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Real Life

REAL LIFE: "I refused to let MS stop me from being a mum": How one woman defied the odds to start a family on her own

''My life changed forever, but I wouldn't stop until I became a mum.''

By Laura Masia

Lauren Hunt, 32, Forrest Hill, Vic, shares her story;

The doctor looked at me sympathetically.
"I'm sorry," he said softly, "you have MS."
As his words washed over me, I sat in shocked silence.
I'd first noticed something was wrong a few months earlier, when I was out to dinner with my parents, Leanne and Dane, on a hot summer's night.
I'd touched my leg against the metal chair and jumped as a burning sensation stunned me.
"Best to see your physio," Dad said, touching the lukewarm metal.
Assuming I'd pinched a nerve, I booked an appointment a few weeks later.
By then, I'd started to experience other strange symptoms. Any time my head was tilted, I'd get a rushing feeling up my spine.
As I walked out of the doc's office, anger bubbled under my skin. I was a healthy 26-year-old.
Outside, I burst into tears before eventually realising that I could spend my time upset and angry, or I could find a positive way to deal with it.
At home, I read up on the condition. Although I was scared for the future, MS research had come a long way.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to live the healthiest life possible," I vowed to Mum and Dad.
A few weeks later, I started my treatment plan.
Each day, I had to inject my medication into my thigh.
It made me nervous at first but soon it was routine.For a couple of years it went really well.
But one day as I pressed the syringe into my leg, held it for three seconds and took it out, I felt my throat tighten.
Strange, I thought. I'd done it hundreds of times and never felt a thing. Suddenly my chest tightened and hives appeared over my body.
I called the nurse on duty.
"I'm having an allergic reaction," I said, trying to stay calm. She kept me on the line while she phoned for an ambulance, which arrived moments later.
The paramedics quickly gave me medicine to combat the reaction and after a few hours in hospital, I was cleared to go home.
Lauren was devastated to learn of her diagnosis - but was determined it wouldn't shatter her dreams of becoming a mum.(Image: Supplied)
But I was disheartened, knowing I'd need to find a new treatment for my MS.
This couldn't happen again.
Next day, I saw my neurologist. He warned me that the next course of medications were stronger, with harsh side effects like kidney or liver damage.
"What about the reproductive system?" I asked cautiously.
"We don't know for certain whether your fertility will be impacted but I'd recommend freezing your eggs just in case," he replied.
I'd always dreamed of being a mum but without a partner, it felt like motherhood was a lifetime away.
And even if I froze my eggs, my future still seemed uncertain. What if I didn't meet someone until it was too late and I wasn't fit enough to carry a baby?
Without knowing what the future held with my MS, I had two options: go it alone or give up my dreams of motherhood.
So I went online, scrolling through IVF forums and doing hours of research until one day I made up my mind.
I wanted a baby, even if it meant being a single mum.
I made an appointment at the IVF clinic and within two weeks I'd had all the tests, chose a sperm donor and started the drugs to begin the process.
Two weeks later, I was ready for the embryos to be implanted.
Let the countdown begin: 37 weeks pregnant. (Image: Supplied)
"We'll be able to tell if you're pregnant two weeks after a blood test," the nurse said brightly, before warning me not to take an at-home pregnancy test in case I got a false-positive.
Time dragged by and I tried my best to resist temptation but the day before my blood test, I couldn't help myself.
I bought a whole packet of pregnancy tests and every one said I was pregnant.
I was stoked but I still waited nervously for the official confirmation.
A week later, I was driving when I got a call from the IVF clinic. "You might want to pull over," the nurse said, "You're pregnant!"
Tears of joy swelled in my eyes. After only one round, it was a miracle! I instantly told my family the good news, and they cried and cheered down the phone.
After 13 weeks, I found out I was having a boy.
Although I had to stop taking my MS medication, in case it harmed the baby, I felt healthy and strong.
Months flew by and my tummy grew bigger. I couldn't wait to meet my bub.
As a precaution, my doctors and I decided to go with a caesarean birth.
Laying on the operating table, a blue screen covering my stomach, I watched in awe as the doctor pulled out this tiny boy and placed him in my arms.
"He's so perfect," I cried and named him Bailey.
The proud new mum with her newborn son Bailey. (Image: Supplied)
A week later, I came home. It was nerve-racking at first but with help from Mum and Dad, I fell into a groove.
Now, Bailey is almost two and although juggling my condition with being a single mum is hard, it's worth the effort.
I try to do as much fundraising for the MS Research Foundation as possible.
"Bailey brings me so much joy."(Image: Supplied)
Each year I host a movie night and participate in the May50K where over the course of the month, I walk 50 kilometres.
So far, my family, friends and I have raised $35,000 for the foundation and have no intention of stopping.
I still don't know what the future holds, but with Bailey by my side, it looks brighter than ever.

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