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Michael and Belinda Van de Elzen’s third time lucky

Michael and Belinda Van de Elzen prepare for another bundle of joy.
Michael and Belinda Van de Elzen's third time lucky

The Food Truck chef Michael Van de Elzen’s daughter Hazel is nearly two, but the baby brother or sister she’ll meet in December is, in a way, the same age as her. Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, Mike and Belinda’s new baby – due before Christmas – came from the same batch of embryos as Hazel, retrieved through IVF treatments in 2010.

Mike and Belinda (both 39) went through three painful and heartbreaking rounds of the fertility treatments to have Hazel. Due to their dif¬ficulties conceiving the ¬first time around, the couple decided to put plans for a second child “on ice” while they made sure the timing was right to try again.

With four remaining embryos from Hazel’s IVF “batch” – “that makes it sound like a batch of scones, but I don’t know what else to call it,” jokes Belinda – the couple knew they had four remaining chances to fall pregnant again.

“It’s quite bizarre to know you’ve got a potential family that’s frozen in [a clinic in] Greenlane,” jokes Mike. “I always wanted a second child because I’m an only child myself and I wanted Hazel to have a little brother or sister to grow up with,” adds Belinda.

But much like Belinda’s first IVF process – in which she suffered a miscarriage – falling pregnant for a second time came with tremendous loss and many setbacks. The couple began trying for another child in January, but the ¬first of their four embryos did not implant. Their second embryo did not survive the thawing process.

It was third time lucky for the couple, who say even though they weathered heartbreaking experiences with IVF for the ¬first pregnancy, losing the embryos this time was still very upsetting. “We’d gone through it before, but I was still really disappointed,” says Belinda.

“I know it’s only cells and things at that early stage, but what you really are losing is another chance. “If all your embryos aren’t successful, you have to go through another round of IVF,” says Belinda, who adds, “I don’t know if we would have had the strength to go through that rollercoaster ride again.”

There are thought to be risks of early menopause associated with continued IVF treatments. “You don’t really mourn the embryo itself, but you mourn that it’s another opportunity gone – and I wouldn’t want to go through the whole IVF thing again though,” says Mike. “You didn’t, darling,” jokes Belinda, adding, “Oh that’s unfair of me to say because you did do all my injections.”

Belinda’s second pregnancy has been a challenging one – she experienced severe sickness at all hours of the day up until 16 weeks into the pregnancy. The couple shared their baby news only with immediate family and kept the pregnancy a secret past the usual 12 weeks because of all the uncertainties that come with having an IVF child.

While the hard part of the pregnancy is behind them now, Belinda and Mike are approaching the birth of their second child a little like they are heading into war. The couple’s “battle plan” includes cleaning up their house and backyard in preparation for the baby, on top of several projects Mike has on the go.

Belinda admits she’s really worried about the busy few months ahead and how she will juggle her time. “I am a bit nervous about that time [after the birth],” says Belinda, who is also a chef by trade and worked alongside Mike before the birth of Hazel.

“In our house I usually put Mike and Hazel’s needs ¬first and myself last. I feel a bit sel¬fish in saying it, but when the baby comes along I am concerned that it’s going to be completely exhausting for me.”

“Let’s just say Christmas will be quiet this year,” adds Mike. Mike and Belinda are not ¬finding out the sex of their baby, but have given Belinda’s bump the nickname “Wayne” for the meantime. Mike says although his father would love a little boy to carry on the Van de Elzen name (they are the only Van de Elzens in New Zealand), he has a hunch their baby will be a girl.

“Ninety percent of my friends that are chefs have girls. “In my chef¬fing brigade there would maybe be 30 girls and two boys.” The big question for the couple after the new baby is born is whether to try for a third child with their one remaining embryo currently in storage.

“Obviously we’re extremely grateful for what we’ve got and we’ll concentrate on having this baby ¬first,” says Belinda. “But we have had to think about whether we will choose to try and have another baby further down the track.”

“The thought that there’s potentially another child sitting in there is a real head-spinner, but we’ll cross that path when we get to it,” adds Mike.

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