This family shares their story of loss, heartbreak and miracles
Infertility is a hard road to walk for any couple, but for some the journey nearly breaks them. Jade Hart shares their story of loss, heartbreak, and miracles.
To say that the Hart family has been through a lot would be an understatement, over the last ten years they’ve walked the hard road of infertility and have experienced the highs, lows, and everything in between.
Auckland based couple, Jade and her husband James were high school sweethearts and always dreamed of having the picture-perfect family with two healthy kids; but when it came time to try for a family, things didn’t unfold the way they’d hoped.
After coming off the pill and a year of missing her period and not being able to fall pregnant, Jade was referred to a fertility clinic and was straight away diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). This was the first of many challenges as they continued to try for their first baby.
Jade was told that her best chance of conceiving was to take a drug called Clomid, but after 10 rounds and still no positive pregnancy test, she knew there had to be more to it. “I felt like everyone around me was falling pregnant, I went to so many of my friends’ baby showers, met their little bubs, then saw them fall pregnant again and again and even complete their families. I was always so happy for them but just so sad for us” says Jade.
The next disappointment came after Jade got an HSG dye test (an X-ray to outline the internal shape of the uterus and check fallopian tubes), after months of waiting they finally found out that both of her tubes were blocked. “The HSG was one of the most painful, sad & despairing moments in my life, but I finally knew the reason I wasn't getting pregnant” shares Jade.
IVF became the next option for Jade, who was 33 by this time. She was put on the waitlist for a publicly funded round and after nine long months of waiting they began the journey which led to the conception of their son Leo! Although the couple were elated, it quickly turned to fear when Jade started bleeding during the first trimester and was told to prepare for the worst, “I was diagnosed with a subchronic haematoma, I was hospitalised twice but Leo was a fighter,” says Jade.
At 39 weeks Jade was induced due to baby Leo’s growth, “My labour took 18 hours and I ended up having to have an emergency Caesarean section as I had a fever, my epidural didn’t work and I wasn’t dilating. Leo was finally born on the 29th October 2016 and he was just perfection! The journey was all worth it,” she shares.
Fast forward two years – Jade and James desperately wanted to give Leo a sibling and had been trying via IVF but experienced disappointment after disappointment including three miscarriages, multiple failed transfers, and losing two embryos. Jade remembers feeling devastated, “You hear about people going through this stuff but you never think it’s going to be you” she shares.
The next blow was when Jade was diagnosed with Asherman’s syndrome (a condition that refers to having scar tissue in the uterus or cervix). “I was told my uterus was obliterated and was the size of an almond. Tragically it was caused by my first dilation and curettage (D&C) after my miscarriage,” Jade explains.
After a further diagnosis of an AV Malformation which was a result of her second D&C, Jade was told that her best chance of having another child was to use a surrogate. “When I first heard that word I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I was being told that this was my best chance, but I was willing to do anything” she says.
After meeting with her fertility clinic and doing their own research, the couple decided it was their last chance of having another baby and began the surrogacy process. “I put my story out to those I trusted via an open letter on Messenger, this was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to write – I was asking for help with the almost impossible and was so unbelievably vulnerable. James had to hit the send button in the end as I couldn’t bring myself to do it!” she shares.
After numerous sympathetic replies from friends saying unfortunately they weren’t in a position to help, Jade got a reply from a childhood friend of hers, Abby, saying she would be interested to learn more. Abby already had three children, the youngest being just six weeks at the time. After almost a year of talking, they decided to take the leap and start their surrogacy journey. “I couldn’t have dreamt of a more perfect person to be my surrogate, Abby is just an absolutely beautiful soul – so caring, empathetic and loving”.
The surrogacy process involved about seven months of intense counselling, interviews, medical and police checks, referees, and a huge amount of paperwork to finally get approved. “Abby and I were so positive that this was going to work, she had three beautiful, healthy children she had conceived naturally, why wouldn’t it work?” shares Jade. “We prepared ourselves as best as we could for the transfer but we couldn’t help getting excited, we pictured her pregnant, the due date, our families hanging out, and how we would tell the kids.”
Jade was used to the two week wait phone call from her fertility clinic. “It's excruciating as you’re on edge all day waiting for your life to be changed by this one single phone call”. Unfortunately it was bad news and Jade had to call Abby to tell her, “We were completely devastated to say the least. She came over and we just sobbed,” she recalls. A week later it was James’ 40th birthday, “I remember having to go to his party, I was completely broken but I made myself get dressed up in a pink gown, got my hair and makeup done, and put on a brave face for my husband – my rock through all of these years.”
Just a few days later, Abby called and said that she and her husband felt like the journey wasn’t over and wanted to go ahead with another round. “We dived straight into round two, taking all of the right supplements, eating healthy, cutting out any toxins in our lives. It was then that the seed was planted for Everblue, ” recalls Jade. “After learning from my naturopath about all the nasties (including hormone disruptors) in many of my everyday toiletries, I decided I wanted to create our own brand of natural beauty products that also had a feel-good ethos,” shares Jade. Everblue was launched just 18 months later, in the midst of their wild journey.
With the second transfer, Abby fell pregnant but the joy was short-lived. “It must have been one of the hardest moments of her life when she knocked on my door, sat me down, and told me that the nurse believed she was miscarrying. We sat there in shock, then it all hit me like a ton of bricks and we sobbed together grieving the child we so wanted to be blessed with” says Jade.
They had one last embryo, one last shot, and Abby was keen to forge ahead and try again. “My heart was very guarded at this point, I couldn’t take another loss. It was affecting everything in my life – my relationship with my husband, being a mother to Leo, my job, our finances, friendships, and family. I had to pick myself back up and with the support of my incredible network as well as an amazing counsellor that specialises in infertility and loss we forged ahead with the final transfer,” Jade says.
Abby did fall pregnant but tragically history repeated, “It was my worst nightmare all over again, I was losing my fifth child and this was it, this was my final chance. I was completely broken, I felt my world had been torn apart, all of those years, all my hopes and dreams came crashing down. I also felt extreme guilt that I had pulled Abby into this nightmare of a world that is infertility,” Jade explains. By now Jade and James had come to the realisation that Leo would be an only child. “I knew that we were so blessed to have him, I just had a hole in my heart that I knew would never be filled and I just had to live with it” she shares.
Just two months later, the impossible happened – Jade fell pregnant naturally. “I suddenly noticed some strange symptoms such as my boobs being really big! I thought to myself, why do you do this to yourself Jade? You know you can’t get pregnant, but I secretly bought a pregnancy test and there it was … two pink lines!” After almost ten years of trauma and loss, the couple were terrified of another tragedy. At around eight weeks pregnant, Jade thought it was all happening again, “I picked Leo up from his bath and felt a gush of something, turns out it was blood and a lot of it, we rushed to the hospital fearing once again the worst.” Again Jade was diagnosed with a sub-chronic hematoma as she’d had with Leo, but this time it was larger and was close to the gestational sac. They were told by the doctors that the baby had a 50/50 chance of survival, but they held onto hope.
The Harts will never forget the 27th of October 2021 – the day that their long-awaited second son, Maximus (Max) Paradine Hart came into the world and completed their family. Now that Jade is on the other side of her journey, she hopes to be able to help other women who are going through similar experiences. She has shared her journey on Instagram: @makingtheharts and credits the support of her online community to helping her get through her difficult times. Jade shares, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the kindness and support of these women who could relate to my situation, I’m so grateful. ”
Words: Kahu de Beer
Photography: Natalie Petelo
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 56 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW