'We entered a contest and won our baby'

image copyrightDella McGill
image captionDella and Ryan are excited about their imminent arrival

When Della McGill entered a competition in her favourite magazine last year, she crossed her fingers and hoped for the best.

But the competition prize was not your average offering.

The prize was not a holiday, a car or even a lump sum of cash. But it was everything Della wanted.

Della, 36, and her partner Ryan Cunningham, 39, had been trying for a baby for several years.

She became pregnant in 2016, but suffered an ectopic pregnancy resulting in surgery to remove one of her fallopian tubes.

Another pregnancy in 2017 sadly resulted in a second ectopic pregnancy.

'Ended in disappointment'

The couple then made the decision to try IVF.

Della, from Broxburn in West Lothian, has lived in Northern Ireland with Ryan for four years. The NHS there offers one fresh and one frozen embryo transfer. In Scotland, every eligible patient is offered three rounds.

The couple did not have a frozen embryo, and decided if their one round ended in disappointment, they would go down the private route.

The couple worked out a package which would cost them £15,000. Friends and family pledged to help them pay for the treatment.

image captionDella has campaigned for better IVF treatment in Northern Ireland

During her IVF journey, Della joined social media support groups and read everything she could about the process.

She entered a competition run by an online fertility magazine to win a free round of IVF treatment.

Just after she learned her NHS treatment had not worked, she re-read the competition details and realised the rules were one entry per person, not per couple, so encouraged Ryan to enter too.

Private consultation

She said: "It was a competition to mark 40 years of IVF. You could win the treatment at one of 15 clinics across the world. They were offering one round of IVF as a prize.

"I entered and then, when our cycle failed, on the last day of the competition, my partner entered.

"While we were waiting on an appointment for a private consultation, we found out Ryan had won the competition.

"We were offered a free cycle of IVF at the GCRM clinic in Glasgow, including all the necessary medication. It was worth about £6,000-£7,000. There were 6,000 entrants. We couldn't believe it."

image copyrightDella McGill
image captionThe big day - Ryan and Ella during the IVF process

Della went home to Scotland to start the treatment last October.

She said: "There were no guarantees, but I had been through counselling after the second ectopic pregnancy and I was trying to be upbeat.

"I felt like things had fallen into place and I had been given an opportunity before having to turn to family and friends for help."

'Sneaky test'

After going through the IVF process, Della was due to visit the clinic to see if it had been successful, but she already had an inkling.

She said: "I was feeling nauseous and thought I had some pregnancy symptoms. I didn't tell anyone and I sneakily did a test - which they don't advise. It was positive. I did another and the lines were even darker."

Ryan had gone back to Northern Ireland for work and Della wanted to surprise him.

"I had seen so many women online sharing their amazing news with their partners.

"I wanted to be able to do that and have that surprise. I booked an early ferry to come home and tell him face-to face.

image copyrightDella McGill
image captionDella's baby scan photo shows that everything is perfect

"On the ferry I got a gift box and put the pregnancy test in it. I handed him the box and it was just pure disbelief that it had finally worked."

After two heartbreaking ectopic pregnancies, the couple were still anxious that something could go wrong. There was still a risk of ectopic pregnancy.

But all is well.

Della said: "The baby is due on 26 July - but it's a big baby and I may be induced sooner. Like its dad, it could be a rugby player in the making."

The couple do not know the sex of their baby, but cannot wait to meet their little miracle.

Della said: "We have waited this long - hanging on another few months for that surprise is nothing."

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