Chloe Madeley opens up on her two year struggle to conceive: I was scared it wouldnt happen

Last month Chloe Madeley revealed she was pregnant with her first child, a baby girl, with husband James Haskell.

And the personal trainer couldn't be more excited to sit down with OK! for a chat about all things babies, births and biological clocks.

Here, exclusively for OK! VIP readers the couple open up on the moment Chloe found out she was pregnant, how she told James the gender and their journey to becoming parents-to-be. Sign-up or login below the full interview.

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When we arrive at our shoot with Chloe Madeley and James Haskell in the Essex countryside, the parents-to-be are enjoying getting the VIP treatment from OK!.

And this is especially true for Chloe, who tells us, “It’s the most effort I’ve made in about five months.”

“Five years!” James chimes in. The banter between them is funny to watch as the 36-year-old rugby star adds,

“I haven’t seen Chloe in super-tight clothing for a long time, so I was like, ‘Wow, we’re actually having a baby!”’

Last month Chloe, 34, revealed she and James are expecting their first baby, a daughter, this summer. And while it is happy news for them both, they admit their journey to this point hasn’t been easy. Chloe, a personal trainer, tells us that after she decided she wanted to become a mum – while James was in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity in 2019 – it took them two years to conceive.

Speaking about her fertility struggles with refreshing candour, Chloe confides, “I find it quite amusing when people assume that all women, everywhere, want to be a mother, because it’s really complicated.”

After months of not using contraception, Chloe was “nervous” when she still wasn’t pregnant last spring. “We picked up the pace in terms of trying and that nervousness turned into utter fear,” she explains.

“Like, ‘Hang on, I don’t want this option taken away from me.’ I woke up in the middle of the night and it hit me like a ton of bricks. And that pushed me into making a decision and that I absolutely wanted to have a family.”

Worried Chloe visited her doctor for fertility tests and she was given the all clear – but she was so desperate for a child by this point she and James thought IVF may be their only option.

“I was getting to grips with the fact it might have to happen like that for me,” she says. “It was the realisation I may actually have to do that.

“Ultimately, we’re very lucky that we didn’t have to go down the IVF or adoption route. But it was a really sad few months where I was scared it wouldn’t happen for me.”

Understandably, Chloe starts to become emotional. “I look back at it now and I’m a bit upset that I let myself feel that pressure and fear. Whenever I saw other people get pregnant, it reinforced that feeling of fear and sadness that didn’t seem to be happening for me.

“When I announced I was pregnant, I nearly put a trigger warning under the [Instagram] post because I didn’t want to spark any feelings of sadness [for other people].”

While James says he was always open to having a family, he adds that he didn’t feel the same kind of pressure as his wife.

“I don’t have that same clock ticking, or society’s perception of that clock,” he says. “But does [having children] define me? No. I think people who try to have children to make their life better are almost on a path to failure, as it shouldn’t define you.”

It was December 2021 – two days after her dad, Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley, had made an early exit from his own stint in the I’m A Celebrity jungle – that Chloe felt the instinct to take a pregnancy test.

“I remember going to the gym and I thought, ‘It’s so weird I’ve had all these premenstrual symptoms for about a month. I should probably get a pregnancy test.’ I didn’t think it would be positive but it showed up pretty much immediately.”

Her thoughts quickly turned to telling her hubby, who was away in Dubai for work at the time.

“I spent the whole workout thinking, ‘How am I going to tell James?’” she says.“He was out there for over two weeks and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it to myself.”

Chloe eventually broke the happy news to James over the phone. She had planned to surprise him upon his return but an upcoming trip to Barbados – where the Zika virus, which is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, had circulated previously – made it news she didn’t feel she could sit on.

“I would have liked to have found out in person but it was still amazing,” says James.

“I was like, ‘Right, bang, I’m going to be a dad. This is awesome.’”

But one surprise Chloe did keep for him was the sex of the baby. She arranged for a box to be delivered to their house – with a pink baby bear outfit inside. “That’s when I welled up and nearly cried,” says James. “It was pretty exciting. I actually wanted a little girl – I’ve been around enough men my entire life.”

However, Chloe admits her own feelings about finding out she was expecting were a contrast to her husband’s. “I was quite surprised and in shock,” she tells us. “I was in a daze and you see in films there’s a lot of tears and jumping up and down, but it wasn’t like that for me. It was a process of letting it sink in.”

Her real “movie moment” came when she found out the baby’s gender during a family meal with Richard and her mum, Judy Finnigan, at the family home. “I got the email through. I scrolled down and it said ‘Female’.

“I jumped up and my mum dropped her fork on the plate. I said, ‘I’m having a girl!’ It was very emotional and I know my parents secretly wanted me to have a girl, and they’re seeing it as their second experience of raising me.”

It’s fair to say Chloe’s first pregnancy hasn’t been the easiest and she’s been open with her social media followers about suffering from extreme morning sickness. During her first trimester, she was pale and vomiting up to 18 hours a day.

“It was really hard,” she says.“I know how lucky I am to be pregnant and sometimes it’s like looking a gift horse in the mouth when I say I had a really horrible first trimester, but I did.

“I got through it because I knew how lucky I was and I was so happy to be pregnant. From weeks nine to 14, I would wake up about 2am and start vomiting, and I didn’t stop until 8pm. It was pretty savage, but a thing that compounded it and made it a hysterical experience at times, was I also got really bad migraines at the same time. Paracetamol didn’t touch the sides!”

So what helped to ease Chloe’s first-trimester “meltdowns”? Crisp sandwiches, she reveals – and James was a “fantastic” support, too.

“It was tough watching her being so tired and so ill,” says the former Wasps and England star. “I’m quite helpless but I put the occasional wet flannel on her head. Chloe likened it to having a hangover but without any of the fun.”

Now, at 21 weeks, her sickness has subsided and she has entered the exhaustion phase.

But one side effect, which Chloe admits hasn’t come as a shock, was anxiety. The star has spoken previously about her mental health struggles and how exercise is her “medicine for her mind”.

And the fitness fan says when the sickness and tiredness stopped her even going for a walk, she found her state of mind suffered.

“It was a killer,” she says. “It was really hard for me, because part of my mental health and physical health routine is to train. It’s my job, passion, career and hobby.”

And Chloe’s anxiety wasn’t helped after having a scare in week 14. She explains that she had a sudden reprieve from the symptoms she was experiencing – which made her worried for their baby.

“I freaked out,” admits Chloe. “I was lucky enough to get in for a scan the next morning and everything was fine. They said, ‘Congratulations, you’re coming out of it.’ Since then, I’ve managed to train three or four times a week.

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“I’m feeling really good now, still lifting weights and training exactly how I was before. The only thing that’s changed is I’m not doing any high-intensity work and not lying on my front or back.

“Pregnancy is wonderful but a scary time as well.”

Despite her worries, Chloe is very chilled on our shoot – so it comes as no surprise that she hasn’t thought about her birth plan yet. And the couple are still very much undecided on a name.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Chloe says. “James has a favourite, I have a favourite and my mum has a favourite – they’re all different.” This makes James laugh and add, “We’re not entertaining your mum’s names!”

Richard, 65, and Judy, 73, mean a lot to both Chloe and James – it was Richard who announced Chloe’s pregnancy live on GMB last month, when his son-in-law was a guest. And they are excited to become grandparents again. “I have three older brothers and they all have children, and my mum explained to me it’s a bit different when it’s your son’s wife having a baby,” says Chloe.

“You don’t want to be a monster-in-law and getting involved in a pregnancy. With me, she can be as neurotic and involved as she wants to be. And she is being – and I love it. It’s a really lovely thing and she’s so happy, emotional and involved, but I love it.”

Explaining that Judy has already advised her not to have an elective Caesarean, she says, “My mum said, ‘It’s a really big operation and some women are OK with it and they recover OK, but most women really have to go through a period of recovery’ – they cut you open! I was relieved that she echoed my thoughts, which were, ‘You have it if you have to have it.’”

Chloe, who sips a fruit smoothie while we chat, tells us she couldn’t be “prouder” to have Richard and Judy as parents, and praises her dad’s journalism skills on GMB alongside Susanna Reid.

“I think my dad is quite funny and honest, and quite personable – and he’s bloody good at his job,” she says with a smile.

“I feel like sometimes the Alan Partridge comparisons overshadow that.”

When we quiz her on his on-screen blunders and viewers likening him to comedian Steve Coogan’s character, Chloe continues, “Steve was promoting something last year and they asked him, ‘Who did you base Alan Partridge on?’ And he said he’s a mix of male TV presenters from the 80s – which suggests part of that character would be based on my dad.”

However, much to our disappointment, dreams of her mum re-joining Richard on the sofa any time soon are dashed as Chloe declares, “Mum is done with TV and she’s been done with TV for a long time!

“They retired from television over a decade ago and she’s had one moment where she said, ‘Oh, I quite miss it. And that’s when they did the 25th This Morning anniversary show in Liverpool. She’s incredibly intelligent and warm, and that made her great at her job but she’s not a performer. As soon as that started to take precedence in her career, I think she immediately started to shy away from it.”

As well as enjoying strong family support, Chloe and James are lucky to be surrounded by many good friends – including Zara and Mike Tindall, who have three children. And we’re desperate to know what advice the Queen’s granddaughter has been giving them.

“Zara’s given me some really good advice and a sack of muslins,” says Chloe. “I asked Zara and many people about bottle and breastfeeding, and they’ve all said, ‘You just won’t know until you try.’”

James adds, “They are brilliant parents. Every time I go and stay with them or see them, I just think what a wonderful family they’ve got. Mike’s an incredible dad, Zara’s an incredible mum. Mia, Lena and Lucas are so sweet. I get on really well with Mia – I kind of want our daughter to be like her. Cheeky, a bit of a tomboy and girly when she needs to be. I’ll take any advice from them.”

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As our chat winds up and the couple get their bags ready to head back to their Northampton home, they each leave us with a glimpse of how they see their future – including the possibility of extending their family.

So, what’s James thinking?

“I’ve never thought of having a massive family,” he admits. “I’m quite happy seeing how one turns out.”

And Chloe? She’s already thinking bigger than James – but not too big, mind. “I find it weird when people say, ‘I want to have a football team,’” she says.

“But I do want to be in my sixties and have a room full of family members around the table at Christmas!”

For more on Chloe and James' journey to becoming parents, sign up to OK!'s daily celebrity newsletter.

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