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The decision to create a family for some is just the first step in a relatively simple process. But for those with fertility challenges, the journey to conceive a child can be deeply emotional, physically exhausting, and expensive.
According to IVF Australia one in six Australian couples are affected by infertility, which is an issue that effects both men and women, however those impacted often recall feeling isolated and alone on their journey as they struggle to conceive.
The more people share their experience, the better understanding there is about exactly what that journey might look and feel like.
While the decision to keep your medical and family business private is most certainly a valid one, the Australian celebrities in the gallery below have chosen to bravely open up about their journey with infertility to help normalise the IVF experience for those who are starting on the journey.
Real Housewives of Melbourne star Jackie Gillies welcomed twin boys with her husband, Silverchair’s Ben Gillies in October 2021, after going through several rounds of IVF.
“It has been a bumpy IVF journey but all worth it,” she shared at the time.
Moana Hope and her wife, model Isabella Carlstrom
Survivor and AFLW star, Moana Hope and her wife Isabella Carlstrom, who tied the knot in 2019, are proud examples of a how a same-sex couple can create a beautiful, loving family.
In December, Moana revealed that they were pregnant with the pair’s second child, who was conceived via Monash IVF, after Isabella had carried Svea, welcoming her in November 2020.
Speaking with Bounty Parents, Moana said: “We have very exciting plans for the future … We want three kids all together and we’re aiming to have them 1.5 to 2 years apart, fingers crossed it works out that way. In a dream world we would go through the toddler stage early, work hard for six or seven years and then support them as they grow up from there.”
The Home and Away actress is mum to Jack and Neve, but in 2018 she opened up to New Idea about her infertility struggle due to her endometriosis.
“I had the surgery, and typically doctors say that you really need to fall pregnant within the first six months after. That’s your best chance because the endometriosis hasn’t started to grow back yet,” she said. “We had planned to try for six months and then the next step for us was IVF. So to fall pregnant in the fifth month – we just felt such relief and gratitude. I was a little bit sceptical at first and didn’t want to get my hopes up.”
The Home and Away star became a mother at 50.
“I thought it would be impossible but it isn’t. I’d given up, really, I thought I had tried every avenue that was available to us. My advice is to not give up if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole process.”
Adding of her heartache to try and conceive: “I spent a lot of my 30s being so anguished about not having a baby.”
“But the flip side is that IVF can take over your life. It gets to the point where you’re so desperate to have a baby, everything else falls by the wayside,” Emily told Mother & Baby in 2017.
After a year of trying to conceive, Home and Away‘s Ada Nicodemou turned to IVF to fall pregnant with her son Johnas.
During the later months of her pregnancy, she told New Idea how happy she was that the IVF worked so quickly after trying for so long.
“For it to happen so quickly after we struggled for so long is a really nice surprise and we feel really, really lucky.”
Ellidy Vlug Pullin
The wife to Gold Coast Olympic snowboarder Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin announced her pregnancy almost a year after his tragic death when he drowned while spearfishing off Queensland’s Palm Beach in July 2020.
The couple had been trying to conceive and had been considering IVF, so amid insurmountable grief, she collected Chumpy’s sperm in hopes of conceiving the child they so yearned for.
“I didn’t want Chump to just die and be gone. I felt this was bringing a part of him back,” Ellidy told The Australian Women’s Weekly of her decision.
Her miracle baby came into the world on October 25, 2021, and she honoured Chumpy by giving their daughter his name: Minnie Alex Pullin.
Jesinta undertook rounds of IVF when she was struggling to conceive with husband, AFL star Buddy Franklin.
The model is now a proud mother to Tullulah and Rocky.
“I had struggled to fall pregnant and there had been losses along the way, as a woman who had been through that I felt like I was doing so many couples a disservice to come out and say, ‘Surprise we are pregnant’.
“I know that would make me feel even worse about our pregnancy journey. I wanted other women to find comfort in the fact that this was not a surprise. It really was an effort and took us a long time,” she told the Herald Sun.
Passionate about normalising the IVF experience, Sonia has been very open about the journey that led her having daughter Maggie, through the help of procedure.
In an interview with The Herald Sun, Sonia was candid about her experience.
“When I went into that first round of IVF (around 45) I learned that my chances of success were zero,” she said.
“The doctor telling me that was quite confronting. It took a little while to come to terms with what I was going to do next.
“I was surprised by that information because like a lot of women I’d seen high-profile women fall pregnant in their late 40s and thought, ‘Well, it’s possible’. But I didn’t know the details until the doctors said, ‘Make no mistake; these women will have used egg donors.”
Fiona Falkiner and fiancé Hayley Willis
For former Biggest Loser host, Fiona Falkiner and fiancé Hayley Willis, IVF has been a blessing that led to them creating a beautiful family together, but it has not always been an easy journey.
The pair share son, 1yo Hunter who was carried by Fiona, and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a second son in August after sharing the beautiful news that Hayley was expecting.
The podcast host of What The IVF? has previously opened up about her “traumatic” experience with IVF as her Hayley prepared to become first-time mums together.
“Obviously you have your partner but it can actually feel like a really lonely process,” Fiona told The Daily Telegraph.
“It is you and your body against all odds. Women don’t really talk about it until after the fact. It can be really quite traumatic.”
When Nicole and Keith Urban attempted to fall pregnant for a second time, after welcoming their first daughter together – Sunday Rose – together, they struggled to conceive, turning to IVF and a surrogate to welcome Faith Margaret.
During a 60 Minutes interview, Nicole was candid about her experience.
“Anyone that’s been in the place of wanting another child or wanting a child knows the disappointment, the pain and the loss that you go through trying and struggling with fertility. Fertility is such a big thing, and it’s not something I’ve ever run away from talking about.”
In her emotional book This My Beautiful Life, Jessica details her journey with infertility and how seeing mothers put a strain on her mental health.
“I wanted to scream, ‘I’m on IVF and I don’t know if I can be a mum. I have just come from having a blood test to see if my body is responding to the hormones I’m pumping through my body. Don’t tell me how wonderful it is to be a mother! And don’t you dare complain about how tired you are,'” she wrote.
Everything paid off in the end, and Jessica has two daughters, Allegra and Giselle.
Presenter, Deborah opened up to Mammamia about the intense 12 rounds of IVF that made her a mum.
“In the morning, I was going off and having blood tests for rounds of IVF and being told that an implantation had failed and then I’d have to go into work.
“That was quite difficult to put that mask on. I would put the hair and makeup on and my mask on and go and try to do my job. It was hard,” she said.