Exclusive: Ola and James Jordan's emotional IVF journey with daughter Ella and hopes for second baby

The Strictly stars share their story for World Infertility Awareness Month this June

This June marks World Infertility Awareness Month, which is a subject close to the hearts of former Strictly Come Dancing stars Ola and James Jordan.

MORE: Exclusive: Ola and James Jordan are bursting with pride at Ella's first sports day

The couple, who have been married for 18 years, tried for a baby for three years before conceiving their daughter Ella, now aged two, through IVF in 2019. The couple opened up to HELLO! about their battle to fall pregnant, with Ola revealing how one of her toughest moments was whilst filming Dancing with the Stars, on which she was a judge.

James and Ola Jordan star on HELLO!'s Digital Cover with daughter Ella

"I remember sitting at the judges' desk and thinking, 'I don't want this. I want to be pregnant,'" recalls Ola.

"I thought, 'I'm not this person who sits here, I want to be mum at home.' It was hard, really hard. I would have been happy there if I had a baby at home. All I was thinking sitting there was, 'Am I going to get a period this month?'"

During their time on Strictly, Ola, 39, and James, 44, were two of the nation’s most-loved dancers: Ola, known for her daring catsuits, won series seven with Chris Hollins, while cheeky character James and his celebrity dance partner Denise Van Outen reached the runner-up spot in series ten.

In our exclusive Digital Cover interview, the couple talk about their journey to conceive Ella, going through IVF and their hopes for baby number two…

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Ola and James with daughter Ella

Ola wears True Decadence, Ella wears Pepa&Co and James wears Jaeger 

 

Trying for a baby

When Ola and James left their dancing roles on Strictly, they set about starting a family.  "We always spoke about having children for years and years and it was always putting the career first. We said we’ll just wait," says James.

But as time passed and they didn't fall pregnant, the emotional side of things took their toll, particularly on Ola.

MORE: 12 celebrities who've candidly discussed their fertility struggles: from IVF to surrogacy

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Ola and James Jordan

Ola wears Ridley London, James wears Jaeger

 

"I always wanted to be a mum and I loved children," she tells us. "I always loved looking after my nieces. I had that in me, so I think that’s why it upset me even more that I couldn’t have a child on my own, because I was always ready for that. I was really wrapped up in getting pregnant. Every second thinking, 'Am I pregnant?'"

"For a lot of people, you don't want to go down the IVF route. You're like 'No, it's going to happen!'" explains James.

"You put yourself under pressure once it’s not happening, which isn't good either apparently. I think everyone wants to have children naturally and many people seem scared of talking about the fact they’ve been through IVF."

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The couple tried for years to conceive

Ola wears Ridley London, James wears Jaeger, Ella wears Pepa&Co with shoes by Papouelli

 

Deciding to do IVF treatment

However, after years of trying, the couple had a change of heart and they started a course of IVF.  Ola reveals: "It got to the point where we had to do something about it. I didn't want to wait any longer because I was getting older." 

"I had to inject myself every night for the eggs to build up, but I found the process more mentally painful than physically painful.

"To me, that was nothing. I can push myself quite hard – my pain threshold is quite high I'd say, so it didn't bother me if I was going to get a baby from that. The waiting process of IVF was hard."

MORE: Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay reveals heartbreaking IVF journey

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Ella is James and Ola's whole world

Ola wears dress by Aspiga, Ella wears Pepa&Co and James wears Jaeger and Russell and Bromley 

 

Falling pregnant and Ella's birth

It was wonderful news for James and Ola as their first round of treatment worked and Ola was pregnant. While there was huge excitement for the pair, there were also nerves, as they had waited so long for their baby.

"The pregnancy was really nerve-racking," says Ola. "I didn’t want to do anything strenuous. I didn’t want to exercise too much, I was just 'being.'" 

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Ella's birth was an incredible moment for the couple

Ola wears Ridley London and Ella wears Pepa&Co 

 

Ella was born in February 2020, a moment Ola describes as "the best thing ever".

"Even now, I feel so emotional about it because I remember how I felt. When they put Ella on my chest and after all we went through, it was so special." 

James adds: "It was unbelievable. It was like that Lion King moment for me. Ola had a C-section and the sheet was covering everything, then this lady lifted our baby above the sheet and I wanted to make the Lion call - and Ella was so pretty!" 

MORE: 7 surprising fertility facts you probably didn't know

 

Tough early months with a newborn

Ola and James were in their new parent bubble back at home, but life soon became very tough. It was 2020, the start of the pandemic with lockdown. On top of this, James' father fell ill with a brain tumour and tragically passed away in March 2021.

"Two weeks after Ella was born we got the news of my dad, and my head was gone. It was awful. We didn't get to enjoy Ella as a family like most people would.

"We had no family helping us, there was no health visitor. It was very hard. We were Facetiming friends asking for advice. It was amazing having Ella but that period for me was a massive blur. It’s such a shame." 

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James dotes on his daughter

Ella wears dress by Pepa & Co and shoes by Papouelli and James wears Superdry 

 

Enjoying life with Ella

Now, two years on and post-pandemic, life is good for the family. Ella has suffered separation anxiety as a 'lockdown baby' but having recently started at nursery, is gaining in confidence.

"She's getting so much better," says James. "Now she'll go and play with new people, whereas before she’d never have done that. We're really enjoying Ella; she's got such a lovely character."

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Ella had trouble leaving mum and dad at nursery but is finally settling in

Ola wears Dress by Aspiga, Ella wears Pepa&Co and James wears Jaeger

 

 "Even though she has tantrums and she threw all her food on the floor yesterday!" laughs Ola.

"She is amazing though. She’s so nice to be around and she’s saying new things all the time, it’s so cute. I love all the firsts. Today we got in the car and she said, 'Daddy drives faster!' She's picking up on a lot of things."

 

Future plans for the family

Ella will attend nursery for more hours from September and the trio have summer plans to holiday in Tenerife.

"We've never been before so we're quite excited about it," reveals James. "We don't plan much in life though. We’re quite homey people. Before Ella came along we were always travelling, living out of suitcases, working away on tours and living in hotels – so we like being at home." 

Would they ever renew their marriage vows?

"No. We've done it once before; I don't want to do it again!" laughs Ola. "I'd rather spend the money on a nice holiday – like for our 20th wedding anniversary, that’s what I'm planning to do. A nice expensive holiday. It's my 40th this year too in September."

"She says she wants to go to Vegas again," James explains, but Ola admits: "I don't think either of us would be able to leave Ella and go on holiday without her though. I don't think I'd want to."

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Baby number two could be on the cards in the future

Ola wears True Decadence and James wears Jaeger and Russell and Bromley 

 

Expanding their family

Will another baby be on the cards in the future perhaps?

"Yeah. I would love to have another baby," beams Ola. "We're not thinking about another baby yet though. I'd love Ella to have a sibling – more for her than anything. She's quite hard work at the moment, so I can't imagine it but yeah, we would love to have more." 

James adds: "We had such a positive experience with IVF - the clinic were so caring and it was run like clockwork. The whole experience was very professional. We haven't thought about another baby imminently, but we would definitely go through it again if we decide that we want to." 

 

Reflections on doing IVF

James tells us: "We were so fortunate that it happened to us first time with Ella. For us, it has massively changed our lives and I think IVF is an amazing thing. Some people say it’s unnatural - well it isn't, you just have a little bit of help."

"Since we’ve spoken about IVF, so many people have contacted us," Ola reveals. "People on Instagram have said to me, 'I went through IVF but no one knows.' It’s like people feel there’s a stigma.

"I know people who’ve done IVF for ten years and I really admire them. When I did it, I thought to myself, 'I don't know how many times I could do this.' For anyone going through it, it's tough on the person. But so many children have been born through IVF, it's amazing what they can do.

"Now I can’t imagine my life without Ella, she's my everything. This is me now; this is my life. I feel complete." 

For fertility help and support see fertilitynetworkuk.org or fertilityfriends.co.uk

Photos by Nicky Johnston @nickyjohnston

Hair and makeup by Alice Theobald @wonderlandhairandmakeup using Albiva skincare, Charlotte Tilbury makeup and Boucleme

Styling by Arabella Boyce @arabellaboycestylist

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