A widow told of her joy today after giving birth to her husband’s baby son – two years after his death.
Proud Lisa Wilkinson, 27, had IVF treatment using sperm donated by husband Gareth before he died from an aggressive form of bone cancer in September 2008.
Before his tragic death, Gareth and Lisa made a pact to start a family – even though they knew he would not live to see his child.
Lisa underwent IVF on the NHS just after last Christmas and was delighted when she conceived at the first attempt.
Baby Jack Steven Wilkinson – a name Lisa and Gareth decided together – was born five weeks early on September 21, just 11 days after the second anniversary of his father’s death.
Nurse Lisa, who lives in Wellington, Somerset, said the birth of her child was bittersweet.
She said: ”When the midwife placed Jack onto my chest I immediately started crying and shaking, he was so beautiful.
”I was overwhelmed with emotions. I called him my little Ribena Blackcurrant because he was bright purple.
”I stared into his big brown eyes and immediately I saw Gareth looking back at me.
”It was the most surreal experience and I knew then that it was just me and Jack against the world, he needed me to stay strong.
”All the worry I had, left me instantly when I heard him cry.”
Jack weighed 5lbs 8oz when he was delivered by emergency caesarean section at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset – the same place where his parents met and fell in love in 2003.
He was initially rushed into intensive care because he was not breathing properly and Lisa worried she would lose him.
She said: ”All I could think was, ‘Don’t let this happen again’. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing someone so important to me again.
”It was the only thing me and Gareth could make together and I just couldn’t bear it if I lost the baby, but I tried to not focus on that and kept Gareth’s memory strong in my mind.
”I only got a few moments with Jack until he was rushed into intensive care because he wasn’t breathing properly.
”I was filled with panic, but I had to believe that Gareth was fighting for our child and I held that thought to keep me strong. Jack needed me.”
After two days, baby Jack was moved to the special unit for premature babies, where he is currently being tube fed Lisa’s breast milk every three hours.
Lisa has already started telling Jack about his brave dad and will show him a memory box full of Gareth’s things when he is old enough to understand.
She said: ”When i look at him in his incubator or hold him all I can do is stare at his delicate features and tell him about his daddy who is looking down on him, wherever he is.
”Jack will always know about his daddy. I’m determined he will know just how loved and wanted he is.”
Gareth worked as a care assistant in A&E at Musgrove Park Hospital before he was diagnosed with cancer in March 2006.
Despite his illness the couple got married in 2007 and Gareth decided to store his sperm at the start of his chemotherapy treatment.
Lisa was advised to grieve for a year before trying for a family and started her NHS-funded #5,000 treatment on December 28.
She is now hoping baby Jack will be able to come home from his special care ward soon and is considering trying for another baby with Gareth’s sperm in the future.
Lisa added: ”We still have some sperm left so maybe in the future Jack might get a brother or sister.
”If not, I still have Jack and I am determined to be the very best mum for him, after all, it’s what Gareth wanted.”