Emily Sy­mons: Henry has taught me how to en­joy my life again

EMILY SY­MONS, 47, EN­DURED YEARS OF FAILED IVF AT­TEMPTS AND WAS FAC­ING THE RE­AL­I­SA­TION THAT SHE MAY NEVER BE A MUM WHEN SHE FELL PREG­NANT AT AGE 45 WITH A BABY BOY, HENRY, NOW 14 MONTHS. BEST KNOWN FOR PLAY­ING MAR­I­LYN CHAM­BERS ON HOME AND AWAY, THE AUSSIE

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

The Home and Away star bares all about her fer­til­ity jour­ney and the joy of fi­nally hav­ing a baby at age 45

Try­ing TIMES

Lots of things are go­ing on when you're do­ing IVF. It has a big im­pact on your life be­cause you're in this con­stant cy­cle of be­ing in­jected and tested, as well as spend­ing so much time in the clinic. It af­fects you emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally – con­stant hope be­cause you want it to work and then there's the dis­ap­point­ment when it isn't suc­cess­ful. It was an emo­tional roller-coaster for me, I have to say.

I didn't ex­pect it to work at all. I thought I would be too old. There was a very small chance that I could get preg­nant us­ing my own egg any­way, so we were so lucky that our last at­tempt worked! It was as­ton­ish­ing, re­ally. I didn't want to turn 46 and not have given ev­ery­thing I could. I'm re­ally glad that we did try and I just can't be­lieve it worked!

Faint HOPE

You have to do a blood test at the clinic to find out if it's been suc­cess­ful, and there's a two-week wait for the IVF test. They tell you not to do a test at home, be­cause the hor­mone that you in­ject for the egg col­lec­tion can some­times give you a false pos­i­tive. They say, ‘Don't test at home – come to the clinic to get the re­sults.’ What did I do? I went up­stairs and did a home test! I did it five days post-trans­fer and the faintest pink line came up. I still, to this day, can­not be­lieve what I saw. From that day on, I thought, 'It's worked!' I was over the moon. When you're do­ing IVF and you be­come preg­nant, you're ter­ri­fied you're go­ing to lose the baby so you are very care­ful about get­ting too ex­cited be­cause you don't want to go through the up­set of los­ing it. See­ing that pink line af­ter so many [failed at­tempts] and be­ing a 45-year-old woman was pretty amaz­ing!

Wait­ing GAME

I had a dif­fi­cult, high-risk preg­nancy, in­clud­ing is­sues with my pla­centa and blood pres­sure due to my age. When you have an older preg­nancy you have to be tested for ev­ery­thing. I had an am­ni­otic fluid leak around 16-18 weeks and af­ter that I was not al­lowed to do any ex­er­cise. I was still able to work but I was happy to do what­ever I had to do to keep Henry safe. At about the 29-week mark we found out Henry wasn’t grow­ing prop­erly and my ob­ste­tri­cian told us he would have to de­liver him at 32 weeks. From that mo­ment on I had to fin­ish work re­ally

quickly. The preg­nancy was ter­ri­fy­ing, just won­der­ing why he wasn’t grow­ing prop­erly and if he would be okay. They told me to go home, lie down and eat – which of course, I em­braced – and then we got to 32 weeks and he had started grow­ing again. He ended up get­ting to 38 weeks. We went from be­ing told he was go­ing to be de­liv­ered early and [we would have] to stay in the hospi­tal to hav­ing him at 38 weeks and be­ing able to take him straight home. It was such a won­der­ful out­come, but such a stress­ful time. I didn’t get any morn­ing sick­ness and was quite well, but it was just more the wor­ry­ing. All we wanted was the best pos­si­ble out­come and I was so lucky to have lots of won­der­ful peo­ple look­ing af­ter me.

De­liv­ery DAY

I knew when I first vis­ited the ob­ste­tri­cian that I would have to have a cae­sarean be­cause of my age. I didn’t mind be­cause it’s taken me all these years to have a baby [and] as long as he was healthy, I didn’t mind how he came out. I didn’t want to com­pli­cate the preg­nancy fur­ther by ask­ing about a nat­u­ral birth – with my med­i­cal his­tory it wasn’t pos­si­ble. The de­liv­ery day moved around a bit be­cause each week, as Henry grew a lit­tle more, they post­poned it. I had my bag packed at the door for eight weeks! It was strange be­cause we got there at mid­day, and by 1pm I had a baby! I was overjoyed and over­whelmed. It’s so sur­real. You’re ly­ing there with your eyes open but you can’t see your baby be­cause of your belly. I heard this lit­tle cry and all of a sud­den there he was!

Name GAME

I have al­ways loved the name Henry. Henry’s dad, Paul had a great-grand­fa­ther named Henry too so it had some fam­ily mean­ing and we both loved the name. So we set­tled on it at the 12-week mark, when we found out he was a boy through a blood test. Nam­ing him was the eas­i­est part!

New­born DAZE

I found the sleep de­pri­va­tion very hard. I don’t think that there’s any­thing that can pre­pare you for that. The fact that I was so much older didn’t help ei­ther. I would say I was in a deep fog for the first year, but now I feel much more en­er­getic and Henry sleeps through so we are blessed with that.

Back ON SET

Go­ing back to work af­ter five months was bit­ter­sweet. There’s a part of you that wants to do all the things you haven’t been able to do when you’re in a new­born baby bub­ble. But when I got to work, all I wanted was to be home with Henry. I thought [the] old ‘me’ would want to be back at work, but it took a long time to ad­just. Henry has an in­cred­i­ble nanny – she’s like fam­ily. It helps to know Henry is be­ing looked af­ter so well when I am not there. It was hard to hand over to some­one else, but now it’s work­ing beau­ti­fully.

Life LESSONS

Be­ing a mum is a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s taught me to en­joy ev­ery mo­ment. Henry’s first word was ‘mama’, so that was pos­si­bly the great­est mo­ment of my life! I’ve be­come more pa­tient and kind. Watch­ing Henry en­joy lit­tle things like go­ing to the su­per­mar­ket in the car has made me re­alise that it’s these things that mat­ter. I lost my mother in 2010 and I for­got how to be a happy per­son. Henry has brought so much joy with him and he’s re­ally taught me how to en­joy my life again.

EMILY WEARS Elk tulip sleeve silk dress, $220; stylist’s own neck­lace; Emily’s own shoes HENRY WEARS Zut­tion at The Cor­ner Booth ‘Sum­mer­time Pineap­ple’ T-shirt, $44; Mun­sterkids at The Cor­ner Booth ‘Fletcher’ shorts, $59.99; Henry’s own shoes (worn through­out)

EMILY WEARS Bo­den ‘Fleur’ fit­ted dress, $204; Emily’s own shoes HENRY WEARS Mini Bo­den striped jumper, $52; Pure­baby at The Cor­ner Booth ‘Pin­stripe’ shorts, $49.95 (worn through­out)

EMILY WEARS Elk wing sleeve shirt, $130; Tren­ery but­ton wide-leg pants, $179; and ‘Le­dru’ cuff, $119 (seen through­out) HENRY WEARS Pure­baby at The Cor­ner Booth ‘Chevron’ shirt, $49.95

HENRY WEARS Mun­sterkids at The Cor­ner Booth ‘Peaks’ T-shirt, $39.99

EMILY WEARS Ma­gali Pas­cal ‘Marvin’ shirt, $169; Uniqlo jog­ger pants, $49.90; Emily’s own shoes

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