Nicola McLean: ‘My anorexia has left me needing IVF to conceive’

Under doctor's orders to relax, Nicola McLean is about to escape the grim British weather to enjoy a Caribbean holiday with her footballer husband Tom Williams, 32, and their boys Rocky, seven, and striker, three.


by Closer staff |
Published on

The reality TV star, 31, is desperate to fall pregnant after sadly suffering a miscarriage in February last year – but has struggled due to a 20-year battle with eating disorders that has left her with erratic periods. The holiday is part of a last-ditch attempt to conceive, before the couple start IVF treatment.

Nicola, who first developed eating issues aged 11 and was making herself sick by the time she was 13, has battled with both anorexia and bulimia ever since. At her worst in 2010, the 5ft 4 star weighed just 6st.

Now a healthy 8st 5lbs, the Celebrity Big Brother star says: “I want a baby as soon as possible. If it doesn’t happen on holiday we’ll start IVF – we’ve already seen a Harley Street specialist. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll adopt or maybe foster. I want at least four kids.”

When asked about her miscarriage, a tearful Nicola says: “We’d gone for our 12- week scan and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. It had probably stopped at nine weeks. I didn’t cry at first, but I was absolutely devastated.”

'I want a baby as soon as possible... I want at least four kids'

Nicola – who was given tablets to induce a miscarriage – adds: “When my blood test results came back, they showed my hormone levels were all over the place. Doctors said it was probably because I’d been so thin in the past, even though I was around 8st when I conceived [with a healthy BMI of 19.2] and had put on a few pounds by that point, too.”

Nicola McLean family
Nicola McLean family

Nicola says she blamed herself and adds: “When the tears eventually came, I cried and cried. I felt like a terrible person and kept apologising to Tom, but he was so supportive and insisted it could happen to anyone.”

Despite their heartache, Nicola and Tom started trying for another baby a month later. She says: “I’ve done two pregnancy tests every month since – and there’s always tears.”

Although tests show her hormone levels are now normal, Nicola’s periods – which stopped for a year at the height of her anorexia when she was 28 – are very irregular. “I used to be able to plan on the dot for them, but now they could be every six weeks or three weeks. I’ve messed about with my body so much,” says Nicola, who says she and Tom have sex most days.

But her weight has never stopped her falling pregnant before. She says: “Rocky was a happy accident. I was on the Pill but hopeless at taking it. Striker was a honeymoon baby.”

She was a healthy 9st when she conceived Rocky and put on 2st during her pregnancy. With Striker, she admits she ate whatever she wanted and gained 5st, going from 8st to 13st.

But Nicola’s anorexia returned with a vengeance after she gave birth for the second time and tried to lose her baby weight.

She reveals: “I lived on 10 cans of Diet Coke and three appetite-suppressant pills a day. I’d make Tom and the boys dinner but, some days, I wouldn’t eat a thing. Or I’d just have peas or prawns, then make myself sick. I dropped to just 6st within six months.”

'I lived on 10 cans of Diet Coke and three appetite-suppressant pills a day'

Nicola McLean

Nicola says her turning point came when she blacked out while getting out of bed 
to see to her baby. She reveals: “I started eating again for my boys the very next day. I live for them. I was wearing leggings for seven to eight-year-old girls – I knew I had 
to get better.”

Nicola admits it’s been a slow battle but, for the past two years, she’s controlled her anorexia and bulimia with therapy and antidepressants. She’s gradually put on weight, but admits she still feels “fat” and faces a daily struggle to stay on track.

She admits: “Like any addiction, I’ll never be completely cured. I have body dysmorphic disorder. When I look in the mirror, I see someone who’s fat and ugly. I’m very insecure. I’ll never think I’m amazing, but I’m learning not to be so hung up about it.”

'Like any addiction, I'll never be completely cure. I have body dysmoprhic disorder'

She adds: “In hindsight, what I was doing to Tom was really hard for him. There was nothing he could do and I wouldn’t even talk about it. Yet he never wanted to leave me.”

To stay healthy and give herself the best chance of getting pregnant, Nicola now eats sensibly and takes multivitamins and folic acid. She also does an exercise DVD or runs four times a week.

Nicola and Husband

She says: “I don’t skip meals. I have a protein shake with berries and a banana for breakfast, a tuna salad wrap for lunch and salmon, potatoes and salad
 for dinner. I love Haribo and pick at the 
kids’ sweets.”

Nicola and Tom have both undergone fertility tests, which found no medical reason for their inability to conceive.

Nicola says: “My hormones seem to be fine now, although my periods are still all over the place.”

Their gynaecologist has confirmed they are suitable for IVF treatment, but advised them to return after a holiday, as being stressed can often affect the chances of conceiving.

“It’s a big decision, but I don’t want another year wasted trying,” explains Nicola.

So, how will she cope with gaining weight if the IVF is successful? She says: “I don’t care about putting on weight when pregnant – there’s a reason for it. It’s also nice to eat what I like without worrying. It’ll be the same if I bloat from all the hormones I’ll have to take for the IVF – I’ll tell myself it’s for my baby.”

And Nicola says that although IVF will be costly (between £4,000 and £8,000 for the first attempt) and could be hard on her body, she isn’t daunted.

She says: “I’d love to fall pregnant on holiday, but I doubt it will happen – IVF may be the only way. I don’t care how long it takes, what it costs or how stressful it is, as long as the end result is a baby. I’d put my body through 20 rounds of IVF if need be."

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