life-changing  | 

Cystic Fibrosis campaigner Nicole Adams opens up about miracle pregnancy after health battle

"Not only are we adults dealing with CF but a baby with CF is a whole different ball game."

Nicole Adams

Roisin Gorman

Cystic fibrosis campaigner Nicole Adams is expecting a miracle baby.

Nicole and partner Ciaran McVarnock, the recently retired pro boxer, had put starting a family on hold after learning he also carries the CF gene.

But nature had other plans for the pair, who told family and friends recently they're expecting a baby in the autumn.

And they'd like their happy news to give hope to other couples who fear the condition will end their dreams of having children.

The couple played a key role in the introduction of new therapy Kaftrio for cystic fibrosis patients in Northern Ireland, which is the only region of the UK where the drug is now available to sufferers over 12.

It has been life-changing for Nicole (30), a hairdresser from Newtownabbey.

Pictures of her lying gravely ill in hospital in December 2019 went viral when Ciaran shared them in the desperate hope it would get his partner life-saving treatment, and convinced drug company Vertex to give her Kaftrio.

She now leads a normal life with CF, in which thick mucus builds up in the lungs and causes irreparable damage, using a nebuliser for just 20 minutes a day.

Nicole with partner Ciaran and chase the dog.

The couple had hoped to start a family in the future but, after genetic testing last year revealed Ciaran also carries the gene which causes the condition, they decided to wait.

"We kerbed our plans and decided to go and live life and what will be will be, and we went to Dubai for a holiday in January," says Nicole.

"Because of my health issues I haven't needed to use contraceptives for years, and when my period hadn't come in February, I thought it was just the change to my routine from being on holiday.

"When Ciaran turned 30, we were talking about going to Thailand and we just did a pregnancy test before we made any arrangements, and within two seconds it turned positive."

Ciaran was immediately worried about the effect of a pregnancy on Nicole's health, and the pair know their baby may be born with CF.

Diabetes is also more common in women with the condition, which can cause larger babies.

Nicole, who's now 15 weeks pregnant, says the CF medical team has assured her that it's safe to continue taking Kaftrio during pregnancy, and it may give added protection to her baby.

"We have been researched like mad since we found out. Because I'm going to take the drug for nine months, if the baby does have CF too it will be protected for the first nine months in me. I'm in good health and we're good to go.

"They've also said I can have a natural birth - I thought they'd be worried about me puffing and panting.

"After a C-section you're not allowed to be mobile for six weeks, and with CF if you're lying about you're more likely to get an infection, and if your abdomen is cut and you get a lung infection the coughing can stop you healing properly."

Nicole, in hospital when ill with partner Ciaran, holding her hand.

They told their families last week and Nicole takes heart from her own parents' experience with her.

They encouraged her to be as active as she wanted with dance and gymnastics and only the people closest to her knew she had CF. She was first hospitalised at 22 when she was struck down with cepacia, an infection which can prove fatal for anyone with cystic fibrosis.

"When I was born my mum and dad had no idea what CF was. They said if you want to dance do it, if you want to do gymnastics do it.

"We told my mother with a wee Babygro that said, 'granny's little miracle' and the scan picture. I jumped on her knee and she held me so tight.

"My brother was speechless. He said he never thought I'd make him an uncle."

Nicole says looking back at the pictures of her struggling to breathe in a hospital bed just a few years ago, her only feeling is gratitude.

The couple has continued to speak out about life with CF in order to help other families who are dealing with the condition and she'd like their baby news to give them hope.

"There are still people with CF out there who think they can't have kids.

"Not only are we adults dealing with CF but a baby with CF is a whole different ball game.

"It's so nice to have that feeling that maybe our story will help someone else who thinks they can't have a baby."

She says it may take a few months after the baby is born to detect if it has the condition because she's taking Kaftrio, but whatever the news is they will face it together.

"So much has happened in the last three years with the new drugs so I'm confident whether the child has it or not it will have a good life.

"We will handle it, no matter what. This baby will be loved," says Nicole.

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