’Every day I’m anxious something will go wrong’
KENDALL Gilding is pregnant with her first child following a "scary and isolating" two-year struggle with infertility.
The popular Channel 7 news presenter, 28, and her schoolteacher husband Tim Morgan, 32, revealed to The Sunday Mail they were expecting their "miracle" baby in August after a difficult journey involving surgery and multiple treatments including IVF.
Gilding, who is 14 weeks pregnant tomorrow, said she had been afraid to truly celebrate the couple's happy news before now because they had such a hard time falling pregnant followed by a challenging first trimester during which she thought she had lost the baby on multiple occasions after suffering "massive bleeds".
"Even though I was pregnant, that only felt like the beginning of the hurdles because I knew the miscarriage rates and that the first trimester was unpredictable so I've been so cautious the entire time," she said.
"Even with my family, they were so excited and my words were, 'Well, let's not get too excited, let's get to 12 weeks and then we can actually celebrate.'
"It is really hard, I had the 13-week scan and you think, 'Yep there's the baby, it's alive, we've made it,' but I still live every day a bit anxious that something is going to go wrong."
Gilding, who is keeping the sex of her unborn child a surprise, said that after months of trying to conceive naturally in 2017, specialists diagnosed her with the "double whammy" of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
"I remember at 26 thinking 'I've got a great job, I love my job, I've got a great marriage, I love my husband and now the next thing is I want a baby,' and you just don't always get what you want," she said.
"We were so excited and then it was just like we started hitting walls."
Gilding underwent surgery to remove widespread endometriosis in the midst of her duties as the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival ambassador last year, scheduling the procedure for between two major event appearances.
"I remember on Stradbroke Day turning up and still just feeling so bloated because I'd only just had the surgery," she said,
"(I found out) I was definitely not going to fall pregnant naturally without divine intervention in that scenario."
Gilding, who said the couple spent $30,000 on medical care last year in their effort to have a baby, underwent four rounds of a less invasive fertility treatment called intra uterine insemination before doctors told her she would need to do IVF to fall pregnant.
"I'm very young and I think that's what shocked me the most," she said.
"IVF is scary and the saddest part about it is you really can't talk to people because what you're going through is really quite dramatic and also very private. I couldn't tell people at work I was trying to fall pregnant and so I remember feeling really isolated."
Gilding said she struggled privately with the emotional toll of the invasive treatment as well as the uncomfortable physical symptoms.
"There were so many things like that going on behind the scenes for me and I was at work trying to pretend everything was normal - infertility is a lonely road and we don't talk about it enough culturally," she said.
"It's the same with the first trimester and I understand why it's because of the miscarriage rate but it's when you're most vulnerable and need the most support - I'd love to see that stigma dissolve."
Miraculously, Gilding's first embryo transfer on December 10 and she found out she was pregnant just four days before Christmas.
"I was just dumbfounded," she said.
"I found out while I was in the makeup chair at work, I was actually having my hair done by one of our freelance artists so I couldn't react much, I couldn't even call Tim in that moment so I had to just text him, so I used the pregnant lady emoji and that's all I sent him. It was pretty surreal, it was awesome and it was definitely the best Christmas present you could want."
But Gilding's first trimester was tough on the couple, who married in 2013, with the news presenter describing three "very significant" and "awful" moments in which they feared she was miscarrying.
The first time it happened, the pair were on holiday in Hobart when Gilding began bleeding.
"You kind of find out what you're made of when really awful things happen and my reaction was to wake him up and say, 'Tim, I'm having a miscarriage, we need to go to the hospital but I would like to eat breakfast first so can you make me a bagel and a coffee because I don't want to be hungry while I'm there,' " she said.
"So we sat opposite each other eating brekky in a scenario where we thought I thought I'd just lost a child in the toilet. I thought, 'Well, what can I control in this scenario? Let's eat so we're not at hospital starving.' "
Two weeks later in mid-January, the couple was at home when Gilding suffered another "enormous bleed".
"There was just blood everywhere, I've never seen that much blood in my life," she said.
"I called Tim in (to the toilet) and he screamed because there was just blood everywhere and I said to him 'this time I'm definitely miscarrying'."
Hours later in hospital, an ultrasound finally confirmed their baby was okay and had a strong heartbeat.
"I was like 'you're kidding' because I'd convinced myself I'd miscarried, that everything was changing, I'd already set my year up in a different way (in my head) because I was like 'well, I'm obviously not pregnant'," she said.
"(That much) blood is traumatic, it doesn't matter how equipped you are.
"I actually felt numb for a couple of days, which I wasn't prepared for. I remember going home that night and Tim was quite affectionate with me and I just didn't want to be touched and I just wanted to go to bed. For days I was in disbelief and just felt cloudy."
While there is "limited explanation" for those moments that caused Gilding to fear she had lost her unborn child, she said the "silver lining" to their struggles was that the entire journey had brought the pair even closer together.
"When one of us couldn't cope the other would pick them up," she said.
"That's the thing, if you don't go through stuff you don't grow and our marriage is so much more solidified which is exciting heading towards having a baby."
Gilding said she is looking forward to creating her own tight-knit family tribe and build a loving home where her kids want to be "no matter how old they get".
"Tim is so excited - he'll be a great dad, he's so doting it's crazy," she said.