The New Year will bring baby joy for Lisa Wilkinson when she has IVF treatment with the sperm of her late husband who died from cancer just two years after they married.
Widow Lisa, 27, tied the knot with husband Gareth, then 27, as he underwent gruelling chemotherapy for an aggressive form of bone cancer.
The couple were determined not to let his illness get in the way of their happiness but in September last year (2008) Gareth lost his brave battle against the disease.
But Gareth gave a sperm sample before he died and, after a long battle with red tape, Lisa is finally having the IVF fertility treatment to have her late husband’s baby.
Nurse Lisa, from Wellington, Somerset, said Christmas has been ”lonely” without Gareth but hopes to have a ”bundle of joy” in her arms next year to remember him by.
She said: ”Gareth’s sperm was frozen at the start of his treatment as a precaution against his fertility being damaged by the chemotherapy.
”Though we tried not to think about him dying, in the last few weeks of his life he really deteriorated.
”Gareth always talked about starting a family and when we knew there wasn’t much chance of him surviving he wanted to live on and give me a part of him to live on with.
”In the months before he died we talked a lot together and decided that it was what we both wanted – we even chose the names which will be Grace for a girl or Jack for a boy.”
Lisa and Gareth met in 2003 at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, where she worked as a staff nurse and he as a care assistant in A&E.
After a whirlwind romance the couple got engaged but in March 2006 Gareth was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer.
He had to undergo a series of painful operations and was even attending gruelling chemotherapy sessions when they married in October 2006.
The Wilkinsons hopes were raised in 2007 when doctors believed Gareth had successfully fought off the disease and was in remission.
But the cancer returned early in 2008 and Gareth died later that year aged 27 on September 10.
A sample of Gareth’s sperm was frozen before his death so that Lisa could go on to have his children through IVF treatment.
She said: ”We had a long heartfelt talk and agreed I would have Gareth’s child, even if he wouldn’t be there.
”This is the closest I can get to having Gareth back and I’m sure he’ll be watching over his child when it is born.
”There’s a lot of uncertainty with the treatment but I’m so excited at the prospect of his baby growing inside me.”
Lisa had hoped to start IVF treatment to conceive Gareth’s child last January but her treatment was delayed by red tape.
A few weeks ago she finally got permission to start the NHS-funded treatment, which will cost around £5,000.
He added: ”It has been a long time waiting and a real battle trying to get this started.
”The treatment will be a great way to start the New Year and will give me something positive to focus on.
”I start my first cycle of fertility treatment on December 28. It will last until early February 2010 and I should know within two weeks whether it is successful or not.”
By the end of February Lisa should know if whether the treatment has been successful, but she has vowed to keep trying even if it has failed at the first attempt.
And she has also revealed that she would like to have more than one child.
After years of heartbreak, next year could see the birth of Gareth and Lisa’s first son or daughter.
Lisa said: ”I will make sure that his children know what a great Daddy they had – and still have.”