LIKE many women in their forties, Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace is well aware her “clock is ticking” – and fears she may never become a mum.
The model and 2006 Big Brother starwho is 43 and has suffered several miscarriages, thinks it may be too late to conceive naturally.
And now that she is single after recently splitting from her partner, she believes has no choice but to go it alone.
She says: “Unfortunately, as women we’ve got a sell-by date on our ovarieswhich is a scary thought.
“I’m really starting to panic that it’s just not going to happen for me.
“I always saw kids as part of my future but I was also very career driven and that kind of took priority.
“Men can whip it out and still produce sperm whatever their age, but a woman’s clock is always ticking.
“And finding the balance between chasing your dreams and judging the right time to bring a child into the world is really tough.
“I look back and wonder if I should have done things differently. Should I have prioritised having a family? I don’t know.
“I just have to hope and pray that I’ve not left it too late to have my miracle baby.”
Aisleyne could use a sperm donor for private IVF treatment but has conflicting feelings, having grown up without her dad, Steve Wallace, 60, who walked out when she was a toddler.
She says: “I’ve been doing a lot of research and a lot of thinking about what my options are.
“I want to carry my baby in my womb and experience pregnancy and I know to do that as a single woman will probably mean using a sperm donor.
“But that’s really difficult for me because coming from a broken home, I always yearned and longed for a dad. So personally, I would prefer it that the father was known to me and around for our baby.
“My gay best friend has said that if all else fails we could have a baby together, and at least that would mean the child had that role model and knew who their father was for identity purposes.
“I’ve also thought about fostering and adoption because I know that there are a lot of children out there who need love.
“I was passed to become a foster mum a few years ago so maybe it’ll happen that way for me.” When she turned 40, Aisleyne planned to freeze her eggs but abandoned the idea after getting together with her last partner, who she has never named publicly.
She says: “I didn’t go through with it because I got into a steady relationship and so we started trying for a baby.
“I don’t even think I can do it now because I’m just too old — I would have been pushing it as it was.
“I’m gutted because if I’d gone ahead, it would have given me more of a chance now.”
I want to carry my baby in my womb and experience pregnancy and I know to do that as a single woman will probably mean using a sperm donor. But that’s really difficult for me because coming from a broken home, I always yearned and longed for a dad.
During her 20s, Aisleyne lost four babies, including one who was stillborn, before doctors discovered she had rhesus negative blood. In pregnancy this can cause rhesus disease which, if untreated, makes it difficult to carry a baby to full-term.
‘A LOT OF SELF-BLAME’
At the age of 23, Aisleyne had to give birth at six and a half months, knowing the baby had not survived.
She says: “It was heart-breaking because you’re left thinking, ‘What have I done wrong?’.
“I went through a lot of self-blame before they investigated what was happening.
“If they’d checked everything out after the first miscarriage then the others might not have happened because there is an antidote for my situation.”
This involves an injection of anti-D immunoglobulin which effectively eliminates the risk of rhesus disease developing and allows the mother to continue with a healthy pregnancy.
Aisleyne adds: “It doesn’t mean that you’re definitely going to be fine, but it offers you and the baby some protection.
“With that injection, all my other babies could have been saved.
“After that, I kind of shut my emotions off and became tunnel-visioned on career, money and security. I didn’t allow myself to grieve because it just hurt too much.”
It’s been particularly tough for the star watching close friends become mothers over the years.
Aisleyne says: “I had to shut off one of my closest friends for a good eight months because she was pregnant and I found it really triggering.
It was heart-breaking because you’re left thinking, ‘What have I done wrong?’. I went through a lot of self-blame before they investigated what was happening.
“I just couldn’t deal with it. We’re OK now and I would never begrudge someone else their joy, but you have to make sure that you’re taking care of your own mental health and if that means removing yourself from friendships for a while then you have to do it.
“People who love you will understand.”
Aisleyne feels strongly that she could offer a child a rich and happy life.
She says: “I know I’ve got so much to give and all my friends say I’d be a good mum.
“I’ve got the knowledge of what it’s like to grow up tough but also now how it feels to have money and stability and to be safe.
“I’ve got a big heart and I’d want to instil self-worth and self-belief in my child.”
It’s been 16 years since Aisleyne found fame on the seventh series of Big Brother, alongside Nikki Grahame, who died last year aged 38, and eventual winner Pete Bennett.
Aisleyne – whose exes include comedian Jack Whitehall and former boxer Mike Tyson – has worked hard to stay in the spotlight, appearing on several other reality shows, writing magazine columns and launching her own clothing range.
Her latest TV project, Celebrity MMA, will see her and other well-known faces training to compete in cage fights at Wembley Arena in August.
She has been in intensive training for several weeks and says the experience has been life-changing.
She says: “I’ve actually never felt fitter or stronger. I don’t want to drink, I don’t want to go out and party. The first time I got in the ring I vomited because I was so unfit.
“But I’m now getting through rounds and feeling on top of the world, so it’s been brilliant for my physical and mental health.
“If you look on my Instagram, I’m fully out there, half naked and loving it. And I’ve stopped editing my pictures, even if there’s a roll of fat, I just think, so what?
“Because now I truly appreciate my body and I want to keep it fit and well. This is me.”