Birds, bees and baby making

23:56, May 22 2014
fertility story
Fertility story

Many women struggle to conceive naturally and need a little help.

Fertility Associates reproductive specialist Dr Mary Birdsall says more and more Kiwi women are leaving the big decision until later in life.

The average age of a woman's first birth in New Zealand is 30.

Ruth and Jasper
WORTH IT: Ruth Reid with 10-month-old Jasper who was conceived with IVF.

One-third of the clinic's patients are now over 40 years old. One quarter of those seeking IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment are over 40, she says.

"Sometimes women are not aware of the impact of age or they're aware but sometimes it's taken a while to find a partner or the partner takes a while to get his head around having a baby."

Dr Birdsall says leaving it later is not ideal.


Amanda and Anouk
AMAZING ANOUK: Amanda Eason was 46 when she had Anouk.

Fertility, both men's and women's, doesn't follow social trends.

"People should get onto it early," she says.

"When someone asks ‘when should I have a baby?' the answer is always now."

Luca and Mila
TWIN SUPRISE: Sharyn Martinovich and husband Bevan used an egg donor to have their twins Luca and Mila. Big sister Peta, 11, is Bevan’s daughter from a previous relationship.

A much-loved IVF baby


Wanting a brother or sister for their young son Levi prompted Ruth Reid and her husband to seek help.

Emma Reynolds and her son Austin
HELPING OTHERS: Emma Reynolds and her son Austin. She gave the ultimate gift to another family by becoming an egg donor.

Though they had conceived Levi naturally, the couple struggled when trying for their second child when Reid was 37.

The Pakuranga couple had been trying for about eight months when they sought help from their doctor who referred them to Fertility Associates.

Tests showed her anti-mullerian hormone levels, which indicate a woman's ovarian reserve, were low.

Reid's fertility treatment started with a drug called Clomiphene that she took for two or three months.

When that didn't work she had to double the dose and was hit by "hideous" side effects including irritability.

Reid and her husband chose to undergo IVF.

Jasper was born 9 months later.

"I almost didn't expect it to work the first time," Reid says. "I didn't want to get too emotionally invested in it. It wasn't till I got to about 10 weeks that I thought OK, this might be happening."

Reid recommends IVF to other women but warns it is time consuming. Her treatment cost about $16,000.

"We were really fortunate . . . I take my hat off to women who have multiple cycles because it's not a walk in the park.

"You have to be ready to drop everything and go to a doctor's appointment for a scan or test.

"It does take over your life a bit."

 Conceived naturally at 45


When Amanda Eason was 35 a family friend told her she'd "missed the boat" on having kids.

Eason was under the same impression.

The Mt Albert poet and primary school teacher had put her career first, and besides, she hadn't met the right man.

But 10 years later, aged 45, she met her man, fell pregnant and, at 46, gave birth to her daughter Anouk.

"I was absolutely ecstatic, I couldn't believe my luck," she says.

"It's the absolute best thing that's ever happened in my life."

Eason met her "mister right"during a two-week trip to Tibet.

Though the pair hit it off straight away, Eason had her reservations about a serious relationship because she was 10 years his senior.

She warned him she might not be able to have children.

After the trip the couple moved in together.

Eason didn't want to undergo fertility treatment because the relationship was still so new.

"I said let's just stop the contraception because we might be lucky - and we were."

Though Eason became pregnant without any help and had the "perfect pregnancy", giving birth was traumatic.

At 14 days overdue, her body failed to go into labour so she had an emergency caesarean.

Eason says being an older mum was initially tiring and warns others not to wait as long as she did.

Anouk has been on the receiving end of some insensitive remarks about her mum's age.

But that doesn't bother the bright 7-year-old.

"She's my mum . . . she's kind-hearted and very very nice," she says.

 Special delivery thanks to donated eggs


Sharyn Martinovich was heading to Sydney to find a sperm donor when she met her husband Bevan.

Then 36, she was tired of waiting for the right man.

The Pukekohe couple started trying for a baby in mid-2010. They took dietary and lifestyle advice from a naturopath for a year but failed to fall pregnant.

The couple were referred to Fertility Associates by their GP. Martinovich underwent one IVF round which "failed miserably".

"From there we were told because the IVF cycle was so poor there was no way I was going to get pregnant without an egg donor.

"I had the egg reserve of a pre-menopausal woman."

Researching donor programmes led them to South Africa.

They engaged with an agency and selected a donor, a university student in Cape Town. They travelled to South Africa in 2012 for the successful procedure.

Back in New Zealand blood tests confirmed she was pregnant with twins.

Martinovich gave birth to a healthy boy and girl at age 40.

"It was quite a sobering moment after having such a shocking IVF round and wondering if I'd ever have a family.

"It did really take time for me to feel comfortable I was pregnant and carrying two babies."

Martinovich recommends the fertility treatment which cost about $22,000 including a 3 week trip to South Africa.

"I know of some people who have been through egg donation and find it a very personal journey," she says.

"For me, I'm very happy about it. It doesn't matter how you have them, as long as you love your babies and cherish them that's the most important thing."

 Mum's ultimate gift of life


Giving her healthy eggs to a woman struggling with infertility was a no-brainer for Emma Reynolds.

With two children of her own, the generous Te Atatu South resident was happy to help another couple's dream of becoming parents come true.

Reynolds, who has two sons aged 3 years and 18 months, says being an egg donor was something she had thought about for some time.

The idea grew stronger when she got pregnant and she started reading parenting magazines.

"You always see the blurb at the back with heart-wrenching stories," she says.

"Until I had Austin I had no idea how many people had issues with infertility."

Another reason Reynolds donated her eggs is because she wanted to do something to help others but wasn't in a financial position to give money to charity, because her husband is a full-time student.

"I grew up with parents who used to give to charity and volunteer their time."

Reynolds contacted Fertility Associates two months after her second child was born in 2013.

The whole process took about two weeks.

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