Real Life

Karen’s holding onto hope: ‘Mother’s Day can be so difficult’

Karen Hussey is transforming her pregnancy loss pain into an initiative that will help other women

Motherhood is often portrayed as a natural and effortless experience, but for many women, the journey to having a child can be fraught with challenges and heartache.

This is certainly true for Auckland mum Karen Hussey, 43. Karen’s heartbreaking quest to expand her family after the birth of her son Reuben four years ago has taken a significant toll on her emotional and physical wellbeing.

Even after seven miscarriages, the devastating loss of a baby at 16 weeks and going through five unsuccessful rounds of IVF, Karen is not ready to give up.

“It hasn’t been the journey I hoped for to complete my family. But you have to try to make the best of your experiences. Being an older mum is part of the reason for what’s happening. I will eventually come to a point where I either have a second child or be at peace with not having another.

“At the moment, though, I’m still working it out and am lucky to have the mental resilience to carry on.”

Karen’s motherhood journey began later in life. Throughout her twenties and most of her thirties, she focused on building a high-flying career. After climbing the corporate ladder and working as an HR executive for several large companies, Karen became disillusioned. At the age of 38, she took half a year off to see if she could “fall back in love” with her job.

“I had never shut the door on having children, but it hadn’t felt like the right time before,” reveals Karen. “During my six-month break, I fell pregnant naturally and felt really at peace with being an older mum.”

The florist with husband Ben and their beloved boy Reuben.

Sadly, her joy was shortlived as just six weeks into the pregnancy, Karen had her first miscarriage.

“After going through all the devastating emotions over the loss, I realised I really did want to have a family.”

Given her age, Karen and her husband Ben Hussey, now 45, decided to go straight to a fertility specialist. Reuben was conceived naturally a few months later.

“I fell completely in love with Reuben the minute he was put into my arms. I felt such an immediate connection to motherhood. By the time he was one, I had turned 40 and I knew I wanted another baby. I was an only child myself and really wanted Reuben to have a sibling to go through life with.”

Around the same time, Karen decided to give up her corporate career for good and do something completely different.

“I purchased the much-loved Parnell business Flowers After Hours and threw myself into running it,” she tells.

All the while, Karen continued to try for another baby. Over the last three years, this has resulted in many harrowing and heart-wrenching experiences. She has lost seven more pregnancies, conceived
either naturally or via IVF, at various stages.

“The hardest was losing our second son at 16 weeks. It was such a traumatic experience.”

After that loss, Karen started to think about ways she could turn her personal pain into an initiative that raised awareness and made a difference in the lives of women facing similar struggles.

She came across Jaimee Lupton’s story, who lost her daughter when she was born early after an IVF pregnancy. Jaimee affectionately nicknamed her daughter Gingernut. In her daughter’s memory, Jaimee started a charity called Gingernut’s Angels. The charity dedicates itself to helping alleviate financial stress for families facing fertility struggles.

Heartbroken mum Karen says, “This is a club no one wants to be part of.”

“Jaimee inspired me. So I reached out to see if we could collaborate on a Mother’s Day initiative to raise funds for the charity.”

Karen says the day is a “massive event” in the flower industry. However, she understands what a triggering and sad time the celebration can be for some women. Especially those experiencing the heartache of loss or who are struggling to conceive

“Things as simple as going on social media or out in public around Mother’s Day can be incredibly difficult,” tells Karen.

So she and her team created a bouquet called The Gingernut. For every bunch sold throughout May at its two Auckland stores and online, Flowers After Hours will donate $10 to Gingernut’s Angels.

“The bouquet is something people can send as a gesture to those they know are struggling with fertility issues, especially when they don’t have the words or know how best to support,” Karen explains. “Having been through this experience, something like this would mean so much.”

Karen hopes the fundraising campaign and telling her personal story will help to raise awareness about the experience of infertility and pregnancy loss.

“This is a club no one wants to be part of and it’s impossible to truly understand the journey unless you’ve been through it. Sharing stories with others who have gone through similar experiences can help women to feel less alone, more understood and hold on to hope.”

To make a donation to Gingernut’s Angels, visit gingernutsangels.com.

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