Great Britain

I’ve fostered 30 kids, had 7 miscarriages and nearly died from ectopic pregnancy – but finally had 3 kids of my own

AFTER seven miscarriages and a near-fatal ectopic pregnancy, Julie Worsfield was warned she'd never have her own kids.

But amazingly, she fell pregnant naturally at the age of 36 - despite having just one fallopian tube.

Feeling blessed by their miracle child, Julie and husband John, from Droitwich, Worcestershire, decided to start fostering.

But they soon found themselves running a family-of-nine, when Julie discovered she was pregnant again - this time with twin boys.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, Julie, now 56, said: "People say I’m such an inspiration to them because I had seven miscarriages and I also had an ectopic ruptured pregnancy in 1992.

"I was in intensive care for a week and a half, and we were basically told we’d never be able to have children.

"I almost lost my life and I lost my right fallopian tube. Seven pints of blood were in my stomach, that’s how near I was to passing away.

"They didn’t know if I’d be brain damaged. It was very touch and go, my family were called.

"But I lived to tell the tale and I now have Jemma, Tom and Will."

After recovering from her spell in hospital, Julie and husband John, now 52, decided to try IVF to have their first child.

Julie said: "On the morning I was supposed to be going for my first IVF treatment, I found out I was expecting Jemma, now 20, which was very eerie.

"I don't know if it's because I was relaxed, knowing I'd finally got some help.

"The doctors said Jemma was a miracle, they don’t know really how I managed to get pregnant naturally. John and I had given up all hope of having children of our own.

"It was quite a stressful, traumatic time. Given my history, I was very nervous.

"It wasn’t in the early stage of pregnancy I was losing the baby, it was between 12 and 14 weeks.

"Once I got to 12, 13 weeks I was jumping for joy thinking ‘oh my goodness’. I had Jemma naturally when I was 36."

On the morning I was supposed to be going for my first IVF treatment, I found out I was expecting Jemma

Julie Worsfield56

Julie gave birth to Jemma without any pain relief, in a birthing pool, after a day-and-a-half of labour.

She said: "John and I didn't think we'd be able to have any more children, so we decided to foster when Jemma was nearly one.

"We've been fostering for 20 years. We wanted to give something back.

"We’d been through such a traumatic time with me nearly losing my life, but we were so blessed to have Jemma.

"I've fostered between 25 and 30 kids. For many years, I ran a family of nine - seven kids, John and I."

Julie is a full-time mum and foster carer while John, who works for the RNIB charity (Royal National Institute of Blind People), is her back-up carer.

She said: "When I was 41, I discovered I was pregnant naturally with twins. It was a nice shock.

"I had the most amazing pregnancy, but I was huge. I had twins at 42, it's quite a miracle."

Fostering: the facts

There are three main types of foster care:

Anyone can apply to be a foster carer, via your council or a fostering agency.

You will need a DBS check and health check. Any other household members over 18 will also be DBS checked.

You'll attend a group preparation session and be assessed by an independent panel. This can take up to six months.

Foster carers get an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child. There's more info here.

Tom and Will, now 14, were born via C-section - as one of them was breech - weighing 6lb 14oz and 6lb 10oz.

Julie said: "We were living in a three-bed semi-detached just down the road at the time.

"We had Jemma and one foster daughter, who lived with us for six years, when I found out I was pregnant with the boys.

"We were just about to have an extension put on our old house, adding a fourth bedroom, but we had to halt this and find something bigger. We have six bedrooms now.

"It has been difficult at times. A week after I came out of hospital with Tom and Will, I took on a sibling group of three kids, aged four, five and seven, to make up our family-of-nine.

"I had brand new twins, a six-year-old daughter, a 17-year-old young lady who we were getting ready for independent living, then I madly took on the sibling group of three.

"Looking back, I don’t really know how I did it, but we made it work.

"It was all me - doing the school runs, with the twins and three new children who I had to settle in."

John and I didn't think we'd be able to have any more children, so we decided to foster when Jemma was nearly one

Julie Worsfield56

Julie will take in kids of any age - from a baby up to 18 - and does provide emergency care.

But she prefers to welcome kids into the family long term - and is currently looking after two brothers.

She said: "Fostering is all about the simple things - listening to them, giving them love and respect, normality.

"Basic things like giving them a home. The first three siblings we took in, they couldn't get over having their own beds, they'd been sleeping on the floor.

"It sounds so basic, it's things we take for granted. The little one cried and said 'is this mine?'

"It's all about being consistent and giving them love, I'm there for them all the time and try to never let them down.

"What you say you're going to do, you do. It's not rocket science.

"It takes years to build trust, but hopefully one day they'll know you have their best interests at heart."

Although Julie loves fostering, she admits there are difficult parts to the role.

She said: "They tend to send me teenagers because I'm good with them.

"You can mould the younger kids but with the teenagers, although you try and show them the right path, they've already seen and heard too much.

"They may have had police raiding their mum’s flat from the age of three or four, that’s the lifestyle they’re used to.

"When they leave us for independent living, you hope and pray you've shown them enough of the right path, so they won't go back to the life they had before.

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"We had one foster lad who'd grown up with his flat being raided, and had known the name of every drug from the age of five.

"He lived with us for nearly four years and when he left us, he reverted back into the drug world.

"My heart sank, he was the loveliest lad. He did end up in prison on a few occasions, all drug related.

"But he wrote us the loveliest letter recently. He said 'what you did for me in those four years hasn't gone in vain. I still try, there's still some of your goodness in there'.

"That meant a lot. Even though he had got into trouble, he tried desperately to stay on the right path.

"We hope that, however long they are with us, when they go onto have their own kids they will look back on their life with us and try to remember how we raised them."

After her brush with death and fertility troubles, Julie thought she was over the difficult times.

But she faced another traumatic period when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

She said: "I was diagnosed with the most aggressive form, HER2-positive.

"I had chemo, a double mastectomy and a year's worth of Herceptin injections but I'm now fighting fit and on no drugs at all.

"My breast cancer was diagnosed in my second mammogram.

"Had I put my letter in the drawer and thought 'I'll leave it for another three years', I probably wouldn't be here today.

HER2-positive breast cancer

Some breast cancer cells have a higher than normal level of a protein called HER2 on their surface, stimulating growth.

Around one in five invasive breast cancers are HER2-positive.

One in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

78% of women survive breast cancer for ten or more years. Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years.

You will have the best chance of beating breast cancer if you catch it early.

All women aged 50 and above are offered breast cancer screening (via an X-ray test called a mammogram) every three years, free on the NHS.

If you're worried about a lump or any other symptoms, make an appointment with your GP.

"So now I go all around the country giving talks and I've got my own little mammogram campaign, with doctors behind me.

"It was hard, I had a young family at the time and it was difficult telling the kids.

"But I kept a positive, sunny outlook. Jemma was in the middle of doing her A Levels, studying to become a veterinary nurse, and my boys were only 11.

"I said to them ‘Mummy has found a lump in her breast, Mummy has been diagnosed with cancer but it’s a very small lump. Mummy is going to have the treatment and Mummy’s going to be absolutely fine.’

"Even on my chemo days, when I was feeling the worst possible, I still made damn sure I was at that front door, waving them goodbye before school.

"Then I’d literally collapse onto the settee for the day because chemo exhausted me.

"But at 4pm, I'd make sure I was at that window waving them 'hello'. I put on a brave face, so they would think 'Mummy's doing stuff, she's not laying in bed ill'.

"I tried desperately hard not to do that. My sons are great footballers and play for a local team and I never missed a single match, I made sure I was on that sideline. But inside it was a struggle."

Julie is a member of the UK Breast Cancer Support Group - for sufferers and survivors.

Earlier this week, we spoke to a woman who raised £20,000 for surrogacy - to have the UK's first crowdfunded baby - thanks to donations from Fabulous readers.

Elizabeth Hurley in new breast cancer awareness campaign