‘Everything that could go wrong went wrong,’ said 42-year-old Lisa Skelton, as she recounted the traumatic birth of their son, Rory, in September 2022.
Lisa and her husband Rich’s baby was delivered via emergency C-section seven weeks earlier than planned, due to continued bleeding.
During the birth, the 42-year-old lost ten litres of blood and almost died.
It was this near-death experience that prompted her and Rich, 42, to ditch their Stockport home – which cost them £2,500 per month in rent and bills – and live in a transit van to spend quality time as a family.
The couple, from Stoke-on-Trent, decided to purchase their Ford Transit Custom for £33,000, after their family car broke down.
Now they spend just £630 per month on bills and baby essentials while travelling.
When Rory was born, Lisa was put under general anaesthetic and woke up the next day in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she received the news that doctors had been forced to perform an emergency hysterectomy.
‘Thankfully I was awake for Rory being born and he was whisked straight away to the neonatal intensive unit,’ said Lisa.
‘I was feeling terrible, I could hardly get a breath so the decision to give me a general anaesthetic was made.
‘When I next came to I was in the ICU.
‘Rich appeared by my side and broke the news to me about what happened and that I needed a hysterectomy to save my life.
‘My total blood loss was ten litres, your body doesn’t even have ten litres, so I can only imagine how hard the theatre team worked to keep me alive.’
Following the harrowing experience, Lisa decided that she wanted to live in the moment and set out on the road.
So the couple simply added a 500-litre storage box to the back of the van and off they went.
Sharing their journey on social media under the name @onlyvans_uk, the couple now have more than 8.9k followers on Instagram – all eagerly following the family’s journey.
Lisa said: ‘The hysterectomy had a huge impact on us and wanting to live in the moment.
‘Rich and I didn’t want to wait to start travelling, as we really have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
‘We had some money as part of [my] house buy-out in Scotland and decided to use it to travel for 12 months or as long as the money would last.’
Living in a van has provided Lisa, Rich and Rory with endless freedom, allowing them to spend quality time together as a family.
To date, the couple have covered 3,000 miles across seven different countries including France, Spain and Morocco.
However, they admit that raising a seven-month-old baby in such a small space is challenging because Rory has limited indoor space to learn how to crawl.
Lisa said: ‘I was worried about it at first but we are able to utilise the outdoors to let him lie down and stretch out and start to roll around.
‘That being said, we maximise our living space by utilising the outdoors, with our awning, enclosure, and the campsite pitch.’
The benefits outweigh the negatives though, with the family saving £1,879 per month on expenses.
Lisa said: ‘Predominantly, we have been using campsites – so, depending on the sites, it can vary from £8 to £27 per day (this includes electric hook up).
‘We usually do two laundry washes a week and this costs around £3 to £5 per wash.
‘Petrol has been cheaper abroad and now we’re in Morocco it’s mega cheap at only £1 per litre.
‘The biggest outlay is still food, but we are getting more and more thrifty.
‘Overall we budget £630 per month for this and that includes Rory’s essentials like milk and nappies.’
Initially, family and friends were resistant to the change, telling Lisa ‘it couldn’t be done’ and that they were ‘crazy for doing it with a young baby’.
However, after sitting down and explaining the reasons they were doing it, their families changed their minds – filling them with encouragement.
Currently in Morocco, the family are now planning to head to Portugal and Spain before moving on to Montenegro and Albania, taking little Rory along for the adventure.
Lisa added: ‘Now we are on the road, we plan to sell our caravan back in Cheshire and trade both in to get a bigger motorhome and travel full-time.’
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First appear at Woman who nearly died giving birth ditches daily grind for van life with her husband and baby