Mission to Motherhood

KATE BARBER talks with AMIRA MIKH AIL about her mission to becoming a mother: the hope, the heartbreak and the happy ending.

There are thousands of women in New Zealand battling infertility, wanting desperately to become mothers, watching their friends around them having babies and wishing that it would happen for them. ‘We are everywhere, but we have become experts at hiding so you can’t see us’, says Amira.

In her book, Mission to Motherhood, Amira shares her story openly and intimately, revealing the depths of her despair through failed rounds of IVF and a devastating miscarriage, and the peaks of joy she experienced when finding out she was pregnant (before losing the pregnancy) and through her journey to motherhood with a surrogate.

Above all, Amira’s is a story of hope. Throughout her experiences, from finding out she had severe fibroids in her early 20s, to her diagnosis of endometriosis in her early 30s, Amira never lost hope or sight of what became her number one goal: to have children. ‘You just do what you have to do to get there. I’m just a woman, like many, who was thrown into this world of infertility head first and found her way out the other end.’

In her book, Amira details all of her experiences as she underwent IVF, the medications and treatments, conventional and unconventional, hoping that others might benefit from the knowledge that she gained throughout the years.

She also shares the overwhelming joy she felt to discover she was pregnant. And, in heart-wrenching detail, she describes how this joy was shattered in an instant, at 12 weeks. One of the reasons Amira wrote about her experiences was to remind women who have been through a miscarriage that they are not alone. ‘When I felt alone, stressed and afraid, hearing other women’s stories pulled me through.’

Amira also shares her experiences as she pursued the surrogacy option, both here and in Canada. ‘When it became apparent that surrogacy might be my only remaining option for becoming a mother, I didn’t know where to start.’ Surrogacy is not very common in New Zealand and is not independently legislated, meaning that it’s not only difficult to navigate, but it’s also a minefield for potential issues to arise. It is essentially perceived and treated the same way as adoption: the surrogate is considered the legal mother of the baby regardless of whose genes the baby carries (in Amira’s case the embryos were created using her eggs and her partner’s sperm) and the baby must be adopted from the surrogate. Also, surrogates cannot be paid anything more than expenses directly related to the surrogacy process.

In Canada surrogacy is more accepted and is legislated, and in Canada Amira and her partner found Natalya, ‘the perfect surrogate’ for them. Amira describes the ‘beautiful partnership’ that they developed with Natalya and her husband.

And, she reveals the ‘happy ending’ – and bright new beginning – to her story: on August 8 2014, Amira became a mother; her son, Kairo, born by Caesarean section, weighing 3.25kg. Hearing Amira’s account of holding her precious baby, it’s difficult to stifle the tears.

Amira shared her story to give hope to those who are still struggling to become parents, and to share the information that she found so hard to come by on her journey. ‘The book is also for people who have friends and relatives who have experienced, or are experiencing, the devastation of infertility – so that they might say and do the right things to support them during tough times.’