The Block NZ's Cat and Jeremy's 3-year fertility battle

It’s been a long, hard road, but the reality TV favourites are finally having a baby

By Florence Hartigan
The Block NZ: Villa Wars star Jeremy Hill has been keeping busy on a very special renovation project in his 1930s New Plymouth bungalow – a nappy-changing bench in the laundry that he hopes will be ready by the time he and wife Cat welcome their first child, a son, later this month.
"I'm really looking forward to being a dad," the 36-year-old designer tells Woman's Day, while kindy teacher Cat, 34, adds, "We're just so grateful and excited that we get to be parents."
Indeed, the reality TV favourites – who won hearts and the People's Choice Award on The Block in 2015 – have had a long and often-heartbreaking
journey to starting their family.
"I was born with a genetic condition called balanced translocation," explains Cat of the chromosomal disorder where reproductive cells end up with extra or missing material. "It hasn't affected me my whole life, but I knew that when it came to babies, it would make things a bit tricky."
Jeremy continues, "We were told there was a 50% chance we would have a miscarriage or that something would be severely wrong with the baby and a 50%
chance the baby would be OK, so for us to have kids, it was like rolling the dice. We have a mate who's a doctor and he put us on the in-vitro fertilisation path."
By having eggs taken from Cat and fertilised by Jeremy's sperm in a lab to form an embryo, before implanting them back in Cat's uterus, "we could improve our odds of having a healthy baby", the Taranaki local tells.
Pup George will be soon sharing Cat and Jeremy with a baby boy!
"We're both quite healthy, so we were thinking it wasn't gonna be too difficult and the more we talked about it, the more we found out other people we knew had been doing the IVF thing, so we went into it confident."
But the couple's confidence was short-lived. When the first pregnancy didn't last, Cat and Jeremy – who met 12 years ago and shared their romantic Bali wedding with Woman's Day in 2018 – were devastated.
"I went into a bit of a spin," confesses Cat, her eyes welling up with emotion. "We'd pinned all our hopes on it and when it didn't work, I thought there must be something else wrong with me. It seemed like everyone around us was having their second child at that stage. Every other day, there was another pregnancy announcement. It was so hard to be like, 'Oh, I'm so happy for you!' when we were going through this heartbreaking time. That was really difficult.
"We started our second round of treatment in June 2020. To prepare for IVF, you have to give yourself hormone injections at the same time each night in your
stomach, which is really sensitive. I'd get really nervous. I'd just start crying and I wouldn't be able to see, so Jeremy would have to do them for me. I'd dread it."
Jeremey adds, "We thought we were definitely going to get better results the second round. We were more prepared. But every single embryo was abnormal."
Even though this news crushed Cat, she was determined to keep going. "I never gave up, but I definitely got frustrated," she admits. "I got to a point where I was telling people, 'I don't even care. I'm enjoying not having kids!' just to protect myself. It's so hard, especially when people know what you're going through and look at you with really sad eyes – that would always set me off crying. I'd try to put up a front as best I could."
Cat and Jeremy knew they were running out of chances. "We were lucky enough to get our first two rounds of IVF funded," says Cat. "But now if we wanted to keep going, we were going to have to find a way to pay for it ourselves. It's so expensive – around $25,000 – so we knew we had to throw everything we had at this last round.
"When you start down this road, you don't know which questions to ask or what's available to you – you just take what you're given. But this time, we did some research and decided to change our doctors, which we hadn't known we could do."
The difference was "amazing", enthuses Cat. "They were really reassuring. They went through every little option we had, no matter how fine we were splitting
hairs. Management even put us forward to the Neely Charitable Trust, which was started by a husband and wife who couldn't have children.
"They left their estate to people who are struggling with fertility and we're so thankful to them because they've helped us now – they gave us some money towards our third round. Our whole family had a meeting about how to support us and our granny gave us some money towards it as well, which was so lovely!"
With so much on the line, emotions ran high waiting for the phone call that would tell them the results of round three. "It's nerve-racking and we overanalysed everything," says Cat. "If they were running a little bit late, we were thinking, 'Oh, no, they're planning how to break it to us.' Then when they do ring, we were trying to hear in their voice if it was gonna be bad news. It's intense. We were so relieved when our doctor told us, 'We've got two embryos!'"
To the couple's delight, one embryo was successfully transferred into Cat and the other is on ice for when the family is ready for another child, but still it's taken a while to fully believe their baby was on the way.
"A little piece of me is still prepared for disappointment," confides Jeremy. "But at that first scan, when we saw that first heartbeat, we knew it was real."
Cat laughs, "It was literally just a blob with a little flickering heartbeat, but we were so stoked because all our other pregnancies had never gotten past that six-week mark. I was like, 'Th is could actually be it!' We're kind of relaxing now we're eight months in."
"When we get Baby in our hands, we'll be good!" adds Jeremy.
After their three-year battle to conceive, Cat hopes her and Jeremy's story will help reassure other people struggling to become parents.
"I'm sure there are other people out there doing what we were doing and dealing with genetic stuff ," she smiles.
"I'd love it if our story could make them feel a bit more hopeful and realise they have options. For us, it was all worth it. I'm so excited to be a mum!"

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