Nicole was 18 when she began dating her then-boyfriend who would soon become the father of her first child — despite the pair never having sex.
Despite this, the supply teacher from Hampshire, UK, ended up welcoming a baby girl, earning her the nickname 'Virgin Mary'.
Nicole and her boyfriend were keen to start a sexual relationship but weren't able to progress to penetrative sex.
“We tried [to have sex] but it was impossible. I didn’t understand why it couldn’t happen.
“The only way I can describe it is like it felt like he was hitting a brick wall."
Nicole had never been able to insert a tampon and, despite being told by doctors that she was 'fine' and just 'extremely tight', she knew something wasn't right.
Later on during her pregnancy, Nicole was diagnosed with vaginismus, a medical condition that causes the vaginal wall muscles to involuntarily constrict which makes tampon use, pap smears and penetrative sex difficult or impossible.
Pregnant without sex
At the time, Nicole and her boyfriend found other ways to be intimate with each other without 'going the whole way'.
Then one day at work, she started getting terrible heartburn and sore breasts prompting her boss, who was a close friend, to suggest she might be pregnant.
"I laughed and said there was no way, as I was still a virgin and never had penetrative sex.
"But she said it was possible if there had been any fluids near my vagina, despite not actually having intercourse."
Nicole did a pregnancy test on her lunch break that day and it was positive — she was pregnant, but still a virgin.
"I couldn’t believe it, I was so shocked and confused."
On top of initial concerns about how she would physically deliver her baby, Nicole was also worried that her boyfriend would suspect she'd cheated on him.
He did believe her, but many people including health professionals did not.
“So many people still tell me I’m the Virgin Mary which really makes me laugh. It was crazy.”
After seeking a second opinion it was confirmed that while rare, it was possible to get pregnant without having penetrative intercourse if the sexual activity introduced fluids to the vaginal area.
Finally getting answers
Nicole said she "really struggled" throughout her pregnancy to get doctors to believe that she hadn't had sex.
“My boyfriend at the time often had to come with me to appointments to explain that we really hadn’t had sex.
“I remember going for a check-up at the hospital and not being able to have an internal examination because the nurse couldn’t insert her finger.
“I tried explaining to her that I still hadn’t had sex and she said to me ‘don’t be ridiculous of course you have.’
“I thought I was never going to get anyone to believe me or get answers."
It was during a routine check-up at four months along that Nicole finally got some answers when a student doctor suggested she might have vaginismus.
“I went home to google the symptoms and couldn’t believe what I was reading.
“I finally realised there wasn’t anything wrong with me and I actually had a medical condition.”
After her diagnosis, Nicole was referred to a therapist who specialised in vaginismus and was able to teach her ways to help overcome the condition such as using dilators.
With this help, she was able to finally lose her virginity and have penetrative sex at five months pregnant.
“It wasn’t easy. The process was frustrating, stressful and upsetting, but I kept with it and was eventually able to have sex for the first time while pregnant.
“My daughter’s father and I are no longer together, but he was always supportive of me after my diagnosis."
And although she feared giving birth, Nicole’s little girl Tilly, now eight, came into the world without any issues.
She still suffers with vaginismus but is now armed with the tools and information to manage it.
“I still can’t do certain things, like insert a tampon, but I feel very fortunate that I am now able to have a normal sex life.
“Tilly is definitely my little miracle. We’ve got the best life together and having her was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Additional reporting by Caters.