The Gift Jesinta Campbell And Jennifer Hawkins Gave Women Struggling To Fall Pregnant
This week the two high profile Australian models talked publicly about expecting their first babies, but there was something noticeably different about what they both had to say.
Warning: this post deals with infertility and pregnancy loss and may be triggering for some readers.
On Sunday we woke to the news that Australian model Jennifer Hawkins, 35, who is currently expecting her first child, experienced infertility when trying to create the family she so sorely wanted.
In an exclusive interview with Stellar, Jennifer shared that in 2017 she fell pregnant and when she went to her first scan with her husband, Jake Wall, they were told there was no heartbeat.
“Last year was such a tough year for Jake and me. It was the toughest year of our lives. I felt like I almost broke and, in fact, it’s still really raw. But Jake was amazing. He let me sit with the pain, feel it and not be OK,” the former Miss Universe told the publication.
“As a woman and a type A personality, I’m used to planning everything. I think this will happen, then this will happen. It seemed like a lifetime as month after month people constantly asked us when we were going to have a baby.
“I had so many years of planning, but the one thing I so dearly wanted couldn’t be planned. Everything crumbled. Women want everything to be OK. Sometimes it’s just not.”
Tests later confirmed Jennifer had endometriosis, with surgery uncovering it was stage four, the most severe possible type of the condition which can further cause infertility.
Jennifer went on to explain when she did find out she was pregnant again, she was hesitant to share the news despite making it past the twelve week mark and only told close family and friends.
Then on the 10th of May she made the no doubt scary decision to share her pregnancy with the world: "I’m sooo happy to share with you some exciting news! Jake and I are expecting a baby girl!!! We can’t wait to meet her!" she wrote on Instagram.
"Thank you to our beautiful family and friends for their love and support and, most importantly, to my hubby Jake – I can’t wait to see you as a Daddy!"
On Tuesday, fellow model Jesinta Campbell, 28, announced she was also expecting her first child with husband Buddy Franklin. But this announcement was different to the many we've seen come before it.
It wasn't neatly packaged as a 'shock' or a 'surprise'. We weren't told it was 'unexpected'. Jesinta instead alluded to a possible fertility struggle.
"My husband and I are so incredibly excited and overjoyed to announce that we have a baby on the way," the former Miss Universe Australia wrote on her app, adding that the process of falling pregnant wasn't a straight forward one.
"The journey to get here hasn't been easy and this little life is the greatest gift and we feel truly blessed and grateful that we will have a little angel of our own," she said.
"We have both dreamt of this for a long time and whilst the last 2.5 years have been physically and emotionally challenging, there's nothing we would change as it's brought us to this beautiful moment.
The immense love we already have for our baby is indescribable and we can't wait to meet our little miracle.
Jennifer and Jesinta's stories while different, both have the same impact. They jolt you into the reality that struggling to fall pregnant for many Australian women is so often something that is suffered in silence.
Infertility affects about 1 in 6 Australian couples of reproductive age and is defined as the inability to conceive a pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse, according to IVF Australia.
It is so, so common yet we hardly hear about it.
Endometriosis, like in Jennifer's case, can further impact the ability for a woman to fall pregnant. It affects about 10 per cent of women in general, but that amount goes up significantly when it comes to women who suffer infertility, with 20-50 per cent having the condition, gynaecologist Dr Sonya Jessup told 10 daily.
"Endometriosis can be thought of as 'little bits of the lining the womb in the wrong place'. It can take different forms. Very severe endometriosis can cause severe inflammation and scarring which causes the ovaries, uterus and bowel to stick together with hard deposits," Dr Jessup explained.
Yet despite the ability of endometriosis to impact pregnancy, according to a recent Ernst and Young Study, the average time taken to diagnose it is eight years. That number is simply astounding.
So it should really come as no surprise it took Jennifer so long to find out she had endometriosis. Dr Jessup explained the reason women in Australia may not be diagnosed partly rests on the belief that 'period pain is normal'.
"Often women are put on 'the pill' to stop their periods, and so their symptoms do regress over the years they are on the pill," she said. "When they stop contraception later in life to try to conceive, the symptoms often very quickly come back causing not only significant pain.
But also the inflammation involved with endometriosis and the possible adhesion and tubal blockages make falling pregnant much more difficult.
Endometriosis can further only be formally diagnosed through laparoscopy, where a telescope is put into the abdomen and the endometriosis can be visualised, like what happened with Jennifer.
"Ultrasound scans can show some types of endometriosis, but will not pick up others," she explained.
We don't know why both Jennifer and Jesinta decided to show the raw, real and honest side of their journeys to becoming pregnant. That it's often not linear or easy. That it's more commonly hard or unpredictable, disappointing or difficult.
They have exposed the reality of what it is like to try and fall pregnant. To assume it'll all be fine only to find out it's not. To discover that having that baby you so very much want might not be in an arm's reach.
They both had to navigate a difficult, lonely and often isolating path to get to where they are now. Jennifer and Jesinta didn't owe it to us to speak about such difficulty, which is immensely private and often painful.
But in doing so they have done something incredible, they have given women struggling to fall pregnant a gift.
For that, we can't thank them enough.
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Featured image: Instagram/Jesinta Campbell