a meal in the house. We had steak and chips and it was nice to be able to spend quality time with him.
We’re in lockdown again. What did you learn from the first one?
You’ve got to take each day as it comes. Routine is so important when you’ve got kids. Without school and without routine, my kids felt it. So keeping that for them is really important.
And how did you get on with homeschooling?
I’m not going to lie, I did it for a few weeks and then I thought,“I can’t, I’m not a teacher!” I’m dyslexic and Harry, my middle one, has just been diagnosed too. I struggle at the best of times and am usually asking one of my eldest how to spell something. They teach me!
We hear you’ve also got a little puppy causing havoc…
Yes, a little girl. Her name’s Fendi. She is like my baby. She is literally just stuck by my side constantly. Through lockdown she kept me busy.
How are you feeling about the future now?
Now I’m taking tablets, I feel so much calmer and a lot happier. Obviously, I’m still going to have bad days, but Michael’s looking after me, which is so nice. You know when women say if you think about having a baby too much, it doesn’t happen. I think maybe I’m just thinking about it too much and need to relax.
Have you spoken to anyone else who’s in a similar situation to you?
I get so many messages on a daily basis. I try to get back to so many of them. I’ve spoken about my struggles through lockdown on Instagram. I think it’s nice to let people know that life isn’t perfect. People probably look at my Instagram and think, “Look at her, she’s so happy and is doing this and doing that.” But it’s not actually reality. Nobody ever posts pictures of themselves looking like crap or saying they feel down. It makes me feel good that I can use my platform to speak about things like this and let other people know they can talk to me too.
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