A young mum battling the early stages of menopause at 27 has defied the odds to give birth to two miracle babies in just 18 months.
Ashley Buchkoe, now 30, was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency - a condition that caused her ovaries release eggs irregularly - meaning she was experiencing the early stages of menopause.
Though the insurance specialist, and her husband Michael, 35, were desperate to start a family, they were told by medics their only hope was IVF and their chances of this working were just five per cent.
After forking out £10,000 on fertility treatment in 2017, the couple were devastated when the first round failed, but thankfully the second was a success.
And eight months after the birth of their son, Porter, now 18-months-old, Ashley fell pregnant naturally and they now have a newborn daughter, Piper, who is four-weeks-old.
“I always knew I wanted to get married and have children, then when we were struggling for over a year, I knew something was wrong,” explains Ashley, from Wisconsin, US.
After dozens of tests with a reproductive endocrinologist, Ashley was devastated to learn that IVF would be her only option for a family of her own.
“I was so shocked to hear my body was going through the early stages of menopause, I have always had irregular periods but didn’t think it was anything to worry about,” she explains.
The couple used their savings to cover the cost of the IVF and though doctors recommended they use donor eggs as Ashley’s egg count was so low, she wanted to go ahead with her own eggs.
But the risk proved unsuccessful, leaving the couple heartbroken.
“I never imagined having a baby would be so hard,” Ashley continues.
“We were desperate to have a baby, so we gave it one more go with my eggs and maximised the medication doses, but my body didn’t agree and only one embryo was successfully inserted.
“After two weeks, I began to bleed at work and I just broke down, I thought I was having a miscarriage,” Ashley says.
“Shortly after the clinic rang and my heart sank until I heard the word ‘Congratulations’.
“I couldn’t believe it, we were finally having a baby!”
But the pregnancy wasn’t without it’s complications and Ashley suffered with premature labour contractions that left her bed bound for nine weeks before eventually giving birth to her son Porter in January 2018.
“It was the best feeling in the world getting to hold Porter for the first time, he was everything I had ever dreamed of,” Ashley says of becoming a mum.
READ MORE: What to expect during menopause
The couple couldn’t afford IVF again so began to accept Porter would be an only child until Ashley miraculously fell pregnant eight months after Porter’s birth.
“We prayed for more but there was no way we could afford to have IVF again, so we were just grateful for what we already had.
Concerned about her irregular periods, Ashley went to her GP to ask for some medication to try and help regulate them.
“The doctor made me do a pregnancy test to double check I wasn’t before she prescribed me anything and to both of our surprise, I was!” she says.
“We were both in total shock, Michael couldn’t believe it either.
“Our dreams had finally come true and now we have the most perfect daughter called Piper, who is four weeks old,” she adds.
“Infertility is traumatic and there were times when I had doubts that it would be successful and feared the worst but now I am blessed with two beautiful children and couldn’t be happier.”