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Sarah Roberts, 52, has it all – a loving husband and a successful career as a business woman.
But the one thing she wanted most — being a mother — is sadly out of reach.
The Queenslander conceived and lost 12 children in 10 years, with “unexplained infertility” forcing her to abandon her dream of becoming a mother.
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“I’ve spent the past decade grieving,” says Sarah 7life About repeated, heart-wrenching failures.
At social gatherings, when well-thought-out trivia raises the question of whether she has children, Sarah has learned to give a simple response.
“I just say, ‘No I don’t,'” she says.
“But the truth is, I’ve wanted kids my whole life a lot.
“We tried and conceived for 10 years and lost 12 babies.”
The brave woman is now sharing her story of hope, love and loss, in an effort to empower other women who have unsuccessfully tried to have children.
“You’re not a failure,” she says.
“While being a mother was a devastating loss, another life” [as a woman] should be possible.”
Sarah thought that being a mother was a given, and she wanted to have a child of her own.
“Raising a child is a great humanitarian project,” she smiles.
Sarah met her now-husband in her early 30s and the couple always envisioned children in their future.
When she was 34, she went for a routine check-up and the gynecologist asked her if she wanted children.
“I told her, ‘Yeah we want kids in the next few years’,” she recalls.
“But he just looked at me and said, ‘You don’t have years’.”
With their biological clock ticking, Sarah and her partner decide to start their own family after 12 months.
But after 18 months and several negative pregnancy tests, the couple sought medical advice.
That, she says, was the beginning of a hell of 10 years.
Sarah realized she was living a double life, hiding her fertility struggles and putting up a brave front at work.
Behind the scenes, he turned his life upside down.
She changed her diet and began a strict program of various herbal liquids rooted in ancient fertility rituals.
“Diet, exercise, no coffee, no alcohol, acupuncturist, naturopath, fertility mapping — I did everything,” Sarah says.
“Internally, I was like, ‘If there’s a problem I’ll fix it’.”
She was in and out of the fertility clinic, being examined and given various fertility enhancing drugs.
Two years after the track, the couple were told that Sarah’s inability to have a child was due to “unexplained infertility”.
Sarah was going on an unseen journey that only her inner circle knew and it was starting to show its effect.
“I’d go out of work and get a call from the fertility clinic,” she says.
“They would tell me I wasn’t pregnant, I would hang up and go back inside as if nothing had happened.”
While still dreaming of her child, Sarah continued to test different fertility options.
For eight years, she had undergone more than six rounds of IVF and four rounds of IUI, or intrauterine insemination.
She enrolled in a meditation retreat, focusing on 10 days of silence to help manage her stress levels.
“I would wake up in the middle of the night and just sit under the moon and process everything,” says Sara.
“I haven’t seen myself childless.”
In 10 years, Sarah conceived — and catastrophically lost — 12 children.
“It’s a rollercoaster of hope and darkness,” she adds.
At 46, she went out with a close friend when she finally realized motherhood was an empty dream.
“He made me sit and said, ‘Sweetie, it’s not going to happen for you? Sara remembers.
“I just said, ‘No.’ It was the first time I’d said that in 10 years.”
After a decade, she had lost all hope.
It’s been six years since Sarah stopped trying to have a baby.
She is at peace with her future, but will never stop mourning for the children she never had.
“IVF isn’t all beer and skittles,” she says.
“Twenty-five percent of cycles fail and at the end of the day you have to go away without a baby.
“You get focused on getting pregnant and if it doesn’t you just feel like a failure.”
Sarah visited the idea of adoption and surrogacy but decided those options were not for her.
She has now accepted that she will never be able to call herself a mother – and has made it her mission to help other women on their fertility journey.
Based on her own struggles, Sarah has started The Empty Cradle which aims to help women who have lost the opportunity of motherhood.
“The starting point of conversations with us is always to respect how many of us have gone through this,” Sarah says.
“The only positive term for a woman over the age of 45 is a nanny, and this is directly linked to fertility.
“I’ve come to understand that there is a unique way to be an older, childless woman.
“And we need to find positive language to explain it.”