The long road to Mother's Day
Media darling Sonia Kruger will be savouring Mother's Day, a reminder that she is one of the lucky ones, blessed with her daughter Maggie after falling pregnant at age 48.
"She's definitely the best thing that's come along,” Kruger says. "She's quite amazing to me every single day. Children show you love in a whole different light.”
The Voice and Today Extra host won widespread praise when she revealed publicly she had fallen pregnant through IVF with an egg donated from a friend.
The IVF industry was particularly grateful that a high-profile woman had chosen to speak honestly about how she had conceived at an age when the chances of falling pregnant using one's own eggs are minuscule.
IVF clinics around Australia were well used to the backlash from despairing women every time a Hollywood star announced their "miracle” pregnancy well into middle age.
"I was that woman,” Kruger says. "At the time there was a string of celebrities in the US announcing their pregnancies in their late 40s and into their 50s and I wanted to know why it wasn't happening for me.
"I remember my doctor saying, 'Sonia, those babies will be with donated eggs' - ah, but they don't tell you that.”
When Kruger announced her own miracle pregnancy, she knew she would never be able to pretend otherwise. On the Mornings program, she spelled it out to co-host Richard Wilkins: "When you get to my age, to use your own eggs to have a baby, you're not really going to be successful.”
Kruger says it's just not her style to be any other way.
"I think the reason I've lasted in this business is that I can be honest with people, be authentic,” she says.
"I really think it's the secret to success for me. If I tried to be anything else, they'd work me out in a heartbeat.”
Indeed, the 52-year-old, born and bred Queenslander has survived more than 20 years in the oft-fickle world of Australian television, where women of a certain age have not always fared so well.
Viewers relate to her natural manner and sunny personality. It probably helps that she's also quite stunning.
Kruger is certainly not much different off camera. She chats like an old friend, revealing she's planning a quiet Mother's Day with Maggie and her partner Craig McPherson after attending a recent wedding in Queensland where she caught up with her mum and extended family.
"Maybe Craig will organise a present,” Kruger says. "Maggie loves giving presents and cards although she'll probably want one too.
"I'm not working so maybe there'll be breakfast in bed but that might not be a good idea - there'll be food everywhere.”
Kruger says she's lucky her working hours allow her to finish by lunchtime so she can spend the afternoons with Maggie who she describes as smart, sociable and at a gorgeous age.
"She's always surprising me,” Kruger says. "She makes me laugh. Sometimes I wonder, can she be any cuter?”
But Kruger knows only too well there will be many women still on their IVF journeys this Mother's Day and those whose journeys have ended, but with a different outcome to hers.
"I had those moments where I thought it wasn't going to happen,” Kruger says. "When you go through fertility issues, you do stop and check.
"I told myself not having children isn't the worst thing that can happen to people in life. Some people choose not to have children. There are far worse things.
"The universe puts you on a certain path. I told myself if it's not meant to be, it's just not meant to be.
"You've got to be grateful for what you have.”
It's fair to say media personality Emily Jade O'Keeffe will also be basking in motherhood this Mother's Day weekend.
The radio star is 35 weeks pregnant with her second child and will be hosting a mother and daughter baby shower with her daughter Millie, 6.
It will be a celebration of their much longed-for new addition, conceived after five gruelling years of IVF.
At 41, O'Keefe's pregnancy has all the hallmarks of a wonderful miracle although she takes a more practical view.
"No, it's all science,” she laughs.
"One of the names we were looking at if the baby's a boy means 'miracle from God' and I said we need to find a name that means 'miracle from modern science'.”
O'Keefe is marvelling again at the movement of a baby inside her, remembering the kicking, the restlessness and that unborn babies get the hiccups.
"I'd forgotten everything,” she says. "But I hadn't forgotten the horrendous reflux. I wish I could.”
But even that has done little to take the shine off O'Keefe's run home in her pregnancy journey.
And what a run it's been. O'Keefe and her husband Gerard Murtagh endured the implanting of 32 embryos and a heartbreaking miscarriage before experiencing the joy of falling pregnant again.
The euphoria was to be short-lived however when, at 21 weeks, just two weeks after announcing the pregnancy, O'Keefe had to undergo emergency surgery. A routine scan revealed her cervix, the "plug” at the bottom of the uterus, was barely intact and she underwent a cervical cerclage, a procedure to insert a stitch to hold the cervix closed, giving the baby the best chance of progressing to term.
"It was terrifying,” she says. "To think we'd come so far and we still couldn't relax.”
She spent two weeks in hospital and another eight weeks of enforced bed rest. Being the trooper she is, she continued to broadcast from her bedroom and is now back at work.
"After everything we've been through, it feels real, it sure does,” she says. "I feel like I already know this baby because I get to see the little face and hear the heartbeat every Monday when I go for my scan.
"I recognised the face straight away. It's just so much like Millie's, it's amazing.”
But during the long years of IVF, O'Keefe had also prepared for the prospect of not adding to her family.
"We never wanted Millie to think she wasn't enough,” O'Keefe says.
"So we had an end point. It's like working 'til you've got enough super or a sportsperson picking the time that's best for them to retire.
"That's how we looked at it. We tried to think of the positives - you know, we wouldn't have to get a bigger car, the three of us could fit in the triple seats of a plane on our overseas trips.”
But, joyously, it's another car and holidays at home for a while - with the added bonus of a baby shower thrown in.
This weekend, O'Keefe's mum has flown in from Tasmania and she'll be surrounded by friends - and their daughters - celebrating the imminent arrival of her second child.
"With Mum here, I get to see her for Mother's Day as well,” O'Keefe says. "And Millie's got a few party games planned.
"There's the relay where the mothers pass the baby dolls to the daughters and they've got to change the nappies.
"What's been so special with this pregnancy is sharing it with Millie. I've loved that. We're all getting pretty excited.”