THE wife of Welsh rock star Mike Peters last night revealed their secret rollercoaster battle with infertility.Jules, who has been married to The Alarm frontman for 18 years, has spoken for the first time about the heartache of being told they would never be able to have children without IVF treatment.Until now, only a handful of close friends and family have known about their infertility troubles.
But the 39-year-old North Walian, who has supported Mike through two bouts of cancer, has decided to speak out to raise awareness.Now, with a two-and-a-half- year-old son Dylan and another baby on the way, she wants to give hope to many childless couples who have to turn to fertility treatment in their quest for a family.
Speaking exclusively to Wales on Sunday, Jules said: “As soon as Mike and I got together when I was 19, we always imagined we’d have children one day. We imagined a future with kids and when it didn’t happen as planned, and then we later found out I had serious problems, it was like a bolt out of the blue.”We didn’t expect it to happen to us and it was never something we imagined would be an issue. We had it all, a rock and roll lifestyle, a happy marriage and kids were the next step. But life doesn’t always work out as you plan.”
Jules was a student at Bangor University when she met Mike, whose career in the music business has spanned 30 years and seen him perform with the likes of Bob Dylan and U2.Incredibly, they were engaged within a week and 18 months’ later, were married, living the rock ‘n’ roll dream.Jules, from Rhyl, said: “Mike had a lot of female attention which took a bit of getting used to but he said, quite rightly, that I either had to get used to it or we should split up!”
We were engaged within a week, much to my mum’s horror, but I’m a real believer in gut instinct and it really felt like the right thing to do.”From very early on in the relationship we knew we wanted kids, but we were leading this very glam life and felt very young and I suppose we just never got round to it.”
Then, in 1995, they were shocked to discover Mike was suffering from Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and Jules admits that’s the first time they really thought hard about parenthood.”It was obviously a terrible shock and our main priority was Mike’s battle to pull through, but we did start trying around then.”
I didn’t get pregnant, Mike got better and, to be perfectly honest, we forgot about it for a couple of years and went back to touring and working really hard.”Then in 2003, we decided to start trying again and when nothing happened, I just started to create excuses. We’d been to the United States quite a lot and it was easy to come up with a reason why we weren’t successful.” But Mike, being Mike, was very pro-active and decided we needed to get tested and even then, I thought it was probably his problem, not mine, especially after the cancer.”
All the tests for him were clear, there was nothing wrong, and mine appeared to be OK too – until I went for a laporoscopy, which detected that both my fallopian tubes were severely blocked.” Jules was devastated when doctors told her she would never be able to conceive children naturally. She said: “I felt totally bleak, I didn’t let myself talk to anybody about it and it took me at least a week to pull myself together.” Our imaginary family, the one we’d wanted since I was 19, had disappeared. Mike was disappointed of course, but I don’t think men feel that female yearning for a baby, certainly not before they have a child and I felt totally devastated.
“They’d told me if I tried to conceive naturally I’d risk an ectopic pregnancy which would be very dangerous. Fertility treatment was the only answer.” With a newfound strength, and spurred on by Mike’s support and enthusiasm, Jules started researching for help. With no IVF clinics in North Wales, she realised they had to travel to Manchester or Birmingham. She said: “It became my little project and once I made that call to the Midlands Fertility Clinic, I knew we were on a long road but I just wanted our imaginary family to be a reality.”
Jules and Mike started fertility treatment almost immediately, but she describes the experience as “unpleasant and physically draining”.”It’s not easy injecting yourself with all these hormones. Mike started off doing them for me but the sight of him coming at me with a syringe was just too amusing so I did it myself.”
I also cut out alcohol, ate only fresh and organic food and just tried very hard to relax and give this treatment every chance.” And Jules and Mike were overjoyed when she fell pregnant at their second attempt. She said: “It was unbelievable news, we were just so happy. However, a couple of months later, I miscarried, which was hugely upsetting.”
The third attempt failed but, funnily enough, I was much more relaxed after our fourth attempt and tried not to be so obsessed. We went to Milan because Mike was singing before a Wales v Italy football match and it was there we found out I was pregnant. Wales lost the match but we had definitely succeeded.”
Jules enjoyed a problem-free pregnancy, although her waters broke early and she ended up having an emergency Caesarian section.But on May 1, 2004, the couple’s heartache ended when their beautiful son Dylan was born. Jules said: “He is gorgeous. He’s almost two-and-a-half now and a proper little boy, who loves playing the guitar and football. And parenthood is just wonderful, he has made us so happy.”
But, just as the pair were enjoying life, their happiness was rocked in December when Mike was diagnosed with leukaemia. The 47-year-old was determined to fight the disease but at the time, Jules admits they had no idea if he would recover. On the eve of tonight’s BBC Two Wales documentary charting Mike Peters: Road to Recovery at 9pm, she said: “It was a terrible knock, but one that Mike faced with real determination.” He said we were reason enough to fight.
I knew that we had produced good quality embryos at our last IVF attempt and in March, despite Mike’s illness, I decided to go ahead with another attempt.” I had no guarantees Mike would be OK, but I felt strong enough to give it a go and Mike supported me. I still didn’t want many people knowing though. It just felt right to deal with it privately, I didn’t want to be treated any differently.”
Incredibly, Jules fell pregnant immediately and in June, Mike was told he was in remission.She said: “It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Mike and me but now it feels like the right time to talk about things.” I know it’s not so easy for other childless couples. We had the money and the time to invest in treatment but I just wanted people to know that there is hope.” When you are told that you can’t have kids, you feel so hopeless yet there is help out there and the fertility clinic were fantastically supportive.”
We’ve had to face some real battles over the years but we are definitely stronger people for it. And Dylan is proof that the fight was worth it.”