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Why Matildas star Katrina Gorry had to leave Australia to have a baby alone.

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Katrina Gorry has always wanted kids.

Coming from a large family, the Matildas midfielder knew becoming a mum was in her future, but as a professional athlete, she had to consider timing.

Footballers work on a four-year cycle – there's the Asian Cup, the World Cup and the Olympic Games, then a year without major tournaments. 

Gorry, or Mini as she is known to teammates and fans, had planned to fall pregnant in 2021. 

There wasn't supposed to be anything big that year, and it meant she could return for the 2023 Women's World Cup. But then the Tokyo Olympics got pushed back because of COVID.

"It threw a spanner in the works," the footballer told Mamamia.

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After some consideration, Gorry knew where her priorities lay.

"I was ready to start a family," she said. 

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"I [also] knew that if I was trying to go for the Olympic Games, then maybe I wouldn't be 100 per cent in it. So I decided I would let the universe decide for me."

When Gorry signed with Norwegian football club Avaldsnes IL in early 2020, she decided she would undergo IVF there.

"I always wanted to do it over in Europe. The donor pool is much bigger over there," she explained.

"In Norway, you tell them the main characteristics you want and they go out and choose your data for you and you never really find out [who the father is]," she said.

Gorry preferred this approach to knowing more details about her sperm donor.

"Some people have asked me, 'Was that really hard for you not to know?' And I kind of think, I have no expectations as long as they're healthy. I don't know what he was good at. I don't know what he looks like and I feel really comfortable with that. 

"At the end of the day, it's my baby and it's the way I bring her up. You don't go out and find partners and pick the pieces - what you want and don't want - by their looks and how good they are at things."

After discussing the process, Gorry started IVF immediately. 

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She went through five days of injections followed by a 36-hour trigger shot before they collected her eggs.

"I was actually injured over in Norway at the time, so it all worked out pretty perfectly... I was able to go to my appointments pretty freely," she said.

Half an hour before catching a flight home to Brisbane, Katrina had her egg transferred.

"That was pretty crazy. It didn't really feel real," she said. "And then when I touched down in Brisbane, I had to quarantine for 14 days."

Hoping she was pregnant, Katrina took a test early.

"It was very long for me to be in quarantine just wondering and thinking about all the things that were happening in my body and if I was feeling pregnant," she said. "I was questioning everything."

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"I was like, I'm gonna I'm gonna wait, I'm gonna wait," she said. "[But] I didn't do that, I took it [the test] five days earlier."

"My first test came back negative. Then I took one the next day, it was negative again, and I left it on the counter and came back about an hour later. I could see a really, really faint line."

Three days later, Katrina took the test again and the line got stronger. 

She was pregnant.

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"I was sitting in quarantine and I was an absolute mess," she said. 

"[But] it was nice just to sit there and kind of relax and be excited in the moment as well. Because as soon as I got out, it was all pretty full on from there."

As someone who's used to intensive training, watching her body evolve during pregnancy was eye-opening.

"I think being an athlete, it's always hard to see your body change so quickly... but it's been really enjoyable," she said.

But towards the end of her pregnancy, she noticed how much she missed sport.

"Being [a] professional athlete for so long, your body burns out and your mind burns out. For me to get to this point, I have the determination to get back and hopefully get into that World Cup 2023 squad," she said.

And that she did.

Gorry gave birth to her daughter Harper on August 16, 2021, and returned to the Matildas the following year.

She was named Player of the Match in her first game back against New Zealand, and joined the World Cup team in November 2022. 

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When she's not playing for the national team, Gorry is signed to Swedish football club Vittsjö GIK.

 It's there she met her fellow teammate and now fiance, Clara Markstedt.

The pair got engaged after 13 months of dating in June 2023.

Gorry said no at first out of shock, before quickly changing her answer to yes.

"The best love stories never end. YES," she captioned her announcement post.

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During the Matildas' World Cup match against Ireland last month, commentator David Basheer made a comment about Gorry that sparked backlash.

As the midfielder won a tackle, he said: "Certainly motherhood has not blunted her competitive instincts, that's for sure."

Critics were quick to slam him, while others agreed with the sentiment. 

Gorry thought nothing of the comment, saying in a post-match press conference that she didn't think Basheer meant it in a negative way.

On Wednesday night, the entire nation will stop to watch her play in the team's greatest moment: a home World Cup semifinal, in from of a sold-out home crowd.

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Harper, whose second birthday falls on the same day, will (hopefully) be watching her mum from the sidelines.

Read more on the Matildas here:

Feature image: Instagram/Getty.

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