'Like mourning a death': Tearful Dame Valerie Adams opens up on 'horrible' fertility struggle

  • 25/09/2018

Dame Valerie Adams has shared her emotional journey to motherhood and the bumps she faced along the way.

She and husband Gabriel Price struggled to conceive after she came home from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I think people underestimate just how hard fertility is," she told The Project's Kanoa Lloyd. "I guess some women take it for granted. Our wants were there, but nothing was happening."

Treatment meant four injections a day to increase her egg production, which she says was often traumatising.

"The first cycle, I only managed to produce one egg, and then the two-week wait. That's horrible. On D-Day I woke up and sure enough, I had my period. It's like mourning a death of something that never existed.

"At that very moment all I thought about was we didn't get lucky - we've just flushed $13,000 down the toilet for this one moment, this one chance to have a child and a family."

As well as her own desire for a child, Dame Adams was grappling with her husband's and parents' expectations - and an unexpected diagnosis.

"I also had other issues going on. They test this hormone, and this is getting real personal, which means I'm going to [go through] menopause by the time I'm 43."

The news took her by surprise, making her realise how little fertility is discussed.

"It's one of those things that you just never think of - you think 'Oh that's not going to happen to me'. I know so many people struggle with it, and so many people are probably going through it but not able to seek help, they don't know where to go.

"I wish they would go and get some help, talk to their GP about it. Because at the end of the day, when our first cycle didn't work, it took me a week and then I said 'Hey, what now? What are we going to do?'"

The thought of giving up didn't cross her mind.

"I've always wanted to be a mum. I've always said this from day dot, that after Rio I want to have a family, it's time. Gabe and I, as Pacific Islanders, we believe in God and we prayed for this chance to have a baby."

Finally, those prayers were answered - but it took more than one positive test to convince Dame Adams.

"I had the little pregnancy test they give you, they gave me about eight, so I did all eight, had them all in a row. I didn't believe what I was seeing, so I got the blood test and they went, 'Congratulations, you guys are pregnant'. I just cried and cried and cried. It was very exciting."

Daughter Kimoana was born in October 2017, and life hasn't been the same since.

"I used to be really selfish and everything was about Valerie, Valerie, Valerie," she admits.

"[Kimoana] is the apple of my eye, really. She's such a miracle - she's a great baby, great traveller."

Dame Valerie Adams and her daughter Kimoana.
Dame Valerie Adams and her daughter Kimoana. Photo credit: The Project

Dame Adams has an important message for her fellow Pacific Islanders who may be struggling with their own fertility issues.

"Gabe's parents didn't know what route we took until Kimoana was born. But when we did tell them, they were so supportive and open. But unfortunately that's not the norm in our Pacific community."

She wants to see a cultural shift in how infertility is talked about. 

"For some people it's not so easy to pop out a child just like that. So what do you do? You go and get help, you go and get tested, you see what's wrong with you.

"I also want to make it my mission to educate and give our people the knowledge and the tools that they need to go and seek help. They're so afraid and so shamed, it's a subject that's so taboo and not talked about. I think we shouldn't be whakamā to talk about it. You are not alone."

She hopes to inspire and educate people to get the help they need.

"Knowledge is power. One thing I've found throughout this whole process is I needed to know this so I could have the strength to overcome it."