Pregnancy & Birth

“It haunts me still”: Lisa Wilkinson writes a heartbreaking open letter about her miscarriages

The TODAY co-host urged women not to take it for granted that they can have babies into their 40s.

Lisa Wilkinson

Lisa Wilkinson -- television personality, mother-of-three and all-round excellent human being -- has written a heartbreaking open letter about her experience with miscarriage.

In an op-ed piece for Huffington Post, she urged women to listen to warnings from the medical fraternity about the difficulties of conceiving after the age of 40.

The 57-year-old’s comments follow the happy news that designer Camilla Franks is expecting her first child with her fiance, Welsh singer JP Jones.

Franks, 41, who was fortunate enough to conceive naturally, recently slammed medical advice she received to pursue fertility treatments as “absolute BS.”

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, she said: "It was the wrong advice, and it wasn't fair and it wasn't true and I was told I had to potentially go down the path of IVF and it was absolute BS. So I think, take a lot of it with a grain of salt.”

The TODAY co-host dubbed the commentary as “irresponsible in the extreme” and, reinforcing her argument, quoted a compelling list of statistics.

“I fear that a lot of women will take Camilla’s underlying message of: doctors be damned because falling pregnant naturally in later life is a breeze!” she wrote.

“For the heartbreaking truth is, the road to motherhood for women in their 40s is overwhelmingly littered with broken dreams and ‘I’ll get to it later’ regrets, with statistics showing that one in four women experiences difficulty falling pregnant from the age of 35.”

“And by 40, a woman’s odds of falling pregnant in her next cycle — providing she is doing absolutely everything possible for that to happen — are just five per cent.”

She added: “Even if you are fortunate enough to fall pregnant naturally at 40, you have a 33 per cent chance that you will then lose that baby to miscarriage. And at age 45, that figure rises to almost 60 per cent.”

The television personality opened up about her own experience with miscarriage, explaining that she had three failed pregnancies while trying for a fourth child after the age of 40.

“At 11 weeks I started to bleed. An ultrasound confirmed the worst. That tiny little person I could see on the monitor wasn’t moving. There was no heartbeat,” she wrote of her first miscarriage.

“The silence that sat in the air while we waited ... and waited ... as the nurse kept adjusting the jelly covered wand looking for signs of life was deafening. Maybe I was breathing too loudly in this tiny little darkened room, so I stopped, and waited some more. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she finally said.”

“That precious little baby I was so looking forward to meeting hadn’t made it past eight weeks.”

Lisa and husband Peter FitzSimons, who wed in 1992, were eventually told by their doctor that “it was nature’s way of saying my eggs were just too old.”

“The fact that this has not happened to Camilla Franks is absolutely wonderful, and I wish her all the very best for the rest of her pregnancy, and a beautiful healthy baby at the end of it all,” she continued, before once again advising women to heed their doctors' advice.

“But, as one who has had so many friends in their 40s who would have loved to conceive but been unable to, I would strongly advise women to consult their doctors and listen carefully to what they say. Yes, of course conception and a successful birth is possible in your 40s. But it isn't easy, can often involve heartache, and should not be described any other way.”

We thank Lisa for shining a light on the always-important conversation.

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