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Ace was their last frozen embryo and Stephanie and Mark’s final chance at parenthood

Tomorrow is Ace's Gibson first birthday and his parents will celebrate a year with the child they feared they would never have. reports.
Cheryl Peebles
Ace Gibson with parents Mark and Stephanie.
Ace Gibson with parents Mark and Stephanie Gibson. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Little Ace Gibson will blow out the candle on his first birthday cake tomorrow.

And for his parents Mark and Stephanie Happy Birthday will be the most emotional song they have ever sung, as they feared they would never become parents.

The Dundee couple, a wedding singer and DJ duo, had already suffered two miscarriages after conceiving with IVF treatment.

They were down to their final, least viable frozen embryo and had lost almost all hope of having the baby they longed for.

But Ace answered their prayers and their first year of parenthood has been a dream come true.

Stephanie, 31, said: “We are truly grateful for having this little human in our lives!”

Ace Gibson on his dad's knee with mum beside
The Gibsons are a family at last, and about to celebrate Ace’s first birthday. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Mark, 33, and Stephanie are childhood sweethearts, falling in love while pupils at Baldragon Academy.

They bonded over music as Mark, in S6, picked up a guitar and started playing in the music department where Stephanie, in fourth year, had gone to sing.

He proposed as they watched fireworks on holiday at Disneyland Paris and they married in 2017.

Until their wedding, they had just been enjoying life and focussing on work.

As well as running Stark Sound Weddings Mark is a screen technician and Stephanie a trainee manager in Lush.

But when they tied the knot the time seemed right to take the next step.

They had no idea of the emotional rollercoaster they were about to embark upon.

Newborn Ace in hospital
A newborn Ace in hospital. Image: Stephanie Gibson.

Stephanie said: “We always knew we wanted kids. We spoke about that, it was always part of the plan.

“It was just about when the time was right.”

But a year and a half later, nothing had happened.

Stephanie said: “We went to the doctor and he was amazing, he instantly referred us to Ninewells Hospital.”

Tests concluded there was zero chance they would conceive without help.

“We were gutted,” Stephanie said. “All of our lives in our relationship, things have come naturally and easily. We’ve always been lucky.”

So the news hit hard.

Then so did Covid.

Covid put IVF on hold

Fertility treatment was put on hold as the nation went into lockdown in 2020.

So it was January 2021 before they were able to start the IVF process.

Stephanie began a strict regime of injecting hormones three times a day and getting regular blood tests.

When she reached the optimum point in her cycle she was admitted to hospital for egg retrieval.

However, the operation did not go well.

The procedure normally takes 20 to 30 minutes under general anaesthetic but Stephanie lost a lot of blood.

She said: “They had to decide whether to keep going and take as many eggs as they could or stop and go with what we had, and that’s what we did.

“So in the end they took 10 eggs but only three fertilised. I did have a lot of eggs but they weren’t able to get them all.”

Image on screen of embryo
Their final embryo in the lab. Image: Stephanie Gibson.

The resulting embryos were graded, the healthiest one implanted in Stephanie and the other two frozen.

To the couple’s delight, a test revealed Stephanie was pregnant just two weeks after implantation.

With IVF scans are performed earlier than in a normal pregnancy and the embryo looked healthy at first.

However, at their eight week scan there was no heartbeat and the embryo had not grown.

The couple were shocked and heartbroken to be told Stephanie would have to return for an assisted miscarriage.

On our way home it felt like we saw everyone with prams and babies.”

Stephanie said: “We were naive and just expected everything to be ok.

“That was probably one of the worst times of our lives. We had never experienced anything like that in our relationship.

“On our way home it felt like we saw everyone with prams and babies, it felt like everything was magnified.”

They waited a couple of months before trying again.

Embryo two was implanted and again Stephanie fell pregnant.

But just before her first scan she miscarried again.

She said: “I was actually performing at the time and I knew it had happened.”

By that time, the couple were in the process of buying their first home.

Unable to handle the possibility of a third miscarriage, they decided to focus on their house.

The final frozen embryo

Stephanie said: “We thought, let’s just have a break. I just couldn’t have another loss.”

Come early 2022, they decided to try their final embryo. During the grading process it was considered the least likely to successfully implant in Stephanie’s womb.

Given the first two attempts had failed, hope was in short supply.

Stephanie said: “We felt like there was no point. We weren’t optimistic like we were before.”

But on holiday in a lodge near Glasgow, a pregnancy test came back positive. Like before, they took several more tests to be sure. And every one gave the same result.

They’d been here before so were afraid to get too excited. But this time Stephanie felt very, very sick, which she hadn’t done in her previous pregnancies.

She said: “That’s when I thought, this might be it.”

They attended hospital for scans as before.

Image from 12-week scan
The 12-week scan showed a strong heartbeat. Image: Stephanie Gibson.

But only at their 12-week scan did they allow themselves to believe they were finally going to become parents.

Stephanie said: “There was a really good heartbeat and we could see all the movement.

“It was the most amazing thing ever.

“This was it!”

Stephanie had intense sickness throughout her pregnancy, but it didn’t matter to her.

Mirror selfie of Stephanie pregnant.
Stephanie loved being pregnant. Image: Stephanie Gibson.

“I was just so happy to be pregnant,” she said.

“I loved having a bump, I loved everything about it.

“I really embraced it even though I was ill.”

An enlarged kidney detected during their 16-week scan resulted in Stephanie being induced early.

She had a difficult labour, resulting in a forceps delivery.

But Ace arrived healthy on February 4, 2023, weighing 7lb 13oz.

Ace and Stephanie immediately after his birth
Mum’s first cuddle. Image: Stephanie Gibson.

Stephanie said: “Even after all of that, it was the most amazing feeling in the world.

“No words could describe it.”

The last year has been “incredible” with Ace in their lives, Stephanie said.

“It’s a whirlwind, isn’t it? Your whole life changes!”

Ace has his dad’s relaxed demeanour.

Mark and Stephanie playing with Ace
Ace is a happy child with his dad’s chilled demeanour. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Stephanie said: “He is so chilled. Mark’s mum says he was very chilled as a baby so he’s very much like Dad that way.

“He’s very, very happy and he’s very vocal!”

Emotions are running high for the couple as they prepare to celebrate Ace’s first birthday.

Stephanie said: “I just can’t believe he’s been here for a year already.”

Christmas was a particularly special time, as they celebrated as a family for the first time.

Stephanie said: “Being a mama is the best present I’ve asked for in an extremely long time.

“Ace has answered our prayers and made us feel complete.”

Is your family a little bit different or do you have a story to tell? Maybe it’s who you are, what you do or how you got there that sets you apart. If you have a tale to tell we’d love to hear it.