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Hannah and Joe share the next chapter in their journey

Q - Hannah, it's been a few years since we last spoke about your fertility journey, are you able to give us an update?
A - When we last spoke, we'd been lucky enough to have our daughter Jasmine after many rounds of IVF and two miscarriages. We were really keen to have a sibling for Jasmine, and we had two embryos left from the round in which we got Jasmine. We decided to use them, but unfortunately, both of those resulted in miscarriages. After that, we faced a decision on whether to start all over again with another surgery and then a fresh round of IVF or call it a day.

Q - That's a tough situation to face. How did you come to a decision?
A - We talked a lot. My husband and I were in slightly different positions. Joe was keen to keep trying but was very understanding of the toll it was beginning to take on me. He explained he would support whatever decision I made, but in some respects that put additional pressure on me because then it was all down to me. I also talked a lot to my sister about how much I wanted another baby but that I was so emotionally and physically wrung out from the process that I just couldn't face any more potential miscarriages and treatment. In the end, when I told her I wanted to stop IVF, my sister said something that just summed it all up for me; she said, "It sounds like it's the wrong outcome, but the right decision".

That phrase, 'wrong outcome, right decision,' stayed with me for weeks. It helped me to accept that it wasn't that I didn't want a(nother) baby enough. It was that I just couldn't put myself and my family through this anymore. It also helped me explain how I was feeling to Joe.

Q - How did you feel once you had made that decision?
A - Once we made the decision to stop treatment together, it took a while to get used to the fact that we were definitely 'one and done'. For Joe, this took a bit longer than me, as although he supported my decision, he would have really loved to try again. I, on the other hand, actually felt really great quite quickly! I hadn't realised how much the uncertainty had eaten away at me for years. A friend actually commented that I looked taller, and I genuinely believe it's because I wasn't carrying around this emotional weight any longer (which I appreciate is easy to say given that we had been previously successful in having our daughter). I tried to be understanding of Joe's feelings, and as the months went on, we both started to look to the future with fresh enthusiasm. We'll forever be grateful for our daughter, as we know acutely that this isn't how everyone's journey ends.

Q - What does the future hold for you now?
A - Since that decision, we've been able to spend more time as a family, focusing on what we do have and being more present. We are looking forward to a trip back to the UK to see family later this year.

Q - And you're still volunteering with Fertility New Zealand (Fertility NZ)?
A - Yeah, at that final Dr’s appointment, we were told we were eligible for a second funded cycle, which is something that Fertility NZ successfully campaigned for years ago. Although we didn't end up using the funding as we decided to stop treatment, it was amazing to see first-hand how Fertility NZ's advocacy work positively impacts those going through fertility treatment. This experience galvanised me to keep advocating for those going through infertility. I am stoked to work with a passionate group of volunteers at Fertility NZ who are committed to raising awareness and improving access to fertility funding for all New Zealanders. It's important mahi that I am privileged to be a part of.

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