When the opportunity came up to interview this Amazing mum I jumped at the opportunity. Shannon Fitzgerald has 3 children under 3. She underwent IVF as a single woman to become a mother and then, as if life wasn’t busy enough, decided to start Nanny 2U; a nannying agency that caters to children of all ties, but specialises in multiples.
The OW: Can you tell me a little bit about your decision to use IVF?
SF: I always knew I would have to use IVF (I have no tubes – which is another LONG story). So, there was really no decision as it was my only option.
The OW: Did the prospect of being a single parent weigh into your decision making process?
SF: I was always going to be a mum – of course it isn’t the way I imagined it was going to be, but nothing was going to stop me having children one way or another. I had many years to think about it and had put a plan in place to be able to afford to be a single mum and ensure we would be financially comfortable. It did weigh on my mind about having kids growing up without a father figure in their lives, but I am very conscious about managing that.
The OW: I understand you used the same donor for each pregnancy. What was the reasoning behind that decision? Is the donor known to you?
SF: The same donor was VERY important to me. The donor isn’t known to me. It is a donor from an agency in America. We have lots of detailed information about the donor and his family and we have photo’s of the donor as a baby and growing up through to adulthood. We are in contact with several of the children’s’ half siblings. We have even met one half sibling that lives about 30 minutes from us and is the same ages as my oldest boy.
The OW: Many readers would have very little knowledge of a typical IVF journey. Can you describe the general process? What were the biggest challenges?
SF: The process is pretty clinical, it involves lots of blood tests, lots of injections and scans etc in an attempt to produce more eggs (my first attempt I produced 40 eggs but none worked). At the time you ovulate, you go in for day surgery and your eggs are removed and fertilised with the sperm, after growing the embryo for 3-5 days it is transferred into your uterus. For me, this was always a very hard process. I had ovarian hyper-stimulation the first time I did IVF (life threatening) and ended up in hospital for a few weeks. After that on the 10th attempt at IVF I fell pregnant. The hardest part is definitely waiting to find out if you are pregnant and then the let down when you find out you’re not. It is totally devastating – especially when it happens 10 times. Only 3 people knew I was doing IVF so I had to hide my feelings from most people. I had ovarian hyper-stimulation with the twins as well (didn’t know I was pregnant) and it lead to a blood clot in my heart which broke off and lodged in the main artery in my leg. It was very scary. I was in ICU when they told me I was pregnant.
The OW: What is something you can tell our readers about IVF that they can’t learn from google?
SF: Its heartbreaking; its hard work; it takes over your life; it is all consuming; it is expensive; most people that go down the road of IVF have been trying for a very very long time so when it happens you are in totally shock but totally scared and freaked out until you hold that baby in your arms. You forget about everything when you hold a baby in your arms.
The OW: Many mothers feel a sense of being overwhelmed when they come home from hospital with a newborn. Can you describe what its like as a single mum coming home with three kids under two for the first time?
SF: I am pretty laid back and relaxed and am very comfortable with children. Routine is very important to me, so they were on a routine as soon as they got home – they definitely didn’t get bathed as much as my first in the first few months. I made sure we got out an about a lot. They were bottle fed so feeding was pretty fast. I have learnt that I can survive on limited sleep, I also let anyone who offered to help, help.
The OW: Being a single mum must come with a unique set of challenges, especially with twins! During the pregnancies and beyond, have you had a strong support network from family and community? Has this played into your decision to start Nanny2U?
SF: I have massive support from my parents and best friend, also from relatives. They have always been there for me and still are. My decision to start Nanny2u was for a couple of reasons
- I needed a nanny 1 day a week so I could have some time out each week and I really struggled to find someone that had twin experience. I had no idea what to look for and what kind of experience and qualifications and checks were needed,
- I knew I was being made redundant (after 14 years as a HR Manager), so I need to support my family.
- I have a childcare background
- I wanted something that could be flexible; I could do from home and would support my family.
I really enjoy knowing I have helped families get through the tough times and hopefully taken some of the stress away from them by providing excellent nannies that become part of the family.
The OW: What has been the most surprising thing about IVF, being a single mother, and being a mum to three small children, including twins?
SF: That I am strong – bloody strong. If I can make it through this, nothing will ever stop me; I look after everything from caring for the kids (emotionally and financially). I am the cook, cleaner, I put out the bins, pay the bills, ultimately everything / everyone relies on me. Sometimes it is overwhelming and sometimes I am so tired I don’t know how I can go on. Being a single mother means I get to have all their firsts, all the cuddles and kisses and beautiful smiles and I get to have them all to myself. I have a determination to make the best life I can for my children and me. I do get sad sometimes that we are by ourselves and that my kids don’t have a father in their life, but I don’t dwell on that much and am just thankful for what we do have.
SF: This would be no surprise but it is hard work, it is tiring, it is busy, it takes forever to do anything (getting out of the house takes ages), my house always looks like a bomb went off. Things like getting everyone out of the car and up a flight of stairs into the house when they were young was challenging, and who to go to first when everyone is crying. It makes my heart feel like it will burst sometimes. There is so much love – and I absolutely love seeing the bond that is building between the kids. It is hard to spread the love around equally and it does play on my mind a lot trying to make sure everyone is getting the same amount and enough attention. I try really hard to spend one on one time with each of them especially my oldest.
If you are looking for a nanny for singles or multiples in Sydney, please visit Nanny2U here.