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'Surrogacy gave us our precious babies'

After the trauma of stillbirth and failed IVF, one Irish couple opted for a surrogate to have their family. They tell Liadan Hynes their story

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Cathy and Keith Wheatley with their twins Ted and Elsie, four months old, who were born by surrogacy. The couple feature in a new Virgin Media series starting tonight. Pic: Arthur Carron

Cathy and Keith Wheatley with their twins Ted and Elsie, four months old, who were born by surrogacy. The couple feature in a new Virgin Media series starting tonight. Pic: Arthur Carron

Cathy and Keith Wheatley with their twins Ted and Elsie. Pic: Arthur Carron

Cathy and Keith Wheatley with their twins Ted and Elsie. Pic: Arthur Carron

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Cathy and Keith Wheatley with their twins Ted and Elsie, four months old, who were born by surrogacy. The couple feature in a new Virgin Media series starting tonight. Pic: Arthur Carron

Cathy and Keith Wheatley knew from the start that they might have fertility issues. Cathy has endometriosis, so when they married in 2013, they sought help straight away. While waiting for an appointment with a fertility specialist, the couple, who met at the first birthday party of a mutual friend's child, became pregnant naturally.

"It was like hitting the jackpot," Cathy, originally from Kilkenny but now living with her husband in Wicklow, explains. "I just couldn't believe it; we were pregnant, and we didn't have to do anything. It's what everyone who knows that there might be a problem dreams of."

At first, everything went smoothly, but at seven months Cathy began experiencing "horrific" pain. Unable to travel, her mother called an ambulance. Cathy's uterus had ruptured spontaneously. "Without labour, it's unheard of," Cathy explains. "At that point there was me, and another girl in America, who had cases of this happening." The couple's daughter, baby Helen, was stillborn.