After suffering a heartbreaking 19 miscarriages in 15 years Jo Short could have been forgiven for thinking of giving up on her dream of having a family.
The 37-year-old suffers a condition which often leaves its victims infertile.
But pioneering surgery carried out last year meant Mrs Short, from Newport, was finally able to conceive just months later and she has given birth to her first baby, Emily.
She said: “I questioned why I always miscarried – was I drinking too much tea or too much caffeine?
“I’d beat myself up about eating an apple that wasn’t washed.”
Mrs Short and her bank manager husband Steve, 38, started trying for a baby in 1997, a year after they met.
She had her first miscarriage that year and dozens of consultants gave up on her hopes of a child.
Mrs Short is one of 1.5 million UK women who suffer from endometriosis, a gynaecological condition that often leaves victims infertile.
But it was a meeting with Cardiff consultant Richard Penketh, which gave her hope when he her of pioneering surgery that could help.
Last year the gynaecologist performed a four-hour operation to cut away scar tissue caused by the condition.
Within two months she was pregnant for the 20th time and when she went into labour she refused pain relief for fear of harming the baby.
She said: “Being a mum is wonderful, everything I expected and more. It is what we’d wanted for so long.”
Mr Penketh, who first saw Mrs Short in Sept 2011, said: “Investigations had shown that her bowel was stuck to the back of her womb by endometriosis but the bowel wall was not involved in the disease.
“Keyhole surgery was carried out on March 13 last year at Spire Hospital, in Cardiff, and took about four hours.
“Endometriosis was removed from underneath Jo’s right ovary.
“Her bowel was released from the back of her womb where it was stuck by quite a large nodule of disease which was removed.”
When tissue samples were examined they were shown to contain endometriosis.
The surgery was designed to “not only to improve Jo’s pain but also to improve her chance of conceiving a healthy embryo.”
The operation could have damaged the bowel or ureter – the pipe which connects the kidney to the bladder.
Mr Penketh said: “Recurrent miscarriage is very common and is defined as three or more miscarriages.”
He said he was “amazed” Mrs Short had had so many.
She was only having very early miscarriages.
“She had never seen a beating fetal heart on an ultrasound scan,” Mr Penketh said.
Before seeing Mr Penketh, Mrs Short sought advice from Professor Lesley Regan at St Mary’s Hospital London – a world authority on the subject. But that was to no avail.
“Pregnancies had failed despite taking aspirin, heparin and steroids which are recognised treatments,” Mr Penketh said.
“IVF had also failed to result in an ongoing pregnancy despite two healthy embryos.”
The operation took place on April 10 last year.
By May 29 she was pregnant.
“It is important to continually reassure the mother that the pregnancy is progressing normally,” Mr Penketh said.
“Jo had taken aspirin from ovulation but we decided not to add any other stronger medications.
Mr Penketh described Emily as “lush.”
“Imagine the privilege of being able to show Mrs Short a beating fetal heart for the first time ever – one of the most emotional moment of my career I guess,” he said.
He said he admired the couple’s perseverance.
“Others might have given up and adopted,” Mr Penketh said.
“She really wanted to have her own child. That is a very individual choice for a couple.”