Well worth the risk despite diabetes dangers
However, few people know what Lydia has been through to bring little Theo into the world or the risks she took to become a mother.
Lydia suffers from diabetes. She was diagnosed on Christmas Day when she was eight years old, and had to learn to inject herself with twice daily doses of insulin and control and test her blood sugars by watching what she ate.
Diabetes also led to Lydia suffering the eye condition retinopathy which needed laser treatment and then major eye surgery while she was at university. It also meant her kidneys are not working properly which may result in her needing dialysis and a kidney transplant in the future. This meant having a child was a risky business not only for Lydia but for her unborn son.
And in December, when Theo was six months old, Lydia, by now 28, suffered a heart attack.
Despite all these hurdles, the Bradford speech therapist has refused to let diabetes take over her life.
"Of course it changes your life, but it doesn't have to be a life sentence. I know my condition will get worse, but what is the point in worrying about that every day – I'd never get out of bed."
Lydia suffers Type 1 diabetes which develops if the body is unable to produce enough insulin to keep working. It usually appears before the age of 40 and is the least common of the two main types. You cannot prevent type 1 diabetes. "I didn't really understand it all at first because I was so young but I just had to get on with injecting insulin twice a day and I always knew my parents would look after me," adds Lydia. "Interestingly, I have no memories before the day I developed diabetes."
Insulin helps to break down the blood sugars, acting to help Lydia's body. Throughout her teenage years her insulin injections increased from four to six a day and she had to continuously monitor her eating habits.
Learning to eat regularly ensures blood levels are maintained as too many carbohydrates (in food) can lead to high sugar levels with which Lydia's body could not cope.
It was in 2001 while studying teaching at Durham University that Lydia's condition deteriorated. Problems with kidney and eye damage from her teenage years – when her blood sugars were difficult to regulate – had resulted in damaged organs.
"I underwent two operations during my time in Durham to stop further damage and to repair my eyes. Thankfully my eyesight is now a lot better – I can drive and see normally."
The time in hospital also gave Lydia the chance to re-assess her life. She dropped out of Durham, giving up her dream of becoming a teacher and decided to become a speech therapist, enrolling
in a course at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Then during her recuperation, a chance invitation by her twin sister to attend a Scout camp in Leicester led to her meeting her boyfriend, Andrew. The couple set up home in Shipley soon after.
"My condition's never stopped me from leading a full life, I lived life to the full when I was younger – I went clubbing, to Scout camp, to university – I firmly believe that life is what you make it. I've always looked at life positively and believe there's a reason why certain things happen – if I hadn't been recovering from my eye operations, I would never have met Andrew."
But two years later, at 23, Lydia was told by Bradford Royal Infirmary consultant endocrinologist Donald Whitelaw and diabetes specialist nurse, Sandra Dudding, that her kidneys were so badly damaged she should "try sooner rather than later" if she wanted children.
"The outlook was stark – if I put off getting pregnant much longer my kidneys might not be able to withstand the pressure of the pregnancy.
"I also had to plan the pregnancy, as my blood sugars needed to be as stable as possible because high levels can be dangerous for the baby and lead to neural tube defects, spina bifida and malformed heart valves in the baby."
Andrew and Lydia went through much soul-searching. "The pregnancy was likely to make my kidneys much worse and could also affect my eyesight. If my blood pressure rose then that could cause miscarriage. In the end we agreed to just have one try, and whatever the outcome, that would be it."
The way Lydia deals with her illness is to become an expert on everything that is happening to her.
"The science is certain and something I can understand. If I understand what's going on then I can deal with it. I have some control. It is emotions and people's reactions to my illness that I find harder to cope with."
Before she could become pregnant, and in a bid to regulate her blood sugars, she was given an automatic insulin pump in 2007, which means she no longer needs injections.
A needle inserted under the skin is connected to a small electrical pump attached to a waistband. Inside, a reservoir of fast-acting insulin is delivered continuously at a rate which is adjusted every time Lydia loads in data levels for her blood sugars.
"It's the best bit of kit I've ever had and it helps enormously in regulating
my blood sugars and makes my life much easier. I really believe that if I'd had the pump in my teens I wouldn't had had the long-term damage to my eyes and kidneys that I have today."
She was determined to do the best for her child and herself and so went through weeks of adjustment to get the pump right. Planning for the pregnancy also included almost doubling the number of drugs Lydia took, and it was more than a year and half before she and her doctors felt it was safe to try for a baby.
Despite falling pregnant at the first attempt, the pregnancy was not straightforward.
"I was testing my blood sugars up to 14 times day and night because I couldn't afford for my levels to drop. We had to take every stage of the pregnancy step by step. I had eight antenatal scans when most women have two.
"I was monitored very well and in fact felt more relaxed because I was having such great care. But there wasn't a moment that went by that I wasn't worried about my baby and whether he would be OK."
"Our aim was to get to 34 weeks," says Lydia. "We knew we would never get to full term, but 34 weeks gave Theo a good chance."
Lydia was hospitalised for the last three weeks of her pregnancy because her damaged kidneys were causing water retention.
Theo was born six weeks early on June 2, 2009, by planned caesarean at the BRI's maternity wing and Lydia immediately had a sterilisation.
"We had taken the decision even before Theo was born that we wouldn't have any more children even though I would love a brother or sister for Theo, but the risks are just too great."
Following his birth Theo was taken to the Special Care Baby unit. He weighed less than 5lb and needed help breathing, but two weeks later he and his mother were allowed home.
"I know all babies are miracles but ours is more special than others."
Lydia's message to other diabetic patients is one of hope. "You can think 'poor me I've got diabetes', but you might as well have a happy life, keep your blood sugars level and keep smiling."
Tomorrow, as part of World Kidney Day, the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust renal and diabetes teams will be at the Arndale Centre in Bradford between 10am and 4pm to hold an awareness session.
Nurses and dieticians will be on hand to give advice on diet and exercise, as well as checking blood pressure, weight and blood sugar levels.