With her 50th birthday around the corner, she’d taken up lessons and even bought a Harley-Davidson!
Good on her, I thought.
I had no idea, but it was the last time we’d speak.
Devastatingly, the next day, my vivacious mother crashed her motorbike and died.
I missed Mum so much, and even more when my husband Chris and I had our first child, Clancy, two years on.
When he was nearly 18 months old, we welcomed his little brother, Rex.
Then baby Quinn came along just after Clancy’s third birthday.
With three boys, life was very busy!
Deciding our family was complete, Chris had a vasectomy.
But after Quinn turned three in December 2017, I had a change of heart...
Recently, a good friend with three beautiful boys had given birth to a fourth child – a girl!
I adored my boisterous boys, who loved to climb and wrestle.
But it’d been eight years since I’d lost Mum, and I missed that special mother-daughter bond. As much as I loved them, I’d never have that with my sons.
It wouldn’t hurt to add one more to the mix... I thought.
But only on one condition – I wanted a baby girl.
And I wasn’t going to leave it to chance.
My dad Rex’s mum, Grandma Doris, had welcomed six boys.
If we reversed Chris’ vasectomy and tried to fall pregnant naturally, there was a high probability we’d have another boy.
I’d heard of gender selection IVF, where families can choose the sex of the embryo they have implanted.
The procedure was banned in Australia.
But googling, I found Dr. Bradford Kolb, in the US, who might be able to help.
He explained the process on a video call.
Like any IVF procedure, my eggs and Chris’ sperm would be extracted and combined to create embryos.
When they were tested for genetic abnormalities, the gender would be tested too, and a female embryo chosen to be transferred.
All up, it would cost a whopping $21,000.
We’d also need to travel to the US and spend three weeks near Dr Kolb’s clinic.
But Chris and I decided it was worth it.
Sharing the news with friends and family, initially Dad was a little unsure.
‘You should be happy with what you get,’ he said.
Still, he was behind us, no matter what.
And when we told the boys, then aged three, five and seven, they couldn’t wait to have a little sister.
All five of us flew out last October and met Dr Kolb for the first time.
‘Where’s our baby girl?’ Quinn hilariously asked the nurse.
I attended daily appointments, then a couple of weeks in, Chris’ sperm was harvested, along with 20 of my eggs.
After that, it was five nerve-racking days waiting for the embryos to grow.
What if there’s not a girl? I wondered.
To take our minds off it all, we took the boys to the Legoland theme park.
They were in heaven!
Even if it doesn’t work out, we’ve had an amazing family holiday, I thought.
The transfer took place the night before we were due to fly back home.
‘There’s one girl,’ the doctor smiled, before starting the procedure to insert the embryo inside me.
I was happy, but nervous.
We only have one shot, I fretted.
Boarding the plane, I was worried I wasn’t pregnant, but I tried to stay positive.
Going for a blood test a couple of weeks later, I found out I was expecting!
My brother Ben loved teasing me.
‘What if it’s a boy?’ he asked, as my bump grew.
‘I’d want my money back!’ I said, jokingly.
In total, including the procedure, flights and accommodation, we’d spent more than $35,000 on our trip. It was worth every single cent.
On July 19 this year, after a two-hour labour, our sweet daughter, who we’d decided to call Andi, was placed in my arms.
Watching Clancy, Rex and Quinn meet their little sister was so special.
When Andi was a few weeks old, I shared our story on the ABC and some keyboard warriors trolled my Facebook.
I hope that girl grows up and spits in your face, one wrote.
You shouldn’t be allowed to have any children at all, said another.
I felt sick.
But the people closest to us, who know how wanted Andi was and how much we love all our children, are behind us all the way.
That’s what matters.
I believe gender selection IVF should be allowed in Australia for families with three or more kids of the same gender.
With Andi, now 10 weeks, our family’s complete.
She is our missing piece. ●
Australian and NZ medical guidelines currently prohibit parents from picking their child’s sex unless there is a risk of the child suffering a serious genetic condition.