‘Infertility doesn’t discriminate’: 26-year-old shares IVF journey

A young couple have shared their ‘rollercoaster’ IVF journey on social media in the hopes of normalising conversations around infertility. 

As many as one in four New Zealanders experience infertility, according to Infertility Associates.

Over months, Julz and Pat Wihongi shared intimate - and at times heartbreaking - details of the treatment process. 

“(We) just wanted to show people you can have everything going for you, you know and it doesn't, it doesn't discriminate - infertility,” Julz told Re:’s reo Māori series Ohinga.

The couple wanted to have tamariki as soon as possible after marrying in 2018. But after four years of trying to conceive, they realised they may need help and turned to IVF. 

“It was kind of weird - the prospect hitting me that we might not be able to have a family of our own,” Pat says. “It’s something that I never really thought about until I was in it.

Julz added: “When you want something so desperately, and then to not get that, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions because it feels really unfair.”

In late 2021, the couple began treatment. It involved doctors visits, medication and injections - which were administered by Pat at home. Along the way, they shared their journey on social media. 

“I think normalising it was a big thing for us,” Julz says. 

Julz’s social media posts during the treatment are at times confronting. In one she says: “I never get to just… find out I’m pregnant” while crying into the camera, and in another she reflects: “I feel like I’m already on a rollercoaster of emotions”.

Julz says she inquired about getting IVF treatment through the public health system, but was told it would be a two year wait for an appointment. The couple’s whānau gave them a koha to go private. Julz says she feels for those who aren’t as fortunate. 

“We were just really bracing ourselves to wait that extra two years, so we were just so grateful, and taken back,” Julz says of the koha. “For lots of whānau it's like; oh where do we go from here,  you know like how do we raise $15,000 - you know, it's a hard one.”

In March this year - about six months after their first IVF appointment - the couple found out Julz was pregnant.

“It just felt like I could finally breathe after like four years,” Julz says smiling. 

Pat says he’s overjoyed: “Amazing, an amazing feeling. I know a little baby would just be an extension of our love for each other”.

At the same time, Julz and Pat shared the news with their growing number of online followers too. Their journey continues and you can follow them on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/julzwihongi/

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho and the NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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