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Meg and Mark's Story

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a mother. I’m sure that as a little girl playing with dolls, I imagined having a baby. I know I admired how my own mum wasn’t only a mother. She was also a teacher, so I’m sure many of my make-believe scenarios involved me playing many roles other than mother.

Even so, I think for a long time I just assumed I would be a mother one day. Every romantic comedy, most TV shows, and a lot of the books I read made it clear that marriage and children were ‘what everyone wanted’.

I met my husband, Mark, when I was 18, got married when I was 21, and came off the pill at 23.

I wasn’t really ready to get pregnant when I came off the pill. My dad had just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and somewhat cheekily, he said something to Mark and me about “getting on with it so he could meet his mokopuna”.

I’m pretty sure he was joking, but Mark and I decided not to “start trying” but more to stop trying not to get pregnant.

The years that followed that decision were some of the hardest of my life, and I wasn’t surprised I didn’t just fall pregnant like I had assumed I would when I came off the pill.

My dad died 15 months after his diagnosis.

I was often disappointed when my period would come, but sometimes I was relieved. I started to ask myself if I wanted to have children.

What lengths would I be prepared to go to in order to become a mother?

I was scared of IVF. I saw pictures on Instagram of hundreds of needles.

In the end, it was talking to people about their IVF journey that made me open my mind to it.

Oh, and Michelle Obama. I can remember one particularly dark month when my period had come after I had convinced myself I was pregnant. I happened to be reading Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and came across her story. She writes about how she and Barack, both high achievers, had to come to terms with the fact that they couldn’t “achieve” pregnancy without help.

I thought to myself, if IVF is good enough for Michelle Obama then it’s good enough for me.

We were living in London at the time and I started to engage with fertility services over there, assuming they’d be world-class. My experience in the private system wasn’t great - keep trying for a year, try acupuncture, private IVF was too expensive. We joined the NHS waitlist and hadn’t even gone through diagnostic testing before a job opportunity with Google back home in NZ came up for me.

After being away for eight years we arrived home in November 2019 and I made an appointment with Fertility Associates in the first week. It was a completely different experience. I surprised myself by agreeing to start IVF in that first meeting.

It was such a blow when our first embryo transfer wasn’t successful. The lows in the process are so low, but the next minute, you pick yourself up to try again.

My second embryo transfer was snuck in just in time - the Saturday before the country went into lockdown.

The strangest two-week wait ever ended in a phone call saying that the transfer had been successful.

After eight years of trying to get pregnant, I was nearly 31 when my daughter Poppy was born.

I think that all those years of waiting and wondering about being a mum made me enjoy the experience more.

We had three embryos in the freezer and wanted to try again quite soon, so we booked a consultant when Poppy was 6 months old. It was a sobering conversation.

I had been thinking of each of those embryos as a child, but learning about their grades and relative likelihood of success made me realise that I would be very, very lucky to have a second child.

I decided that I didn’t want to do another egg retrieval, that I was grateful to be Poppy’s mum and didn’t want to go back to the start again.

The next embryo return was unsuccessful. I found the process really hard.

I didn’t have much left in the tank, so I spoke to the doctor about my options. He agreed that we could return both the remaining embryos at the same time since they both had the same grade: CC about a 20% chance.

It was November 2021, and I remember thinking that whatever happened, I’d start 2022 either pregnant or relieved to be done trying to get pregnant. At that moment, both felt like a win.

I had a little laugh to myself when they told me that my day to test would be Christmas Day. Of course, no blood tests could be done that day, but I was given some home pregnancy tests.

By that point, I had a no-home pregnancy test rule after so many years of getting negative ones.

I lasted until Christmas Eve before I took a test in the bathroom, and I couldn’t believe it when that second line appeared.

It was the kind of scenario I had imagined so many times over the years.

When my son Nīkau was born, I knew our family was complete. I also knew how incredibly lucky we were to have not one but two children thanks to IVF.

There’s not a day where I don’t think about how grateful I am to be Poppy and Nīkau’s mum. Imagine if I’d never heard those stories that changed my mind about IVF.

The power that people sharing their stories had on my personal fertility journey is what led me to join the Board of Fertility New Zealand.

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