Adrienne Porter is finally cradling her longed-for beautiful baby daughter after 14 gruelling rounds of IVF.
‘She just has the most beautiful little smile,’ the besotted mum says, gazing lovingly at the little miracle she named Evie Lauren Rigley.
‘It’s been a long journey. But every bit of it was worth it.’
Adrienne lost her first husband Mark Porter – a racing car driver – following a crash at Bathurst in 2006 when their son Flynn was just two-and-a-half years old.
‘I met Mark when I was 16. He was my childhood sweetheart… my whole life,’ she says in an exclusive interview with New Idea. For years Adrienne refused to entertain the idea of meeting someone else. But in August 2010, fate intervened and she met vet John Rigley, 39, through mutual friends.
‘You’d probably go a long way to find a better human being than John,’ she says.
‘He is the only person who could ever be good enough to take up the spot in my heart I thought had closed up forever.
‘I believe Mark delivered him to me because they even look similar. People think John is Flynnie’s dad.
‘For him to be able to take on somebody that has a constant ghost in their pocket must be pretty hard, but he’s amazing.’
Adrienne and John married in 2012. They were raring to give Flynn a sibling, so Adrienne threw out all her birth control the very next day.
‘Stupidly, I thought everything from then on in would be nice and simple. We’d get married, have a baby, maybe even two, and our lives would be free to live happily ever after.
‘Except no. As if the storm that had bowled through my life hadn’t been enough, it seemed to come back for seconds, all guns at the ready.’
After three months of disappointment, Adrienne knew something wasn’t right.
‘I literally tripped and fell pregnant with Flynnie,’ she explains.
The newlyweds went to see fertility specialist Dr Kee Ong and tests revealed they were facing a myriad of issues; low egg count, low egg quality, endometriosis, blocked pipes, high NK cells, motility issues ...
They embarked on their IVF journey in 2012 and were delighted when the first round resulted in a pregnancy. But sadly, their joy was short-lived.
‘When we went for the heartbeat scan they couldn’t find one. We lost it at six or seven weeks,’ says Adrienne.
‘That’s the thing with infertility. Every time you climb the stairs, someone kicks you back down.’
Over the following six excruciating years, the desperate couple spent ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dollars on the IVF merry-go-round.
‘Every step is such a kick in the guts. You wait to see how many eggs you get. Then you have to wait to see how many of those fertilise, then you have to wait to see how many go past day one, day two, day three. Then you may go for a transfer and the embryo doesn’t thaw.’
As well as being physically exhausting, it was a huge challenge mentally.
‘There is a loss of identity. I gained 12 kilos, you don’t look the same, you don’t act the same, you are nutty as a fruitcake,’ the Gold Coast mum says.
Adrienne saw naturopaths and acupuncturists, even a cranialsacral therapist, who claimed during one session she could see her dead husband Mark holding a baby girl.
‘We’d lost a baby years and years ago, and I said: “No that was a boy.” And she said: “It’s definitely a girl ... Obviously that was our little Evie.’
After 13 failed rounds of IVF the couple decided to look for an egg donor.
‘For me the most important thing was that John had a little piece of himself. Flynnie is not his biological child, but he loves him just the same.’
Adrienne was stunned when a friend kindly offered to donate her eggs after reading about the couple’s plight on Adrienne’s fertility blog, thirtysomethingmama.com.
‘I couldn’t speak. I was bewildered at the generosity because it’s not an easy thing to do,’ Adrienne says.
To their delight, the egg collection procedure was successful and Adrienne and John ended up with three precious embryos.
When the first implantation failed, they decided to go for broke with the final two and put them in together.
The gamble paid off when Adrienne saw those two little lines on a pregnancy test.
‘That dream I never thought possible, was finally coming true.’
Though she, John and Flynn were ecstatic, anxiety plagued them. ‘I think I didn’t really let myself relax and believe it was true until about six months.’
But Adrienne had a healthy pregnancy and their precious Evie Lauren was born on April 12, weighing 2.9 kilos.
‘This little girl is so loved,’ Adrienne, 42, smiles.
With their family now complete, Adrienne has her sights set on turning her blog into a book to help others on the IVF roller-coaster.
‘What you go through is really, really traumatic. If one in six women go through this, why is there no government support for counselling? That’s what we need. That’s why I want to write the book.’